Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Crowdtilt Collects a Quick $23M to Bring Crowdfunding All Over the World

By now, millions of people have contributed to crowdfunding campaigns online — to fund the distribution of an independent film, to raise money for a family impacted by a natural disaster, to preorder a new gadget.

But perhaps what’s next is for millions of people to start their own crowdfunding campaigns.

“Only so many people have a $40,000 documentary they want to get funded,” says Crowdtilt CEO James Beshara. For everyone else — perhaps — there’s Crowdtilt.

Beshara likes to talk about “bite-size” crowdfunding campaigns — it might be $400 for a tailgate party, $500 for a fantasy football season, $2,000 for a bachelorette trip. They’re the everyday reasons to pool money within a group.

That kind of crowdfunding has the potential to go viral in a different and broader way than a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign. For example, 10 weeks ago was the first time a Harvard Business School student started a Crowdtilt campaign, according to Beshara.

Since then, 70 new campaigns have launched, with an estimated 95 percent of current HBS students starting or contributing to at least one of them. Students who have participated have been involved with an average of 2.2 campaigns.

“This makes crowdfunding a more daily and weekly thing,” Beshara said. “It’s similar to what Twitter did for blogging.”

Beshara also wants to provide the world with “WordPress for crowdfunding” — that is, open-source tools for larger campaigns to run on their own sites. (Crowdtilt takes a 2.9 percent transaction fee for this service, which it calls Crowdhoster.) Those tools have already been used to raise more than $1 million for a food-replacement powder called Soylent.

With both high-end and low-end options, investors are excited about “the horizontal platform nature of what they’re doing,” as Andresseen Horowitz venture capitalist Jeff Jordan put it.

So excited that, after leading a $12 million Series A round for the company this year, Jordan’s firm is now leading a Series B round for Crowdtilt of $23 million, along with investors SV Angel, Sean Parker and Silicon Valley Bank.

Crowdtilt aims to use the funding to hire and expand internationally, according to Beshara.

Jordan mentioned a range of Crowdtilt campaigns, including one to fund a local security patrol, to buy a replacement boat for the owner of the one that sheltered the Boston bombing suspect, to keep a toy store open, and to support a science teacher position. There’s also Jordan’s own ongoing campaign for friends to pool money to buy time on a local basketball court for their regular pick-up game.

“It ranges from trivial and cute, to use cases that are almost the next generation of taxation,” Jordan said.

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