Crowdfunding is one of the more empowering developments of the Internet age. Through the connected power of the masses, aspiring entrepreneurs can get their great ideas seen, supported, and funded.
A wide variety of ideas have found enormous success with crowdfunding. A few of the biggest successes include a redesigned “Coolest Cooler” that raised over $13 million, the movie adaptation of Veronica Mars that garnered $5 million, and this collection of miniature gaming figures which brought in $3 million… twice!
Certain business models, however, are especially primed for success via the format. Here are five business ideas that are perfect for crowdfunding.
1. Independent books
Whether your idea is for a children’s story, art book, novel, or work of nonfiction, crowdfunding can help you test your concept and find a supportive audience, before your opening sentence is written. Multiple crowdfunding platforms, in fact, are dedicated solely to books, combining both fundraising and publishing into one easy process for authors.
The economics of crowdfunding work especially well for book publishing. Typically, as an aspiring author, you need enough cash up front to cover research expenses, living expenses while writing the book, and the cost of publication. Selling 400 advance copies of a book for $20 each could provide your needed capital. And by presenting your book proposal to a crowd, you forego the long and arduous process of pitching to agents and publishers. Instead, you can get your ideas directly to the people who matter most: your readers.
2. Original tech gadgets
Gadgets of all kinds are popping up on crowdfunding platforms, and many are standouts for funding. From ultra-thin smartwatches to tiny photo printers and secure USB drives in the works, all funded by the crowd. Gadgets that do best are those that demonstrate thorough research, can show a working prototype, and offer a unique feature. You won’t see a crowd rush to fund yet another pedometer, but a sensor-filled cushion that prevents bad posture and alerts you to stress detected in your body? Now that’s interesting.
3. Local Service Businesses
If you’re looking to open a business that supports your local community, be it a salon or a coffee shop, one of the best ways to measure support from your future customer base is to offer people a chance to help you get started. Crowdfunding sites like Local Lift have launched to give local entrepreneurs an opportunity to request funding for new businesses — allowing the business owners to gauge interest among their potential customers, as well as actively build a customer base before the doors first open.
4. Home cooking tools
Foodies are having an incredible heyday, with entire industries rising to meet the needs of an increasingly picky country of eaters. Home cooking is becoming a lucrative industry in itself. And for home cooks looking to market specialized tools and technologies that may not have made their way to mainstream retailers like Williams Sonoma, crowdfunding can be an effective option. Even Food & Wine has taken notice, listing tools from at-home sous vide machines to industrial juicers, all of which had gotten their start from successful crowdfunding campaigns.
5. Unique (and often quirky) home inventions
Unique inventions to solve at-home problems, on the other hand, can find great success. Ideas seeking to solve everyday problems, such as the fly-killing salt “shotgun” for a completely different take on pest control, and this uniquely convenient wet-diaper sensor, have found great success. The well-known “As Seen on TV” brand has even launched its own crowdfunding platform for just such inventions.
Maybe it’s time to revisit those ideas you used to toss around with friends; you might actually find a crowd of like-minded people willing to throw money behind your invention. And perhaps your greatest idea — be it large or small — could become a crowdfunded success.