Crowdtilt has just launched an open source crowdfunding solution which enables ordinary people or businesses to finance projects by setting up a crowdfunding platform on their own website.
Crowdfunding platforms have today become a favorite way of financing the launch of startup companies and creative projects. However, they provide very little in the way of personalization, do not offer a funding mechanism that can be directly integrated into other websites, and do not really suit companies that have already established themselves but are now looking for a second or third round of financing. With a view to overcoming this kind of limitation, San Francisco-based crowdfunding firm Crowdtilt launched on 20 February a white-label, open source solution which allows any person or company to run a crowdfunding campaign for any goal or cause on their own website. Crowdtilt raised $23 million last December, mainly from US venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. CrowdtiltOpen is the ‘polished’ version of Crowdhoster, an initial version of the service which was unveiled and beta tested last August. The firm has now modified a number of features in order to allow ordinary people and business professionals to customize the tool and host their own crowdfunding campaigns.
Customized crowdfunding campaigns
The CrowdtiltOpen tool offers an extended range of functionality which includes direct payments – Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Amex – and Bitcoin payments, recurring billing, analytics integration – using for example Google, AdRoll, etc. – and reward programs. There is no time limit on the campaigns, the tool also supports not-for-profit organizations requesting donations, and there is a vast choice of customization options and ready-made themes. Integrating Bitcoin as a payment solution might well also facilitate crowdfunding campaigns at international level. Moreover, as CrowdtiltOpen is open source, users have the chance to create their own entirely new functionality. Use of the platform is free, but there is a charge of 2.9% plus $0.3 per transaction for credit card handling. Paid-for services can also be developed on the back of CrowdtiltOpen. Backer Kit for example is already building a customer relationship management system designed to work with the platform.
Enabling firms to host their own crowdfunding pages
Crowdtilt co-founder and CEO James Beshara is especially enthusiastic about the implications of CrowdtiltOpen for commercial, civic, and political crowdfunding, areas which at the moment are overshadowed by crowdfunding for more creative projects. “Nike wouldn’t use Kickstarter, or Crowdtilt or Indiegogo, but it definitely would host a crowdfunding campaign on its own domain,” argues Beshara. As some major brands start to get interested in crowdfunding, CrowdtiltOpen should have good chances to win them over, as it allows them to remain in full control of what is most important to them, i.e. their brand. The tools also enable firms to stay in charge of the customer experience they provide and to personalize their financing campaigns. James Beshara is on record as predicting that crowdfunding will account for 15% of all commerce on the web in five years’ time. However, “the only way to really rip the lid off this thing it to provide accessible tools,” he stresses. Crowdtilt is now planning to expand outside the United States, starting with English-speaking countries such as Canada, Australia and the UK.