Naina KhedekarJan 29, 2014 16:38:33 IST
Arguably, there is limited funding to pursue innovation and creativity in India. Especially if the venture has no connect whatsoever with technology and the internet. Add to that the lack of transparency and accountability with the use of funds for a purely creative project. The other problem is the amount of funds required. Many ventures, which are not designed to scale but remain sustenance ventures or be one-offs do not require multiple rounds of funding or many millions in funding. It is here that crowdfunding comes to the rescue. Helping these unconventional innovators and entrepreneurs bridge this gap in India is Wishberry.in, a Kickstarter-inspired crowdfunding platform.
Founded by Anshulika Dubey and Priyanka Agarwal, these young entrepreneurs have no qualms accepting that WishBerry is a Kickstarter-inspired model. It was while writing a Mckinsey report on 'Social media in the social sector', that Anshulika came across crowdfunding platforms like Crowdrise and Kickstarter. These platforms were creating quite a buzz in the US, with their disruptive, 'democratised' funding route. The duo found that quite exciting and were impressed how people came together as a community and funded other people's ambitions and dreams with real money.
Wishberry currently has a team of four including its co-founders. It has outsourced technology, accounting and marketing aspects and in the past one and half years, since it came alive, has helped crowd fund about 600 projects. The list includes the Heavy Metal cooking show HEADBANGER’S KITCHEN that is crowd funding its third season and managed to raise Rs 2,44,401 from 143 people so far, crossing its target of Rs 2.40 lakhs. An Ahmedabad-based startup Printajob that prints Instagrammed photos for decorations, collages and so on has managed to raise Rs 1,02,500 from 52 people and in the process achieving its goal.
Wishberry has also helped launch crowd funding for The Goa Project 2014, an “unconference, an experimental platform” that encourages cross pollination of people across different fields. The founders of the Goa Project had initially planned to raise 10 percent of the event cost, which stood at Rs 15 lakhs, via crowd funding. To their surprise they were able to raise that amount within 48 hours of going live and has become the fastest campaign to meet its goals on Wishberry. As of now the Goa Project has raised Rs 369,500 from 55 funders and there are 8-days left for the campaign. Currently, the crowdfunding platform is helping raise its biggest target yet, that of Rs 50 lakh for an upcoming lingerie brand called Buttercups.
Running into competition
Wishberry is competing with similar upcoming local platforms such as Pikaventure and Ignite Intent, in this exciting new space. In a sense it also competing with the international platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. After all for a potential funder it is just a matter of picking the idea that catches their fancy.
Curating the campaigns
The platform then follows a rigorous curation process before giving a green signal to the project. First the project must fit into one of Wishberry's 10 focus areas - Arts, Performing Arts, Alternative Culture, Design, Technology, Publishing, Film and video, Food, Travel, and Sports. Every project has to be well-defined, outcome-based and time bound. It must have a prototype or a work-in-progress version to show case. This evaluation takes about 24 hours. Once the project is approved, the next step is to create the campaign page with content, videos and rewards with Wishberry's consulting help. After a final review, Wishberry allows the campaigner to launch his or her campaign on the platform.
Every approved campaign has to pay an upfront fee of Rs 2,500. In addition Wishberry also takes 10 percent of the total money raised from any campaign. In case a campaign does not reach its funding target then in order to protect the interest of funders, Wishberry follows a refund policy. Funders can choose to get their money back if a campaign they have funded doesn't reach its target. In such a scenario only the money that hasn't been claimed is transferred to the campaigner.
Making crowdfunding work in India
Though WishBerry is completely inspired by Kickstarter, its co-founders do realise that following the latter's business model and strategy won't work in India. They've also worked on the platform to make it more relevant and useful to the Indian market. For instance, co-founder Anshulika Dubey tells us, “Our's is not a DIY model, like any other western platform where a campaigner is on his own to come up with a great pitch video, rewards etc. We guide all campaigners at every step of the campaign preparation.”
Wishberry's founders insist that there are two key differences between crowd funding in the US and India. Their first claim is that Indians are not great sellers, which means they cannot sell their idea in the most creative or edgy way and also have apprehensive about asking. On the other hand, if you take a look at every campaign's pitch on Kickstarter - especially the pitch video - it is created in a unique way to make people interested in funding an idea. To help with this bit of hard sell Wishberry works with the campaigners on their content, pitch video, design and so on.
The second difference is the glut of product prototypes and ideas in the more developed markets like the US. Take the case of products such as the Pebble smartwatch and Ouya gaming console, which closed successful funding campaigns running into millions on Kickstarter. "I don't see interesting projects, especially products coming out of India and so I feel crowdfunding in India for sometime may be restricted to the arts, performing arts, events and design spaces, which by the way is also a highly neglected market when it comes to funding," says Dubey.
On an average, Wishberry claims that it gets one campaign project submission everyday. With an increasing acceptance of this mode of funding for realising one's start up ambitions we suppose it only a matter of time before the next big venture in India gets funded by the crowd.