Remember when Sony launched its own crowdfunding platform for new products last year? The idea was to spur innovation and new business ideas, leveraging the company’s vast resources alongside popular opinion to create products that were desirable from the start. And apparently, Indiegogo thought that was a pretty solid idea — the global crowdfunding platform today launched a new offering called “Enterprise Crowdfunding.” By giving large corporations “specific services for engaging with Indiegogo’s vast audience of early adopters, entrepreneurs, and makers,” the San Francisco-based company hopes to help “validate and optimize product concepts, as well as source new innovations.”
While Indiegogo has long been used by individuals and smaller operations to raise capital for their grand ideas, the new Enterprise Crowdfunding solution serves a slightly difference purpose — in this case, it is not necessarily the money of Indiegogo backers the platform taps into, but rather their collective opinion. Indeed, the hope is that this new tool will help companies “mitigate a key risk factor in their R&D efforts — whether consumers actually want a certain product.” By democratizing the product selection process, companies may be able to save themselves from producing something no one will buy.
“We created Indiegogo to empower anyone, anywhere to raise funds for their ideas, from the inventor working out of her garage to the largest Fortune 500 companies looking to create innovative new products that line up with what customers really want,” said Indiegogo CEO Slava Rubin. “Some of the world’s most successful companies are already using Indiegogo for product development, market research, and to support causes important to them. Now we’re taking that a step further with Enterprise Crowdfunding.”
The new tool will also come with strategy, hands-on support, promotions, and analytics customized to the unique requirements of a range of businesses. Already, companies like General Electric, Hasbro, and Harman International Industries have made use of Enterprise Crowdfunding, with GE’s FirstBuild recently manufacturing its first crowdfunded project, the Paragon Induction Cooktop.
“Crowdfunding is an extremely disruptive, new way of going to market that blends market research and product development,” said Natarajan Venkatakrishnan, director of FirstBuild. “With Indiegogo, we were able to build a customer base for our products before investing in manufacturing.”
You’ve gotta give the people what they want, so you might as well ask them from the start.