IndieGoGo wants to give Kickstarter a run for its money

Crowdfunding, the process of raising funds by collecting small amounts of money from many people, has become quite popular in recent years, and the poster child for the industry is New York City-based Kickstarter. But there are several other lesser well known startups beyond Kickstarter, like the crowdfunding veteran IndieGoGo.

Founded in January 2008, San Francisco-based startup IndieGoGo is aiming to be the big, general player in the space, in contrast to other crowdfunding platforms that define themselves by the niche of the campaigns they serve. “We’re really aiming to empower the dreams of many, whether it be a through getting money for a liver transplant, or a new album, or a restaurant,” CEO Slava Rubin told me in an interview this week.

The all-things-to-all-people strategy seems to be steadily picking up. IndieGoGo has been seeing more traction than ever in recent months across a variety of for-profit, creative, and charitable campaigns. “We’re definitely in pretty high growth mode. The most recent quarter was the fastest growing quarter in the history of our company,” Rubin said.

To wit: Fractured Atlas, IndieGoGo’s partner for processing tax deductible contributions, recently surpassed the $1 million mark for charitable causes funded via IndieGoGo. Fractured Atlas does what is called “fiscal sponsorship,” which means it allows people to contribute funds to any charitable cause with tax deductible donations — without the cause itself having non-profit status.

According to Rubin, IndieGoGo is different from Kickstarter in several key ways:

  • IndieGoGo campaigns receive all the money they have been pledged, whether the initial funding goal was reached or not. Kickstarter campaigns only receive their money if they reach their initial funding goal by its designated date.
  • IndieGoGo is available internationally, while Kickstarter requires a U.S. bank account.
  • IndieGoGo takes a 4 percent fee on funds raised. Kickstarter’s fee is 5 percent.

To be sure, both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have their perks. While those seeking funding love that they probably won’t walk away from an IndieGoGo campaign empty-handed, many people likely feel more comfortable pledging money to Kickstarter projects, knowing that they will only pay if the project reaches its funding goal — a safety in numbers of sorts. And Kickstarter is clearly hugely popular, particularly because its fantastic for finding and funding creative projects such as music albums or indie movies.  But IndieGoGo has made a definite name for itself funding all kinds of other things, from small businesses or raising money for an individual who needs cancer treatment.

IndieGoGo is also relatively small as a company. It has 12 full-time employees across its offices in San Francisco, New York City and Los Angeles, and Rubin would not disclose how much funding it has received from outside sources.

Overall, there will probably be room in the crowdfunding space for lots of different players. “Eventually, crowdfunding will go extremely mainstream,” Rubin predicts. If IndieGoGo has its way, it will be at the center of that growth.