Anastasia Emmanuel is European Director of Technology & Design at Indiegogo, having joined as UK Marketing and Community Manager for the crowdfunding platform. Since 2013 she has also presented ‘The Week in Tech’ for Tech City News. Prior to joining Indiegogo, Anastasia co-founded content organisation platform Publicate and she held various roles at internet media company, Newspepper, having graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2007.
“…Indiegogo has been open to everyone from the start. We believe that the crowd should decide what ideas come to life, not a handful of gatekeepers. Indiegogo has been global from day one – anyone can raise money from anywhere in the world…”
My career to date: A great sequence of events
I have been very fortunate to have a varied and exciting career so far, meeting amazing mentors along the way and constantly learning. After graduating with a degree in American Studies with a year in the U.S., I worked for a year in media sales at Sky and then decided to travel for one year around 12 countries. When I returned, I decided I wanted to get into presenting.
A great sequence of events resulted in me working for Newspepper, (a video based start-up), doing tech presenting for a variety of clients and at large scale tech events. I was interviewing founders and tech entrepreneurs and it was my first foray into the tech world. I fell in love with it. I loved how fast-moving it was and how passionate and collaborative everybody within the industry was.
After interviewing many founders, I decided to take the plunge myself and joined a start up as a co-founder of Publicate to help build the company and launch it at SxSW. I also continued my interest in media, doing a weekly tech and investment show on Tech City News.
After one of my friends ran an Indiegogo campaign, the team reached out to her to see who could help build the market in the UK. The timing was serendipitous, as I had just left the last start-up I was working on and I was looking for a new challenge.
I had admired the concept of crowdfunding from afar and the values behind it strongly appealed to me. As I learned more about the crowdfunding world and the team, I fell in love with the mission of Indiegogo and jumped at the chance to be part of it.
As the European Director of Technology & Design for Indiegogo, my role is focused on supporting entrepreneurs throughout the UK and Europe, offering strategy to help them build strong crowdfunding campaigns and bring their products to market in the smartest, leanest way possible.
Most people I work with have never created a campaign before, therefore the support we offer is very valuable. I also act an evangelist for the company, traveling across Europe to speak about our mission and share best practices on crowdfunding. I have racked up a lot of Air Miles in the last two years!
Founded on a mission to democratise access to capital
Indiegogo was founded in January 2008 during the recession, with the mission to democratise access to capital. Our founders believed that finance was broken and wanted to remove the gatekeepers, empowering anyone to raise money for whatever they were passionate about, whether their idea was creative, entrepreneurial or trying to make the world a better place.
Indiegogo was the brainchild of Danae Ringelmann, our female founder and she remains the guiding light for the vision. She is one of three founders who each had their own personal story as to why Indiegogo made sense. For Danae it was watching her parents struggle to grow and scale their small business without access to finance.
Our mission and business is built in empowerment, empathy and openness. I think having a female founder helped ground the company in these values. I know I personally was very moved by hearing Danae speak about why she started Indiegogo and I resonated with everything she was trying to do.
Almost 50% female staff and 47% of all successful campaigns are women-led
At Indiegogo we are almost 50% women, so I am surrounded by strong, smart, empowering women. Not only this, but 47% of all successful campaigns are women-led. That’s an impressive statistic considering the number of VC [venture capitalist] investment into female founded start-ups (between 10-15%). Indiegogo is levelling the playing field for anyone to have the same access to entrepreneurship and that is a mission I truly believe in. Everyone has some entrepreneurial element in themselves, and it is our vision to foster and encourage that through technology and our community.
Indiegogo has been open to everyone from the start. We believe that the crowd should decide what ideas come to life, not a handful of gatekeepers. Indiegogo has been global from day one – anyone can raise money from anywhere in the world. We have seen over 400,000 campaigns and distributed over $500M across the world to help people get their ideas off the ground.
Here to help you
We’re also here to support you through the process, we understand that Crowdfunding is not easy and Indiegogo is here to help you. We’re quite different to other platforms in that way – were committed to building tools and resources to help people succeed. We work with teams to help prepare in advance, so that when they’re ready to press ‘go’ they’re set up success.
We are different from other platforms in both tools and strategy. On the platform side, we offer a lot of flexibility in running your campaign in the way that suits your needs; you can choose from two different funding methods – Fixed Funding (all or nothing) or Flexible Funding (keep what you raise).We have opened up our API [application programme interface] so that you can build your own experience on your own website as well as benefit from the 16 million people on Indiegogo. We have built extensive marketing tools, such as pixel tracking and analytics to give you the insight you need to run a successful, smart campaign
Indiegogo is strategic, too. We’re not just a platform for projects – we’re actually working with these companies. I have a 96% success rate with the companies I work with. Our team has raised over $100m in the technology category in the last 9 months. It’s important to work with experts. It’s my job to support European entrepreneurs to reach and succeed their goals.
It’s also important to consider what success looks like to you. We are committed to building sustainable businesses, therefore we have created partnerships with marketing agencies, product designers, retailers and manufacturers – to help our customers succeed throughout the entire process.
Our most memorable campaigns
There have been so many memorable Indiegogo campaigns over the years and I’m rarely seen without my Misfit Shine, which is such a well designed product. I also love social innovations such as GravityLight – a product with a huge impact in the developing world.
FlowHive is an amazing product which allows beekeepers to collect honey on tap without having to disturb the bees, invented by a father and son who wanted to innovate on a product that has been around for decades. It is also one of the most funded campaigns on Indiegogo – the campaign raised a phenomenal $12,500,000!
Rebranding the charitable arm of Indiegogo as Generosity
Over the years Indiegogo has witnessed inventors, musicians, storytellers, and activists pushing the boundaries of our original vision. We were inspired by these campaigners and we listen to our customers so it our challenge to do more.
Generosity was built to give Indiegogo users a new community for showing and sharing their compassion through personal fundraising campaigns. The free platform is dedicated to personal fundraisers, it could be to raise money for a friend in need of medical treatment, or a student with tuition fees. It is the only socially conscious fundraising platform out there that’s free, fast, and open.
Advice for female entrepreneurs contemplating starting a campaign
Do it! Indiegogo is a platform open to anyone and has global reach, there is no better way to test your idea and get it out to a vast crowd. If your idea is good, it shouldn’t matter what gender you are, and Indiegogo proves this. 47% of our successful campaigns are female-led, compared to just 15% of VC funded companies. That’s because teams and products speak for themselves in crowdfunding – it levels the playing field. The crowd is much more representative of the world and therefore the ideas that the world believes in, come to life.
The same rules of crowdfunding apply to male and female campaigners. My advice for running a successful campaign is prepare! Research similar campaigns and products, find and build your community online before you launch, and perfect your marketing message prior to launching.
Crowdfunding is not an easy option
The most successful campaigns know exactly what they’re doing from day to day. Crowdfunding success stories spend so much behind the scenes preparing but it’s easy to just look at the impressive funds raised and not see the months of work beforehand. Crowdfunding is not an easy option but there is so much value to putting your idea out to the crowd. You can truly validate your idea, get real customer feedback, build up a strong community and speak directly to your customers or fans.
The power in crowdfunding is not just the money, so it’s important to approach it in this way. Make sure you also tell your story – storytelling is key. If you watch a great crowdfunding video, or see a strong pitch, it is always clear what the team is raising money for, why it matters and why me, as a backer should be excited about supporting it.
Lastly, once you press ‘LIVE’, you can’t sit back and relax. The work has just begun again, be proactive about writing updates, reaching out to journalists, engaging on social media and thinking of new ways to keep up momentum. We have shared lots of resources to help you step by step, so take advantage of all this information and rock your campaign!
The future for Indiegogo
The future for Indiegogo will be continuing to innovate for our customers. We are constantly trying to improve our product based on what our customers want. We are seeing more and more brands and larger companies such as GE, Philips and Chivas leveraging Indiegogo’s crowd to talk directly to their community, gather feedback and engage customers, so I believe we will see more of this.
There is enough space for a guy or girl with an idea and also a Fortune 500 company – it just means more eyeballs on your campaign, so it’s a huge value! With the third phase of the JOBS act just passing, we will be exploring equity crowdfunding and new ways we can offer support to our customers. We are committed to helping build sustainable businesses – until this point we have only been able to empower the crowd to participate in the reward and donation side, now with the new ruling, the option for return is possible. It’s an exciting time.
As for me … I will continue to work with inspiring inventors and designers helping them bring their product to market in the smartest, leanest way. I think there is a real magic to physical products; the fact that you can go from an idea or concept to a product selling on shelves and on Amazon in two years or less, to me is incredible.
I am obsessed by learning and like to be out of my comfort zone where I feel as though I am starting again, with a whole new world of knowledge to absorb. I will continue to surround myself with incredibly intelligent, inspiring people so that I stay on my toes. I look forward to learning more this year about brand, design and products. I am certain lean product launches will continue to be a key part of my future as I enjoy traveling across Europe to meet amazing inventors, designers and brands. What’s next is continuing to help people because that is what drives me, but where and with what, I don’t know yet. That’s the exciting part!