We recently wrote about Social Innovations Camp Asia, which was help in Kuala Lumpur last month. The event centered around developing a number of worthwhile social initiatives, including Blood Donors Network and sex-ed application ThatApp. And while it’s great to see events like SI Camp get behind this sort of innovation, social initiatives don’t always have such support.
But the event’s organizer Andrew Tan recently pointed me towards Cliquefund, a Singapore-based crowdfunding startup that hopes to make it easier for both non-profit and for-profit companies to get their businesses rolling. I spoke with co-founder Jef Koh, who explained a little more about what he hopes to accomplish with Cliquefund, and how it differs from alternatives.
Jef briefly describes Cliquefund as being a “community patronage platform for startups” which not only helps users acquire funding, but also helps with community and customer engagement too. When patrons support a startup they get coupons in return, which could represent early access to products and services, invites to launch events, or even equity — it’s up to the startups to determine the rewards. Jef expresses great admiration for the Kickstarter platform (which performs a similar service to what I described above) but he notes that the community support in a Kickstarter project is essentially a one-time thing:
Cliquefund hopes to extend this engagement throughout the development of a startup by turning supporters into patrons, who feel that they have a vested interest in the well being of the startup because they believe in what it offers, not only because of its profitability. [Like] Groupon, the coupons issued to patrons in return for funding can be exchanged for whatever the startup can provide. However with the Cliquefund marketplace (and this is where eBay similarities appear), patrons can choose to sell and trade these coupons with other patrons. This provides a “halo” effect for the startup that originally issued the coupon.
In this way, says Jef, users become advocates – and this is what makes Cliquefund different.
It’s an interesting approach to crowdfunding, but how does Cliquefund plan to earn its own revenue? Jef tells me that his company will take a small fee from both the advocate and the startup, and they will also provide some premium services later on as Cliquefund grows its user base. So far the service is bootstrapped by the founders, and they hope to remain self-sustained — although Jef noted that they might need to apply for some seed funding later on in order to scale.
In the next few months Cliquefund will conduct closed testing with select startups and gather feedback by folks in the community. They hope to open a public beta in 2013, and they even have an iOS app in the works which looks pretty sharp.
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