Category: Indiegogo

Digital Futures Lecture and Field Study Series #1: Steve Tam – Indiegogo

Are there any projects that Indiegogo won’t allow?

What process of revision do projects undergo before being published?

What are some of the most unexpectedly successful projects you’ve seen on Indiegogo?


We had the opportunity to speak with Steve Tam, and to preview a presentation he prepared for a conference in the coming days. Steve broke down some of the elements that make a successful crowd-funded campaign.

Crucial to the success of a campaign is audience engagement. An audience cannot be defined in a focus group, in an office or class setting. Reduction of a product’s audience to a “representative sample” creates egregious data, warped by the setting of the focus group, as well as by the assumptions made about the audience in the first place.

The most honest feedback will come from the first responders – the early adopters. Feedback rises out of initiating a conversation with a broader audience. It’s then the project producers’ task to listen to the feedback that arrives, and to respond and make changes to the product based on this feedback. Rapid iteration is important; as Steve put it, “pivot quickly”. The Misfit Shine campaign, which marketed a compact activity tracker, altered their product mid-campaign to wild success. They ended up raising over 800% of their original goal.

It also helps to create a sense of membership, as well as urgency for the product. Create accountability and loyalty. New and unexpected customers may emerge by the creation of buzz around the product. The Plexidrone campaign created a sense of urgency and membership by offering unique packages for limited times over the course of their campaign.

Steve also spoke about three pillars that make a campaign: brand, product and story. The brand is the identity of the company; creating rapport with the audience by being responsive and inclusive helps build the reputation of the company, and that reputation becomes tied to the company’s visual identity. The company or project also needs to represent the potential product in a way that makes sense to the audience. It’s important to narrow the gap between the “painted picture” and what the customer eventually receives. And finally, a compelling and personal story draws the audience into the product, and helps them realize how it would fit into their lives positively. The story will float between the points of product features and emotions, and it’s important to find the balance between these.




One thing that crossed my mind listening to Steve talk about “story” was a trend I’ve  observed whereby the value of a product is embellished or exaggerated through emotional story telling. I find that this approach can come across as narcissistic and misleading. We see this a lot for example in sports and family vehicle marketing. An example is Nike’s campaign that brings together the entire city of Cleveland into a huddle with the city’s basketball team, and the emotional pre-game cheer, rounded off with a moving and atmospheric soundtrack.

I find myself bucking and rejecting this model, particularly when I’m uninterested in the product. I feel very strong about truth in advertising. I feel that embellishing a product to an extreme degree is misleading, especially to a younger impressionable audience. Maybe I’m being pessimistic because I don’t feel “included” in the sports or family Sedan stories, but I think there are more constructive and insightful ways we can connect with audiences, and especially with young people.


Photo Credit:

Indie GoGo


Success rate?

What are negative consequences/threats to the business?

How will the business grow?

Indiegogo is an innovative crowdfunding platform in that anyone can raise money for anything they like. The most important thing that Stan told us about Indiegogo is that it is a platform for a company to raise awareness of their product/concept, get consumer feedback, and find investors and contributors. This makes it possible for inexperienced or accidental entrepreneurs to create a business and get valuable feedback. An example he gave us was one for an electric bike. The creator hadn’t considered crowdfunding at all. When he introduced his bike to the community, the response was amazing. He raised millions of dollars. This proves that Indiegogo is a valuable tool for companies, especially start ups. The site lets the creator of the product talk to their investors in such a flexible way that allows them to get feedback that they need. One thing Stan pointed out that was very important is that your customers may use your product in a way that it wasn’t quite intended. Based on this and other similar feedback regarding product modifications, the company has an advantage over others on the market who may use focus groups or random user testing. These results can greatly improve the popularity of a product.

Another thing Stan told us was that investment partners and companies may shoot down your idea for being too radical. The case of the Muse headband was especially intriguing. No one wanted to invest in this radical telepathically poured beer idea. When the creator put this idea on Indiegogo, they gained interest and investments and more importantly, respect for their product. With numbers and figures to back up their product, they returned to the same investors and received the partnerships they needed. Stan had answered that the success rate of posters on Indiegogo varied. The frequency of undelivered goals is low, and yet the amount of delayed goals is high.

IndieGogo and Kickstarter. (Crowdfunding)

Q1: What trends in crowd funding have you noticed developing over the 21st century? How has the crowd funding changed from the point of its origin?

Q2: What has been the most outrageous campaign you have encountered, and how the situation has been resolved?

Q3: Does other financing platforms such as Patreon, somehow interfere with the funding coming through Indiegogo? And has Indiegogo considered other systems of funding in addition to the current one.


Summary: On the Tuesday of March 10th we were visited by Steve Tam from IndieGoGo, who has given us a lecture about trends and modern tendencies in crowd funding. During his talk about his experience he mentioned working at Kickstarter, a crowd funding platform that opposes IndieGoGo in the field. Following up on that he drew a connection between IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, compared their financial capabilities and funding strategies, from which he concluded that while Kickstarter has a much larger base of people and larger amount of money flowing through, IndieGoGo is more flexible due to customizable project funding periods and lack of requirement for the finalized product before launch of the campaign. Then he talked about product development and “How the customer should not be defined in the board room” since it is almost impossible to precisely identify the target audience, since people from different ages and other categories have shown to have interest in many various things. Then was a topic about branding and the difference between a brand and a logo. Particularly how the brand sticks with the company and crosses the boundaries of physical products attracting more attention due to the people’s interest in popular items. And finally the lecture was finished with an insightful conversation. One of the questions was about the possibility of crowd funding replacing the material (regular) ways of funding, to which Steve responded with an open-ended answer: That it will most likely stay as it is crowd funding for the internet, while traditional ways remain as they are.

Reflection: Prior to this lecture, the only funding platform I had experience with was Patreon which lets people support the creators of their favorite content with a sort of monthly salary, Therefore a closer look at IndieGoGo proved to be quite resourceful. As I have noticed many similarities between these platforms: Such as perks, given for a certain amount of funding, milestones set by the authors and such. Particularly interesting in Steve’s lecture was the idea of exclusiveness, which the backer (financial supporter) gets when he funds a certain product or project. I have experienced that myself and able to relate to this trend. As for the other trends discussed by Steve that I found interesting was the idea of urgency, set by the campaigns due date, people really are willing to spend money when they see the other people investing and the timer running out. Looking at the trend of crowd funding there is this marvelous campaign on Kickstarter, a space simulator PC game called Star Citizen. The project rocketed beyond imaginable collecting $2,500,000 instead of prompted $500,000. This is a perfect example of a successful campaign and a productive relationship between the consumers and the creators, since the game has been continuously in development receiving all kinds of positive feedback from people.

IndieGoGo – March 10



Does IndieGoGo reviews campaigns before launching it?

How would IndiaGoGo deal with inappropriate subject matter or content presented in a campaign?

What is an advantage of funding a project even if the goal hasn’t been met?


On Tuesday last week we had a speaker from IndieGoGo. Steve Tam, who is a lead Tech and Design at IndieGoGo, came to your class to tell us about IndieGoGo and crowdfunding. He was telling us what the company is about, how crowdfunding works and gave us very useful tips on running a crowdfunding campaign. IndieGoGo is a crowdfunding website that gives people an opportunity to raise capital for development of an idea, charity or start-up businesses. Steve gave us a list of things to consider when creating a successful crowdfunding campaign. One of the most important things he pointed out was the importance of establishing an emotional connection between a campaign and customers. This emotional connection can be achieved by giving customers use cases and showing them how  your product could fit in their lives. Also, it is important to provide customers with a story behind your campaign, tell them why what you are doing is important to you, tell them about your vision and future prospectives. To establish an emotional connection, campaign also needs to make customer feel a part of the process, create a feel of membership.

I found this talk extremely useful. It this moment i work at a start-up and we are currently working on our own crowdfunding campaign. Before this talk, i didnt think about the importance of customers emotions and phycology, and how it impacts the decisions customers make. I though crowdfunding campaign is just about a nice video that showcases the business, but now i realized that it is much more than that. A successful campaign needs to be grounded, friendly to make customer relate to the product/service. It needs to have a personality and a meaning, that would engage customer and make him want to support the business. Now i have a clear understanding of how to make my campaign successful. Also, i didnt think about the fact that not only campaign itself is important, but also advertising campaign is very important. Like social media presence and building up a network of potential customers in social media and establishing a suspense for a campaign prior of the actual launch date.


Indiegogo – March 10


Steve Tam from Indiegogo came to class on Tuesday to show us a presentation about crowd funding and Indiegogo’s works. His presentation was very enlightening and successfully answered the three questions I had prepared previously:

  • Can a project’s rate of funding success be measured in quality or number of supporters alone?
  • Is there a selective process for projects to have an Indiegogo campaign?
  • What is Indiegogo’s course of action in case of a successfully funded project ends up being a fraud?


One of the most valuable things about Steve’s presentation was that it wasn’t solely about Indiegogo itself but crowd funding in general and how to work towards a successful funding campaign. Many good examples from Indiegogo were commented and served to illustrate the qualities of what can be considered a good funding campaign. He also highlighted important attitudes to take when crowd funding a project, such as not limiting the project to a focus group, creating a sense of urgency and offering exclusivities (like memberships, for example). It was also explained that many successful campaigns on Indiegogo are due to an already existing large base of supporters of the project, making Indiegogo only a vehicle for payment and accompanying the project’s progress instead of actually convincing new backers, although projects should always aim for getting the highest amount of backers, thus why not using a single focus group for the project (although he also reinforced the importance of giving an identity to the project instead of simply “shooting in all directions”).



The presentation was very clarifying to me, since I don’t have a big understanding of how crowd funding works but always liked the idea of people being able to support what they want to buy. The idea that some projects use Indiegogo more as of a platform of payment rather than the whole marketing campaign is something that never occurred to me, but certainly explains why some projects – namely already possessing a base of people willing to support it – are backed so successfully while others have a much more hard time and need to invest a lot more in marketing and attractions to new potential backers. This is enough to not put the weight of the success of a project solely on its quality or viability of the idea, or the marketing campaign alone. A combination of factors – and maybe even some unexpected occurrences – is needed to push a project in the right direction. Still, it doesn’t seem easy to predict the success of a new project based on conjecture alone, but it is still very much valid to invest on them.



(Steve Tam. Image from:


  • How do you ensure that the campaigns on Indiegogo are legitimate and not a scam project to get money?
  • Does Indiegogo connect individuals for specific projects or do teams apply together?
  • Is Indiegogo a good company to start kickstarter campaigns? A group of us have various projects and ideas in mind like building iOS apps or cross platforming applications, and are in need of some funding to progress the research. Would Indiegogo support projects like that? Would Indiegogo help with the campaigning



A speaker from Indiegogo, named Steve Tam, came to speak with our class about crowd funding. He was sharing experiences and tips as to what and what not to do when one starts a crowd funding campaign. He expressed six essential steps: 1) Don’t define the audience to the board room, 2) Forget the focus group, 3) Create exclusivities such as memberships, 4) Finding your niche and not worrying if people understand the concept or not, 5) Create the sense of urgency, and 6) Dethrone the gate keeper. He explained that ideas couldn’t grow when it is set in stone for a specific audience. When starting a crowd-funding project, it is important to expect the unexpected, meaning that audiences outside the target range may be interested in the project. Creating membership deals can make people feel the need to join to be part of a certain community, which can tie into the sense of urgency, where people are given a “limited edition” version of the product and have a set time to buy the product. Opening up to communities or trying to make people understand the product, however, can alter the original idea. It is essential for crowd funding projects to create something that fits the creators’ original thoughts. Lastly, dethroning the gate keeper refers to having the ability to say no to businesses, banks, lawyers, etc. when they make suggestions or statements about the project. It is possible for them to be wrong, and it would take some stepping up to prove “the gate keepers” of their mistake.


Personal Response and Reflections:

In Steve Tam’s presentation on how to make a successful crowd-funding business, I thought of possible flaws that may contradict to his statements. Although I agree with majority of his methods, I disagree with his comment about ignoring if people understand the product or not. Assuming majority of the audience does not understand the point or usage of an item/product, the item would not sell. It would be a more effective method by creating an idea that is within the creator’s thoughts, as well as making it clear and understandable to the public. With clear communication of what the product is intended to be, the creator may get more support from the community. Steve Tam also specified special procedures in order to start a crowd-funding campaign. In order to start an Indiegogo kick-starter, one can just apply an idea, write a proposal and business plan, and submit it. However, Steve Tam stated that anything related to health couldn’t be funded through Indiegogo. Many applications and projects are based around health, to either better daily lives or help keep track of needed values. If it is not because of a legal issue, I would like to see more health applications be publicized, as it would help the world a little more.



1)What options are available to Indiegogo users to promote their campaign both internally and externally?

2)How do you imagine Indiegogo adapting in the future to compete with new crowd funding models like Patreon’s subscription based crowd funding model?

3)Do you find that more refined, tangible products are more successful fundraisers than conceptual fundraisers?


During Tuesday’s class Steve Tam title of person from Indiegogo visited to give a presentation on Indiegogo’s crowd funding platform. His presentation highlighted the strengths of Indiegogo and his observations concerning what makes a successful campaign in his experience. Having worked with a diverse range of successful campaigns Steve Tam explained the significance of audience engagement. Notably, he discussed being aware of your access to audience; the means to which you will communicate your product. He continued to underline the importance of user feedback, warning not to define your perceived audience within a “boardroom”. Steve explained how Indiegogo’s advantage of direct feedback can create a better understanding of your product, who it really appeals to, and what their true wants and needs are. After the presentation the class continued to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of crowd funding with Steve who spoke candidly about his work with Indiegogo, as well as his own experience with crowd funding a project with Kickstarter.


I found Steve’s presentation concerning crowd funding very insightful. His understanding of both Indiegogo’s professional perspective and the user’s perspective made for a well-rounded conversation about crowd funding models. I found it intriguing that in his experience a large volume of successful Indiegogo campaigns found the first 20% of their audience before starting their campaign. His commentary on the idea of the “champion” supporter and how it draws back to creating a sense of community and membership that will allow your campaign to grow. Another point I found highly interesting in Steve Tam’s presentation was the idea of creating a sense of urgency. Often, a criticism of Indiegogo is that is doesn’t create the same sense of urgency that Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing model creates. However, Steve addressed this issue by exemplifying the methods which another campaign instilled this same sense of urgency very successfully within their campaign on Indiegogo’s platform. Overall the presentation and consequent discussions were informative and highly relevant to our class’s understanding of alternative funding models.



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