Consider the last thing you bought on Amazon. Do you remember the company that made the product? Did you speak with the designer? In our CSCW 2014 paper, Understanding the Role of Community in Crowdfunding, we present the first qualitative study of how crowdfunding provides a new way for entrepreneurs to involve the public in their design process.
We interviewed 47 crowdfunding entrepreneurs using Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Rockethub to understand:
- What is the work of crowdfunding?
- What role does community play in crowdfunding work?
- What current technologies support crowdfunding work, and how can they be improved?
Scholars studying entrepreneurship find that less than 30% of traditional entrepreneurs maintain direct or indirect ties with investors or customers. This stands in contrast to crowdfunding entrepreneurs who report maintaining regular and direct contact with their financial supporters during and after their campaign. This includes responding to questions, seeking feedback on prototypes, and posting weekly progress updates.
For example, one book designer described performing live video updates with his supporters on how he did page layout. Another product designer making a lightweight snowshoe had his supporters vote on what color to make the shoe straps.
Perhaps the most exciting type of crowdfunding work in reciprocating resources where experienced crowdfunders not only donate funds to other projects, but also give advice to novices. For instance, a crowdfunding entrepreneur who ran two successful campaigns created his own Pinterest board (see example below) where he posts tips and tricks on how to run a campaign. While another successful crowdfunder says he receives weekly emails from people asking for feedback on their project page.
While there exist many tools for online collaboration and feedback, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk and oDesk, few crowdfunders use them or know of their existence. This suggests design opportunities to create more crowdfunder-friendly support tools to help them perform their work. We are currently designing tools to help crowdfunders seek feedback online from crowd workers and better understand and leverage their social networks for publicity.
For more information on the role of community in crowdfunding, you can download our full paper here.