Crowdfunding, or the practice of asking other people for monetary support online, has become a popular option all over the world and in Singapore nowadays with a lot of people use it to raise money as a kickstarter for start-ups and small businesses, charitable causes, and community projects.
Observers said that crowdfunding platforms have become a viable solution for shortages in funds due to the prevalence of the internet and social media use. However, experts have also noted the rise in demand and use of crowdfunding platforms amid the COVID-19 pandemic, since economies have spiraled down due to inactivity.
As the COVID-19 pandemic supposedly highlighted the divide between financially stable and struggling individuals — with sectors who suffered income loss scampering for economic assistance and bank loans — crowdfunding appears to be an enticing way to generate startup capital or funds quickly, without worrying about high interest rates.
Analytics group Research and Markets noted in their July 2020 forecast that groups with fundraising needs worldwide have leaned towards signing up with crowdfunding sites to support and thank health workers fighting to end COVID-19.
How It Works
As its name suggests, crowdfunding is a method used by early stage startups to raise money or build up funds for a fully transparent purpose, by getting individuals or an angel investor to contribute towards a set goal. Usually, investors in support of business ideas would pledge a specific amount through crowdfunding sites.
For example, there are crowdfunding setups for startup companies, wherein the founders would ask individuals for around S$10,000 as a kickstarter for their business venture.
People who opened the crowdfunding account can share their campaign on social media, which would direct people to a mechanism where they can donate money using the platform— usually done through electronic wallets and online bank transfers.
But with the many options in Singapore, how can you know which would work best for your plans?
Here is a list of some of the top crowdfunding platforms in Singapore right now.
Indiegogo is one of the top crowdfunding platforms not only in Singapore, but also in many other countries due to its popularity and reliability. Founded in the United States back in 2008, Indiegogo is a platform that prides in having supported over 800,000 projects while generating around 15 million visitors per month.
It is an often used campaign platform for upcoming entrepreneurs and investors in over 235 countries and territories.
While Indiegogo has been made exclusively for start-up companies and initiatives, the platform also crafted Indiegogo Life, now known as Generosity.com, which is a crowdfunding measure for emergencies, donations, medical expenses.
Some of the initiatives supported by Indiegogo include tech projects, while providing crowdfunding opportunities for creative works like film, photography, and music production.
- tech products, innovative project, startup, SMEs, creative work
Advantages / Perks:
since it is not an equity crowdfunding scheme, investors would not get stakes from a company; rather, they get gifts through a rewards-based system
- flexible funding allows people who start crowdfunding campaigns on this platform to keep the money generated even if they do not reach the goal
- got an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, the highest rating from the non-profit organization that reviews entities around the world
- worldwide operations provide security for both early stage startups and investor
- crowdfunding projects are aided with features that boost chances of attracting supporters
- a five percent charge or platform fee is placed on the fund raised by the account owners — somewhat good as charges are not based on the goal amount, which would be handy if targets are not reached.
Another crowdfunding platform hailed for its track record is Funding Societies, a crowdfunding site that supports projects in the South-East-Asia region and whose headquarters are in Singapore.
Funding Societies is said to be the largest financing platform in the area, providing over S$2 billion loans. But unlike other debt crowdfunding solutions, Funding Societies does not provide direct investor-to-startup transactions; rather, what it does is to receive market proposals from SMEs that would need money.
Teams from Funding Societies then assess if the project or initiative is feasible. If it is approved, Funding Societies will then match your project with its network of investors, which would eventually lead to funds or small business loans to support the business idea.
Funding Societies’ Singapore office is located at 112 Robinson Road, Level 8, Singapore 068902, and may be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org, +65 6221 0958.
- loans to SMEs, property investments
Advantages / Perks:
- credible and robust structure having released provided S$2 billion worth of loans to millions of fundraising projects in the region
- several mainstreams and growing startups included under its profile
- risk assessment teams help early stage startups in a way, as they check the chances for growth and success of an SME’s initiative
- safety nets for investors — extremely low default rates and 90 percent on-time repayments — means more financiers are interested
- ease of application as both investor and early stage startups can apply online
- has obtained several awards from Singaporean bodies, and within regional and international organizations
- Vetting process may miss out on some good and ambitious projects as the risk assessment teams can play safe
MoolahSense claims to be Singapore’s “pioneer and most trusted digital lending platform”. Like Funding Societies, MoolahSense is essentially a lending company that lets start ups borrow funds that are crowdfunded, or in other terms, debt crowdfunding.
The crowdfunding platform prides itself in being regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, being the first in its industry to get a full Capital Market Services License from the said bureau.
Several startups and companies attested that they were able to build their projects quicker than if taking a loan from banks. In a testimony posted on MoolahSense’s website, Seoul Yummy — a startup Korean restaurant in Singapore — said that they were able to launch the crowdfunding campaign in just a month, which eventually led to the opening of two more outlets in the city-state.
Applying for a crowdfunding account with MoolahSense can be done on their site: first step is to register within the site, then teams within the lending firm would then assess the business models submitted, which would require you to hand over documents before receiving funding.
Although MoolahSense is accepting applications online, their office in Singapore can be found at 150 Cecil St, #03-00, Singapore 069543. You can also use their messaging app within their online site: https://support.moolahsense.com/portal/en/home
Advantages / Perks:
- strong local track record having raised over S$64 million worth of money and funds for upstart companies
- being regulated by the government and high success rate provides users an information that the platform is legitimate
- has systems in place in case MoolahSense closes, which means that investor to entrepreneur relations would maintain, while invested money would be unaffected
- high platform fees and processing fee for businesses
- smaller portfolio of investors: MoolahSense says that they have around 14,000 registered investors, which is not small for several by any means but would be a bit minuscule if compared to international and multinational crowdfunding platforms
If several of the new crowdfunding sites or platforms started from mix-matching investors and startups or new business ventures, Giving.SG draws back to the original purpose of crowdfunding, which is donating for a specific cause.
Giving.SG is one of Singapore’s most popular online donation platforms for causes, with most of the donations done by Singaporeans during the height of COVID-19 infections channeled through this site.
In an April 2020 story from the Straits Times, it was reported that Giving.SG received a record S$13.6 million worth of donations made by thousands of people who responded to social media campaigns about donating money from a part or the whole sum of their solidarity payments.
During that period, traffic on Giving SG’s site grew to over 67,000 visitors at its peak day, compared to the usual 3,000 to 5,000 average of other platforms and crowdfunding sites.
- donations/ foundations, advocacies
Advantages / Perks:
- managed by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) which is a fairly transparent organization, which releases details of its finances through annual reports available on the site
- transactions are secure due to higher layers of security on website and money transfer mechanisms
- charities and other foundations have to shell out only three percent of the amount raised, which would then be used to cover the processing fee and some expenses like bank fees and site management
- donors would not need to pay additional charges for donating, as the whole donated amount would reflect on the foundation’s site
- limited to charities and foundations
- only charities that are non-profit organizations and not affiliated with any religious movement, political organization, and other affiliates are not allowed to join. “Non-moralistic” causes are also not allowed.
Another international crowdfunding platform, Patreon focuses instead on people or organizations doing creative work — from film, photography, music, podcasts, visual art, gaming, to writers and journalists.
Founded by musician Jack Conte and his friend Sam Yam, Patreon originated from Conte’s desire to be rewarded monetarily for the music he makes, as his music gets a lot of views but is only given a small sum for it.
Now, Patreon provides a way for people who would want their content bought on a subscription-based mechanism: interested patrons would pay creators money in exchange for access to the content they create.
- creative products, art, music, media
Advantages / Perks:
- easy to use funding options
- crowdfunding platform can be integrated with different websites that content creators use
- different plans to choose from; upgrade is also possible in the long run
- strong backbone for content sale, as platform supports 200,000 creators with over six million patreons
- while charges start out low, around five percent for Lite plan users, it may increase to 12 percent for those under the Premium plan
- switching plans is easy but the Premium plan requires a three-month sign-up period
FundedHere claims to be Singapore’s first crowdfunding platform licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which is by all means a great feat in the hub which is home to a lot of fundraising options. According to the company’s profile, they have funded over 30 campaigns with S$18 million worth of investor money.
This crowdfunding platform uses an equity-based system, which means investors would get part of the business after making investments, unlike other systems where donors are rewarded through gifts.
One major knock on the company however is it is more attractive to businesses and investors that operate on higher incomes, as usual investments go over S$5,000.
- upstart business, stock investments
Advantages / Perks:
- for investors seeking early equity deals, FundedHere would be best as equity comes even in the early stages of a startup
- investors have the option of investing in publicly-listed companies instead of start-up business which often carries a risk
- often caters to high-level income investors: observers suggest that investors join FundedHere if they have over S$75,000 to S$100,000 worth of income.
- crowdfunding is limited to those with more income
Things to Remember
For interested parties, crowdfunding entails a lot of hard work: it’s either a company or an organization presents a solid feasibility study that would entice investors to fund the idea and business concept.
The same goes for those in the creative field, as cutting-edge content is expected to gain following and subscription.
Another reason as to why crowdfunding platforms have been a big hit is because several successful multimillion corporations once looked to the community to fund their exploits. One of the most known businesses that were built in large part due to crowdfunding is Oculus Rift, which makes virtual reality goggles and headsets.
It also helps that big major conglomerates which have existed for decades by relying mostly on their income from sales are turning to crowdfunding.
But it must be remembered that crowdfunding is not always recommended even for startup companies, as there are instances where the success rate is low which means relying on fundraising campaigns to kickstart your business may entail a long wait.
Another major concern is that entrepreneurs are exposing their ideas to people who may steal and copy it, as most platforms require applicants to reveal what their projects are — including the details which sometimes, should be kept as a secret.
And since the people who want to do a crowdfunding campaign have not applied for a patent for their work, they often fail to extract accountability from people who copied their craft.
Take the case of a company called Frank, a crowdfunded initiative that centers on making Android smartphones that perform better than mainstream products. In a story from tech reviewer website The Verge, Frank, which is registered with Indiegogo, was accused of copying their project from another initiative posted in Alibaba’s crowdfunding platform.
The Verge relayed how Android observers claimed that Frank’s phone is already being sold by a Chinese manufacturer. Frank’s founders said in the story that they believed that the purpose of Alibaba is to help creators find manufacturers — sort of citing the Chinese cell phone manufacturer for giving them an idea.
Frank’s management also noted that the Chinese cellphone maker required buyers to purchase 3,000 cellphone units — which may not bode well for potential customers.
So the proper advice is to always weigh options: there may be instances where crowdfunding would be the best choice to make, but entrepreneurs should always remember that resorting to bank loans would not be a bad move.
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