Start-Ups.Co really enjoyed interviewing the brilliant entrepreneurs; Mr. ‘Nolan Thompson and Mr. Chris LaBonty’; Partners at the Start Up “HeadFunder”.
Below, is the full interview that we have conducted :
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
HeadFunder is a social crowdfunding platform determined to impact the world in a positive way to help our future generations. We focus on giving back to the users of our site in a way that has never been done before. On HeadFunder, users can create a campaign for almost anything whether it is a for profit, non-profit, or personal need. We believe that HeadFunder is the future of crowdfunding.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
HeadFunder was founded August of 2013. We launched to the public on April 30, 2014 and we are headed full speed to compete with the other crowdfunding platforms that exist. Our startup is currently in the growth phase which is essential to a startup. This is our uphill climb, but we have many people in our corner supporting us that believe in what we are trying to do.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Headfunder’s business model is one that is commission based meaning that we do not get paid unless our campaign creators raise their funds. Each campaign that is found on our platform is either a fixed or flexible campaign. Fixed campaigns must hit their goals and flexible campaigns do not. After the campaign reaches its deadline, we collect a small percentage of the funds raised. We currently have the lowest fees in the industry for fixed campaigns at just 2%. Flexible campaigns are only charged 4%, successful or not.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
We went to middle school together and used to go skateboard all of the time. As we grew up we both were determined to be successful and we both wanted to run our own company. Chris handles most of the technical aspects of the platform. He handles the coding, security, debugging, and other technical issues that occur with the platform. Nolan handles most of the content, social media, and public relations. Together they make a perfect team to startup an online platform.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
HeadFunder has many features that make it stand out among all the other crowdfunding platforms that exist today. We felt that the crowdfunding platforms were not social enough, so we added features such as direct messaging, following, activity streams, and forums to our platform. This way users that are interested in the crowdfunding community can have their own platform to communicate on. We believe that this is something that has not been done in the crowdfunding industry so far. HeadFunder also has the lowest fees in the industry to help let the campaign creators keep most of their funds that they raise while still allowing us to stay online.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
HeadFunder is growing at an incredible rate! We are in communication with many large companies in the crowdfunding industry as well as many startups that are going to help the crowdfunding industry. We have over 80K followers on twitter that actively support us. One of the greatest milestones we hit in just a few days after the launch of HeadFunder is that we had our first successful campaign. This is a great feeling for the HeadFunder team and it is pushing us even harder to help get more campaigns funded.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
HeadFunder has many competitors in the crowdfunding industry but we are not scared. We grew up with social media and technology so we feel that we are experts in these fields. Many of these other crowdfunding platforms do not realize the importance of having a strong social media presence. The crowdfunding industry is still fresh and it is evolving at a fast pace. There is going to be a lot of adapting if these crowdfunding platforms want to remain the industry leaders. We feel that with our fresh minds and love for helping people fund their dreams, we will be one of the industry leaders in the near future.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
HeadFunder has faced may obstacles while creating our crowdfunding platform. Most of the issues that came up were on the technical side of building the platform. The biggest issue we had was making sure that all of the features of the site worked properly for our launch. We have so many ideas and features that we want to add to HeadFunder which will make our platform that much better. Hard work and sleepless nights led to us overcoming all of these obstacles.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
One of the most important things that people don’t understand about the crowdfunding industry is that this is not a lottery. Crowdfunding takes a lot of preparation and hard work to get the funding for your campaign. The campaigns that are successful achieved it because they believed in their campaign and wanted to make their dream a reality. Also many outsiders believe that crowdfunding is just begging for money. It’s not! Crowdfunding is a way for the people to join together to make amazing things happen without putting someone in debt. Crowdfunding is the future of how projects, cause, and personal needs will be funded.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
HeadFunder is going to succeed because we believe in what we are doing. We do not have an exit strategy and we are determined to make our platform known around the world. Our low fees and social platform will help lead to positive changes within the crowdfunding industry. While our platform continues to grow, many remain the same. HeadFunder is introducing a new way to interact on a crowdfunding platform that we believe will allow for crowdfunding campaigns to go viral and get funded.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
Once HeadFunder is successful we plan to expand into a few different industries. We believe that crowdfunding will make up for over 15% of all business done online in the next few years. That being said, successful campaigns will create new jobs for people to get hired and new products for people to purchase. We feel that there is going to be a need for us to help grow the crowdfunding industry based on these results.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
We chose to create HeadFunder for multiple reasons. We both love crowdfunding and were even considering launching their own campaigns on other platforms. When we started to research more about the platforms, we realized how detached they were from their users. This made us want to do something about it. That’s when we decided to start our own crowdfunding platform where we would be as social as possible with our users and make them feel like they were a part of HeadFunder rather that just a user.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
We have learned many things about the crowdfunding industry as well as the amount of work it takes to start your own business. You truly are working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also have learned how amazing the crowdfunding community is! These are like minded people who believe that if we work together, we can do anything. This industry has taught us that there is hope to make positive things happen in our world and with the power of the internet and social media, we can help be the change we want to see in the world.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Our biggest problem six month from now will be answering all of the emails we are getting by then! We receive many emails from fans, campaign creators, and other people in the crowdfunding industry so as we grow we can only expect more. Also finding a new office to make sure our employees have a comfortable working environment. Hopefully in six months we will have more than enough funds to solve both of these issues.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
The benefit of using HeadFunder over the other crowdfunding platforms is that we have the lowest fees in the crowdfunding industry. Also we have awesome features of the site that will allow you to connect and share your campaigns and ideas with other like minded crowdfunding supporters. As we grow, the HeadFunder community will continue to grow leading way to a large network focused on crowdfuding. We believe that this will lead to viral campaigns on our platform helping them raise their funds.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Users have found us through many different ways. Our most used tool is social media. We prefer to use Twitter the most because they give us the most freedom to reach our supporters. Users also find us through press releases which help drive traffic to our platform. Plus our campaign creators and campaign supporters share the campaigns they have created and supported online which help drive more users to HeadFunder.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our current users are people or businesses looking to raise funds though crowdfunding. Most of the campaigns found on our platform are personal because they are easier to set up. Businesses and non-profits looking to raise funds typically take a little bit longer setting up their campaigns because they have so many areas to cover before they ask the public for funding. Plus we have current users who are helping to fund a campaign. Our target users can be anyone who is looking to raise funds for profit, non-profit, and personal needs or anyone who loves crowdfunding and wants to support campaigns.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Users come to HeadFunder from all over the world. We receive most of our attention through social media platforms. Twitter is one of the tols that many of our new users come from. Also our press releases help get us in the public’s eye. HeadFunder loves press! New users try us because we are different than the other crowdfunsing platforms. We are personal with our users and we try to help them as much as possible. Also we have really low fees which makes campaign creators want to try their campaign on our platform.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
Many HeadFunders message us about how they love the crowdfunding platform we have created. They also like the new ideas that we are bringing to the crowdfunding industry. Many people are supporting us and cannot wait to see how we can help change people’s lives. It is rewarding when we receive compliments from our users. We cannot wait until we can do more for everyone using HeadFunder.
20. How are you going to scale?
Every large online platform has to scale at some point or else everything will get overwhelming for our team. We plan to scale by building our team to help keep our users happy. The larger team HeadFunder becomes, the more available we can be to all of our users. Our main focus is to give users on HeadFunder a personable experience while using our crowdfunding platform. With the right team, we can make sure to keep our relationships with our users.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
The biggest feature that is missing from our platform is the fact that we cannot accept international campaigns yet. Currently we can only accept campaigns from the United States, but any country’s currency from anywhere in the world can be used to help fund the campaigns. We will soon be adding this feature to allow international campaigns on HeadFunder. Users from other countries can contact us to let us know that they want HeadFunder to be available in their country.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Yes we are going to go international. That is our most important goal at the moment and we should be able to have this feature very soon for HeadFunder. Our company is online based so going international can be easy to do with the proper social media reach. We will have to have 24 hour support and out source much of our online work while it is night time in the United States. We feel that we can build a trustworthy team that will help us accomplish this goal.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We think we can be at the top of the crowdfunding industry very soon. Since our business is online there is not limit to how big we can get. We can do this because of the internet as well as our features on HeadFunder. Since we are doing some things differently from other crowdfunding platforms, we can stand out which will help our growth. We plan on achieving our goals by always doing good for our HeadFunders, plus adapting to the crowdfunding industry to help improve the number of successful campaigns.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
As of now we do not have any positions available for HeadFunder, but we will be looking to expand soon. Our future positions will require individuals who are experienced in coding, online marketing, and graphic design. We love to talk with people about joining the HeadFunder team so don’t hesitate on asking us if you can help with our positive movement. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
As of now we do not know if we are going to receive funding from Venture Capitalists, angel investors, or other funding sources. We are always open to discuss with potential investors or with possible partnerships. We feel that if we work together we can make great things happen even faster. If anyone is looking to talk about investing, funding, or partnering with HeadFunder, you can email us at email@example.com.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Don’t give up on your startup! It takes hard work to get get you business up and running. We are both young entrepreneurs and realized that there is never a perfect time to start a business. We are perfect examples to show that anything that you put your mind to, you can make possible.