Indiegogo's new design turns the platform into a more social and personalized experience by making it easier to find campaigns in nearby geographic areas, connect to friends' campaigns and find particular campaigns of interest. Indiegogo makes money by charging fund-raisers a percentage of their campaigns in exchange for access to its user base — about 9 million unique monthly visitors. The company would not disclose revenues.
One example of Indiegogo's power: In 2012, when Karen Klein, a bus monitor in New York, was bullied by a group of seventh-graders (the video was titled, "Make the Bus Monitor Cry"), an Indiegogo member created a campaign within a minute on his mobile device and eventually raised $700,000 from people in 60 countries to give Klein a vacation. According to the company, there has been a 275 percent increase in dollars pledged to campaigns outside the U.S. In the last year and currently, about 30 percent of campaigns are launched outside of the U.S.
Indiegogo's success, in numbers and in individual stories, has taken a little bit of getting used to, the co-founders acknowledged. "A lot of outside people congratulate Slava, Eric and me," said Danae Ringelmann, referring to third co-founder Eric Schell. "It always makes me a little uncomfortable, because we would not be here if it were not for the 85 people who show up every day. Great companies have great people."
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The company was born in 2006, though it officially launched in 2008. Ringelmann had been working on an idea to create a fund to finance small projects but running into the federal regulations, which made a start-up difficult. She met Schell, who suggested she meet his friend Rubin.
"Slava flew out and ... we took him across the Golden Gate Bridge," Ringelmann said. "And we were getting out of the car just to look at the view. "He said, 'Why did you go to business school?' and we stood out there for two hours in the cold, just talking. It was the beginning of the guys being involved."
They decided early on not to take on the question of equity crowdfunding, given the federal regulations. "We decided, 'Let's not boil the ocean. Let's prove social fund-raising first,'" Ringelmann said.