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How to Pick A Consultant for Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing

posted May 21, 2013, 12:31 PM by Andrew Manzo   [ updated Jun 7, 2013, 9:35 AM ]
    As trends go, crowdfunding is a toddler: all fired up and streaked with independence, in constant motion and grabbing at any shiny object put in its path, wobbly but growing more confident each day. If crowdfunding were a tactile thing, les enfants terribles would take a bite out of you.

    But crowdfunding is not so new that it hasn't birthed its own progeny—the crowdfund consultant. (I am referring to donor- and reward-based crowdfunding since, to push my metaphor one image too far, equity crowdfunding remains in a protracted period of gestation.) You could argue that the nature of crowdfunding defies such conventional paths, that part of its appeal is that every individual now has the tools and the potential audience to find her own way to success, middlemen be damned. Yet it’s a career track that’s found a foothold, and by the looks of the roster of individuals and companies identifying themselves as such, in my own niche capacity myself included, there are no signs the trend will slacken.

    The truth is crowdfunding done well is really hard. It takes a diverse skill set. Creative types, who are big users of this new source of capital, are often weak on the communication, marketing and business end of things. Just scour a popular platform and you’ll see projects with great potential that don't achieve their goal simply because they don’t know the space well enough to leverage it.

    It also takes time to learn how to be successful at crowdfunding. Six months is a reasonable learning curve. Creators would rather be working on their art, innovators are immersed in inventions, and entrepreneurs seem to run on fumes as it is. So there is a need, and the vacuum is filling up, fast.

    In an industry so untested, how is an individual or startup supposed to know whom to hire? Just saying you're an expert doesn't make it so. Since I spend an ungodly amount of time on the topic, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips I've picked up along the way. And since it would defeat the purpose to limit it to just one opinion, I contacted some of my colleagues, with whom I've formed a virtual salon on various LinkedIn crowdfunding groups, and asked them to weigh in.