Twenty four year old Ishita dabbled briefly with advertising and filmmaking before realizing that entrepreneurship was her true calling. The technology kind, Ishita in her role as Director, Projects for Technology 9 Labs (T9L), she has successfully delivered several projects on both web and mobile platforms across India & UAE. These include a complex loyalty engine platform and two crowdfunding projects.
A self-confessed geek, Ishita graduated from Lady Shri Ram College. As a filmmaker, she has worked independently with Meera Dewan, Amir Raza Hussain, and artists like Stefan Kaegi of Rimini Protokoll, in collaboration with Pro Helvetia and Goethe Institute Delhi.
Tell us more about what you do.
I co-founded BitGiving.com in 2013 – a Social Crowd-funding platform which focuses on fundraising online for Individuals and Organisations. Starting off in a market like India, where the concept and industry around crowd-funding is still in it’s nascent stages, we decided to put a lot of focus on empowering campaigns through a platform which is technically evolved.
In just 6 months, we seem to have created a lot of interest in the market, particularly in the social sector and have curated campaigns from all over the country. It’s been brilliant as a proof of concept for us and now my focus is on making the ecosystem stronger by capacity building sessions with organisations& individuals interested in crowdfunding and getting partners on board to help the campaigners manage a better outreach.
How did you get started with bitgiving?
I actually started working as a graphic designer with a start-up while I was at LSR and I guess the entrepreneurial experience stayed with me. After working in an ad agency for a while, I moved out to take independent projects for films and dabbled in a lot of different things.
I met my co-founder, Fahad, while working on a technology project and eventually came on board as a Marketing head for BitGifting.com, another product by our company. In June, 2013 We started exploring the idea of a crowd-funding platform and after 6 crazy months, we launched BitGiving.
What are the challenges start-ups and individuals face while running crowd-funding programs? How can they be overcome?
There are two major challenges that any start-up, organization or individual faces while running a crowdfunding campaign in India:
-First, Being Objective about their campaign. Most campaigners have a brilliant story and product, however as the concept of crowd-funding is fairly new and they do not understand how to position it. It’s important to understand your audience and build a strong narrative supported by a video and interesting rewards. Most campaigners are currently struggling with where to start for this.
The best way to overcome this challenge is to research – look at similar campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful campaigns and see what worked for them. And once you put your campaign together, take feedback from your friends and partners before going ahead with it.
-The second challenge is that most of the campaigners believe that just putting up a campaign on a crowd-funding platform is enough. Like any other campaign, there is persistent outreach required for a crowd-funding campaign. Tapping into personal networks, sending out e-mailers, engaging your audience on the social media and looking at partnerships for outreach are all importantto make the campaign successful.
The best way to overcome this is to plan – start getting together lists of your potential contributors and reaching out to them much before the campaign. Have your social media and partnerships in place so that you can keep the momentum going for the entire duration and most importantly, engage – the contributors not only give money to the product but also to you. It’s important to be approachable and build a relationship with them in order to gain their trust.
What tips would you give to someone running a crowd-funding campaign?
First and foremost – do your research. Understand how crowdfunding works, look at other projects and campaigns and reach out to campaigners or experts to understand the realities.
Secondly, be realistic – both with your campaign funding goal and your campaign duration. Make budgets, access your networks/partners and plan your campaign accordingly.
Thirdly, be persistent – a typical campaign will have it’s active and lull periods, know when to push harder and get the momentum back
And lastly, have fun – let your audience know how passionate you are, it always helps.
Message to all SHEROES out there.
Believe in what you stand for and take the leap. Everything else figures itself out.