Recently over dinner, my aunt and uncle brought up our recently launched Indiegogo campaign for my company Modavanti.com. They said they planned to donate, but first wanted to know more about how it worked.
Crowd-funding was a completely foreign concept to them. Twenty years ago the idea didn’t exist. Angel investing, now the standard for raising early-stage capital, was still largely insignificant. If you wanted to start a company, you either needed to come from wealth or take out a loan from a bank. And banks wanted your house, your car, and your firstborn as collateral.
Combined with the snail pace of dial-up Internet and limited capabilities of Windows DOS, starting a business was a daunting prospect. Fortunately the digital age arrived and along with the proliferation of angel investing, that all changed.
Now, crowd-funding platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are revolutionizing fundraising once again. No longer do we have to win the Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. With a good idea and a creative video, we can do it on our own. We can do it together.
The democratization of startups has brought about tangible results. An astounding $560 million had been raised through Kickstarter. One project raised over $10 Million, or 100 times more money than they asked for. Our generation is coming together to pay it forward and support one another by backing great ventures.
The result is turning the business world upside down as more and more on Wall Street are becoming attuned to the needs and demands of the people. No longer is making money the sole objective of new businesses.
With this greater access to capital, though, comes both responsibility. It is incumbent upon us as participants in this crowd-funding era to pick meaningful projects and businesses to support. Like a democracy we have the chance to lend our voices (be it through donations or shares on Facebook) to projects we believe in.
We millennials face incredible challenges in front of us but we also have even greater opportunity to solve the world’s most pressing problems through new businesses that put people, the planet, and prosperity on the same level.
As Arianna Huffington recently said during her commencement address at Smith College, “At the moment, our society's notion of success is largely composed of two parts: money and power. But it's time for a third metric, beyond money and power, one founded on well-being, wisdom, our ability to wonder, and to give back. Money and power by themselves are a two-legged stool — you can balance on them for a while, but eventually you're going to topple over."
Whether it’s the organic foods revolution, the hybrid/electric cars revolution, or now the sustainable fashion revolution that Modavanti is helping to lead, we have a chance to make a positive social impact through business. We have a powerful opportunity to pick the companies and causes that are important to us. While we of course hope that you will start by supporting Modavanti there are hundreds of campaigns out there to get involved in.