You’ve heard of the golden rule, right? Whoever has the gold makes the rules. Just ask any entrepreneur. To turn an idea into an enterprise, many have traditionally delivered painstaking plans and peppy pitches to skeptical bankers and venture capitalists. It was a long and tedious process defined by harrowing demands and tradeoffs. It was a process ripe for disruption.
And that disruption has come in the form of crowdfunding. Forget one-sided terms and surrendering equity, crowdfundig taps into the internet to harness the financial power of the masses. In the process, it levels the playing field for seasoned and novice entrepreneurs alike.
A JOB CREATOR THAT DOUBLES RETURN ON INVESTMENT
“Crowdfunding is more than another way of raising funds,” writes Ethan Mollick, a decorated Wharton entrepreneurship professor in a 2016 blog post with the Harvard Business Review. “In connecting creators and entrepreneurs directly with customers and funders, it transforms the opaque and oligarchical market for early-stage fundraising into a more democratic, open one. Rather than relying on venture capitalists and marketers to try to project nascent demand for new innovations, creators can directly reach out to customers and communities to refine ideas and gauge interest. Crowdfunding acts as a platform, matching innovators with those who need innovation, and thus is reshaping which ideas come to market.”
On December 4th, Mollick takes his findings to the masses with Crowdfunding, a MOOC that takes a research-driven look at the practices and variables that differentiate successful crowdfunding campaigns. As part of the course, Mollick will walk students through the two main types of crowdfunding models – equity and rewards-based – along with their advantages and drawbacks in various contexts. The course will also examine the psychology of investors to help students better craft messaging that pulls at both heart and wallet. That’s critical in a crowded field where just one misspelling can reduce the likelihood of investment by 13% according to Mollick.
Indeed, crowdfunding has grown increasingly popular among entrepreneurs and investors alike. In 2015, Kickstarter alone raised $2 billion dollars in equity for American initiatives says Mollick. What’s more, it has created an economic boon according to his research on nearly 62,000 Kickstarter projects. He found that the Kickstarter funding created over 5,000 full-time jobs and 160,000 temporary ones. It launched 2,600 patents. More impressive, every dollar spent on Kickstarter dollar yielded a $2.46 return.
For entrepreneurs, crowdfunding is a means to go around traditional gatekeepers for funding. What do investors actually get out of it? Mollick sees the appeal stemming from a sense of shared mission and community, where the creator and the user are able to collaborate. At the same time, Mollick notes that crowdfunding fosters a deeper sense of accountability among entrepreneurs – with less than 10% of KickStarter projects ultimately failing. Even more, crowdfunding has become the ultimate meritocracy. Look no further than the success of women on KickStarter, who were 13% more likely to raise funding than men according to Mollick’s research.
So what lessons can students in the Crowdfunding MOOC expect to learn? In a 2017 interview with CNBC, Mollick encourages entrepreneurs to be part of the community that they target. In the same breatj, he also warns readers not to view crowdfunding as a get rich fast scheme. “Most projects fail by a lot or succeed by a little. Don’t aim for viral, you’re not likely to get it.”
FROM DEVELOPING STRATEGY TO FINDING PURPOSE
Crowdfunding is just one of a deep roster of MOOCs devoted to marketing this month. Putting your final touches on your 2018 plans? Check out Strategy Management, which separates tired practices from their modern counterparts. For digital marketers, the University of Virginia is rolling out Digital Product Management: Modern Fundamentals on December 11th. This course is designed to help marketers leverage data to enhance value and build a deeper dialogue with customers. Speaking of data, you won’t want to miss another go-round of the University of California-Berkeley’s Marketing Analytics: Price and Promotion Analytics – a course taught by Stephen Sorger, a leading practitioner in the field.
Leadership and finance, as always, are heavily featured in December. Want to learn about managing people from a top business school dean? Check out Inspiring and Motivating Individuals, which is co-taught by D. Scott DeRue – the dean of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Seeking purpose in your life? Don’t miss Wharton’s Leading the Life You Want, which examines how luminaries like Bruce Springsteen and Michelle Obama have cracked the code when it comes to balancing their professional, family, and spiritual lives. Then again, if you’re always wondering what the bean counters are really saying, Rice is offering a primer on just that: Finance for Non-Finance Professionals.
To learn more about these courses — and many more — click on the links below.
Leading Teams / December 4 / University of Michigan