Expert Interview with Nathan Hangen on Crowdfunding

CrowdfundingHave you ever considered crowdfunding? And even if you haven't, you've heard the words before, right? Surely while scanning through your news feeds, you've seen someone funding a startup, raising money for acting classes, or trying to get mom's hip replacement paid in full.

While there are several sites online which serve as crowdfunders, there are also ways to do it within your own website. One of those is IgnitionDeck, a crowd funding platform that can greatly enhance the elements of your business. And who provides the funding? Well, the very people who believe in your idea and want to buy it, of course.

To learn more Mint reached out to IgnitionDeck's own Nathan Hangen.

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Why do you do what you do?

We look at the world and see something missing, be it a product, experience, or a better way to do something. Once we notice this absence, we are consumed with a single thought: why doesn't this exist, and how can we make it real? Once we identify the answers to those two questions, the rest is just a matter of relentless execution. Every single product that we've built as a company has been the result of this process. With IgnitionDeck in particular, we could not comprehend how a self-hosted crowdfunding product had not yet been built for WordPress, so we decided to make it ourselves. From that point forward, everything we've done with that product has been done with the purpose of building better monetization and commerce tools for entrepreneurs like ourselves.

Your website states IgnitionDeck is the only professional grade crowdfunding platform for WordPress. Why is the partnership with WordPress so important to the people who use your service?

The WordPress CMS is the most used CMS in the world, so it goes without saying that working with WordPress gives us access to one of the largest and most prolific customer bases on the web. That said, we didn't choose WordPress because it was popular; we chose WordPress because we've been using it all our lives. The community is extremely intelligent, innovative, and active, and we are inspired by the participation and support of the many thousands that have used or purchased our platform.

IgnitionDeck's services are targeted towards Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs, but are those terms used more to describe individuals who use your services or businesses that are comprised of those personality types?

I would say neither. We are very deliberate in our use of those terms because we believe that they denote the type of people, like us, that have a vision and absolutely cannot rest until they see it through. We meet lots of makers and artists that are not financially motivated. They simply want the opportunity to continue creating art. And entrepreneurs are a special breed that are what we like to call "permanently unemployable," and because of that are kind of forced into this role where they're in the jungle whacking at the brush, hacking every single day until they find a path of their own. It takes a certain type of insanity to do that every day, especially when everyone is trying to convince you otherwise. These are the type of people that we celebrate.

When someone crowdfunds a project, how are the raised funds reported on taxes, and what do they need to keep track of for when it's time to do their reporting?

We aren't tax advisors, so we try to avoid giving advice in this area. The best thing a crowdfunder can do is to build a great team around them, which includes an attorney and an accountant. The answer to this question depends a lot on the structure of the business entity and the manner in which funds are raised. That said, it's very important that the crowdfunding platform in question makes it easy to report numbers to these team members, which is something we've put a lot of thought into when building IgnitionDeck.

Do people use crowdfunding as a means to launch their business in its entirety, or should it be used for niche projects within the business that would otherwise have no budget?

Crowdfunding isn't a set it and forget it thing, so we encourage our users to build a business around the crowdfunding effort, even if it's only a one-time thing. This has certain tax and legal advantages, but also sets them up to perform the due diligence needed to launch their campaign. As for the question itself, we see it work both ways. Chris Roberts, who was one of our early customers and clients, has proven that crowdfunding doesn't have to be a fixed thing. He's been raising for 2-3 years now, and his business is booming. Others, like Patrice at I.A. Magazine, have done a great job of integrating crowdfunding into the current business model in a way that supplements the business. I'd say that you can use crowdfunding for anything you want, provided you spend the time developing a strategy and business model that achieves the objectives you're aiming for.

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