News Column

Crowdfunding Goes Niche

July 23, 2013

Mark Salay--HispanicBusiness.com

Crowdismo is a new crowdfunding site.

Two California entrepreneurs have launched a new website that use crowdfunding to raise money for Hispanic enterprises.

The duo recently launched a new platform, Crowdismo, with the goal of financing projects from Hollywood films to startup companies. Crowdfunding allows people from the online community to interact with project creators while helping to raise money for their projects through pledges.

"We want to bring that democratized funding to the Latino community, something Latinos can identify with each other," Josť Guevarra, co-founder of Crowdismo, told HispanicBusiness.com.

The startup was formed when co-founder Josť Huitron saw the potential of crowdfunding and the need for a U.S. Hispanic-based site. He pitched the idea to Mr. Guevarra last November, with www.crowdismo.com launched on June 17.

From a technical standpoint, Crowdismo operates in much the same way as other crowdfunding sites. Each project on Crowdismo sets a goal and deadline, and pitches its idea to the audience in hopes of getting the project funded through pledges. In return for those pledges, project creators will offer incentives. For example, if they are trying to get a book financed, they may offer an autographed copy of the book.

"What really separates us is that we're going for a particular identity, an identity that is the second-largest minority population in the United States and growing," Mr. Guevarra said. "We want to be the platform they use to empower their community and express their identity."

Crowdismo helps Hispanics get capital to start their projects, Mr. Guevarra said, as many find it difficult to receive funding from traditional banks. A minimal credit history and a lack of collateral are two reasons it's difficult for some entrepreneurs to obtain financing, he said.

Mr. Guevarra said the site allows individuals to decide on the viability of a business or product by whether they support it financially.

"With crowdfunding, it's a little bit different...you don't have to convince one or two, three or four people to get funding," Mr. Guevarra said. "You just have to pitch your idea to your target market and let them determine whether or not your idea should be funded or not."

Although those seeking funding don't have to be Hispanic, each project must still resonate with the Hispanic population. Crowdismo's owners determine which projects will go on the website.

"In general we are looking for projects that are doing very bold things: educating our community, empowering our community, expressing our identity," Mr. Guevarra said.

Currently, Crowdismo is supporting the Heartful Giving Project, whose goal is to reconstruct a community arts center in Sua, Ecuador, where local artists can practice and teach their skills.

Julia Chiriboga, founder and project director, along with her mother, Maryanne, the in-country project director, hopes a new arts facility will help preserve the culture of the people and provide income for local artists who will be able to sell their work from the arts center directly to tourists. The project has set a goal of raising $7,500 by Aug. 1.

Ms. Chiriboga says crowdfunding generates a wider audience and allows for more people to be involved in the project because donors have a personal attachment to the concept.

"It's a great way to get people involved and have the public feel they are a part of the journey," Ms. Chiriboga said. "Crowdfunding is a way for me to share that with so many people and for them to be a part of it, which then turns them into ambassadors."

For Ms. Chiriboga, the site allows Hispanics to have another outlet for their community and fills a void left unfulfilled by other crowdfunding sites.

"They're definitely targeting a niche market, which is the Latino community," Ms. Chiriboga said. "I know these two guys personally have a passion for this and (have) the insights to go after it. It's a great way to connect to the Latino community."


For more stories on small businesses and entrepreneurs, please see HispanicBusiness' Entrepreneur Channel



Source: HispanicBusiness.com (c) 2013. All rights reserved.


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