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Idealog Podcast: Indiegogo’s Kate Drane on crowdfunding, beer and good ideas

Kate Drane is senior director of outreach for tech and hardware at Indiegogo, which just so happens to be one of the world’s largest crowdfundig platforms.

Yes, her title might be a bit of a mouthful – and that’s only one aspect of what she does.

Since starting at Indiegogo in July 2012, she’s empowered more than 500 entrepreneurs to collectively raise more than $80 million on the Indiegogo platform, including Canary, Misfit, and Skulpt. In addition to working at Indiegogo, she is also the co-founder and CMO of The Can Van, the world’s first mobile beer canning service made to bring reasonably priced and environmentally friendly packaging options to California breweries. Oh, and she also sits on the advisory board for Catalyze Chicago, Goodcity Chicago and Brewed in Chicago, and frequently speaks at events around the world including CES and TEDx.

Summary: Drane knows a thing or two about business – and especially how a business can be successful.

Since 2008, there have been over 19,000 campaigns on Indiegogo. But Drane – who joined Indiegogo in 2012 – says one particularly stands out. “I’m always drawn to amazing social entrepreneurs, which makes Flow Hive stand out. This Australian company discovered a new way to harvest honey that was easy on the beekeeper and the bees. Having raised over $13 million, they are also our most funded campaign of all time.”

No matter how you slice it, that’s some big money. But what are some of the big trends we’re seeing in crowdfunding at the moment? “It’s been amazing to watch the crowdfunding space grow and evolve over time,” Drane explains. “When Indiegogo launched the industry in January 2008, we only offered perk-based crowdfunding for film. Now people can choose debt-, equity-, perk based-, or donation based-crowdfunding. We’re also seeing an increase in the number of large companies leveraging Indiegogo to launch their products and connect with entrepreneurs. For example, GE’s First Build programme has launched four campaigns on Indiegogo because they like proving their product before they manufacture it.”

Indiegogo may be international, and Kiwis may traditionally struggle at achieving scale, but Drane says it shouldn’t be intimidating or, worse, a turn-off. “There is so much to be gained by making international a core part of your business strategy,” she explains. “The growth of e-commerce has helped level the global playing field. Consumers are not only shopping online more than ever, but they are purchasing products from all around the world.”

Drane says that more than 800,000 campaigns have been hosted on Indiegogo, with a community of backers “more than nine million strong, representing 235 countries and territories.” But that’s not the only business she’s involved with.

She also likes beer. So much so that she started a business around it. “The Can Van is the small company I founded with four of my business school classmates in 2011,” Drane explains. “My co-founder Jenn had the brilliant idea when she noticed that small breweries in Alaska couldn’t package their beer because it was too cost prohibitive to buy an expensive canning line, and they would only need to use it a few days a month. We then looked at the San Francisco Bay Area and found that of the 100 breweries within a two hour radius only two of them canned, so there was market potential. We launched an Indiegogo campaign in the fall of 2011, raised $4,000, then, with some outside investment, we were able to get up and canning by January 2012. The business is now thriving. We have five canning lines, 18 employees and have canned over five million cans.”

But enough with this. Just check out the podcast below.

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