From to Michelangelo’s David to Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, the timeless masterpieces of the Renaissance continue to define Europe and capture the awe of the entire world. Beginning in the 14th century, the Renaissance movement not only produced beautiful works of paintings and sculptures, but revived and redefined Western Europe from its art and literature to its scholars and politics. At the heart of the movement was Florence, Italy, a buzzing city with a strong economy and political philosophy and powerful people dedicated to the welfare of the city. The most important of these people was the Medici family who gained power through banking and commerce in the 12th century and continued to influence Florence until the end of the 14th century. Like many of wealthy patrons of the time, the Medici family spent fortunes commissioning art making it possible for artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci to make money from their craft and produce the masterpieces we still treasure to this day. In other terms, the Medici family funded the great Renaissance artists to produce work that influenced Western Civilization.
Today, some say a second Renaissance is beginning in the very same fashion. During the 14th century the Medici family only had the means to fund Florentine artists, however technology today makes it possible to replicate this on a much, much bigger scale bringing together “patrons” and people looking for funding around the world. Today the concept is called crowdfunding, a method of raising money for a project, company, or business from a large group of people, mostly strangers, from the internet. This concept allows artists and creators to raise money to support their craft and create exposure for their work on a global scale. Crowdfunding gives artists and entrepreneurs alike the chance to actually pursue their crazy ideas and could lead to a new era of innovation.
Crowdfunding is all about using the power of technology to find as many supporters as possible to raise money and awareness of different innovative projects. The idea involves three main players: the project initiator or inventor, artist, entrepreneur or startup, a platform such as kickstarter, and a “crowd” or individuals and groups who agree to support and pledge money. Different platforms allow this interaction to take place in different ways. Reward-based crowdfunding allows entrepreneurs to pre-sell their products or services allowing startups to launch a business without debt or sacrificing equity. Debt crowdfunding platforms allow people to ask a crowd or group of peer to lend you money with the promise to pay back with interest. Equity crowdfunding is gives startups capital for their business in exchange for equity in the early stages of the business.
Success stories of young companies using crowdfunding to raise thousands and millions of dollars online to launch their companies have led to a booming and exponentially growing industry. Crowdfunding campaigns raised $16.2 billion last year and it is estimated to raise up to $34.4 billion by the end of 2015. Everyone wants in, but with hundreds of platforms popping up online it’s difficult to decipher which site fits your needs and provides a trustworthy community. As the industry continues to grow, new guidelines have been created to help define the concept and create some ground rules as entrepreneurs flock to these sites to get in on the trend. The goal is to use crowdfunding to continue to foster innovation and fund new ideas but keep it controlled and trustworthy.
If you’re looking to use crowdfunding to fund your business do your research first so you can get the most out of this trend and give your best effort to contributing to the next Renaissance. Take a look at this list of the top crowdfunding sites in Europe and read about the new guidelines from Barcinno here. For tips on how to execute your campaign successfully check out this article.