It’s not the first foreign crowdfunding platform to arrive in Belgium and it won’t be the last http://geeko.lesoir.be/2015/06/16/kickstarter-va-faciliter-le-financement-de-creations-originales-belges/?_ga=1.70291924.515073356.1434009493. Why are they coming? How will it impact local players? Who cares?
For those who are not familiar with crowdfunding, https://www.kickstarter.com is the largest and best known platform in the world. Belgium has one of the lowest rates of crowdfunding in Europe and already about 20 active crowdfunding platforms, so on the face-of-it, its hard to see the kickstarter strategy there.
I read one recent discussion on linkedin which suggests that kickstarter is in decline in terms of number of campaigns, average amounts etc… If this is the case, it wouldn’t be a complete surprise as competition in the space continues to grow and people finally realise that campaigns also fail. Stories like this one don’t really help either http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33108064.
On the plus side, as Belgium is lagging behind, there is so much development of the market still do to, so maybe it ain’t such a surprise that Kickstarter has arrived. Figures for 2015 in Belgium are very encouraging if one looks at the activity on http://www.lookandfin.com . More and more projects, more people lending money and the government putting a tax shelter in place, all bode well for continued growth.
That being said, more platforms are being launched here every month such as https://finicrowd.be/en/. Others are stopping or inactive http://www.identitycoop.be/projects. That reminds me of this very old, yet still relevant, Popeye cartoon on what happens when competition heats up:
I believe it is time to focus more on quality, than quantity. Good projects get funding so very often don’t turn to crowdfunding other than for publicity and visibility. Bad projects that struggle to get funding don’t become good projects simply by launching a crowdfunding campaign. I would like to see some good projects go to crowdfunding because they believe in participative finance so that it raises the visibility and credibility of crowdfunding in Belgium. Part of my mission is to find those companies and help them to do so.
As I’ve said in previous posts, proper preparation of a campaign and creating a community around the project before launching, are key success factors. Either do it properly or don’t do it at all.
My verdict is that kickstarter won’t kick start Belgium though it will make life difficult for some of the existing platforms, many of whom I suspect are not making a lot of money to begin with. Belgium is kickstarting itself, without help from kickstarter. Let’s hope that growth continues and that we see quality projects and businesses get funded between now and the end of the year.