Can You Build an Audience Through Crowd Funding?

Many startups and media producers use websites like Indiegogo and KickStarter to raise build an audiencefunds to launch their products or projects. But what if those web platforms could also be used to build an audience for an initiative before it even gets off the ground?

Last week, I attended nextMEDIA’s Content Innovators Summit at MaRS and learned how TELUS and CinceCoup, a new Film Accelerator in Canada, took a new approach to crowd funding by asking online users to choose which independent film projects deserved private funding.

The TELUS pilot project, StoryHive, encouraged Vacouverites to vote for the top six video projects to receive $5,000 in funding (from TELUS) to produce stories for Optik TV – a local television station. The winning stories included a documentary about B.C. craft beer, and a mockumentary about the life of B.C. students after they graduate film school. The StoryHive project was so successful that the contest will be running again in the near future.

CineCoup took a similar approach by asking Canadians to vote to select one independent film project to receive $1 million in capital investor funding. Film producers had to create what is similar to a “minimum viable product” in the tech startup world by filming a concept trailer for the audience to view and vet before voting. The winning film, Wolf Cop, has already generated a lot of buzz in Canada and around the world (and it hasn’t even been produced yet) thanks to the media awareness of the contest and the promotion of the film on channels like YouTube.

Check out the Wolf Cop concept trailer below. Warning: You might spit out that coffee/tea/water that you are drinking upon the realization of how awesome this movie could actually be.

During the Q&A session, an audience member asked CineCoup CEO and founder J. Joly if he thought crowd funding websites could be used, in a similar fashion to StoryHive and CinceCoup, to generate awareness of a program or product before it launches. Joly said that there is definitely an opportunity. But the concept requires more thought and discussion to determine how to use those platforms effectively as social networks for building an audience.

What do you think? How can a crowd funding website be used to generate awareness and buzz around a launch?

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