Crowdtilt is trying to turn crowdfunding into a daily occurrence.
The startup has just raised $23 million to expand its vision and platform for crowdfunding around the world, making the technology more accessible to a larger group of people.
“We understand that crowdfunding is still kind of seen as a toy by many audiences,” said CEO James Beshara. “In contrast, we think it will end up being the greatest web phenomenon of this decade. It will go from something we do two to three times a year today to something we do two to three times a week years from now. Whether it’s politics, civic crowdfunding, commercial crowdfunding — it’s hard for us to think of a single industry that won’t be impacted by groups [collaborating] and taking collective action online.”
Crowdtilt was founded as a place where friends could pool their money together online for a specific purpose. It focused on enabling group experiences or shared causes, like rallying hundreds of people to throw a yacht party or raising nearly $100,000 to preserve a struggling school.
Beshara has a bigger vision.
“There is this voice in my head saying that crowdfunding is so far from what it could be in 2013,” Beshara said in an interview earlier this year. “We believe strongly that crowdfunding has the power to turn payments into a form of communication. Communication shouldn’t be restricted: It should be open, accessible, and given to everybody. It’s about radical inclusivity.”
So Crowdtilt built Crowdhoster, which launched in August. Beshara described it as “WordPress for crowdfunding.” It is an open-source tool that makes it easy for anyone to set up and host a crowdfunding campaign on their own website, even if they don’t have technical skills.
Using Crowdhoster, they can customize and brand campaigns, communicate with their audience, and raise money without using a third-party portal like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. The system also has tools for managing orders, keeping track of customers, and billing.
Crowdtilt released an application programming interface (API) in December 2012 and a mobile app in September. Beshara claims that Crowdtilt is on track to launch more campaigns per day than any other crowdfunding platform in the country, and he believes it is the “most mobile and developer friendly platform on the market.”
Andreessen Horowitz led this funding round (it also was lead investor on Crowdtilt’s first round of $12 million that closed in March). Beshara said that Andreessen offered to lead the Series B before the company even considered raising more money. This funding will enable it to “double down” on its three products as well as extend its platform into Europe, Canada, Asia, and South America. Its first foray into the international market is expected in Q1 of next year.
The crowdfunding industry reached $5.1 billion in 2013, and Beshara said this is just the beginning as the landscape for Internet payments continues to grow and evolve.
“Technology is changing the way people interact around money,” he said. “Crowdfunding along with digital currencies like Bitcoin, new forms of payment like Square, and even the implications of the JOBS Act are all a part of a shift in how we think about and interact with money today. Long term, we see crowdfunding becoming as seamless to the average consumer as interacting on a social network. We are getting closer and closer to that level of simplicity being a reality.”
Crowdtilt was founded in 2011 and participated in Y Combinator. The current fund-raise brings its total capital raised to $37 million. It is based in San Francisco.