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Tapping the untapped Asian market
IF you're an innovator at heart, but has been stymied by one too many investors who just don't share your vision and aren't willing to provide the funding required, it might be time to take crowdfunding platforms more seriously.
And no, we don't mean Kickstarter. Though the arguably best-known platform has now entered the Singapore and Hong Kong market, there are others, such as Zingohub, which could provide more bang for your buck.
Sayantan Das, co-founder of Zingohub, says: "We wanted to bring together a community of independent creators across Asia and beyond so they had a space to raise funds for their creative ideas, and also to engage in early sales for their products. There's an abundance of talent in this side of the world that hasn't been showcased the right way."
Along with his co-founder, whom he met at United World College of South East Asia, Mr Das identified a "critical gap" in the crowdfunding market, which he sought to fill.
He explains: "Before Kickstarter launched here, Singaporean makers had to get someone in an established market to launch their campaigns for them. And as the industry is still relatively young, it can be a daunting process to identify the best way to showcase your products."
Ryan Sim, co-founder of slim-wallet company Kisetsu, which has seen successful campaigns on both Kickstarter and Zingohub, notes: "For first-timers, Zingohub is a much-better platform because it offers on-the-ground support. They'll guide you through step by step, which is very important."
This support can take the form of a multitude of things, including consulting on campaign strategies to make it more appealing to backers, as well as educational talks on how to make crowdfunding work for you.
Mr Das adds: "A few years ago, there was a lot of hesitancy about what it was exactly, and there was a sense of mistrust on both the makers' and the backers' sides. What we're trying to do is show people why it's such a great concept."
Also operating in India and the United Arab Emirates, Zingohub saw its first Singaporean campaign three months ago. Since then, it's grown to have more than 20 active campaigns and 35,000 users.
"The market's still growing exponentially," Mr Das says. "There's a 210 per cent global growth annually, and what's changing is the attitude of people who weren't keen on the idea at first."
The two most successful campaigns on Zingohub have both been dance-focused projects from India. The first, titled Neeye, was an attempt to create a video portraying the different languages of love and emotion through dance, which hit its target within three days.
Other campaigns include musicians seeking funding for producing albums, makers of hand-crafted jewellery items, and hopeful documentary producers.
Perhaps surprisingly, Mr Das isn't all that concerned with Kickstarter's presence in Singapore. He points out: "I think what it actually does is validate the opportunity that exists in terms of how many creative entrepreneurs there are here. It also builds up trust because it means there's a market here and there must be potential to succeed if a global company is entering the field.
"And of course, it being such a well-known brand means we can leverage it," he laughs.
But Zingohub isn't just a crowdfunding platform. Apart from acting in an advisory capacity which leads to a "certain level of curation with regard to the campaigns on site", the startup also has a marketplace extension.
Mr Das says: "This means that not only can you raise funds for producing your vision, but you can also engage in early sales. So once a maker reaches their funding goal, they don't have to leave the platform to sell their products. That's how we connect the ecosystem using Zingohub."
Another new feature added a couple of months ago is their "live" feature which benefits content creators specifically. Using it, campaign owners can live-stream, for example, a musical performance, and raise funds in real time.
Zingohub has also launched a beta version of its app on the Google Play store, and will be launching their iOS app within the next few months.
Mr Das reasons: "People look at their phones when they're mobile, they're not carrying around their laptops. We're also focused on empowering people living in rural areas whose lives can really change through crowdfunding, and in a lot of those places, the only access to the Internet is via a mobile phone."
He adds: "What we're looking to do next is scale our growth to other parts of the world. It would be really exciting for us to get campaigns from places like Afghanistan or even Algeria. There's just so much untapped potential out there."
- For more information on Zingohub, please visit www.zingohub.com