Samuel Van de Velde and his involvement in HART as crowdfunding expert.
What is crowdfunding? How do you set up a successful campaign? And can it also work for a music festival? The people from HART didn’t know, until Samuel Van de Velde joined their team. This engineer is one of the few Belgians to have founded his company Pozyx through crowdfunding. He is now a key figure in the team and his experience shows how to get the project funded. Read on and find out a thing or two about crowdfunding in general and HART in specific.
Samuel, you founded your company through Kickstarter, tell us about your experience.
This summer we launched a campaign on Kickstarter for an indoor GPS positioning system. This technology makes it possible for drones and robots to navigate in a warehouse, for example. After one month we had gathered about 60000 euro, enough money to fabricate a first generation of the product. It was an amazing adventure and none of us knew what to expect at all. Apart from the funding, we got picked up by media worldwide and some leading companies such as Apple, FedEx and Arcelor Mittal. We had not imagined that when we started.
Do you deem this possible if it was not for crowdfunding?
Probably we could have also started the company through traditional ways of fundraising. Largely because the startup climate in Belgium is excellent. But you can’t compare it to the attention you get by launching a crowdfunding campaign. The people who support your campaign are also your first clients and through crowdfunding they can give feedback from the get-go. This can be hard and confronting but at the same time this early feedback allows you to make a product that your customers really want. Not the product you think they want. In that sense, crowdfunding is actually the perfect market study.
Your company is a typical innovation startup, a realm where crowdfunding has shown its merits. Do you think this can also work for a music festival?
As far as I know, there is no other electronic music festival that is crowdfunded. So it is quite hard to make a prediction. But I think that the benefits of crowdfunding are universal. You can engage and integrate people from the start. The people who back you on crowdfunding will be at a party which exists because they want it to be there. In my opinion, and experience, that is a very powerful feeling.
What does HART have in store for people joining in on the crowdfunding campaign?
The simplest benefit is the price. Supporting us via crowdfunding will get the founding fathers, as we call our funders, a ticket at a reduced price compared to people buying a regular ticket after the campaign. But it doesn’t stop there: we want to incorporate people personally as much as we can. Founding fathers will for instance have the option to join HARTcore, allowing them to suggest and select local DJs to play on a dedicated HARTcore stage, which starts out small but can grow with the amount of people backing HART. HARTcore members will also be given credit on the final artwork, decide on the lineup of our launch event and might even join us at the dinner table with some of the international artists we are booking! Another option for the founding fathers is to get a HARTbeat ticket and join us on a bus ride to one of the top clubs in the Benelux. Off course, it is not possible to discuss every aspect with thousand people, but it is our aim to involve the founding fathers as much as possible. We want to hear their voice. What do they like at other parties? What gets their mood killed?
How easy is it to start a crowdfunding campaign?
Well, when we started with Pozyx, it was not possible to do it in Belgium. So what we had to do, was founding a foreign company, which off course brought us a lot of hassle. During our campaign however, Kickstarter announced that they would make it possible to start campaigns in Belgium as well. So, all you need nowadays is an identity card. And an idea, off course.
In your experience, which aspects are crucial for a successful campaign?
Well, preparation is everything. In the end, your main goal is to convince people. So your story has to be good. The better you explain it to them, the bigger the chance you will be convincing. HART started last September to make sure all elements were there to pull it off if the campaign succeeds. Two people from Vlammenwerper are in our team. They are throwing techno parties in Ghent for a while now. I am also very glad that we cooperate with Cloud, which is a Ghent-based branding agency. And then off course there is Maison Rouge, a successful hospitality firm with a shitload of big event experience. The owner is the fifth key member of our team. I should also mention that the bookings in the house room will be done by Bart Vanneste from We Play House recordings, probably the best house label in Belgium. So I’m quite confident that we do have the right team to pull it off.
Sounds pretty good indeed. Can we ask you something about your own electronic music preferences?
Euhm, these Skrillex records are not that bad.
Not sure whether that qualifies as house or techno, but hey, thanks for the interview!