Crowdfunding for dummies ctd

Stuart Macdonald
4 min readDec 20, 2017

The most important thing you can do for a successful fund AND how to make a video that is 100% pure sizzle.

Working our way along the imaginary timeline… Last week you:

  1. Built a rabidly passionate grass roots following.
  2. Spent a sh*t load on coffees getting to know your top 10 online customers.
  3. Spent some more on coffee, and learnt from the a bunch of highly successful, recently exited, entrepreneurs.
  4. Sold the dream to numbers 2 and 3 and secured a commitment to some hefty chunks of cash.
  5. Planted the seed of urgency in 1,2 and 3 and got the big day in their diaries!

2 pieces of the puzzle remain before you kick off…


“…that ManíLife video is 100% pure sizzle”

A very nice, pint sipping man, in Putney

The video is what will capture ‘The Crowd’ (the crowd that’s not yours). As recent political events might suggest — facts and figures don’t capture — stories, passion and fake news capture.

Note — no crowdfunding platform will allow fake news in your video so you need to tell a bloody good story with shit loads of passion.

ManíLife’s first draft video was absolutely rubbish… so bad, I spent the last of my money to fly home early from the other side of the world to redo it.

We re-filmed 5 days before we went live and it’s one of the few things I’m genuinely proud of. It captures the excitement, it captures the community, it captures the growth and it is pretty authentic… I reckon!

Key themes to include in a blockbuster vid:

  1. The struggle — shows your grit, shows your determination & everyone likes an underdog.
  2. The people — if you can inspire people to join a campaign with no money and statistically nigh on zero chance of success… just think what you can do funded.
  3. The growth — for obvious reasons…
  4. The Emotional address… Straight. At. The. Camera. — this sounds false and looking back it feels quite corny but genuine tears came to my eyes c.3mins 40secs.
Vid compliments of Double Three Productions — They are absolutely world class.


“Aim low. Really really low.”


This may seem a strange thing to cover last but all should become clear. The official (public) target you set is probably the most important part of making your fund a success.

The 3 steps:

  1. Set your target — what would you ideally like to raise to take your business to the next level?
  2. Half it.
  3. Drop it some more — remember the money you secured from groups 2 and 3 above… ideally your target will be no more than 20% more than this.

Manílife knew we wanted to raise c. £220k. However, we also knew that if we raised just £100k we’d be able to improve the business case to raise the rest later.

We also knew where £80k was already coming from — so we set our target at £100,000. Knowing that if the crowd & our community didn’t come up the remaining £20,000 we probably weren’t worth investing in anyway.

There are lots of reasons to do this but 3 big ones are below:

Set your targets low. Don’t fail. Then overfund.
  1. Nothing’s worse than a failed crowdfund — it’s a lot of hard work for no reward (failed funds get £0). It’s bad press. It’s embarrassing. Most importantly it will make your second crack at it a LOT harder.

It sounds uninspiring, but set your target low and don’t fail.

2. It works the system — Crowdfunding sites rank you on lots of credentials. Kind of like Facebook, they give you points for achieving certain things, the more points you get the higher you rank. There’s obvious ones like amount raised and number of investors but there’s also less obvious ones…

what % of your target is raised? Has your target been hit? What % of your target was raised today?

For example

Company A that has a target of £500k can raise £300k in a day will receive less recognition than a company B that raised the same amount of money from the same number of investors, with a target of £100k.

3. It creates more news — think of the example above. Company B has already, hit its target, doubled its target, tripled its target in record time. Company A has zero news.

The Finale — Going live

Now whattaya gonna do?

Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday

Rule 1 — Don’t let anyone put money in privately — Remember the points… you don’t get any points if you succeed in private. There’s a big difference between a company that goes live (publicly) with 80% of their target filled and one that goes live with zero filled and gets that same 80% from those same people in the first 5 minutes… Tell your pre-committed investors to be at their computers when the clock strikes.

Rule 2 — know whether you want one person’s £20,000 or 2000 people’s £100 — ManíLife wanted the second. When we reached £150k after 4 hours my biggest fear was that we’d fill the whole target with just a handful of investors. I sent out an email to all of our customers offering to match their investment with product. We had to send out 534 jars of peanut butter for free but the investor community was 230 people stronger.

Rule 3 — When you smash it, make sure you celebrate and say thanks — A pet regret of mine is not taking the time to celebrate what in hindsight is a pretty cool achievement. I hope the people who were involved in getting ManíLife to this stage know how grateful I am.

One thing is clear — The thought of sharing success with the 277 beaaauties that took a risk on us is a big, fat motivator.

Feel free to get in touch at

Feel freer to sample some of the magic at (Use code CFMani for 10% off)