The SaaS market - cloud solutions available as an application or web version - is growing very fast. According to experts, in 2026 it will be $307.3 billion. The cloud model is characterized by scalability, ease of setup and ease of payment, availability, which attracts new customers. Let's take a look at how to use crowdfunding platforms to launch a SaaS startup.
Why crowdfunding attracts entrepreneurs
The field of crowdfunding is developing actively, and news about the success of the project, the funds for which were collected in this way, appear regularly. At the time of this writing, a number of companies have disabled user accounts from Russia and the ability to withdraw funds, which gave impetus to the development of domestic sites. Their representatives note that, despite the economic certainty, due to the influx of new participants, the audience of the platforms is increasing.
This model assumes that the project is funded collectively by third parties. For developers, authors, business owners, this is beneficial, since the issue of start-up capital is partially closed. Namely, the initial costs in most cases repel the authors of the idea from its implementation.
Why is it interesting to third parties? People like to act as early investors, that is, to feel their involvement in the launch of a successful project. They get the final product first and play a role in its feasibility. In addition, this is the most personal and direct communication with the business at the start of its development.
Many developers have turned to crowdfunding platforms and met with failure, which has led to the stereotype that it is ineffective to raise funds for a SaaS project in this way. In fact, examples of successful launch of software solutions are numerous, but a good understanding of the crowdfunding system is required. Consider the types of sites.
Charity based platforms
In this case, investors do not receive benefits for donations. SaaS products are rarely promoted using such platforms. Basically, this is support for people who live in poor countries, charitable organizations, payment for expensive medical operations and research.
Crowdfunding for a reward
Users who invested in the project at an early stage receive a bonus after collecting the required amount and launching. So, entrepreneurs, in fact, organize a pre-sale of a product or service. The type of reward depends on the nature of the startup. In the case of SaaS, this could be early access to the system.
Other examples of “gifts” are a meeting with the founders of the business, the mention of sponsors on the website or in the news about the project. The significance of the reward depends on the size of the investment. In this case, the developer can set the minimum payment amount. This type of platform allows you to quickly raise funds for building cloud solutions, as rewards in the form of early access or user benefits attract fans of technological innovations.
Under this model, you get a stake in the business for investing in it. People become shareholders, they can make decisions and influence the development of the project. In the list of bonuses - early access to the final result. The size of the share depends on the amount of investment. Thanks to the existence of such platforms, a person with any income can become a project sponsor.
Benefits of Crowdfunding for a SaaS Startup
In the case of investment for a fee, you do not lose business, do not risk ownership. In the case of investments for shares, share responsibility with third people who acted as sponsors. In addition to the ability to raise funds and solve the problem of start-up costs, crowdfunding has a number of advantages.
With this model, it is convenient to test the market. The platform allows you to reach people who are interested in the product. The organization of a pre-sale helps to assess whether the idea will be commercially successful, if there is a demand for it, and also to adjust the pricing policy . Communication with potential buyers before launch is testing the project itself.
Early interaction with an interested audience is a way, among other things, to identify buying patterns and adjust the marketing strategy. Before launching the project, you understand whether your idea is clear or whether it is worth detailing the message, whether they show interest in it. Perhaps SaaS needs to be improved. It is optimal to outline the vector of subsequent PR activities with the help of crowdfunding.
Another advantage is the opportunity to win the loyalty of the target audience at the start. A community is formed around the idea that believes in it. Most likely, these users will continue to support you in the future. Interesting ideas quickly gain popularity in the professional community: if your project is discussed, it will become a free and effective PR.
How to start SaaS crowdfunding
First of all, you need to choose a platform that suits your goals and has not suspended your work with Russian accounts. For example, Boomstarter.ru, created in 2012, is popular. Now companies have made a number of services free to support developers and entrepreneurs. Among the implemented projects are the introduction of new technologies, creative, public initiatives, business ideas.
Another major Russian platform is Planeta.ru. The site has helped launch more than 7000 successful projects, it works on the principle of investment for a fee. The platform positions itself as a help in launching a socially significant business or implementing creative initiatives, so its audience is interested in solutions that are useful for society.
To correctly choose brand positioning , you should understand the specifics of the audience of crowdfunding sites. Pleasant bonuses do not excite them in the first place. Basically, these are the so-called early adopters - people who are interested in technological innovations before they become in demand by a wide segment. Plus, it is important for investors to take part in the launch of an attractive, useful and significant project, investing in the development of which brings moral satisfaction.
The next step is to create a profile with comprehensive information about the project, a link to the website and social networks, a marketing activity plan, and documentation. A lot of time and effort should be invested in the preparation phase. It is important to convey your idea, to build an emotional connection with the target audience. Try the video format - it's easy to concisely and visually demonstrate what the essence of your development is, and use memorable visual images.
How to improve campaign success
Make sure people you know know that you've launched a crowdfunding campaign. Report it in the mailing list, social networks, in personal communication. People from the “warm circle” can be the first to financially support your initiative. Decide how much you plan to raise and for how long.
Announcing funding on public platforms should be after you have raised part of the funds with the help of your environment. The point is that when users see a new zero-fee project, they may feel that it is not to be trusted. Crowdfunding in itself carries a certain risk for investors, and no one likes to invest first.
After those who already know you have provided part of the funding, you can draw up a project on the platform. The stage of interaction with investors begins. Respond to feedback, answer questions, work with reviews. Your activities must be transparent, so report to sponsors on what the money is spent on and how the development is going. SaaS is more of a matter of time and effort than logistical, so keep your progress as clear and understandable as possible.
At the stage of fundraising, a marketing strategy is formed. Constant testing and analytics will help determine the most successful channels and tools. This way you get an idea at each phase of the campaign that is suitable for solving your problems.
Instruments for increasing funding
The advantage of SaaS products is unlimited scalability. You spend a minimum on distribution and maintenance, while, if we talk about expansion, the product is profitable. To attract funding, real or perceived value will need to be identified. So, you can introduce an additional level of exclusivity for sponsors.
Working out the reward system is an important step in the promotion strategy. For example, many crowdfunders offer related bonuses that provide value to consumers. The company SHADOW, which created the application for tracking dreams, offered books on the topic as gifts to sponsors. This allowed us to increase the number of donations many times over. In this regard, non-material rewards are beneficial: there is no need to spend on their production.
Above, we already talked about the interest of early adopters - it is important for such people to get access to the beta version faster than others. You can use this aspiration. Think of the queues at Apple stores for those who wanted to be a pioneer. For such an audience, access to new technology before the rest is a serious argument to invest in a project.
If you already have customers, it is optimal to use the accumulated loyalty. This allows you to plan audience coverage and increase it. If you are starting a launch from scratch, try to reach out to experts. The authority of well-known and respected personalities will increase the credibility of your own development, so devote time and effort to networking.
Another way to stimulate interest in an idea is to offer long-term value. The specificity of SaaS products involves the constant use of the service, so your task is to give the target audience the tools and capabilities that it lacks. For example, blogging site Ghost offered early exclusive access and advanced hosting as a reward. The latter was not enough for many authors, so they actively began to invest. As a result, the company collected the required amount ahead of schedule.
You have collected the amount. What's next?
If the idea attracts attention, you can raise the necessary amount before the selected date, but the campaign will continue. It will stop only when the deadline arrives. By the way, overcharges are not uncommon at large venues. Therefore, we recommend that you tell investors in advance where you will spend the money if you raise more funds than planned. Be honest with the audience that chooses which idea to give money to based on trust alone.
How you present the development and how successful it becomes is entirely up to you. Keep investors and those who subscribe to your campaign up to date with the development of the project. Report on the steps taken, plans and generally keep in touch. Including those who became interested, but did not make a donation: the higher the level of trust in you, the more likely it is that the decision may change.
Use the principle of scarcity. Those who did not invest in the idea at the initial stage will see that it is successfully implemented, and investors are rewarded. This encourages payments in your favor, as no one wants to miss out on the benefits. Therefore, focus on the relevance of the project. It is also a show of respect for your sponsors who need to know where their donations went.
The SaaS business model provides income on an ongoing basis, but requires investments at the start. Using crowdfunding, you do not lose anything, but at the same time you get the opportunity to test the product, collect a loyal target audience, and find like-minded people. The main thing is to invest time and effort in preparation, and then success will not be long in coming.
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