The Crowdfunding Site Indiegogo Raises A New Round From Richard Branson, Max Levchin, And Others


slava rubin


Indiegogo CEO Slava Rubin

After landing a $40 million Series B round back in January, the crowdfunding site Indiegogo just raised another investment from a group of high-profile techies, including Virgin's Sir Richard Branson, Google X's Megan Smith, PayPal cofounder Max Levchin, and Maynard Webb, eBay's former COO.

Slava Rubin, the company's cofounder and CEO, told Business Insider that Indiegogo's global growth resonated hugely with the new group of investors.

Through its crowdfunding campaigns, Indiegogo sends money to between 70 to 100 countries each week, with over 30% of its funding going outside the U.S. That's no easy task: Cross-border payments need to take into account conversion rate and different regulations. For contrast, the competitor crowdfunding site Kickstarter can currently only send payment to the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.
"I asked our team who we would really love to get on board, aspirationally and the great thing is, they were interested," Rubin says. "We'll be able to go to these folks and tap them for their brains, and experience, and networks."

Besides putting a strong focus on expanding globally, Indiegogo has a few other key differentials: It allows anything to be funded (Kickstarter has strict guidelines for what kinds of projects that it will accept) and it lets users choose a flexible funding option that will ensure that they receive the money that they've raised even if they don't hit their original goal.

Rubin told a story about how Megan Smith saw the power of Indiegogo before she decided to invest.

Smith was attending this year's Lesbians Who Tech conference, which held a pitch competition for social good projects. Five organizations submitted ideas, and one would receive a $5,000 prize. Because of the strength of all the projects, the audience rooted for splitting the money between each group. Smith and others decided to start an Indiegogo campaign so that each organization would get more than $1,000, with Smith matching pledges of other donors. The group raised nearly $30,000.

Rubin says that it's hard for him to highlight a favorite project ("That's like asking me to pick a favorite child!"), but pointed out a crowdfunding milestone: An Indiegogo-funding documentary about Kermit Gosnell just successfully raised more than $2.1 million. That was the highest goal ever set and achieved (though not the highest amount of money ever raised). Rubin and his cofounders started the company back in 2008. It set the model for using perks to raise money

"We had this really naive idea: 'Why not democratize access to capital?'" he says. "We're incredibly grateful to have these new investors and advisors to help accelerate our vision."

Indiegogo declined to reveal the exact amount of the new funding. A PR representative says, "Because of these being private investments, we are not releasing amounts. This is more about the big luminaries who are joining the Indiegogo team."