US businesses raised over $1bn via crowdfunding in 2018
According to a new report by Score, small businesses in the United States are becoming increasingly reliant on crowdfunding, the practice of raising small amounts of capital from a large number of donors in order to reach a large financial goal.
In 2018, Score revealed that businesses in the United States raised US$1.04bn. This figure represents a significant increase in comparison to 2017, when businesses raised $915mn. In the US, total funds raised from crowdfunding have grown consistently, up from $800mn in 2016, and are predicted to continue, reaching $1.3bn by 2020.
The three principal forms of crowdfunding are:
Reward-based: where backers receive a pre-release version of the product or other bonuses such as collectibles. Examples include Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Equity: backers provide money up front in exchange for a stake in the company. This represents an IPO at the pre-exit stage of a startup.
Debt: more akin to a capital loan, backers provide the company or individual with equity in exchange for interest.
- Crowdfunding: a brief overview
According to Score, the benefits of a (successful) crowdfunding campaign can include a strengthened customer base, increased publicity, a higher likelihood of external financing and stronger potential for business partnerships.
The five most highly-funded campaigns on popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter have raised $16.7mn between them in 2018. Products funded include versatile travel backpacks by The Travel Line, wireless security cameras by EUFYCAM, collapsible reusable straws made by Finalstraw and smokeless camping stoves by SoloStove. 2018 also saw blockchain startup Block.one crowdfund $4bn without a product launch with its Initial Coin Offering in April.
Ivy.ai’s new chatbot streamlines resources and policies
Ivy.ai, a creator of AI chatbots for higher education, is offering a chatbot that helps institutions streamline name, image, and likeness policies for athletic programmes.
This solution will allow athletic departments to dramatically reduce inbound inquiries while answering inquiries related to compliance, financial aid impact, how-to documents, and best practice training videos.
It will allow institutions to condense information in a way that is easily accessible and eliminates the need for student-athletes to read complicated manuals. Institutions can also engage with student-athletes via a real-time feedback loop to see which topics truly matter and what needs further clarification. This allows administrators to be proactive and provide a competitive edge in recruiting.
Helping institutions connect their students with information
“Athletic departments at colleges and universities are overwhelmed by the challenges posed by the name, image and likeness legislation,” said Mary Frances Coryell, Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Partnership.
“Ivy.ai is uniquely positioned in the market to help institutions connect their student-athletes with policies and information related to NIL such as state laws, restrictions and relevant contacts. Our chatbot can digest all relevant policy information and provide answers to student-athletes at any time on any device. We expect the NIL market to move quickly, so student-athletes deserve the answers on their terms, rather than exclusively during work hours.”
Primary use cases for the chatbot include:
- Answering commonly asked questions related to name, image and likeness
- Communicate policies such as state laws, restrictions and compliance regulations
- Provide contact information for various advisors and agencies
- Connect training materials for athletes to improve their branding
- Engage in two-way reactive and proactive communication to keep policies student-centric
Back in March 2020, the company offered schools a free COVID-19 Response System, including a customisable COVID-19 Response Bot, a human-to-human live chat system and an SMS Text platform. These services are offered completely free of charge.
"The customisable COVID-19 Response Bot will help schools connect their students with important information, such as the school's operational status, where to go for treatment, and what to do to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus. We already added that information to all of our clients' AI chatbots, and we found that in many cases students needed additional support. That's why we're including our human-to-human Live Chat system in this offer. The SMS Text platform can be used to drive awareness to this communications channel for your students." said Mark McNasby, CEO of Ivy.ai.