Ideas are free, but not all ideas can be effectively executed into a successful project. Startup founders know this, and most would also be aware that resources are among the chief limitations that an entrepreneur can encounter. This has given rise to crowdfunding as a means to generate money from one’s intended audience. As we have discovered, though, crowdfunding is not only about money, but it has become a social revolution, in that is also a good way to gauge market feedback and interest.
The Spark Project launched mid-February as one of the Philippines’ latest crowdfunding platforms. One thing that differentiates The Spark Project from other platforms, in my view, is that projects here are all curated by the creators. Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo and most other platforms, The Spark Project would only post projects that the platform makers deem fit.
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This comes with advantages and disadvantages, of course. Being a curated platform, this means less competition among projects, especially from ideas that may not necessarily be marketable. Only those that are deemed viable are up there in the first place. However, being a curated platform, it limits the potential market for ideas.
“Although existing forms of funding like venture capitalists, angel investors, grant giving bodies, and banking institutions are present, they are not readily available year-round and sometimes cater only to a specific niche. At the end of the day, only a few among hundreds of equally compelling ideas get the funding they need. The Spark Project aims to change all this and address the country’s need for more entrepreneurs and change-makers by democratizing the disproportionate distribution of funding capital.”
Currently in closed beta, The Spark Project has four live projects, and has raised PhP 83,243 (about US$2,100) to date. Projects currently online at the crowdfunding site are mostly arts-and-crafts based. Hinabi sa Pilipinas involves watch designs using ethnic woven-designs on the strap and face. Paint-some-happy project aims to work with children to paint a public-access space as an “open canvas” meant as a mix between artwork and social commentary. Offbeat Pursuits will produce videos that promote tourism in offbeat places in the country. Lagon Custom Guitars is a project that re-launches a craftsman’s bamboo-made guitar business.
The current selections are wide-ranging, in terms of area of interest and financial commitment. I see Lagon Guitars as a relatively higher-end pursuit, given the craftsmanship put into these custom guitars. Offbeat pursuit’s video project is something the creators can replicate afterward, especially if their partnerships with those involved in tourism spots flourish. In an interview with Webgeek, creator Patch Dulay says The Spark Project was borne out of the founders’ frustrations with making things happen, which they turned into a passion and into solutions.
Aware that not all Filipinos have credit cards or are willing to transact online, The Spark Project also offers bank payments as a means of donation, with the backer sending a photo or email of the deposit slip. Seeing that you have to deposit first before being considered a backer, though, made me realize that The Spark Project is not like Kickstarter, which only charges a backer if a certain support or funding threshold is met.
The Spark Project is not the sole crowdfunding platform in the Philippines, though. Artiste Connect, which we recently featured, lets filmmakers, painters, bands and other artistic groups and individuals engage their fans and raise funds at the same time. The Spark Project is currently in closed beta, but interested project proponents are encouraged to submit their ideas for evaluation.