Beta Crowdfunding


We are launching our startup, and would like to crowdfund a beta. Since the service already exists, the users would donate, and get their accounts first before everyone else can sign up - with "free" access during the beta.

The thing is:

  • We don't have our pricing plan scheme completely figured out yet - that's why we'd want to do a "crowdfunded beta" to see what resources users actually consume.
  • We'd like to have stretch goals.
  • We're not using Kickstarter or Indiegogo (because the account is immediately created).

Now I was wondering if this scheme would create more of a barrier than anything, instead of just providing normal plans that can be subject to change.

Any advice?

Getting Started Pricing Funding Crowdfunding

asked Nov 21 '13 at 01:18
Erik Aigner
116 points
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  • Unless your idea and designs are crazy good (or your marketing skills are crazy good), it's very unlikely you will get enough money from a crowdfund for a beta. And if your idea is that good, you should be able to get a good deal for some angel investments right? – Ekoostik Martin 8 years ago
  • I don't want to take VC money. – Erik Aigner 8 years ago
  • Besides, I was thinking if can do it, why not anybody else? – Erik Aigner 8 years ago
  • Do you have a Dalton Caldwell level (in terms of previous success and status in the tech startup community) CEO running your company? I have a feeling that is a reason why got a nice chunk of crowd funding. – Ekoostik Martin 8 years ago
  • No, I don't have a Dalton Caldwell track record, but as for the startup, it is basically a paid Gmail clone with a full-blown JSON API and integrated Dropbox. – Erik Aigner 8 years ago
  • I assume full personal data privacy protection and no ads? Why didn't you say that at first, that is actually a damn good candidate for a crowdfunded beta :) As long as you don't plan to grandfather your beta users into some potentially net-loss plan (after you figure out usage patterns) I think crowdfund is great for this type of large market SaaS. – Ekoostik Martin 8 years ago
  • No ads, no mail scanning (for marketing purposes), SSL only. That's the plan. Also we are an EU company, so the NSA has no jurisdiction here :). – Erik Aigner 8 years ago
  • That's great, push out a MVP soon and ride the wave of spying hysteria on US based tech. – Ekoostik Martin 8 years ago
  • PS: what did you mean by "grandfather your beta users into some potentially net-loss plan"? Keeping them on a plan that doesn't cover the costs after the beta? – Erik Aigner 8 years ago
  • Yes, that's what I meant. – Ekoostik Martin 8 years ago

1 Answer


You're using the term "crowdfunding" to put off doing something you can and should do right now, which is to price your service. You want strangers to give you money in exchange for a service. So far, so good. I have lots of services I use for free - and usually I have an idea how the provider makes money out of me. And I have a few services I pay for: this is an easy transaction.

Now, suppose I consider your pricing offer. It seems to be this: I give you some money right now, and I get a service right now. You say that people who haven't paid don't get the service. And you say that at some future date, I'll have to pay. Which will be a huge price rise, compared to zero per month.

In other words, you're at loggerheads with your "crowdfunders."

So lose the confusing complication. Pick a price that's good enough for now. That way, you're making things simple today, you're bringing the learning forward in terms of value, and you're making it easy to transition from beta to full (or from beta v1 to beta v2 to...).

And instead of having a complicated cohort of "crowdfunders" to manage, you just have paying customers to serve.

answered Nov 23 '13 at 04:12
Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points
  • I'm not putting something off I could do right now, because I don't know the usage patterns of the average user. Also, if I launch in beta with regular plans, the amount I can collect is a fraction of the one time payment. – Erik Aigner 8 years ago
  • "Which will be a huge price rise, compared to zero per month". If I pay let's say 50$ for the beta signup, and after 6 months the regular plans start with ~8$ where exactly is the price rise? – Erik Aigner 8 years ago
  • Also we don't know if issues might arise with higher server load. With a higher entry price we are able to ramp this up more smoothly. – Erik Aigner 8 years ago
  • But the transition argument is valid. Might be a pain. – Erik Aigner 8 years ago
  • @ErikAigner - 1. don't start at $8/month, it's almost impossible to make a profit at that level (getting a customer tend to cost quite a bit of money). 2. Offer customer to pay for a year in advance (typically with a one month worth discount) to get more money up front. – Nir 8 years ago

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