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:
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.
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.