Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of the crowdfunding website Indiegogo, grew up watching her parents struggle to keep their family business afloat. But instead of discouraging her from entrepreneurship, their example inspired her to change the face of how entrepreneurs get financed.
“My parents ran a business because they wanted to have control over their lives so that family could be first,” Ringelmann told The Story Exchange. “I just remember watching my parents struggle so much to grow their business because they could never actually get a loan to do it. And it was hard.”
Their company eventually went bankrupt.
Ringelmann eventually entered the world of finance by becoming an analyst at J.P. Morgan after receiving a degree in humanities from the University of North Carolina, but she grew frustrated with the way money switched hands.
According to her interview with The Story Exchange, Ringelmann called her mom and lamented, “America’s not a land of all possibility. It’s the land of all possibility if you know the right person.”
Her mom told her to “go do something about it,” she said.
So Ringelmann came up with a way to put the power of money in the hands of everyday people.
“Indiegogo is an online platform where anyone can create a campaign to raise money,” Ringelmann said. “What we’re trying to do is enable everybody to fund what matters to them.”
“My path to Indiegogo … started when I was a young girl; when I first became aware of how hard financing was,” said Ringelmann. “Until Indiegogo, we always had to rely on other people making the decisions. Now we all can participate.”
Of course, Indiegogo is no longer the only crowdfunding site out there— one of the most prominent sites in the genre is Kickstarter. Indiegogo was founded in 2007, according to Forbes, with Kickstarter following two years later.
Instead of relying on one big investor, anyone, including companies, can raise money on Indiegogo by inviting people to make small contributions and receive perks for helping out, Colleen DeBaise explained on The Story Exchange.
They don’t “become an investor or a shareholder,” however, Chance Barnett explained on Forbes. “Project creators retain 100 percent control over their products and services.”
“We were rejected by 90 investors before we raised any money,” Ringelmann said. “It would have been a lot easier if Indiegogo existed when we needed to raise money for Indiegogo.”