Indiegogo’s CEO on how crowdfunding navigated the pandemic

Andy Yang joined Indiegogo during a pivotal moment in the company’s history. When the crowdfunding platform’s then-CEO stepped down for personal reasons, the company was said to be facing layoffs. After a stint at Reddit, the new CEO would be in charge for less than a year until COVID-19 flipped the world upside down. The San Francisco-based service, which is now 13 years old, has evolved with the world of online crowdfunding. Indiegogo, for one, had a front-row seat to all of the highs and lows. Indiegogo has hosted a number of million-dollar projects, but it has often compared to Kickstarter, a service that has become associated with the category for many. Yang sat down with us to talk about how Indiegogo has changed under his leadership, how crowdfunding has grown, and what the future holds for both in a post-pandemic world.

I was working on core products at Reddit at the time, and when Indiegogo’s board and founders contacted me, it was mostly to say, “Hey, we’d love someone with product expertise and a background in the community.” What happened on Indiegogo was essentially a test of “What are our core values?” When I seized the reins and the saddle, it was all about focusing on the core of which we are, what segments we want to pursue, and where we want to concentrate our efforts. Where do we want to concentrate our efforts with our product?

From that standpoint, we have been working on ourselves, internally, for the last two years, focusing on the core — what we are calling “getting the crowd back in crowdfunding.” I believe that many of the platforms have been transactional in nature and that Amazon has conditioned backers, shoppers, and users to click a button and have stuff two hours later. Crowdfunding is based on a completely different concept. You may or may not receive a benefit in the period that you anticipate, and helping to educate backers and the community about this is fundamental to which we are. We have been through a lot with COVID over the last two years, but we have been profitable while I have been here, which is great. We have the ability to direct our own destiny if we take the time to do things well and invest in areas such as trust and safety, as well as the community.

We redoubled our efforts to ensure that we knew our sales funnel and that, from a supply standpoint, we had a variety of campaigns across a variety of categories. Obviously, our bread and butter are what we call tech and innovation, which includes consumer electronics devices, but we are also looking into other categories.

 We are strong in comics, travel, and the outdoors, so what can we do to broaden our wedge and categories in areas where we are experiencing growth? A lot of green technology, I believe, is a contemporary trend. Simply trying to figure out which sectors are gaining traction and where our brand connects with entrepreneurs and investors.

That is what we needed to do – just make sure we had enough supply on the platform, and just from the backer side, which we had not previously focused on. We had been focusing primarily on the supply side, but are now beginning to return to the crowd in crowdfunding, drawing on my Reddit experience to ensure that we can engage the community in new and creative ways.