In this fast-paced modern world – with the memory of the recession clear in the minds of most – job security has become something of an outdated notion. Instead of looking for opportunity, the boldest and brightest youngsters are creating their own.
Nonetheless, whether as an entrepreneur or an employee, the ability to adapt quickly is a vital skill for all who hope to succeed in today’s job market; and universities, too, have had to adapt their own business offering in line with this new mode of thinking. Courses that focus on entrepreneurship and enterprise have become a key part of the curriculum.
The aim, of course, is to prepare budding businessmen and women for the ‘real’ world of business – but this, too, necessitates an adherence to the latest trends. And there’s been one trend in particular that has proved a game-changer in recent years, disrupting conventional funding methods: crowdfunding. No longer do entrepreneurs need to rely on banks and investors to get a project off the ground; now an entrepreneur can open his/her idea out to the public and let them decide what it’s worth. As LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman puts it:
Call it the emergence of a “world’s bank” – a system built by and for the people, delivering credit in America and across the globe in a radically decentralized, highly scalable, and crucially equitable way.
The World Bank funds institutions. The world’s bank funds people.
If you’re an institution offering any kind of enterprise course, there are many reasons to involve crowdfunding within your curriculum. Here are our top three:
#1: THE DEVELOPMENT OF REAL BUSINESS SKILLS
A crowdfunding campaign requires all of the same processes needed for a successful product launch in any arena: marketing (including digital marketing, video production, copywriting, etc.), sales, strategy, social media and PR, as well as operational planning (manufacture, sourcing, logistics, delivery).
The difference is that these elements are extremely accessible: most of the ‘pre-campaign’ can be delivered via the platform of choice, and it requires little expenditure. Most importantly, crowdfunding is a direct test of an idea in an open market: instead of a handful of investors (or similar) deciding about the viability of a product, it’s the general public who decides. There can be no better test, in a sense.
#2: THE ABILITY TO FAIL
Better still, it gives students the chance to fail. Failing is a key part of the entrepreneur’s journey (a theory that is easy to prove – one need only think of Steve Jobs); and providing a safe environment by which students can try, and fail, and try again may be the greatest gift a university enterprise course could give.
Platforms like Crowdfund Campus are ideally placed to help with this; our Sandpit tool allows students to test an idea fully by using ‘virtual’ currency before transferring over to a live marketplace.
#3: PRACTICE IN BUILDING EFFECTIVE RELATIONSHIPS
Traditional funding routes often promote working in solitude (or small groups) as opposed to real teamwork, which can be to the detriment of the entrepreneur in question; indeed, the ability to build relationships with a number of people can often be the difference between success or failure for a fledgling company.
Crowdfunding forces students to think out of the box and – more importantly – come out of their box. To make the campaign a success, they will need to muster support: from friends, family, teachers, and beyond. This practice will provide valuable insight into networking and relationship-building; moreover, it has the added benefit of raising the profile of the course across campus and – if really effective – the profile of the university as a whole to wider networks.
At Crowdfund Campus, we provide full support to students and universities who wish to embrace crowdfunding. Our offering includes – but is not limited to – step-by-step guidance to creating a successful campaign; free educational workshops; and a full vetting process of each campaign before it is launched. There are also no participation fees! The only fees that will be payable to Crowdfund Campus are those stipulated by our payment provider for card processing.
If you think your university is ready to enjoy the multiple benefits of crowdfunding, please email email@example.com – we’ll be delighted to help.