Gloss chats with Pozible’s Marketing & Data Wizard, Elliot Chapple

From the huge Aussie crowdfunding site

Gloss chats with Pozible’s Marketing & Data Wizard, Elliot Chapple

How did the idea for Pozible come about?

Alan Crabbe and Rick Chen are the Pozible story. Alan’s Irish, Rick’s Chinese, and they were both students in Sydney around 2007. Around that time Alan put an ad up on Gumtree, hoping to find someone to split costs with on a road trip to Byron. So he interviewed a few people for this position to share costs on a road trip and when Rick responded, little did he know that he was being interviewed. Shortly after they met up and they seemed to get along.

A few months passed and they journeyed off and embarked on that trip. Somewhere along the way they started to talk about their friends who had all these great projects, and they had a few of their own projects on the side that were sort of similar to Pozible. And somehow, they came up with the crowdfunding idea and model and they kicked it off with a few of their friends’ projects. It started to gain popularity for the next year or so before they realised that maybe it could move from just being a side project to being a main project. Pozible started in 2010. Since then, about three, four years ago they moved down to Melbourne, which is where we’re based now.

What brought you to the company?

I’ve been with the team for two years now. Way back in 2012 I started my own film festivals related to action sports, so skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing. And I worked at the Astor Theatre down here in Melbourne. The first film festival was a collaboration because I had a really strong rapport with my boss at the Astor Theatre, and he took a chance and let me run an event with some really good terms. The venue hire was just a revenue spit of tickets, which was very low risk for me and high risk for him. And that’s where the first film festival kicked off, at the Astor Theatre.

Later I went to New Zealand and did a version for skiing and snowboarding and alpine touring, and stuff like that. I lived over there for about four months, and when I moved back to Australia the Astor Theatre had sold and changed ownership and I was looking for a new job. I had the experience of running my own initiatives, marketing it, running it. In the interview with Pozible the match made sense. I had a basis in the film industry, and a lot of the projects on Pozible are film projects, we learnt a bit about each other and I guess it made sense that someone like me would join the company. I started in a customer support role and a project advising role. Recently I moved into more operations and more managerial stuff.

Why do Australian’s choose Pozible over other, perhaps larger international crowdfunding platforms, and why do local creatives gravitate towards your platform?

I think it’s the local option, and people really love that. As well, we do a lot of work in getting international exposure for Australian projects. We’re in the same time zone as Australian users, we have the contacts that are most relevant for Aussie campaigns and we’re more dedicated to success than the other major platforms. We’ll have phone chats with people to give them strategy advice, we’ll have meetings with them, we have events all over the country. I have one in Adelaide on Thursday. So that local training and being pretty reachable I think really helped us early on.

Crowdfunding is a tool that you can apply to almost everything. And for whatever reason the creative industries picked up on our platform the most, probably because they were the least funded. I don’t know if we ever really pushed into any space too much, but a lot of that is more to do with how the people responded to the platform. For whatever reason the creative community took a liking to Pozible and that is the culture that stayed and carried on.

What’s an average day look like for you?

There’s never an average day at Pozible. We’re still a really small team, there’s seven of us, so we sort of have to know how to do a little bit of everything to some degree. At the moment, a normal day looks like a lot of event coordinating for me, because we have the roadshow going on, though I’d say the average day kicks off with me checking on the homepage, looking at what projects are coming up. There’s often ones that I’m really hopeful for, some that I pledge to, and I’m always keeping a close eye on those ones. Then we have a five minute stand up meeting every morning as a team, before getting into the nitty gritty of what we’re working on at the time. But I think we’re a pretty close team, we have our coffee and treats every Wednesday morning, we have our beers and debrief every Friday afternoon and yeah. We are a dog friendly office so occasionally there’ll be a dog in here, which makes the day a lot better.

Independence has gone mainstream in recent months, particularly with big projects from US artists Frank Ocean and Chance The Rapper coming without the support of a traditional record label. Do you see the independence of crowdfunding as an extension of that, especially for artists?

Yeah, for sure.

If you look at our homepage at the moment, and it comes in waves, but right now there’s a lot of music campaigns. And when we run these workshops we always have the section at the end which is “why crowdfund?”.

In the instance you’re bringing up now, if you had an investor or a label they’d have some influence on what you were doing and I don’t know if any creative really wants that. The power of crowdfunding is that they get to keep it to themselves and they get to call the shots which is really important, we think. As well, there’s another side to it which is audience development, which people don’t always think about, and it’s as much about building up your fan base and creating a group of ambassadors as it is raising money.

Another reason why crowdfunding for arts makes the most sense is that generally artists have a following. It just makes sense that they do. If they’re musicians, it’s the first thing that they think of doing. And that’s really important for a crowdfunding campaign, is to have a bit of a following to get your campaign moving and to give it a little bit of traction before the general public can get involved. A lot of brands and a lot of people starting businesses miss this audience side of things, and they get nowhere as a result. Meanwhile creative projects are usually more successful just because it’s normal for a creative to have an audience.

But how I think crowdfunding will also keep changing the way the arts are funded. We have had a lot of partnerships in the past, like Creative Victoria and Arts Tasmania, a lot of these initiatives that are basically match funding initiatives. And this makes the process of giving grants a bit more democratic for some of these bigger bodies. For example, they might match the money raised in a campaign dollar for dollar. As well, it’s a really great way for them to give grants, because they know that there’s demand for it. Crowdfunding is a risk-free model and the fundraising side of it means you know you have people interested in something before you go ahead and do what you’re doing.

Going back to the topic of independence too, one of the services we’ve created recently is called Pozible Base, and it allows anybody, any organisation, person, whatever to create their own crowdfunding platform. They can be as integrated or as on their own as they like. They can go completely out of the way and have it under their own brand, under their own domain name, and they can approve the projects, they can give the advice and they can do the tech support. Base is their own self-standing service, but the technology is run by Pozible.

And we’re finding a lot of brands signing up and using this new software to help them decide who to give money to, but also to keep it as a branding exercise for them. They still have their site, it’s got their logos and their colours and everything like that.

Is Pozible still looking into equity crowdfunding, where a user or group could contribute to a campaign in return for equity?

As a team, it’s something we’re working on definitely, though this will probably be pretty separate from Pozible as a brand. We don’t feel that there’s a strong enough relationship between what Pozible is as a brand and equity crowdfunding. So, it’s not launched yet, but it’s coming very soon. I don’t know how much I can tell you.

Pozible is very focused on all-or-nothing projects, where a goal must be met. What are your thoughts on competitors like Patreon which offer more flexible, forgiving systems of crowdfunding, sometimes in an ongoing way?

All of these models are really awesome, and I think what Patreon is doing is great, but they all have different sort of needs and different. They also all attract different kinds of campaigns. So, I think Patreon, as an example, is fundamentally different to what we’re doing at Pozible, which is more project based crowdfunding. We start off new ideas and we get new things moving, and if an organisation has a really specific project, with a clear financial goal and a clear start and a clear end, then that’s what all or nothing crowdfunding really makes the most sense in.

Patreon is definitely great for ongoing projects, like people who are constantly creating content, like new podcasts every week. And I think it’s a very useful tool, though I don’t imagine we’re going to branch too much into that. We have to kind of decide where we fit in as well, and make sure we’re not trying to do too much as opposed to doing one thing very well.

Where do users find Pozible projects, and how big is the divide between Pozible fans and supporters of specific creators and ideas?

You often need to have your own audience. I’d say around 80% of support, if not more, comes from the campaigner and their networks and people can’t rely on the Pozible community to 100% fund their campaign.

We know if we put a project in the Pozible newsletter then that project is usually in for a few thousand dollars coming their way, but again we don’t do that for every project and it really comes down to the marketing efforts of the campaigner.

We do have a group we call the 1%-club, which is the top 1% of project supporters, so they pledge the most and the most times to projects. And yeah, there’s a group of people, maybe a few thousand people, who just pledge to 20+ campaigns. And that’s really inspiring for us to see. We try to see what we can do to make them noticed.

What’s the best way for a user to learn more about crowdfunding, particularly on Pozible?

I’d say a majority of our campaigns come from people pledging to other campaigns that they’ve seen or learning about it that way. Otherwise the advertising we do pretty much revolves around our workshops and our events. That’s where we teach people how to get their idea going, and we teach them everything they need to know to have a successful campaign. The whole seven years of knowledge we have has been compiled into a one hour presentation and we market that as a tenable thing that people can come along to. It’s low commitment, they just need to register for free and show up and they don’t have to take a leap of launching a project. We also have online courses. These are all ways in which we can gain interest around crowdfunding and also generate leads. It’s all about getting them inspired and building trust with them and getting to know them so they start their project with us and we can keep that relationship going. And then hopefully they can make their passion projects happen.