Henley Crowdfunding Platform
Crowdfunding is increasingly changing the way organisations, including charities and entrepreneurs, raise money for their projects and businesses. That’s why Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship (HCfE) organises a crowdfunding simulation platform as part of the teaching of Henley Business School’s Entrepreneurship modules.
Crowdfunding addresses the challenge that traditionally business ideas have required validation, including proof of market, and more often such validation requires funds which sadly are not always available. Against this background and in response to the demand, HCfE partnered with Crowdfund Campus to launch a crowdfunding platform in April 2016 to use on modules that aim to stimulate students to consider entrepreneurial venturing, such as Student Enterprise, Practice of Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurship Project.
On one hand the crowdfunding platform allows projects to be reviewed by the class and faculty in a closed environment and on the other it provides the means to launch a campaign to fund the validation of the business idea, putting learning into practice.
There are many different types of crowdfunding schemes, ranging from reward/donation based to debt and equity-based platforms, and the number of such schemes has grown exponentially over the last 10 years.
More recently crowdfunding platforms like Crowdfund Campus have emerged to provide services and support projects at UK Universities.
Further information about crowdfunding can be found on the UK Crowdfunding Association website.
Working with Crowdfund Campus
The Henley Crowdfunding Platform (HCfP) includes:
- A dedicated Henley Crowdfunding website hosted by Crowdfund Campus. The HCfP website enables students to post campaigns to raise money for their business ideas. See 'How to Use the Henley Crowdfunding platform' below.
- A payment gateway. The platform offers a payment gateway hosted by Stripe, a fully certified online payment processing service that will enable backing for projects to be made online. HCfP will operate an 'All or Nothing' funding model, which is a standard crowdfunding model where backers make a pre-approval against their Stripe or debit/credit card and funds are only transferred at the completion date of a project, if the sum total of a pledge hits a 'target'. If a project fails to reach its 'target', backers are not charged and are notified by an email that the project was unsuccessful. This serves to de-risk the backing for both the project creator and the backer, as the project creator only commits to carry out the project and deliver rewards if they raise sufficient funds to do so and the backer knows that their backing will support the project as described.
- A teaching tool. The HCfP also provides a first of its kind teaching tool that allows students to upload projects to be viewed by the class and the class convener in a closed environment. The teaching tool enables the course convener to review and mark the project and students in the class to vote on the project.
Keith Heron, the Programme Director for MSc Entrepreneurship and Management programmes, commented: "We pioneered the crowdfund campaign teaching tool in our New Venture start-up module. Students rose to the challenge of creating interesting videos and very creative rewards to attract the attention of their cohort peers and persuade them to allocate backing. Students now appreciate the value of such a tool in eliciting valuable reactions and feedback from others and enable, through reflection, a deeper understanding of how this can now be taken into the real world. It was easy to use and apart from some ‘vote collusion’ the whole process was enjoyable, smooth and inspiring."
How to Use the Henley Crowdfunding Platform
The Henley Crowdfunding Platform is used for raising money to develop business ideas and in teaching for class projects. Raising money to develop a business idea could not be easier. The first thing to do is to know what you want to fund and how much money you will need to bring the project to a successful conclusion. Secondly, access the Henley Crowdfunding Platform and create your campaign. Complete the online form, then submit. The platform is the perfect place to go for students looking to raise anything from a few hundred pounds up to about £10,000.
An online training programme on how to use the Henley Crowdfunding Platform is provided by Crowdfund Campus and can be booked on the Workshops section of their website. Class Projects are managed by the course convener, who invites students to join the project group via the teaching tool.
How the HCfP Puts Learning to Work
The crowdfunding platform helps Henley Business School translate learning into building enterprises in the following ways:
- Enable learning in the classroom to be turned into a viable business idea, from which new ventures might be launched
- Increased awareness of, and recognition of, Henley Business School research, teaching and learning excellence
- Continued improvement in provision of innovative business tools, to enhance learning and student experience and give opportunity to young entrepreneurs to raise funds for early stage business ideas
- Broader and deeper engagement with the University of Reading, developing more meaningful relationships with alumni, mentors, friends and students