Why I Chose Indiegogo Over Kickstarter to Crowdfund “BYOB”

Yesterday, I publicly launched the crowdfunding campaign for my upcoming online course and e-book entitled “BYOB: Using Bitcoin to Be Your Own Bank.” While I wish I could have followed in ind.ie‘s footsteps and crowdfunded “indie-style,” they haven’t open-sourced their tools yet, and I wanted to launch this campaign before the holiday season was over. So I had to choose between the top two websites that I knew of: Kickstarter or Indiegogo. I got the idea for my campaign from an Entrepreneur article I read a while back about an entrepreneur who made over $60,000 using Kickstarter to pre-sell access to a course that teaches people to code iPhone apps, so initially I was going to use that platform for my campaign as well. I started filling out all of the campaign details while I was at an airport, thinking I could finish setting up the campaign in the hour before my flight left. I was wrong.

Kickstarter was difficult to deal with from the start: the website was running way too many scripts in my browser, and with NoScript and Ghostery blocking everything even remotely sketchy, the site was basically non-functional. After biting the bullet and allowing everything but the most sketchy of scripts to run, I was able to begin constructing the profile. Where I really hit a snag was when I got to the section about payment details. Kickstarter has partnered with Amazon Payments and required that I not only verify my identity on Kickstarter, which required answering invasive questions and confirming personal information that I’m shocked they even know, but verify my identity on Amazon as well, which asked for my full social security number, home address, phone number, and email address. This is where I drew the line and gave up on Kickstarter. None of that information is relevant to running a crowdfunding campaign. Ok, maybe they want to know who I am so that recourse is possible if I don’t deliver – fine. That doesn’t require me to give strangers on the internet all of the information necessary to steal my identity.

So I deleted the Kickstarter campaign and created an account on Indiegogo, hoping I wouldn’t be subjected to the same invasive procedure as before. The site had about the same number of scripts running on it as Kickstarter, and the trackers that Ghostery picked up were mostly social or analytics, which I switched off anyway. When I started creating my campaign, I skipped ahead to the payments section and was pleasantly surprised. No invasive questions, just two check boxes: bank deposit and PayPal. I checked both options and entered my payment details, clicked “submit,” and received a friendly “verified” badge. That was it. I smiled from ear to ear and proceeded to fill out the rest of the Indiegogo campaign. About 30 minutes later, I was done. That was easy!

I launched the crowdfunding campaign then and there and sent the link to close friends and family, then shared the link with my followers on Twitter. The campaign was quiet through the weekend, then I launched it to the public on Monday morning. I have since received $151 out of my $2000 goal, which is set as “flexible funding” so that even if I don’t hit my target I still get paid (I chose this option since there are no hard costs to fulfilling the rewards and I want to create the course and e-book whether I hit my goal or not). Progress has also been made in non-monetary ways. I received a private message from someone offering to help design the book cover, and Udemy approved my application to become a paid instructor on their platform. I have also finished the course outline on Udemy and have a filming and writing schedule for January so I can get the course and book completed in time for my self-imposed deadline of January 15th.

Overall my experience with Indiegogo thus far has been a pleasant one. I look forward to using a P2P platform like Lighthouse in the future, but for now Indiegogo has provided me a great service. I’d like to take the rest of this post to thank everyone who has contributed thus far by giving money to the campaign, sharing the campaign with others, and giving me valuable feedback. I’ve learned a lot and will continue working hard to hit my goal and complete the online course and e-book. With bitcoin acceptance growing every day, and people around the world experiencing economic oppression at the hands of authoritarian governments, I see an opportunity in the market for accessible and practical bitcoin education, and I thank all of my backers so far for validating this hypothesis and supporting my Indiegogo campaign for “BYOB: Using Bitcoin to Be Your Own Bank.”

BYOB: Using Bitcoin to Be Your Own Bank

After the first time I heard about bitcoin, it took me almost a year of learning about the underlying technology before I bought my first coins. Part of the reason for the delay was because I wanted to first understand bitcoin, but after grokking the concept of “decentralized digital currency,” the main hurdle was availability. The options for purchasing bitcoins were slim at the time, limited to wiring money to online exchanges in foreign countries or sending concealed cash in an envelope to “OTC” traders and hoping that bitcoins were received in return (I didn’t choose either of these options). After I managed to purchase my first bitcoins, I then had to figure out how to secure them. Luckily, a programmer from my area had developed a cool piece of software called Bitcoin Armory that was specifically geared towards the security-minded, and it made securing bitcoins relatively easy using advanced techniques like cold storage signing and Shamir’s Secret Sharing. Learning how to keep my bitcoins secure took practice, but I eventually developed an efficient workflow that made it easy to move coins between cold storage and hot wallets.

Once I felt comfortable using bitcoin, I started to spread the word and tell others about this exciting technology. But there was a problem: every new person I told about bitcoin had to start from scratch, and I didn’t yet know of an effective way to boil down the bitcoin story into an easily digestible elevator pitch, let alone teaching someone how to use it securely. When I would tell someone that it’s p2p money, I had to first explain what p2p meant and then explain why they would want to use bitcoin instead of the money they were already using. The “why” for bitcoin can be more difficult to explain than the “what” or the “how,” and I would often end up just sharing a bunch of links that were probably never read. But the more I practiced the pitch, and the more diverse my audience became, the better I got at explaining the “what,” “how,” and “why” of bitcoin. I eventually felt comfortable and knowledgeable enough to share my excitement with the world, and started a website where people could contact me to learn about bitcoin one-on-one. This started a journey into the bitcoin investing and startup world, and ultimately brought me to where I am today.

After almost two years of consulting for bitcoin investors, startups, merchants, and casual users alike, I have decided to take everything I’ve learned and taught and distill it down into an online course and companion e-book entitled “BYOB: Using Bitcoin to Be Your Own Bank.” In the course, I will be sharing a brief overview of the history and technology behind bitcoin and then dive right in to the practical ways that people can use bitcoin, including how to buy, sell, send, receive, and store bitcoins without relying on centralized services to store private keys.

I’m running an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign right now to gauge public interest in this form of bitcoin education. For $25, contributors will receive lifetime access to the course as well as both a digital and physical zine version of the companion e-book. The intended audience is people new to bitcoin who want to learn how to use it without the fear of being hacked like so many others have been in the past. Contributors to the crowdfunding campaign can be beginner bitcoiners themselves or people who want to purchase access to the course and e-book as a gift for someone else. With the holiday season just around the corner, I can think of few better gifts to give than the gift of monetary freedom and satisfying one’s curiosity about bitcoin. And for those who don’t celebrate religious holidays, this is a perfect opportunity to make it a New Year’s resolution to take control of your money and “Be Your Own Bank!”

If this sounds like a great way to help increase bitcoin adoption, please consider contributing to the crowdfunding campaign at the $1, $15, or $25 level (or choose your own amount). You can also help by sharing the campaign page and video via email and social media with those who might be interested. I am starting to reach out to people who can help with the cover design and formatting of the e-book, if you’re interested in being hired to do this, please get in touch!