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Y Combinator’s Crowdtilt and the Art of Simplicity

Crowdtilt

What’s the #1 feature your users want?

If you said anything other than “simplicity,” the Crowdtilt team thinks you’re probably wrong. After 3 months at Y Combinator, that was the most valuable lesson they learned:

“The most helpful and most common feedback was the encouragement to launch as early as possible, instead of feeling like the service needed a million features before launching. Surprisingly, the simplicity and lack of a million features is probably our best asset,” explains cofounder and CEO James Beshara, who previously built dvelo.org.

But how do you make sure a product is simple?

“Simplicity in a product might be abstract, but like art and porn, you know it when you see it.”

For Crowdtilt, that means a straightforward platform for raising money, to fund everything from summer houses to birthday parties to school fundraisers to one user’s entire wedding. Just start a campaign (up to 1 week long) and receive pledges, Kickstarter style: if the goal is reached, funds can be received via check, direct deposit, or PayPal – whatever is simplest for the organizer.

Startups can use it, too:

“Startups have used it for swag and exposure. So instead of just handing out t-shirts or promotional items, they can reach out to their networks and get their family, friends, and potential clients to pre-order the items in a really cool, social, collective way (without any risk of ordering too much or not enough),” says Beshara.

The only restrictions? Contributors must be from the US, and Crowdtilt takes a 2.5% fee.

Six weeks since launch, this model has attracted 6,000 users. Let’s see if Crowdtilt can keep it simple while incorporating their feedback.

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About the Author

Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and positive psychology. Since 2011, she has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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