RetailMeNot founders launch crowd-funding site for software start-ups
Stateless Systems, the Melbourne-based founder of coupon site RetailMeNot, has launched a new crowd-funding venture designed to provide small and independent software developers with funding for various projects.
The site comes after Stateless Systems sold its RetailMeNot site to deals group WhaleShark in the United States for a reported $90 million, with the site's headquarters set to relocate across the Pacific.
The new site, Fundry.com, launched yesterday and is targeted at independent software developers who have trouble gaining funding for various projects that can often take up a lot of spare time.
"We're basically putting this towards software developers, and people who develop projects in their own spare time. That's the main audience," he says.
"The idea is that for them, it's a win/win. It gives them a chance to monetise their hobby, given that until now they've just had things like a PayPal donate button, and it's a win for users in that they get a voice in the development of new features."
When users go to the site, they see a list of different projects, ranging from WordPress plugs to Firefox add-ons. Visitors are able to view how much has been donated to each project, what the project is, the creator and whatever plans they have for it.
"For instance, one guy develops a WordPress plugin, and then he's created his own website and other things around that. He will direct people to his Fundry page, and then say to his users, 'If you want this built, you should donate to my Fundry page'."
"Then those users can put however much they want towards a particular plugin, feature or program. They can put $10 towards an existing feature, or a new feature, and then other users can put money down as well."
King says users can pull their money out of the venture at any time, meaning the creator of the software only gets their money once the project becomes freely available. "This means they get the money when it's done, unless enough people come out and say it hasn't been done correctly."
For now, King says the company will work on getting people to the site, targeting individual programmers who they believe can have some influence.
"We're reaching out to a few different projects already, and we're doing some advertising, sponsoring a few web programmers and that sort of thing. We're hoping to reach a critical mass where we see some fairly high profile projects coming on board."
King also says the Fundry site could potentially earn the company some real cash, with Stateless Systems taking a 5% cut on all projects that reach completion.
"It's really just a matter of seeing where it goes. The thing we like about it is that it's a useful service, and we think people will be able to turn their hobbies into jobs. Potentially it could be a great money maker for us as well."
This article first appeared on SmartCompany.com.au