Indiegogo founder Danae Ringelmann didn’t initially envision herself as an entrepreneur. During her talk for Y-Combinator Start-Up School, Danae told the audience that she started Indiegogo because she felt compelled to solve a dire problem. In Danae’s eyes, the world could not continue the way it was if she didn’t solve this issue.
Danae realized the problem over time. Every day Danae saw people struggling with a limited access to capital. Growing up as a daughter of two small business founders in San Francisco, she saw first hand how difficult it was for brick and mortar businesses to raise capital. As she watched her parents persevere, she became more and more aware of the problem.
This financial awareness led Danae to Wall Street and investment banking. During her investment banking career, Danae attended an event called “Hollywood Meets Wall Street,” where a sea of artists approached her asking for funding, pitching their projects to her in desperation.
One of the moments she remembers best from that event was “a man with a lifetime of experience begging [her] for money, simply because [she] was at a bank.” Unsure about how to solve this problem, Danae called her mother in tears. In response, all her mother said was “go do something about it.”
Danae took her mother’s advice and created one of the first online funding platforms for organizations, projects, artists, entrepreneurs, brick and mortar businesses, and everything in between. After years of perseverance, Indiegogo is now the largest funding platform in the world and an example of the great impact of crowdsourcing, with 85+ happy employees and millions of dollars distributed per week in every country and every industry.
Here are three entrepreneurship lessons Danae learned during her journey:
Lesson #1: Know your WHY
Before you start an organization, consider these questions: Why are you starting this problem? Why are you starting this company and why do you care so much? Your WHY finds you co-founders, gets your ego out of the way, gets you through the early, tough years of running a start-up, informs your strategy, attracts amazing team members, and attracts amazing customers.
Lesson #2: Culture
Know what your organization values. Create a strong organizational culture that sets the tone for company behavior. Is it diversity? Is it efficiency? Is it customer satisfaction before anything else? Danae said that to build the company culture at Indiegogo, she sat down with her co-founders and drew six pictures based on the following sentence: “I work at Indiegogo because…”
Lesson #3: Technology is just a means, not an end.
Many successful entrepreneurs start with a problem statement, clear vision, and a ceaseless determination to solve that problem. Danae, for instance, became an entrepreneur because she had to in order to solve the problem. Leveraging technology was part of the process to solving the problem, not the end goal.
Contributor: Emily Zhen