Anatomy of a crowdfund, week 4: feast or famine

November 05, 2012

The big news for Crowdsourcing Discovery in our fourth weekly progress report – other than Frankenstorm – was we reached the 50% mark! We now have just under two weeks left in our grassroots campaign to crowdsource a research meth lab; we call it wrap on November 18th.


Let’s start with the headline numbers. As of this writing, we’ve raised $12,305 from 182 contributors. The average donation = $68; the median donation = $25. The average daily haul is $405, and there are on average 6 contributors per day.


Now let’s dig a little deeper to examine how our project is being financed as a function of contribution size:

In (A), I show the percentage of the total amount raised in three donation ranges: the beer demographic ($5-$49), the champagne demographic ($50-$199) and the Lexus demographic ($200-$1,000). In (B), I show the percentage of the total number of contributors from each of those three demographics.


How does our data compare to other science crowdfunding campaigns? Kristina Killgrove’s RocketHub project from the first round of the SciFund Challenge is the best apples-to-apples comparison. I don’t have access to her exact numbers, but if I apply the aforementioned demographic segmentation to her total amount raised, the “beer: : champagne :: Lexus” ratio comes out to 25% :: 30% :: 45%.


For the aficionados, here’s the daily breakdown of the four weeks spanning October 4th to October 31st:



As the title of this post suggests, the trickle occasionally turned into a flood, for example on Friday October 26th and Tuesday October 30th. What happened on those days? Well, on the morning of 10/26 we were just shy of the $10,000 mark, and I made a concerted push on Facebook and Twitter to push us over the hump. Also, on the preceding day we received positive press on the social media site Mashable, and I suspect there were lingering effects.


The spike on 10/30 was triggered by our being featured on the front page of the Reddit-like site called Hacker News. One of our evangelists, Bilal Mahmood, posted a link to our project page that morning. I was alerted to this fact by two different science tweeps; I confess that I’d never heard of Hacker News before. Of all the online buzz generated by press, blogs or trackbacks, the Hacker News post yielded the highest conversion rate, suggesting that Bay Area and NYC metro techies are a huge untapped market for our project, and possibly science crowdfunding in general.


The proof is in the project video plays, which are courtesy of Vimeo. For some perspective, the previous daily high was set on the first day of our campaign, and the Hacker News spike is 3-times larger:



On Friday November 9th, I fly to London to attend the annual SpotOn Science conference (#solo12). I’ll be speaking on a panel about science crowdfunding, and a second panel on the future of scholarly publishing. Obviously, my attendance is part and parcel of our strategy to close strong in the final week of our campaign. Please email or tweet at me if you’ll be in London for #solo12, too!


For the summary of Week Three, please go here.

For the summary of Week Two, please go here.

For the summary of Week One, please go here.

And for the summary of the first 96 hours, please go here.