The Secret Pillow Project’s Crowdfunding Journey

crowdfunding india

For my start up social business, the Secret Pillow Project, there are as many attractions to raising money in India as there are challenges. The attractiveness and the need has forced me, the leader of the project, to face the challenges head on. AlliedCrowds’s expert team has helped me along the way, and this blog is about where I am at today. 

The Secret Pillow Project empowers women in India through the making and selling of Secret Pillow, a pillow that unfolds into a blanket. With a network of over 200 producers and 1,000 global customers, the Secret Pillow Projects aims to grow the confidence in and resources for women, enabling them to make their own choices for themselves and their children.

Although I spend a lot of time in India, I am British and reside in the UK. For this reason, the UK is where the business is legally registered and where we have developed it most. Raising over £50,000 through two rewards-based crowdfunding campaigns,  building up a presence on social media, and running pop-up shops were our keys to successfully scaling the business. So far, despite the many challenges along the way, the campaigns have been relatively straightforward, fun, and, for the project, transformational.

As the Secret Pillow Project is growing, having a UK company and a large proportion of the customer base in the UK feels like it’s not enough. We need and want more.

When I meet people in India and tell them about the project, the first thing they say is, “I would like to buy one too!” It seems rather silly that the only way they can do that is by buying it through our website in pounds sterling, and paying to have it shipped to India.

I need a company on the ground. I want to register Secret Pillow Project India so I can:

  1. Sell Secret Pillows to people who live in India
  2. Support the growing producer network more effectively
  3. Ship more easily

My immediate reaction to making this dream a reality is to repeat the actions I took to establish Secret Pillow Project UK.

For this reason, the first step is to run a crowdfunding campaign in India.

My research quickly revealed the challenges I face:

  1. To run a crowdfunding campaign in India, I need to have an Indian bank account. And to have an Indian bank account, I need to be an Indian citizen or own a business in India
  2. Research shows that Indians are reluctant to make financial transactions over the internet and the culture of cash on delivery is very common
  3. The audience for crowdfunding is focused mainly in large urban areas

So, running a campaign in India isn’t going to be as straightforward as it has been in the UK.  AlliedCrowds’s January 2016 Report on the emerging market crowdfunding has given me hope. They report that India is set to raise the most money through crowdfunding in emerging markets, and I want the Secret Pillow Project to be perfectly placed to ride the wave.

So, how am I going to do this? Here are some initial steps:

  1. Find a trusted person to support me in registering the company in India and in setting up a bank account
  2. Explore the platforms AlliedCrowds has reported on that are coming up with affordable and innovative ways to overcome the cash on delivery challenge by picking up backers’ cash
  3. Start to map my potential audiences in three main cities in India and start to make friends!

I hope to launch my Indian crowdfunding campaign in October or November 2016. Watch this space!

Fritha Vincent is a social entrepreneur and the founder of the Secret Pillow Project.