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Crowdfunding Gets Crowded

When “Life Itself,” the documentary about deceased film critic Roger Ebert, aired at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, it marked a big win for Indiegogo. The online crowdfunding site helped its producers find 1,657 backers who gave more than $150,000 to finish the film, partly in exchange for the chance to watch a live video of the Sundance premiere.

But it also marked an unusual strategy for the crowdfunding site. Instead of just leaving the logistics up to the filmmakers, as it typically does, Indiegogo partnered with the filmmakers and video streaming company VHX to make the live feed possible.

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Companies like Honda and Frito Lay are already crowdsourcing ideas for their next projects. Brands are still testing the waters, but they’re increasingly willing to crowdsource ideas and to pre-fund products.

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Kickstarter and Indiegogo are grappling with many of the same challenges YouTube once faced: It’s hard to create a platform open to anything, because people don’t necessarily know why they should visit the site on a daily basis.