Heard of the saying, “Two’s company and three’s a crowd”? Satish Kataria, founder & MD Catapooolt has used the analogy in this saying to name his venture – notice the three ‘o’ in Catap-o-o-o-lt. And we think it’s a good idea, especially because Catapooolt’s business is dependent on crowd. Catapooolt helps you catapult your dreams through contributions done by the crowd. So say you have an idea and need to raise money to bring that idea to life, then Catapooolt will help you do it through crowdfunding.
As Catapooolt explains on their site: “Crowdfunding in layman terms is the new age internet version of your 'chanda' collection. A lot of people contributing small amounts of money to your project without expecting any monetary return. They simply relate to you or your project, artistically and intellectually. They believe in you and simply want to see your idea fructify since they share the same passion for it. A crowd builds and they fund your venture.”
Birth of the idea
Founder, Satish Kataria, has been mentoring startups for quite sometime, and has been a believer of the crowdfunding idea since 2010. “The most inspiring facet about crowdfunding for me was its power to democratize funding and enable and engage communities to fulfill their dreams. Hence, when I launched Crowdfunding in 2010, it was to bring more participation in the Indian start-up ecosystem. Catapooolt is my second crowdfunding venture; the idea is to enable creative entrepreneurs and ventures,” explains Satish.
Catapooolt had a soft launch in April 2012, where they became the first official crowdfunding platform for the Hong Kong International Film Festival. And, since going live in mid-July 2013, they have mobilized over Rs 11 lakh. Satish says Catapooolt has a registered based of more than 1,000 members and a larger number of followers on Facebook and Twitter. Plus the startup has got on board national and international domain experts from the world of films and music.
A batch three incubatee of Venture Nursery, Catapooolt has a keen focus on films, but also looks to help projects that operate in areas of music and arts. Other key project categories for the venture are sports, grassroot innovations, industrial and technological design products and startups or related events. They currently have 8 projects live on site.
Both Satish and his co-founder Yogesh Karikurve have rich experience in film funding and hence Catapooolt’s bend towards film funding compared to other sectors. Before starting up, Satish was heading operations for Vistaar Religare Media Fund and Yogesh was the international distribution head at Reliance Big Pictures. Given this vast experience, the team will also offer guidance and marketing support to projects that come to Catapooolt for funding.
Crowd funding is today a $6 billion industry with over 100 online platforms all over the world, which includes names such as KickStarter and indiegogo among others. Besides setting up the funding request Catapooolt also helps projects strategise their crowdfunding campaigns. And they are in the process of releasing a crowd funding guide for projects. For all the help and support they offer, Catapooolt charges 15% platform fees on total funds raised.
Most projects allowed on the Catapooolt site have a time limit of 3 months to achieve their target. And if a project fails to meet 80% of its target, the funds will not be transferred to the project and contributors will be given an option to either opt for refund or transfer their funds to some other existing project on the Catapooolt platform. However basis mutual discussions, the deadline for projects can be extended on case to case basis, explains Satish.
Catapooolt is currently leveraging social media and PR to spread the word, and going forward has plans to enter into offline partnerships to market Catapooolt. “Crowdfunding is powerful, yet nascent, medium – that holds the potential of changing the future of funding. Hence, on immediate basis, our attempt is to set right implementation benchmarks for this medium to grow and bring together various creative entrepreneurs. In long term – we are looking for a strong Asian presence – connecting Asian creative talent to global diaspora,” shares Satish.
One of the recent projects that got funded through Catapooolt was a film based on B-schools being done by Sarthak Banerjee. The film managed to raise Rs 10,18,802 through Catapooolt. “When Sarthak showed us the script, we immediately liked it and started working on it. Though the total budget of the film is Rs 100 lakh – we decided to first raise Rs 10 lakh through a crowdfunding campaign to meet various pre-production expenses,” says Satish. The first target was the strong alumni connect that Sarthak had, who readily supported the project. Next, a social media and PR program, targeting specific B-school communities as well as mass media, was implemented. Catapooolt also conducted an offline initiative, alongwith Syndhenam Management Institute, to help get more eyeballs for the project. The project managed to get more than 100 contributors and raise the targeted amount with 90 days time.The Rs 10,18,802 that Cutthroat has managed to raise, is the highest crowd funded amount on any Indian crowdfunding platform, claims Satish. While these are early days, Satish says one of the main focus for Catapooolt is to create better awareness about crowd funding – both to projects as well as to contributors.
If regulators do not play spoil sport, crowdfunding seems to be a good option for startups looking to get funded. Catapooolt says they are working closely with National Crowdfunding Association of India and they are open to proactively meet various regulators to set robust, strong regulatory framework for crowdfunding in India.