Growth

Crowdfunding Made Easy Using A Contact Picker!

Learn how a Contact Picker makes it easy for your supporters to share your campaign with others!

Roy Morejon, the host of The Art Of Kickstart podcast in conversation with our CEO, Jay Gibb, explores how a contact picker can be leveraged to get more backers for your crowdfunding project via an optimized sharing workflow, and email personalization that gets you better email open rates.

Via anecdotal evidence from CloudSponge customers such as GoFundMe, PledgeStar, and DonorsChoose – discover just how a single button can be a game-changing addition for any crowdfunding campaign.

Get more shares per backer Download our DIY Workbook today

Podcast Transcript

Roy Morejon:
Welcome entrepreneurs and startups to Art of the Kickstart, the show that every entrepreneur needs to listen to before you launch. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, president and founder of Inventus Partners, the world’s only turnkey product launch company. From product development and engineering to omnichannel marketing, we’ve helped our clients launch thousands of interventions, and earn more than $1 billion in sales over the past 20 years.

Each week, I interview a startup success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help you take your launch to the next level. This show would not be possible without our main sponsor Product Hype, the weekly newsletter that goes out and shows you the best inventions that just launched. Make sure to check out producthype.co and join the Hype squad. Now let’s get on with the show.

Roy Morejon:
Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today we are speaking with Jay Gibb. Jay is the CEO and founder of CloudSponge, and CloudSponge is really cool because it’s a provider of contact picker software. That’s used by many of the biggest crowdfunding platforms to help campaigns truly go viral. So what Jay’s created is a CloudSponge. It allows project creators and backers to easily access their address books, right? And share the campaigns with people that they know to produce better results, depending on the social media links, and manually inputted lists of email addresses. So I’m really excited to learn more about CloudSponge because I had never heard about before and then how they can use this for these crowdfunding campaigns. So Jay, really excited to have you on the show.

Jay Gibb:
Hey Roy, thanks for having me.

Roy Morejon:
So if you would, do a better explanation of your software product than I just gave you, as if I had never heard it before.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. I think this easiest way to think about it. Everybody’s got, everybody’s had experience with a contact picker, and they’ve all seen it on their phone. So if you open up your phone, Android or iOS and you go to your contacts, and you look at the alphabetized list of your contacts, that’s a contact picker. Basically, they’re giving you a search tool. Usually, there’s a little alphabet on the right margin where you can tap on it to jump around on the alphabet. And it’s a way for you to find who you’re looking for within your contacts, right?

Jay Gibb:
And so what CloudSponge does, or the CloudSponge Contact Picker does is it provides an interface just like that, except on a website. And the …

Roy Morejon:
Interesting.

Jay Gibb:
The contacts that are displayed in there are coming from the user’s, maybe it’s Google contacts or Yahoo contacts or outlook.com or Office 365 or AOL. And so it’s our job, CloudSponge’s job to maintain integrations with all the different places, different web mail services where people store their contacts, their email. Usually it’s the same place where they do their emailing. Right?

Roy Morejon:
Sure.

Jay Gibb:
And then we give it the user a menu that shows all those logos, and they click on the one they recognize. Right? And then they give permission to read their contacts, and our product ingests all their contacts and parses them all out, and makes a beautiful contact picker interface, just like what I just described. And then they can select all, or they can search and select a bunch of different people with check boxes. And just basically interact with their contacts to create a recipient list. And when they’re done, they click the submit button on the contact picker, it goes away and you end up back on the crowdfunding portal, like the GoFundMe screen, or whatever screen you’re on.

Jay Gibb:
And now you’ve, whatever it was you were trying to do, like if you’re a project creator and you’re trying to invite your team, or you’re trying to invite your family and friends to get the project started, or if you’re a project backer and you want to spread the word to make sure a project hits a certain threshold. Or something like that.

Roy Morejon:
Right.

Jay Gibb:
Then you’ll basically have all the people that you selected in the contact picker will just be populated in the interface, all the email addresses so that you didn’t have to type them one by one. You didn’t have to sort of leave the interface to go copy and paste them from a different window. It allows you to basically create that sharing moment with the data exchange from your address book, like right there, inside the interface so that you do more of it. Right, because it’s pretty, it’s a lot of friction to get a user to type out email addresses, a comma separated list of email addresses. Especially if they’re on a mobile device, or something like that. Right? So that’s what the Contact Picker does, and that’s kind of where it fits in the crowdfunding use case.

Accelerate the growth of your funding campaign Get the Contact Picker today

Roy Morejon:
Nice. So, I mean, you’ve been doing this for over a decade, which is amazing. How did you decide to tackle this particular issue?

Jay Gibb:
Well, so we were doing a project. It was a different kind of project. It was for different purpose, and I can tell you about it if you’re interested, but the point is it was something that needed a contact picker. We needed, we had a reason to do it, to build it. And so we were doing the engineering for it, and we tried all the … This is back in 2010, right. We tried the open source packages that were available and the sketchy, crazy sketchy packages that were available. There’re all kinds of sketchy stuff around this area, and things were either too sketchy, or they were kind of abandoned, or they didn’t work. So we ended up having to just engineer something ourselves, right.

Jay Gibb:
And while we were doing that work and participating in stack overflow conversations or Google developer forums, threads, looking for answers, basically just the same thing that you always do as an engineer, when you’re building software. We just noticed that there was tons of other developers building contact pickers for different use cases, right. They were building their own things, and so because it was difficult to do, and there was nothing that was really great on the market, like off the shelf that was available, we just kind of decided to pivot. And we said, “You know what? Instead of doing this other project that we’re working on, let’s just package up this API and make a Contact Picker because obviously there’s a need for it. Obviously, there’s a market.”

Jay Gibb:
And so, that was like 12 years ago. And we started selling it right away, and we’ve been selling it ever since. I mean, it’s been a really fun journey for us.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah. I mean, you’ve had some amazing clients over the year, just looking at your roster of Fortune 50 companies all the way to brand new startups. So I’m interested for one, how did you go about coming up with the name CloudSponge?

Jay Gibb:
So if you got to kind of rewind your memory back to 2009 to understand the logic here and back then the cloud, or the concept of the cloud was something that regular retail consumers weren’t yet really comfortable with. Myself included, right. At that point, what we were all used to was our contacts are stored inside Outlook on our desktop, or inside our macOS or inside Thunderbird, or some tool that was on our computer that was getting backed up or whatever. Right. And that was around the time where we were starting to all be forced into this transition of using web mail, and using the cloud for our photos and using our cloud for our contacts.

Jay Gibb:
But at that point, people didn’t really trust the cloud. People were like, “Well, what if it just goes away? Then I’m going to lose everything.” And so we had this vision, or this idea to create a consumer product to sponge data, your own data out of the cloud so that you could burn it to a disc and keep a back up in your filing cabinet. Or whatever people were comfortable with at the time, right?

Roy Morejon:
Yeah.

Jay Gibb:
So we called it CloudSponge, because that seemed like a good name at the time. Right. Maybe it’s gotten a little bit old now. Maybe we’ve kind of outgrown the word cloud, right, now that it’s 2022. But we called it that and then the first sort of feature of the original version of CloudSponge was going to be to pull down your contact out of the cloud, out of Google or Yahoo or AOL, or whatever. And save them to disk so that you always had them, if those services went away. Right?

Roy Morejon:
Yep.

Jay Gibb:
And that’s what we were building where it was like, okay, well, it turns out that there’s a lot of other people that are doing the same sponging part. But instead of doing the backup part of that, they’re displaying it and making contact pickers, and making it for invitation forms and word of mouth tools, and recipient list creation tools and things like that. Right. So that’s kind of why we called it CloudSponge at the time.

Roy Morejon:
Nice.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah.

Roy Morejon:
Now I know you have seen over the years various use cases in crowd funding, since that’s the majority of the audience here, where sharing with contacts from your address book can be a true game changer for projects. Is there a campaign or a client that comes to mind?

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. So GoFundMe is one of our customers and they’re a big company that does tons of experiments all the time, and they’re changing things around a lot. And so what we’ve seen at any given point in time, we’ve seen the contact picker being used in three, up to three different places within the GoFundMe experience. And I kind of just blew by them really fast a minute ago, so I’ll just kind of double click on them.

Roy Morejon:
Please, please.

Jay Gibb:
One of them is at, during the process of creating a GoFundMe campaign or sort of when you’re at the end of it and they give you all the promotional steps. Okay, now you’ve made your campaign. Let’s get it out there.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah.

Jay Gibb:
One of the things that they do is they give you an interface for inviting your team, because most people are surrounded by a team of people that are all working on this project together. And they’ll use the address book, the contact picker to invite their entire team into the GoFundMe authoring interface. Right?

Roy Morejon:
Okay.

Jay Gibb:
So all of those people can now participate in the virality or the growth like features. Right? So that’s one. The next one is very similar except rather than it just being the team, it’s like you’re using your, as a project creator, you’re using your address book to sort of prime the pump. To get those initial, your personal inner circle network.

Roy Morejon:
Right.

Jay Gibb:
All share that with your friends, your family, your investors, your team, whatever like that, those people that are inside your address book. And it’s a different kind of invitation because it’s like, this is my project. I own this thing and I want your help to make it successful. Right. So the message is a little different and the use case is …

Roy Morejon:
More personalized, right?

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. It’s very personal. Most of the time you’re asking people to do you an important favor. Right. And the way that is practical with the GoFundMe interface in particular is with the contact picker, so that you can select your friends. Right? And then the third one is actually in the back your interface. So if any of those people, are they shared on socials or wherever they go, right. And if you come and you make a pledge, or you back a project and you give money, right after you do that, the very next thing that they’re going to ask you to do is spread the word.

Roy Morejon:
Yep.

Jay Gibb:
Right? You probably know somebody else who’s also would be interested in this product, or whatever. Well, here’s your opportunity to spread the word so that we can hit those stretch goals, or we can hit those thresholds. Right?

Roy Morejon:
Yeah. Yeah, what’s amazing, what we’ve seen is just the fact of, even if you don’t pledge on a campaign, the value of a social share can be exponential. Right? I think it’s close to 30 or $40. Every social share potentially brings in someone that is interested or that can donate or that can pledge, or that has an interest in that product or service, or whatever the opportunity may be. So even if you can’t donate to this cause, or even pledge the $1, just a free social share can actually add value to the campaign. So bringing in a tool like CloudSponge can certainly add to that virality, which is very easy to do that doesn’t cost the consumer anything, but just a little bit of their time.

Jay Gibb:
Yep, no doubt.

Roy Morejon:
So over the years, how many crowdfunding clients or campaigns have you guys been a part of now?

Jay Gibb:
Well, we’ve got, so we kind of dominate the top 10 of crowdfunding platforms. I think seven out of the top 10 platforms out there are using CloudSponge.

Roy Morejon:
Nice.

Jay Gibb:
I don’t have permission to name them all, but the odds are good, especially during the school fundraising season.

Roy Morejon:
Yep.

Jay Gibb:
Like when the school in North America, the platforms that you see for raising money and that kind of a crowdfunding scenario. Pretty much all of them use it. Right. And then one of them, it’s a little bit more difficult to count, but is a very significant number is basically anybody using the IgnitionDeck platform.

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Roy Morejon:
Okay.

Jay Gibb:
And so IgnitionDeck is like, it’s a platform that somebody who wants to create a crowdfunding portal, basically they want to compete with GoFundMe, for example. But in a very specific niche for a community, or for a certain demographic or whatever, they can use the IgnitionDeck product to do that. And then those guys, they can buy because they’re already basically running their own technology platform to do crowdfunding projects.

Roy Morejon:
Yep.

Jay Gibb:
They can buy a CloudSponge license and add a contact picker to select places within those user experiences on their IgnitionDeck site to get this, the word of mouth sort of virality uptick.

Roy Morejon:
Amazing. So what would be the best way for someone to get started using CloudSponge for their upcoming launch?

Jay Gibb:
Well, probably the easiest way would be to start by using a platform that’s already using CloudSponge, I guess. Right? Like if, depending on level of sort of technical depth and expertise, and how much of a platform they’re wanting to own and be responsible for. On one end of the spectrum, they don’t want any responsibility. They’re going to completely use a SAS tool, and they just want to fill out the form and submit it and pay a big fee. Right? That’s the no code, low tech end of the spectrum.

Jay Gibb:
And in that case, you basically need to choose a platform that’s using a contact picker. So you’d want to go to them, consider that one of your vendor selection criteria. List is important. I know it’s really useful, and I’m only going to choose platforms that provide that functionality. Right. And then on the other end of the spectrum, it would be somebody that is doing their own crowdfunding portal either with something like IgnitionDeck, or maybe a Shopify or a WordPress website. Or a website that they actually have to set up and maintain and manage.

Jay Gibb:
And in those cases, they should just reach out to me directly, like to CloudSponge. We’ve got plugins, we’ve got all. It kind of depends on the stack. It depends on how they’re built and what their level of technology expertise is. But like I said, we’ve been doing this for 12 years, so we’re able to stitch it together no problem.

Roy Morejon:
Oh, sounds amazing, Jay. Well, listen, this is going to get us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You good to go?

Jay Gibb:
Well, I hope so. I hope so. Let’s try.

Roy Morejon:
So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Jay Gibb:
What inspired me to be an entrepreneur? I guess, just it was, it felt really natural. I don’t think it, for me, it wasn’t like one of these leap of faith kind of things that I’ve heard other people do. It was a real gradual transition from being a developer, being a software developer into realizing that my actual skill, the thing that I feel like I was really good at was actually the one, the layer of abstraction above being a software developer. I was really good at the communication between business people and developers.

Jay Gibb:
So I sort of escalated a little bit there and then it just was the natural next step to become one of those people, and take some risk and take some of my ideas and figure out how to make those worlds sort of work together. And so for me, it was a pretty blurry line. It wasn’t like a really obvious moment where I became an entrepreneur. It was kind of a gradual transition.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. So if you could have a cup of coffee with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Jay Gibb:
Oh, man. Right now. Right now, I think it would be Michael Saylor.

Roy Morejon:
Okay.

Jay Gibb:
Pretty fascinated with Michael Saylor right now.

Roy Morejon:
What would be your first question for him?

Jay Gibb:
Oh, what would be my first question? Wow. That’s a good question. I guess I would probably tell him what I’m up to right now, and tell him what I should double down on. If I was able to fill his head with the different projects that I’ve got on the go and get him to help me focus, or slice them up a little bit differently and think of them differently. I think I would ask him a question about that.

Roy Morejon:
Nice.

Jay Gibb:
Seems like a really cool …

Roy Morejon:
Any book you might recommend to our listeners?

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. You know what? There’s one that I just, I’ve read it a couple times now, recommended it a few times. It’s called Obviously Awesome.

Roy Morejon:
Okay.

Jay Gibb:
It’s by April Dunford and it’s about positioning. Basically, it’s like the most clear, modern approach to figuring out what is positioning for any product or service, and how do you figure it out. How do you write it down? What’s the formula for mastering your positioning so that people actually understand what you do and how you compare to your competitors, and all that stuff. It’s a super good book.

Roy Morejon:
No. Sounds great for the audience. Thanks for the sharing.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah.

Roy Morejon:
What’s one invention that’s made your life easier during the pandemic?

Jay Gibb:
Nintendo Switch.

Roy Morejon:
There you go. Yeah.

Jay Gibb:
I got four little kids, man. I got four kids and the thing, Animal Crossing kept us sane. I’m telling you.

Roy Morejon:
There you go. It was Dance, Dance Revolution for us, or Dance Dance 2022, whatever it is.

Jay Gibb:
That sounds noisy.

Roy Morejon:
Oh, yeah, it was. But it was good exercise too, right?

Jay Gibb:
There you go.

Roy Morejon:
All right. Last question, Jay. You’re doing great. And I know you get to work with a lot of different campaigns, so I’m really excited to hear what your take is on, what does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Jay Gibb:
What does the future of crowdfunding look like? I think it’s going to involve Bitcoin. I think there’s a lot of un bankable people that can really benefit a lot from Bitcoin all around the world. People that sort of are alienated from the banking system for whatever reason, right. They don’t make enough money, or they live in a place that doesn’t have their good currencies or whatever. And I do feel like the crowdfunding is a really great match for those demographics.

Jay Gibb:
And Bitcoin is the thing that allows them to participate in the monetary system with just a smartphone and an internet connection where they don’t need to apply for a bank account, or any of that kind of stuff. So I think it’s going to make a pretty big impact to the crowdfunding conversation in the universe, and some really good impact for a lot of people that could use it.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Well, Jay, this has been amazing. This is your opportunity to talk to our audience, give them your pitch, tell them what you’re all about, where people should go and why they should check out CloudSponge.

Jay Gibb:
Oh, I think I’ve done a lot of that already, so I’m not going to repeat myself. But I will tell you where to go. I mean, you can just go to cloudsponge.com/artofthekickstart, and we’ll put some resources up there that are useful for the audience, and some ways to communicate with us. And if anybody’s wants to do what I just suggested in terms of choosing a crowdfunding platform that has really strong word of mouth functionality, they can ask me that in a private conversation. I’d be happy to tell them everything I know, right. So if they just want to get on the calendar, I’ll do my best to consult and make a suggestion with a little bit of background knowledge about what the project is.

Roy Morejon:
Amazing. Awesome. Extremely generous of you, Jay. Thank you so much. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to CloudSponge and everything else we talked about today. And of course, I got to thank our crowdfunding podcast sponsor over at Product Hype, the top newsletter for new products that just launched. Jay, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.

Jay Gibb:
Thanks for having me, Roy.

Roy Morejon:
Thank you for tuning into another amazing episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a better business, life, and world with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode as much as I did, make sure to show us some love by rating us and reviewing us on your favorite listening station, whatever that may be. Your review really helps other founders and startups find us so they can improve their craft and achieve greater success like you. And of course, be sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for all the previous episodes. And if you need any help, make sure to send me an email at info@artofthekickstart.com. I’d be glad to help you out. Thanks again for tuning in. I’ll see you next week.

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