List of the Best Academic Research on Crowdfunding

What Top Researchers Are Saying About Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding, in all its glory, is still a very new phenomenon. Entrepreneurs, backers, and investors are just beginning to get comfortable using crowdfunding platforms.

But we haven't even scratched the surface in understanding how crowdfunding platforms will transform business finance and investing. The following list is a compilation of some of the most influential research being done at an academic level into crowdfunding.

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The dynamics of crowdfunding: an exploratory study

Scientists explaining data to the public
Alice Mollon/Getty Images 

Written by Ethan Mollick, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, this paper examines 48,500 crowdfunding projects that raised a combined $237M.

Mollick attempts to identify what makes for successful crowdfunding campaigns and how shared geography and personal networks are at play.

It's a common understanding that crowdfunded products are delivered late to funders—much of that research comes from this paper.

Crowdfunding allows founders of for-profit, artistic, and cultural ventures to fund their efforts by drawing on relatively small contributions from a relatively large number of individuals using the internet, without standard financial intermediaries.
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2013 Crowdfunding Industry Report (

The 100-page full report costs $495 but it's one of the most extensive research projects into the size and nature of the entire crowdfunding industry.

Produced by financial analysis firm, Massolution, this report estimates that crowdfunding platforms raised almost $3 billion (an 81% year over year increase) in 2012 and that 2013 should account for $5.1 billion in crowdfunding volumes.

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Crowdfunding: Tapping the right crowd

Crowfunding management infographic
 Jemastock/Getty Images

This paper delves into the motivations of crowdfunding entrepreneurs, answering the question why they choose crowdfunding over alternative forms of funding and whether they prefer the aspect of "pre-funding" their product development or "profit sharing" —2 common ways crowdfunding works.

The academic paper, by 3 researchers at the Université Lille Nord de France, provides a framework for "the optimal design of crowdfunding initiatives, the impact of capital requirements, product type and market size, and the need to build the 'right' community of crowdfunders. Interesting.

Our conclusions have implications for managerial decisions in the early development stage of firms, when the entrepreneur needs to build a community of individuals with whom he or she must interact.
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Crowdfunding: Disintermediated Investment Banking

McGill University's Brian Rubinton believes crowdfunding may ultimately emerge to provide similar function to today's investment banking industry.

As equity markets evolved so should capital markets in all shapes and sizes. Commercial and Investment Banking are operating on obsolete processes, and, they are in the unique political and economic position where they could push other industries forward to make room for their own evolution15.
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Swept Away by the Crowd? Crowdfunding, VC, and Entrepreneurs

Another paper from Penn's Mollick, this one deals with the similarities between people funding crowdfunding deals and venture capitalists. The same signals used by VCs as indicators of startup potential are also used by crowdfunders.

High quality projects attract backers who may promote the project to other potential backers, or external media, thus increasing the draw of the project.
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Let's get together: crowdfunding portals bring in the bucks (Deloitte)

Deloitte predicts that crowdfunding portals will raise $3 billion in 2013, double the amount of 2011.

This research piece, produced by global consulting firm Deloitte, examines the 4 main categories of crowdfunding, determines near-term growth estimates, and looks at what crowdfunding might look like in a couple of years.

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US crowdfunding market size estimate by UC Berkeley

The College of Engineering at UC Berkeley's Program for Innovation in Entrepreneurial and Social Finance used various methodologies to get estimates on the crowdfunding market. Ranging from $184M to $1.59B, the crowdfunding industry is poised for rapid growth.

If the future debt and equity market were 1% of angel investment—through either displacement or funding of new entrepreneurship—the U.S. market would be $184M.
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Launch Hard or Go Home: Predicting the Success of Kickstarter Campaigns [pdf]

Vincent Etter is a Swiss student who studied crowdfunding as part of his research for his Ph.D. He published his findings in a paper Launch Hard or Go Home: Predicting the Success of Kickstarter Campaigns (pdf). Those results found their home in Sidekick, a tool that predicts the success.

Particularly, Etter found 3 factors that are useful in predicting the success of a given Kickstarter campaign:

  1. the amount of money pledged over time
  2. tweets containing a link to a campaign
  3. backers and their relationships with each other
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Crowdfunding Models: Keep-it-All vs. All-or-Nothing

Rewards-based crowdfunding campaigns are commonly offered in one of two models: “Keep-it-All” (KIA) where the entrepreneurial firm sets a fundraising goal and keeps the entire amount raised regardless of whether or not they meet their goal, and “All-or-Nothing” (AON) where the entrepreneurial firm sets a fundraising goal and keeps nothing unless the goal is achieved.

This interesting paper from researchers at York University looks at the success metrics of the two models. There's one clear winner...

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Gender Dynamics in Crowdfunding

Few financing schemes seem to favor women. Women entrepreneurs get just 19 percent of angel funding and about six percent of venture capital, making it much harder for women to build companies that can scale and succeed. 

3 researchers looked at gender data associated with crowdfunding campaigns and it turns out women have an easier time raising money via crowdfunding.

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An Analysis of Incentive Structures in Collaborative Economy

Researchers from Purdue University explore how incentive structures in crowdfunding (the rewards) influence the crowd's interest and motivation in contributing to specific crowdfunding projects.

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After the Campaign: Outcomes of Crowdfunding

What happens to a company after a successful crowdfunding campaign? This study takes a look.

A very high percentage (over 90%) of successful projects remained ongoing ventures 1-4 years after their campaign. We found that 32% of all these reported yearly revenues of over $100,000 a year since the Kickstarter campaign, and added an average of 2.2 employees per successful project. The survey also suggested that crowdfunding provided many potential benefits beyond the crowdfunded money.