By Neil King
We quiz the founders of new crowdfunding platform MMKN on how they hope to help start-up businesses
Why start a crowdfunding platform?
This region has seen a splurge of entrepreneurial activity in the past few years, especially after the advent of what has become known as the Arab Spring.
Many of these entrepreneurs have truly great ideas but face many obstacles in getting the right funding.
We believe the region has a lot of talent and creativity, but there is a gap in the support available to this pool of talent.
The gap is not about a lack of funding and venture capital, it’s more about providing those creative minds with the right set of skills to plan and deliver on their big dream.
By starting a crowdfunding platform for the Middle East, we are not only hoping to bridge those gaps, but also be part of the entrepreneurial revolution by re-introducing the sense of community and helping others succeed.
By doing this we hope to be part of the rebuilding of the economy across the region.
MMKN – the Arabic word for ‘possible – will make this happy by introducing a streamlined online platform to support the creative minds of the Middle East.
With our continuous public awareness programmes, we believe MMKN will open the doors for a wider audience to be part of this revolution.
What steps did you have to take to establish MMKN?
We started working on the website in December 2012 and launched a beta version in July this year that is now accessible to all those who have posted pre-launch ideas on our landing page.
We hope to have the official launch of the website later this year.
In the meantime, we have launched a Facebook page, which has had a great response given our limited presence, hitting 100 likes in less than 24 hours.
After we prepared our business plan, we started the process of setting up a freezone license in Dubai.
We have faced a few obstacles explaining to officials what the nature of our crowdfunding business is and proving to them that we are legitimate.
We sought e-commerce service from banks in Egypt and the US after banks in the UAE rejected our application for providing e-commerce services.
We believe that the legal infrastructure and policies in the region still have a long way to go in order to directly support crowdfunding platforms and allow for a more efficient operation.
How will MMKN work?
Firstly, starting a campaign on MMKN is absolutely free. What’s more, project owners get to keep 100 percent ownership of their work.
The project owner needs to prepare a detailed project profile before launching, including details such as a high level description, video pitch, website and details of the team involved.
Then the project owner will need to state the required funding amount and length of their campaign (up to 90 days).
Then comes the fun part, where the owner defines the rewards they will be offering to each person that backs their project.
Rewards are defined based on the amount pledged by any backer. Our platform allows the project owner to control their budget when it comes to rewards.
We have three funding models: Fixed, flexible, and hybrid.
On a fixed funding model, the owner will only receive funds if their campaign hits their target before the end of the campaign.
Overfunding is allowed in this model so great projects will have the chance to boom. In the event of a campaign failing to reach its target, MMKN will return the funds everybody who participated in that project.
On a flexible funding model, the project owner will receive funds for their campaign regardless of whether they reach the target or not within the time-frame.
This may be the easy option for unsure project owner. MMKN fees for this type of campaign will be higher.
On a hybrid funding model, the project owner will receive funds for their campaign if they hit a set percentage of their target.
We introduced this model to recognise the effort and time put in by entrepreneurs who almost made their target and to give them a small push over the finish line.
Once the project profile is ready it is submitted to MMKN for review, to ensure it meets guidelines.
Once approved, the owner is free to launch the project at any time. MMKN will support owners by marketing project at various points during the campaign life cycle.
While active, the campaign can receive payments in various ways, including credit cards, PayPal and other local electronic payment methods, depending on the region.
The essence of MMKN is to free the creative minds, allowing them to focus on what they do best. It still takes effort to maintain the project, however, and the project owners are encouraged to provide updates to backers.
A key point for successfully funded projects on MMKN is that it represents more than the sum of money collected.
By that time, the marketing wheel has already turned, and the project already has a following.
What businesses are well suited to MMKN?
MMKN is for creative projects, big or small, serious or whimsical, traditional or experimental. We are a home for everything including films, games, music, art, design, technology and much more.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what kind of business it is. What counts is how creative the ideas are. The possibilities are endless!
On the other side of things, MMKN cannot be used to fund charity projects or causes.
While there are many countless causes worthy of support, we believe that creativity deserves its own space.
What makes MMKN stand out from other crowdfunding platforms?
We are aware that there are a few other crowdfunding platforms starting up in the region – some with niche focus on specific types of projects, and others applying a different model based on equities and shares.
MMKN’s differentiator will be our deep involvement and engagement with the community, on both sides of the equation – the creative minds of the Middle East and their supporting community.
For our primary stakeholder, the creative minds, we will provide a seamless platform where they can host their campaign and drive traffic.
Out platform is bilingual to cater for the diverse crowd that lives in the region.
Moreover, MMKN will provide proactive support from the day they submit their project profile, all the way through their campaign life cycle.
Our hybrid model is less common among other platforms, giving project owners more choice, and our platform also allows for local payment methods in different countries, bringing it that extra step closer to project followers and contributors, and increasing a project’s chance of success.
It will also raise community awareness about small business success stories and the positive impact they have to the economy.
MMKN is not just about the crowdfunding website.
We want to bridge the gap between our community and small business, and we aim to help people embrace the rise of the entrepreneur in the Middle East.