Platform allows you to set up projects that only your friends can contribute funds to.
One of the great things about crowdfunding is that it allows people with a creative vision to engage with financial backers on a more personal level, something which greatly helps in the funding of personal passion projects. But what if you want to market your idea on an even more intimate scale?
The developers of mobile app Polca think they have the answer. Polca is administered by popular Japanese crowdfunding site Campfire (whom we have to thank for the Shinto shrine maiden swimsuit), but instead of the Internet-wide net cast by conventional crowdfunding, Polca is specifically designed to let you use harness the power of social media to ask your friends for money.
▼ Polca promotional video
Polca’s developers refer to it as a “friendfunding” app, but the first few stages of the process work just like regular crowdfunding. You start by registering a title for your project, then write a description of what you want funds to do, upload promotional images, and set your funding goal, backer rewards, and deadline.
But then friendfunding diverges from crowdfunding in a critical way. As the final step of the process, Polca has you designate which of your social media friends and followers you’d like to share the friendfunding project information with (platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Line, and Instagram are supported). The friends you designate will be the only ones allowed to access your project’s Polca page, and also the only ones who can contribute funds to it.
Some of the potential plans Polca mentions in its promotional material are pricey social events like having a wedding party for a mutual friend or traveling with a group of pals. In these cases the app acts like a clearing house which collects the funds and deposits them into the project leader’s bank account, with “being able to participate in the party/trip” as the suggested reward. Other undertakings mentioned in the video are pooling coworkers’ resources to buy a nice coffee machine for the office and financing a personal art exhibition at a gallery.
The app is available for iOS and Android devices (here and here, respectively) and allows project durations up to a maximum of 30 days. While that’s not as long as some crowdfunding sites, the one-month cap seems appropriate, since after 30 days talking with any friends who still haven’t pledged funds to an ongoing project is going to get very awkward. Funding goals can be set as high as 100,000 yen (US$910) and as low as 300 yen (US$2.75), although honestly, if you can’t scrounge up three 100-yen coins to scrape together, we’re not sure how you’re paying for your smartphone on which to run the Polca app in the first place.
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