Eric Ries published The Lean Campaign in 2011. There was nothing really new about this book – its underlying methodology was rooted in Action Research.

But this got us thinking – what if we took this concept and applied it to crowdfunding. This is a new application of the concept and one born from the frustration of the lack of space to test a crowdfunding campaign before you go live and ask for the money.

In entrepreneurship the Lean Startup [sic] movement was (re)started by Eric Reis in the USA. But the principle goes back to the late 19th Century and the first recorded use of action research methodologies in the field of education.

At its most basic form action research means working alongside the subjects you are analysing. Rather than being an objective observer, as is often the case in the natural sciences, the action researcher can make suggestions that may lead to action on behalf of the agent being analysed. Then one steps back, thinks (reflects) about the results and the process generally starts all over again with this new knowledge in hand.

This is ultimately a very subjective process and one that can involve many people. For the Lean Startup this is the core of the process, moving forward with a minimum viable product (MVP).

An MVP is getting the basic form of the product (or service) out there for people to buy into and then react to. Watching how the market reacts to it and then thinking about that before making any adjustments and trying again.

In summarising I am leaving out quite a lot of the Lean process as dictated by Reis, but you get the idea of it how it works. The thing is this has never been applied to crowdfunding – until now!

The concept is simple enough – a space for you to park your campaign, gather your network and ask for feedback about aspects of it before you go live. It means that you not only have an excuse for engaging with your network before you launch (thus creating a ripple of excitement) but you also get to polish the campaign.

It means the campaign will now come with an added layer of quality and you have more confidence that the campaign is going to fly and not bomb. For the platforms knowing that you have spent time crafting the campaign and received positive feedforward is going to add even greater weight to your application.

Platforms are getting pickier, across the board, which is perhaps right as they can detect faulty or ill prepared campaigns (they have the experience). But many of the platforms do not have the time or man power (or even will) to respond to every rejection explaining why in detail.

But now imagine you have that space – a space where there are no rejections because you are not asking for the money or actually crowdfunding, you are in reality crowdsourcing feedback/forward about your campaign. A space to get serious comments about a campaigns video presentation, main page wording, the promises being made, the valuation of the company, the historical financials, the projections, the business plan, the team, the images used, the colours in the background of the photos used et cetera, et cetera.

As yet (and here’s the selfless plug) there is only one site dedicated to this area. It was developed by me with some help from Winchester City Council who gave me a grant toward the project. It has been slow but I think we are almost there now.

We call it The Lean Campaign, and because of the generosity of Winchester City Council we can offer it for free (a premium service will be introduced in 2016).

So if you have a new idea you think could be crowdfunded – get in touch: chris@leancampaign.co

For more interesting information on crowdfunding and to keep up with this blog series follow the author, Chris Buckingham on Twitter!