Indiegogo announced Tuesday the appointment of Becky Center as the company’s new CEO, the first woman to hold the position.
Center was previously a vice president at the health benefits platform startup HealthJoy. Prior to that, she spent nearly a decade at Groupon, where she rose through the ranks to become head of Groupon Coupons, an affiliate marketing unit.
Center plans on guiding Indiegogo, which focuses on crowdfunding projects by entrepreneurs, in continuing to support creators beyond simply hosting their campaigns on the site.
“Entrepreneurs particularly choose us for that kind of full-suite experience,” she tells Fast Company. “We’re helping the entrepreneur or the creator to build their audience ahead of time and to think through certain tactics and challenges so that their campaign will be really successful.”
Since its launch in 2008, Indiegogo has emerged as a major player in the crowdfunding industry, claiming that roughly 19,000 campaigns are launched on the platform each month. It has built a reputation as a hub for tech and artistic projects, doubling down on those areas in 2018 when it sold off its generosity.com unit, which focused on charitable fundraisers.
Center replaces former CEO Andy Yang, who joined Indiegogo in 2019 from Reddit and guided the company through the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Center will be staying at her home in Chicago, as the formerly Bay Area company has now gone fully remote, with a deal with WeWork launching soon to give employees coworking options.
“We were looking for a candidate who brought a strong product point of view,” said Jules Maltz, a general partner at venture capital firm IVP and a member of Indiegogo’s board of directors, in an email to Fast Company. “The crowdfunding industry has grown, but it needs to evolve and deliver a more trusted experience to backers and a stronger ROI to campaign owners. Becky’s passion for the industry and experience growing and scaling commerce businesses like Groupon through product innovation made her our clear choice to be Indiegogo’s new CEO.”
Center is not the only new CEO in the crowdfunding world: Competitor Kickstarter recently announced that COO Sean Leow would be stepping in as interim CEO after the departure of chief executive Aziz Hasan, who cited, as reasons for his exit, his own creative work and a desire to spend more time with his family. The transitions come as crowdfunded entrepreneurs face continued supply chain issues and competition from e-commerce giants, such as Amazon and Alibaba.
Center says she plans to see the company focus more on sustainable, “green” products, pointing to interest from backers. “We just see that our community is pretty environmentally concerned,” she says.
Recent examples of eco-minded projects include the Lomi home-composting device, which raised more than $7 million on Indiegogo and was last year’s top project on the platform, and a variety of e-bike projects.
Indiegogo also plans to do more around trust and safety, helping project backers understand the risks involved with funding projects and products that don’t yet exist, Center says. That includes vetting potentially high-risk projects based on such factors as entrepreneurial experience and the contributions being raised, she says, and the “Trust-Proven” badge announced in February, which labels projects by entrepreneurs who have had a history of success on the platform.
Indiegogo offers support for entrepreneurs after they finish their initial fundraising, says Center, pointing to its InDemand tool, which lets businesses continue raising money after their initial campaigns; as well as recently announced partnerships with financing firm Clearco, to offer additional financing to successful campaigns, and with the consumer-brand parent company Branded, which offers a potential acquisition path for crowdfunded businesses.
“[Entrepreneurs] should spend their time on the thing that they’re really uniquely situated to do,” Center says. “And they shouldn’t spend their time on learning lessons that other people have already learned and can provide help and tools to them.”