If you’re in North America but outside Quebec, it’s entirely possible that you’ve never heard of Ulule. That’s not to say that this crowdfunding platform isn’t worth noticing. With a focus on quality rather than volume of projects funded, Ulule has an impressive 67 percent success rate: quite a contrast to the 31 percent on Kickstarter or 13 percent on Indiegogo.
“Our mission is not to make the biggest crowdfunding platform in the world. It’s to make the best crowdfunding platform.”
This past Thursday evening, Ulule celebrated its second anniversary in Montreal with a panel about crowdfunding, and a party in their new loft space. This office, in the startup-heavy Mile End neighbourhood, not only includes physical space for the Ulule team, but a seating area where projects using their platform can work under the guidance of the company’s “success managers,” along with an events space for product launches and community events.
“Our mission is wider than only a web platform,” said co-founder and CEO Alexandre Boucherot. “The needs of creators and entrepreneurs are much wider. It’s important, in our opinion, to try and invent ways to give them the best chances of success.”
Founded in France in 2010, Boucherot brought Ulule to Montreal to see if the same things that made the platform successful in Europe would translate to the Quebec market.
“We have a big focus on the coaching of projects, and the success of the project,” Boucherot told BetaKit. “Our mission is not to make the biggest crowdfunding platform in the world. It’s to make the best crowdfunding platform. And we think that crowdfunding platforms are not only about funding, but about success: finding a market, finding a public, a community.”
By vetting and coaching all projects, Ulule is able to ensure that many more of their users reach their goals.
“Part of this work is done through machine learning,” said Boucherot. “We know quite a bit about what should be done, timing, et cetera. And part of the job is done ‘humanly.’ We have a team of what we call success managers, and all projects sent to Ulule are manually screened and then coached during the progression of their campaign, and then during their campaign.”
With a team of 45 people based primarily in Europe (seven in Montreal), and having been certified as a B Corporation in October 2015, the company hopes to continue their growth, while maintaining their goals for positive social impact.
They have partnered with National Bank to create a competition called Le Grand Sault (The Big Step) that gives an additional $30,000 to three projects based in France or Canada ($10,000 each). Last year’s winners included Le Geebee, an electric bike/scooter hybrid; Le Kit du Jardinier-Maraîcher, a film project that documents the daily activities of an urban farm; and Loupp, an ethically made weekend bag.
“Crowdfunding is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. It takes time to find the best possible fit to understand what the creators and entrepreneurs need, and it’s not the same in Barcelona, in Paris or in Montreal. One of the important things is not only to have American projects, but is to be very compatible with international projects.”
Here in Montreal, some current and past successes include Hardbacon, a FinTech app and investment e-course; Bâtiment 7, a community centre that is being created in a reclaimed CN building, and Foodducoin, a neighbourhood food bike delivery service.