According to cofounder Jean-Sebastien Noel, La Ruche’s expansion to Montreal comes from both a need and as a result of its prior success in Quebec City. Over two and a half years, the site featured 170 projects, 95 of which were completely funded. Over 7,000 contributors collectively funded over $850,000.
The site, said Noel, acts as “the town plaza or the church steps” where people have congregated for decades. But now it’s in a virtual sense.
Noel’s clever comparison to the church steps was originally covered by La Presse’s Gilbert Leduc. Explaining the concept of crowdfunding to his grandfather, Noel put it this way: imagine a church-goer explaining to his fellow neighbours after a service that he needs to build a sawmill. Interested neighbours help out and contribute what they can, because, well, that’s what people in close proximity often do for each other.
La Ruche is hyperlocal in the sense that only projects with a “local footprint” are accepted.
“Web technology and social networks have replaced the church steps, and participatory local financing now offers a bridge between the citizen who wants to build the sawmill and those who want to help him,” Noel told La Presse.
Noel’s idea is significant because often these “church-goers” (or local people with local interests) aren’t properly reached by crowdfunding mammoths like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Too many projects are either totally irrelevant to them or they won’t do anything to improve the places that directly surround them.
Similarly, there’s a problem for the local pizza joint that’s “lost” on sites like Kickstarter, said Noel. People in New York won’t crowdfund a cool pizza joint in Griffintown. If they can’t eat any of the pizza, why would they?
“Conversely, we saw that certain ideas that didn’t have the same emotional appeal crowdfunded millions of dollars. We saw an opportunity to bring back the tool on a local level. We said, “Lets use the crowdfunding tool to reach out to people to be part projects that directly benefit their local space.”
Of course, there are countless examples of projects on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo that have immediate mass, global appeal. One could argue that this is the prime target for big crowdfunding sites. But it could also be argued there will always be room for the La Ruches of the world.
Because La Ruche is exclusive to its local region, projects that don’t have a local appeal clearly won’t fit. In that sense, Noel said La Ruche is almost “anti-web.”
“The web is breaking barriers and we’re sort of adding a wall around our region,” Noel told MTLinTech. “Before changing the world, let’s just change our region. Before your favourite artist was famous, he or she was a local artist. Let’s provide a place where all local projects can grow.”
La Ruche will launch in both English and French in Montreal.
Moreover, Noel said it will similarly be expanding to a few more regions in Quebec around the same time as the Montreal launch.
“I strongly believe every city will have its local crowdfunding platform 15 years from now,” he added.