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Businesses, Brushed Off by Banks, Look to Customers for Funding

A former Microsoft (MSFT) employee, Payton left the company in 2011 to start the Republique project and now has 15 people under him working toward the launch, expected next summer.

Payton says he couldn't have gotten this far without his Kickstarter campaign. "I shudder to think where we'd be without Kickstarter," he says.

But his campaign almost didn't reach its $500,000 goal.

"While the public respected our daring vision, we frustrated and angered a lot of people in the community who didn't want us to release our game [only] for iPhone and iPad. After weeks of angry emails and forum postings, we finally agreed to also bring Republique to the PC platform, which ended up igniting our pledges and giving our very stressful campaign a happy ending," Payton says in an email.

"This was a really fascinating process, as we had to tread the balance between what the public wants and what we want to create. We still believe that our iPhone/iPad approach is innovative and could lead to great rewards once the game is released, but we also need to balance that with what the hardcore gamers want (more PC games)."

Ultimately, the effort was worth it. The company is in a better position to negotiate with other investors, he says.

"Thanks to our backers, we have a good chunk of the game's budget accounted for and an already pre-existing user base excited about our game, proving to investors that our [intellectual property] is already strong. Our meetings with outside companies are a lot more fair, thanks to our crowdfunding success," he writes.

A/perture cinema's Desai says she wishes she had the crowdfund investing option before taking out debt.

"I think it is going to be really great for potential small-business owners," she says. "Financing is becoming so difficult, even for existing small businesses. I tried to get an Small Business Administration loan at one point and was turned down and the bank I went to really couldn't explain the reason why. I would definitely consider the option."

A/perture's two-week-old campaign has raised about a quarter of its goal. With 40 days left to go, it's anybody's guess as to whether the campaign will be successful, but Desai is optimistic.

"As long as we can keep up the momentum, maybe we can just pull it off," she says.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to:

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