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#DigitalSkeptic: Crowdfunding Doesn't Work Like You Think, and Not Much Is New

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Griffin Reinhard recognizes that if investors rely on the crowd when it comes to crowdfunding, they're probably going to wind up all by their lonesome.

"It's not like people with money get up and go to Kickstarter or Indiegogo at 8 o'clock in the morning and decide, 'Oh, I'm going to give money to this idea,'" Reinhard said to me on the phone. The man is as close to a crowdfunding pro as I could dig up: He's director of digital media at The Crowdfund Mafia, a thriving San Diego-based crowdfunding marketing company.

"What really happens is backers hear about a campaign through their network," he said. "So you have to be out there promoting your service, or even the best idea has little chance."

Just guess what turns out to be The Crowdfund's Mafia's secret high-tech weapon when it comes to getting the next, hip socially funded product "made"?

You got it: old-school dialing and smiling.

"We started in the business of helping new products with their videos, copy and project pitches for their campaigns," he said. But that turned out, he said, to not be the biggest bang for the buck. Instead, getting the message out to potential backers was the real challenge.

"So now we offer direct, human outreach to journalists, bloggers and other influencers," he said.

Reinhard's firm, which has doubled in size in the past year to a staff of six, charges $2,500 for three weeks of press support before a product launch. And so far, so good. They've helped drive the buzz to such slick offerings as the TILT Stealth MacBook cooling pad, ChargerGenie charging tote bag and the iDoorCam Wi-Fi connected doorbell.

"We do offer deals where we turn over the press releases and contacts lists to startups for about half that cost, so they can use their own manpower," he said. "But if you have like three Twitter followers and you wait until your campaign begins to get the word out, it's too late."

New age fundraising grows up
What's fascinating about digging into the crowded realities of modern crowdfunding with Reinhard is how quickly raising money in this new age is becoming like raising money in the old age.

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