How to Crowdfund an Analytics Platform

Piwik - Open Source Web Analytics
Piwik - Open Source Web Analytics

Piwik is a web analytics product that has been in development since 2007, offering an open source alternative to Google Analytics now in use by over 400,000 websites worldwide. Their roadmap is public, and like many great open source projects, they have a strong team backed by a strong and growing community.

Recently, they set out to put this community to the test, giving them a chance to back new features with their wallets. Using IgnitionDeck, they set out to fund a new featured called Flash Free Maps, setting a goal of €4,000 and offering a mix of recognition-based and physical rewards.

When asked why he chose IgnitionDeck over other platforms, founder Matthieu Aubry said “we wanted to control the user experience, and make crowdfunding seamless. Being that is built on WordPress, it just seemed like a natural fit.

Funds distribution was another important aspect, especially for an open source project.

As an open-source project we need as much of the funds, as possible, to go to development. Using other solutions required us to pay a percentage to a crowdfunding site as well as a payment processor. In this case we are only responsible to pay the payment processor fees and keep the rest for goodies for our donors and our main objective: make an even better Piwik.

So how did the campaign fare?

Piwik’s first feature crowdfund was an amazing success, raising 107% of their goal via 149 pledges, averaging almost €30/pledge. When we asked Matthieu about the keys to Piwik’s crowdfunding success, he was quick to praise the community they spent years building.

Piwik’s main success comes from an an awesome community…we have some very passionate fans. We could not have done half of what we have accomplished without their support, their feedback and the generous donations they have made.

With such success, it’s clear that WordPress crowdfunding provided a brand new opportunity for their platform, one they plan to keep using. Fifty-Five pledges into their second campaign, they’ve raised more than €3,100 to build a custom segment editor for their analytics platform, and their 3rd campaign has reached 4% with over a month remaining.

But as many crowdfunders will tell you, the hard work doesn’t end after the raise, you have to deliver too. Piwik seems to have that covered, already launching their new maps feature and ready to keep iterating on others.

Matthieu sees this as just the beginning for open source.

I think we will see more open source projects go the crowdfunding route for features, but it’s not as easy as it seems. The real work begins after the campaigns to ensure everyone gets what they pledged and we achieve our goal of delivering a great new feature. Overall it has been a satisfactory journey, that we could not have achieved without the awesome plugin from IgnitionDeck.

While Piwik’s example provides an exciting glimpse into the future of open source funding, who says it has to stop there? Why not crowdfund an album, open knowledge, or build a space sim? Here’s to the founders that build the future, and the communities that make it happen.

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