Over the last year or so, crowdfunding has taken off. It started with websites like kickstarter.com – where creative projects are pitched to the public, who in turn is able to help fund part of the venture.
The concept has spread to other arenas, such as micro-financing through kiva.org, or fundraising community projects through the likes of givealittle.co.nz. It can even be used to fund a wedding on crowdtilt.com, or just about anything else, for that matter.
And now, software giant Microsoft is jumping on the bandwagon with it’s new Chip In initiative. The program allows University students to crowdfund a Windows PC for their college years. It also comes with a four year subscription to Office 365 for University, and Microsoft contributes the first 10% to boot.
Students, their parents or anyone, really, can set up the crowdfunding page by selecting which PC they would like to raise money for. Once the computer is funded, the student will receive a discount code to buy the computer. Only students with a .edu college email address or valid International Student Identity Card are able to redeem the coupon.
The program starts today and will run through to the first week of September, giving students the whole summer to fund their new computers.
This is a smart move by Microsoft. Primarily they are using a social tool in crowdfunding, which hasn’t been used by competitors yet. But secondly, they are getting in before the back to school rush, and there is a big chance that they may be able to cut into Apple’s huge student discounts that pop up in September.
We’ll see if the early bird does get the worm soon enough. But either way it’s certainly an innovative marketing technique, using technology and social networking in a simply way that simply hasn’t been seen in this industry before.