Interview with founders of BackMe, Ahmed Aarad and Gerard Oosterwijk
In today’s world, crowdfunding has become a popular way for individuals and organizations to raise money for their projects and ideas. Now it is also possible for online content creators to get the audience to support them financially. The non-profit platform created by www.backme.org offers a unique approach to supporting vloggers, bloggers, independent journalists, podcast makers, influencers, and artists in helping them make the content they want.
After becoming the market leader in alternative income in The Netherlands, BackMe is coming to Belgium. We had the opportunity to speak with the two masterminds behind the platform, Ahmed Aarad, and Gerard Oosterwijk, about the vision and mission of BackMe, and their plans for the future.
WLB: Can you tell us more about the concept behind BackMe and how it differs from other crowdfunding platforms?
Ahmed Aarad: “BackMe was created within the Public Spaces initiative to create a community-driven platform that makes it easy for people to support content creators. Independent voices online have a large audience, but the for-profit big tech platforms are not sharing their revenues with them as they had in the early days. Now content creators can tap into additional the income-streams, meaning next to advertisement, content creators can have a separate income stream from people that back them with a small amount every month. Thus, creating a more sustainable income stream. In addition, our platform focuses on creating a personal connection between the person raising funds and those who support them. This makes it easier for people to trust the cause and feel a sense of community.”
Gerard Rinse Oosterwijk: “Unlike other platforms, BackMe is a non-profit, a foundation. This makes that we can give maximum financial support to the content creators. We are not building a start-up with the idea of a buy-out by a big tech firm but trying to create long-term value. Our goal is to create a space online where people can come together to support and uplift each other, where the independent creators are supported and can make a living from their creations. And also, because we are a non-profit, the money raised through BackMe is exempt from things like VAT and Income Tax under Dutch Law.”
WLB: How has the response been so far?
Ahmed Aarad: “The response has been fantastic. Over the past years, we have become the largest platform in the Netherlands for content creators. They are getting tens of thousands of small donations from people passionate about supporting causes that matter to them each month. It’s been amazing to see the impact that BackMe has had on people’s lives, especially the content creators that can now make a living from what they do best, and we are committed to continuing this work.”
Gerard Rinse Oosterwijk: “Creators produce interesting content for their audience: they have always done it and want to continue to do so, but now without pressure and compromises. Serving their audience and not being concerned about if their content will do well with big advertisers like AdSense. They can work independently and free from editorial, commercial rules, and censorship after joining BackMe. We have received much positive feedback from those who have used the platform to raise funds. But also, from those who have supported a cause, we get the feedback that it is nice to be connected to content creators. It is truly inspiring to see the power of community in action.”
WLB: What are your plans for the future of BackMe?
Ahmed Aarad: “We have a lot of exciting plans for the future. We want to continue expanding our reach and provide a platform for people in Belgium, Germany, and other European countries to support causes that matter to them. We also plan to incorporate new features, like a new better payment provider, to make connecting and supporting each other even easier.”
Gerard Rinse Oosterwijk: “We are committed to using the BackMe community to provide more support to content creators online. That could be by developing other tools that can replace the for-profit platforms that currently exist to publish content online. For example, we have seen the rise of Mastodon as an alternative to Twitter, but much more is needed to create a truly open, independent sphere on the internet. With BackMe, we aim to create an inclusive and supportive community of content creators and their audiences, which could be the basis for something much bigger in the future.”
In conclusion, BackMe is a platform driven by the power of community and the desire to support causes that matter. With the vision and passion of founders Ahmed Aarad and Gerard Rinse Oosterwijk, the future of BackMe is looking bright, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Are you a content creator yourself? Have a look at www.backme.org