Darren J. Gendron, CEO of Scallywags International, with the Scurvy Dogs board game. Photo by Steve Ruark, Bmore Media.

Courtesy Bmore Media – Darren J. Gendron wanted to develop a pirate-themed board game, but estimated that printing 1,000 copies would cost $15,000 – money he didn’t have.

So the Columbia entrepreneur turned to crowdfunding – the fast-growing global trend of using the Internet to raise small amounts of money from lots of people – to raise startup funds. The CEO of Scallywags International raised nearly $70,000 on Kickstarter to create his board game Scurvy Dogs, his comic card game 3v3, and children’s book “The Monster Alphabet.”

Crowdfunding, which started as a way to fund artistic projects like a band’s next album, has grown into a tool for startups to raise money.  Restaurants, shops, inventors and even high-tech startup companies are now using it to bootstrap their next projects, using Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and Rockethub. These sites can also help would-be founders test new ideas, develop a fervent base of customers and gain priceless marketing exposure.

Crowdfunding is already a big market, yet it’s likely to grow even bigger in the next few years as new crowdfunding sites launch and equity-based crowdfunding takes effect.

Nearly $1.5 billion was raised for over a million different campaigns last year by 452 sites, according to industry group Crowdsourcing.org. That number is expected to grow exponentially once U.S. regulators approve a recently-passed law allowing regular people to buy stock in a startup company using crowdfunding. This equity-based funding is currently restricted to accredited investors, such as venture capitalists.

Read more at Bmore Media