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Archive | January, 2013

Building a Mature Crowdfunding Industry with Business Partner Programs

31 Jan

By Robert Hoskins

As the Crowdfunding industry begins to mature, more and more Crowdfunding Service Providers (CSP) will need to find a way to differentiate their platform versus the competition.   New industry players that have run eCommerce centers and industry portal sites before will have an edge on the new Crowdfunding platforms simply because they have more experience in building, not only the superior technology underneath, but also nurturing the Business Partner Programs and Channel Marketing Programs that will make their Crowdfunding clients more successful.

Providing a portfolio of professional Crowdfunding services such as news wire press release distribution packages from vendors such as Businesswire.com, Marketwire.comPRNewswire.com and PRWeb.com  and list of public relations firms to help Crowdfunding campaign managers write professional profiles, press releases, write media pitches and build custom tailored media databases of the right reporters to pitch their respective stories would significantly improve the Crowdfunding campaign’s ability to generate positive publicity.

The more positive stories that a Crowdfunding campaign can generate, the more potential donors they can reach with their marketing messages.   According to recent news reports, Kickstarter only had a success rate of 43 percent in 2012, but if they provided a Business Partner Program that provided a list of PR, SEO and marketing vendors to help their Crowdfunding campaign managers become more successful, their success rate should improve dramatically.

In addition to marketing vendors, it might be wise to include a group of professional for-profit and not-for-profit fundraising firms that have been collecting donations via regular marketing programs for decades.  Writing professional case statements is very important in the fundraising world as is writing professional bios for the board of directors.

Last, but not least, how does one go about building a potential donor list? Instead of building a campaign with lofty goals and hoping that it works, building a campaign with a case statement, goals and objectives as well as the strategies they plan to use to achieve their goals would serve a very useful purpose.

While not quite the same thing as fundraising, in the new world of Crowdfund investing, understanding how to build channel marketing programs to reach decision makers or potential investors in vertical business-to-business market segments will be critical to achieving success.

Once Equity Crowdfunding becomes legal,  an even more important demand for financial services will be needed. Setting up corporate structures and stock plans will be critical in determining whether not professional equity investors will get involved with the Crowdfunding industry.  Issuing various types of stocks and the voting writes associated with them will be a critical factor in long term success for any deal.  In today’s world, many venture capitalists will not touch a “hairy deal,” which means too many people are involved with voting rights to allow them to push the exit strategy in the direction they want it to go.

And how the return on investment for the deal is structured will be very important.   Should it be a debt, revenue sharing, dividend or some of other type of equity investment structure? For example, there are many tax advantages to buying a company with debt, but most people might not consider a debt offering unless they consulted with a seasoned venture capital firm.  Understanding the complicated world of finance and venture capital will be critical to Equity Crowdfunding campaigns as well as the portals offering them.

Overall, experts say that there is around $30 trillion sitting in banking and savings accounts that could possibly be invested in the Equity Crowdfunding industry once it gets underway.  But before the Crowdfunding industry expects to receive even one-half of one-percent of this money, the industry needs to figure out a way to achieve success rates of 50% or better.  A goal of 60% of 75% would be much better, but in the financial markets there never is a “sure thing.”

In conclusion, it would be much more comforting for the SEC to allow 98% of Americans to invest up to $2,000 per year in an industry that offers them at least a 50/50 chance of receiving a  good return on their investment.  The only way to  build more successful Crowdfunding industry is to provide campaign managers with a tool chest of seasoned and experienced marketing, fundraising and financing executives before, during and after their Crowdfunding campaigns.

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Kickstarter Incubates Brilliant Integrated Bike Lock Crowdfunding Project

29 Jan
By Robert Hoskins

Many bike riders struggle on a daily basis with bulky locks wrapped around the bike frame or hanging from their necks as they ride to work or school.  But a new Kickstarter Crowdfunding campaign today introduced the InterLock™, which is a seat post with a bike lock inside of it. The bike lock is an integrated lock that hides inside of the frame of virtually any bicycle. While the lock is not in use, it is concealed and stored in the seat post, allowing cyclists to ride without a lock hanging off of their bike.

Kickstarter Campaign to Fund Integrated Bike Lock

Kickstarter Campaign to Fund Integrated Bike Lock

The newest product by Solgaard Design, The InterLock™, has taken off on the popular crowdfunding site, Kickstarter. Adrian Solgaard Janzen, creator of The InterLock™, has set the project’s initial funding goal at $48,000 and needs to raise these funds in order to cover tooling and material costs for the lock.

There are different ways to use the The InterLock™; simply pull the cable out and slip it through the frame of a bike or use it in conjunction with a standard U-Lock which is recommended for high-risk areas in order to secure the seat and rear wheel to the bike. Some may wonder whether or not removing the seat means the bike can be stolen, but the answer is no. Just be sure to run the the cable through the frame and rear wheel to secure the entire bike to the bike rack.

“About a year ago, my bike was stolen due to a faulty lock,” explains Solgaard. “Losing my bike combined with the hassle of carrying around a bulky bike lock inspired me to create The InterLock™ for cyclists around the world.”

The lock will retail for an estimated $50, but is offered at a discount for early adopters on Kickstarter. For a pledge of $39, backers will receive the InterLock™ bicycle seat post with a weather resistant lock and two keys. However, in order for the product to be manufactured, it must reach its total funding goal of $48,000.

Currently, The InterLock™ has raised over 70% of the necessary funds, with an all-or-nothing deadline of February 5, 2012.

IndieGoGo Crowdfunding Campaign Unveils Ultra Fast Battery Charger for Cell Phones and Electric Cars

29 Jan
By Robert Hoskins

IndieGoGo Crowdfunder, Potential Difference, is raising money to bring ultra fast battery charging technology to a worldwide market as soon as possible.  According to the company, test results have shown charge times measured in minutes rather than hours for off the shelf lithium ion batteries, which are used in consumer electronics products such as cell phones, laptop computers, electric automobiles and in the future renewable energy charging stations.

Ultra fast cell phone battery charger from Potential Difference

Ultra fast cell phone battery charger from Potential Difference

The technology has been tested on batteries that are already on the market. It does not rely on development of new battery technology.

Ordinary batteries have been charged in minutes, staying well below maximum charging temperatures recommended by battery manufacturers: 70% state of charge in 10 minutes, 80% in 12 minutes, and 100% in 16 minutes. Even these results might be improved with further development.

Cell phone users will not be stranded without power when they have an urgent need to revive their batteries in just a few minutes. The technology can also be applied to laptop computers, tablet computers, cameras, portable power tools, and other consumer electronics.

Being able to charge an electric vehicle with speeds closer to gasoline refueling speeds the growth of the electric vehicle industry. Electric vehicles improve the environment by not releasing emissions that contribute to global warming.

Currently, the largest market for fast battery charging is cell phones and laptop computers, and Electric Vehicle battery charging is an emerging large market. Being in both markets strengthens the ability of Potential Difference to have a larger eventual impact on the environment as it pursues ultra fast electric vehicle battery charging. The Indiegogo crowdfunding platform is well suited for a consumer electronics product such as an ultra fast cell phone battery charger.

Potential Difference is an electronics technology firm that provides consumer electronics and environmental solutions.  Potential Difference is:

  • 1 of 30 companies selected nationwide by U. S. Department of Energy’s National Renewal Energy Laboratory to present at their annual Industry Growth Forum in 2011, the nation’s premier entrepreneurial event.
  • 1 of 10 companies selected to receive Commercialization Assistance in 2011 by Illinois Smart Grid Regional Innovation Cluster, a collaborative effort with the US Department of Energy, Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, and Clean Energy Trust

New Universal Stylus Pen Works with iPhones, iPads, SmartPhones and Tablets

29 Jan
By Robert Hoskins

Wish you had a stylus pen to work with your new Smartphone or tablet? Look no further than America’s favorite gadget/gizmo shopping mall, Kickstarter.com. Where average Americans are becoming leading inventors because of the power that new Crowdfunding sites are providing to ingenious inventions to bring them to life in the most non-traditional ways.

SimplePen1 Universal Stylus Pen for Wireless Mobility Devices

SimplePen1 Universal Stylus Pen for Wireless Mobility Devices

Simple, but useful, the white SimplePen1 has a white stylus, the first of its kind in the world, while the black SimplePen1 has a black stylus, the standard in the industry. Two styles are being made available on Kickstarter, one with a non-replaceable stylus and one with a replaceable stylus. The replaceable stylus style comes with two additional replaceable styluses in the package.

Additionally, a specialized refill is available for the pen that uses 1/2 gel ink and 1/2 ballpoint ink. This gives the smooth feel of gel and it dries instantly without being ‘smeary,’ just like ballpoint ink.

Charles Waugh already successfully launched the SlingShot by WOXOM on Kickstarter last year, raising over $70,000, so he is familiar with ‘crowd-funded’ projects. In addition launching WOXOM and SimplePen, he is a prominent portrait photographer in Portland Oregon.

Front Page PR offers SBA Free Crowdfunding Consulting Service

25 Jan

Helps Setup Training Programs to Teach Startups How to Raise Money on Crowdfunding Kickstarter, Indiegogo and RocketHub Sites

By Robert Hoskins, Front Page PR

Front Page PR announces a free Crowdfunding consulting service for any Small Business Administration (SBA) office nationwide that wants to learn how to start a Crowdfunding training program to teach local businesses how to raise money from people in the crowd who like their business ideas and want to donate money to help them get their business off the ground.

The SBA helps direct small businesses to 7(a) Loans, Short-term Microloans, Export Loans, Rural Business Loans and 504 Loans that offer small business financing, but in many cases, startups with no track record and few assets fail to qualify for bank loans.

Crowdfunding campaigns can serve as a very useful tool when small businesses have tried everything and have zero options left. Crowdfunding also serves as more than just a finance tool. It affords small business owners a chance to build a crowdfunding profile for their products /services to see if there is a real market demand instead of investing everything they have and hoping that it works.

Small towns are great places for Crowdfunding new businesses because everyone knows everyone. Once people fund a new business they like they can also help make it successful on a local basis because everyone has already indicated they want to buy its inventory.

One resource the firm offers SBA administrators is the Crowdfunding Press Center (https://crowdfundingpr.wordpress.com), which provides a repository of useful Crowdfunding news articles, case studies, research reports and white papers that local SBA advisors and counselors can read to increase their knowledge of Crowdfunding and learn how it can be leveraged to turn brilliant ideas into new businesses that create local jobs.

Once people have attended an SBA training program and have decided to launch a Crowdfunding campaign, Front Page PR offers a low-priced, two-hour Crowdfunding consulting service to teach new entrants how to leverage PR and social media to maximize their fundraising success for only $999.

Contact:
Robert Hoskins
Front Page PR
www.frontpagepr.com
East Coast: (512) 627-6622
West Coast: (602) 326-0940

Crowdfund Site Seeking Crowdfunders to Launch Crowdfunding Campaigns in Illinois

25 Jan

By Robert Hoskins

Conzortia Business Funding unveils bundle of websites designed to meet the growing crowdfunding marketplace to serve regional customers in Illinois.  Companies, individuals and organizations in Illinois who can look at their capital needs and figure out creative ways to add non-equity perks to their offer can have very successful fundraising campaigns.

Crowdfunding Makes Cents In Land of Lincoln

Crowdfunding Makes Cents In Land of Lincoln

“The Crowdfunding industry is opening doors for not only investors but artists, techies, gamers, and the list goes on,” declares Robert Dobyns, founder of Conzortia. “Talented individuals no longer have to apply a hit-or-miss philosophy to their works of art. Now the people who love their work can give their artistic career a boost via crowdfunding.”

For example, a revolutionary dress shirt design raised around $400,000 via crowd funding recently. A new computer RPG brought in almost $4 million in crowdfunding revenue, as well. And the list goes on and on for smart entrepreneurs raising hundreds of thousands of dollars today with successful crowdfunding projects.

Nearly $2 billion dollars was appropriated by crowdfunding projects last year. Around three billion dollars is expected to be raised using crowdfunding platforms by year’s end.

Dobyns however warns against the idea that crowdfunding is an effortless golden ticket. “There is real work that goes not only into the finished product but the entire crowdfunding effort itself,” Dobyns says. “You have to know what you’re looking for and let people know what it is you’re offering to the world through a crowdfunding portal like CrowdWOWzer.”

EarlyShares Announces New Equity Crowdfunding University Video Library

25 Jan

By Robert Hoskins

EarlyShares announced the launch of EarlyShares University to educate investors and business owners on Crowdfunding best practices and industry trends. The company will release an unprecedented series of educational videos, white papers and infographics on equity-based Crowdfunding for investors and entrepreneurs, and plans to expand the service in the near future.

EarlyShares University will be a searchable catalog of videos and other materials that provide an engaging and interactive way for members to learn about equity-based Crowdfund investing, creating a Crowdfunding campaign, specific information on vertical market opportunities, and the rules and regulations surrounding Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding platforms will have to meet basic SEC and FINRA requirements in order to provide funding portal services. EarlyShares is proud to be at the forefront of meeting and exceeding these standards by ensuring prospective Crowdfunding investors have free and easy access to investing fundamentals prior to investing in a Crowdfunded offering.

EarlyShares members who utilize the University will have the opportunity to participate in the company’s rewards program, which is still in development. Once members watch a video, they are able to gain rewards points for their training. The points can later be redeemed for various things like discounted services through the EarlyShares affiliate program.

“These courses are designed for members to learn more about us and our industry. If there is ever something that they want to be featured in an EarlyShares University course, they should let us know,” said Steve Temes, co-founder and chairman of EarlyShares.

“With so many entrepreneur and investor signups, we take our responsibility to educate potential EarlyShares investors seriously and wanted to provide them information to assist them in making informed decisions. Launching this University is part of our commitment to assist EarlyShares investors in learning all about Crowdfunding investing,” says Temes.

“Investing in a Crowdfunding company is an entirely new type of investment opportunity, so we want to take the time to make sure all of our members, both investors and entrepreneurs, have the information they need before they decide to move forward,” said Heather Schwarz-Lopes, CEO of EarlyShares. “Like Congress and the SEC, we believe that education and investor protection is key for this new industry.”

Las Vegas to host 2nd Annual Global Crowdfunding Convention and Bootcamp

25 Jan

Crowdfunding Roadmap Logo

By Robert Hoskins

Crowdfundingroadmap and NowStreet Media have teamed up to host the 2nd Annual Global Crowdfunding Convention and Bootcamp that will be held on October 14-16 at the M Resort and SPA in Las Vegas, NV.  Sign up before February 2, 2013 and receive a $200 early bird discount.

Because conventional forms of financing, such as venture capital and small business loans, are no longer viable options for earlier stage companies, many have been desperately seeking alternative capital raising methods, such as Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding has already matured into nearly a $3 billion  industry, and with the implementation of the Jobs Act, it is forecasted to grow exponentially as more and more entrepreneurs, investors and members of the financial community propagate the marketplace. Comprised of the largest gathering of industry professionals, this year’s convention is designed to provide participants with an unparalleled informational and networking experience.

This is the must-attend event for entrepreneurs and small business owners, investors, crowdfunding professionals and enthusiasts, funding portals, investment bankers, financial advisers, venture capitalist, angel investors, incubators, business coaches, mentors, secondary stock specialists, equity analysts, journalists as well as tax, legal and regulatory experts. Attendees can expect to be immersed in the best in education that will include personalized hands-on access to renowned industry leaders.

Highlights of this year’s conference will feature a very special keynote by the legendary entrepreneurial mentor/advisor, Jay Abraham – founder and CEO of The Abraham Group, Inc. Jay has been acknowledged as a unique and distinctive authority in the field of business performance enhancement – and the maximizing and multiplying of revenue and business assets.

The 3-day event will also feature a one of a kind “Funding Portal Pavilion”™ as well as a new “Crowdfunding Expo Showcase” and “Crowdfunding Expo Marketplace” – where the best in the industry come together to exhibit game-changing platforms, products and new funding solutions. Also being introduced is a diverse series of workshops for Entrepreneurs, Investors, Financial Advisers, Funding Portals, Broker Dealers, The International Community as well as Legal and Tax Professionals. All workshops will be spearheaded by an impressive list of prominent speakers from around the world.

Crowdfunding CEO Predicts Industry Shakeout in 2013

22 Jan

By Robert Hoskins

We agree with the CrowdFunding Incubator that there is a growing misconception that if you just toss an idea up on a crowdfunding website, money will come running after it. Or the belief that contributors stay up all night scouring the internet for projects they can toss extra money at. This grandiose belief in monetary magnetism is going to cause a lot of crowdfunding project sponsors incredible grief in 2013. The fact is that any venture requires a vigorous and continuous participation on the part of sponsors in promotion. Project sponsors will have to put more of their resources into promotion and building credibility, and this will translate to an improved standard of quality in this new capital market medium.

What's in it for the Contributors?

The Crowdfunding Proposition

“When the credit card bills from Christmas come rolling in, and when some crowdfunding platforms and sites start to post their actual success and failure numbers, prospective contributors are going to be tougher to come by. They will be more cautious, more skeptical and have less money to gamble with than in 2012,” says Douglas E. Castle, the CEO of CrowdFunding Incubator, LLC (CFI), looking ahead to an inevitable shakeup in the crowdfunding industry.

Castle continued by saying, “If anything, entrepreneurs are going to have to do everything that they can to convince an increasingly disenchanted public that their projects will not turn out to be embarrassments, and to persuade the public that contributors, as true believers, will receive some form of compensation, either real or emotional, in exchange for their paid vote of confidence.

The notion of just posting up a request for funding on the web and waiting for the money to materialize is disappearing. Now, more than ever since the crowdfunding phenomenon started gaining media traction and public attention two years ago, organizations which require crowdfunding for their capitalization base are going to have to participate actively in the promotion of their ideas.

This will include more than ever a great deal of blogging, classified advertising, emailing, text message announcements, press releases, videos and social media activity And while that doesn’t have to be expensive, the small sums and significant hours required to get the news of a project to stand out and reverberate are going to be a requirement. Sponsors who are truly ambitious about raising money through this supercharged vehicle will have to drive much of their own traffic to the crowdfunding sites or platforms where they are being featured.”

CFI’s Chief Operations Officer, RD Watkins added, “The better crowdfunding websites are going to be getting more choosy about which project promoters they want to rent out their valuable website real estate to. The decision makers who own these crowdfunding platforms are going to be looking very, very carefully at not only the viability of any given project, but they’ll also be looking at how much the project’s sponsors are willing to participate in the promotional process.

Money is not getting easier. It is getting harder and will probably continue along that trend for some time to come. The whole process is becoming much more active and participatory than before; especially in light of some recent refunds to contributors and some funded but badly stalled projects.”

Castle added, “People are getting educated about crowdfunding. Contributors as well as the operators of the funding sites want to see three things. They want an idea or a business plan that makes sense; they want some kind of consideration in exchange for their contributions of seed or early-stage capital; and they want to see that the innovators and entrepreneurs who are looking to them for funds have some serious skin and sweat in the game.

“Projects just don’t fund themselves. In the coming year, the entrepreneurs are going to have to do everything within their power in order to drive prospective contributors to the platforms where their businesses or business ideas are being showcased.

“On an optimistic note, this market scenario will impose a higher standard of quality on the part of both the website owners and the entrepreneurial hopefuls. It’s an inevitable form of ‘market adjustment’ or ‘correction’ that follows a period of too much money and too little oversight. This will benefit the contributors and the private sector. It will be refreshing to see some sensibility and sanity brought home to the crowdfunding market.”

Equity Crowdfunding Industry Booming in the UK, CrowdBnk Opens New Crowdfunding Operation

22 Jan

By Robert Hoskins

While the officials at the SEC cite fraud as a reason to put their head in the sand, the Equity Crowdfunding industry in the United Kingdom is moving at full steam ahead to fill what a recent Breedon report suggests is a £191 billion funding gap over the next 5 years for small business seeking new startup capital.

CrowdBnk Opens Equity Crowdfunding Operation in the UK

CrowdBnk Opens Equity Crowdfunding Operation in the UK

Small businesses have long been an important source of jobs in the UK and represent a significant portion of the UK output. Given the current economic climate and public spending cuts, startups and small businesses in the UK have an even a greater role to play.

The Crowdfunding  industry offers an alternative source of funding for these businesses. This week sees the dispatch of the eagerly awaited crowd-funded product – the Pebble Watch, which ships worldwide. The startup Pebble Technology raised over $10 million in the US, through Kickstarter, to manufacture their smart watch – proving that people will get behind ideas that capture their imagination.

CrowdBnks opened its doors today and to  kick off the new Equity Crowdfunding event the portal is running the #GreatIdeas Crowding competition for people with ideas to test their entrepreneurial skills through crowdfunding. It is a UK wide competition open to anyone with an idea whatever stage they are at, across all sectors. Success will be judged by the crowd as people back ideas they are excited about here:

Starting on the January 31st and running until the 1st of March, it is free to enter and at the end of the competition the winners get cash prizes to help get their ideas off the ground. The idea that raises pledges worth £10K the quickest will win £7K additional funding from CrowdBnk. The idea that is shared the most by its supporters through social media wins an additional £3K. The funds will be awarded to the entrepreneurs at an event held in March 2013.

CrowdBnk is a crowdfunding platform that works with ideas across the whole spectrum from charity, through social enterprise to business, including those businesses raising capital in return for equity.

Ayan Mitra, CrowdBnk’s CEO stated that, “I started CrowdBnk to prove a point: that there’s another way to get ideas off the ground. It’s not new for people to put their hands in their pockets for something they believe in. All we’re doing is changing the scale. We’re making it possible for more people to get involved and we’re making it easier for entrepreneurs and supporters to find each other in a safe and trusted environment.”

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