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IBM, Indiegogo and Arrow Electronics Partner to Fuel the Next Generation of Internet of Things with Crowdfunding

20 Feb

Entrepreneurs to Get Free Access to IBM’s Watson IoT Platform and Discounts on Cloud Services

By Robert Hoskins

Munich, Germany – IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced a partnership with Indiegogo and Arrow Electronics (NYSE: ARW) to help bring new Internet of Things (IoT) ideas to life. This collaboration brings IBM’s Watson IoT platform and cloud services together with ideation to production services from Arrow Electronics and Indiegogo – the world’s largest crowd sourced funding platform with more than $1.1 billion raised.

IBM, Indiegogo and Arrow Electronics Partner to Fuel the Next Generation of Internet of Things Startups

IBM, Indiegogo and Arrow Electronics Partner to Fuel the Next Generation of Internet of Things Startups

Now, qualified Indiegogo entrepreneurs will have no-charge access to IBM Watson IoT Platform via Bluemix for an unlimited amount of time, giving them access to more than 160 industry-leading cloud services to incorporate ready-to-use capabilities, such as artificial intelligence, Blockchain, advanced data analytics and cyber security into their latest IoT inventions. In addition, qualified startups will have access to IBM’s global network of technical and industry expertise, education, mentoring and enterprise customers and business partners, all of which can help to bring new and innovative IoT products to market quickly.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with Arrow and IBM to help entrepreneurs bring their wildest IoT dreams to life,” said David Mandelbrot, CEO of Indiegogo. “We know that fundraising is only one piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle, and by working together with IBM and Arrow we’ll be able to continue making it easier for entrepreneurs to bring their ideas all the way from concept to market.”

Experts predict that by 2022, the IoT landscape will be worth $14.2 trillion.1 A critical driver to this growth will be entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses which, while armed with ideas, lack the resources and skills to develop these next-generation IoT innovations and bring them to market.

Early examples of Arrow Certified Indiegogo IoT startup projects include:

  • Fitly, which created Smart Plate, the first intelligent nutrition platform that instantly analyzes and tracks what you eat. An industry first, Smart Plate was developed with support from Arrow and IBM Cloud, and was successfully funded on Indiegogo.
  • PlayDate, a startup that launched on Indiegogo, created the first smart ball for pets that lets owners interact with their dogs and cats from anywhere in the world. The PlayDate team ran the highest grossing pet tech crowdfunding campaign to date, but used Indiegogo for much more than just funding. They were one of the first campaigns to get Arrow-certified, a badge of approval on their manufacturing plans, and they received $100,000 in flash funding as well as engineering design support. “Arrow and Indiegogo’s support was incredibly valuable,” said Kevin Li, CEO at PlayDate. “Our campaign with Indiegogo opened doors with partners and acted as market validation for investors. Indiegogo and Arrow partnering with IBM will be a huge benefit for entrepreneurs using the platform.”

Through this partnership, IBM, Indiegogo and Arrow are removing key barriers and providing the expertise, resources and funding that entrepreneurs need to develop innovative new connected products and quickly and cost-effectively bring them to market. Combining IBM’s powerful cognitive capabilities with Indiegogo’s entrepreneur platform and Arrow’s end-to-end technology design and production expertise will rapidly increase the volume and quality of IoT devices in market and help fuel a new generation of entrepreneurs.

“Entrepreneurs and startups play a vital role in creating the next generation of businesses – their drive, innovation and passion for bringing new ideas to life is particularly important in building the IoT,” said Harriet Green, General Manager Watson IoT. “We are thrilled to partner with Indiegogo and Arrow Electronics to accelerate IoT innovation and development around the world working hand in hand with some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs, developers and startups to build an even better IoT.”

In addition to IBM’s benefits, Arrow provides qualified Indiegogo campaigns with up to $500,000 in benefits, such as component parts, online product design and prototyping tools, comprehensive technical reviews with Arrow engineers, manufacturing and supply chain services and sustainable recycling. As the only global technology company capable of providing comprehensive, sensor-to-sensor, full IoT product lifecycle solutions, Arrow is uniquely positioned to guide the biggest names in technology, and startups and makers alike, along their IoT production journey.

“IBM will take our groundbreaking collaboration with Indiegogo to a whole new level, helping us reach more entrepreneurs and get their innovative products to market quickly and cost-effectively,” said Arrow’s Chief Digital Officer Matt Anderson. “As one of the world’s largest providers of electronic and IT products and services in the world, Arrow has the breadth of resources and depth of expertise to successfully shepherd promising entrepreneurs along their path to market. Arrow engineers around the world are eager to collaborate with Indiegogo entrepreneurs on cutting-edge tech designs that incorporate the best that IBM’s Watson IoT and cloud services have to offer.”

IBM made the announcement at its first-ever Genius of Things Summit at the company’s Watson IoT headquarters in Munich, where customers, partners and influencers gathered to examine how Watson clients are implementing IoT solutions that drive exceptional outcomes. Around the globe, IBM is working with more than 6,000 clients, across industries, to help them truly realize the benefits of IoT. For more information, please visit:on IBM Watson IoT

Originally launched as a crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo is the place for entrepreneurs to move their ideas quickly from concept to market. Entrepreneurs on Indiegogo are able to showcase their ideas directly to users, take orders for products early in their lifecycle and ultimately build direct relationships with their first customers. Indiegogo is the platform of choice for early stage entrepreneurs and the creative teams of some of the most successful consumer product companies in the world. The company was launched in 2008 and is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Los Angeles and New York.

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Robert Hoskins, a seasoned Front Page PR veteran provides more than twenty-five years of external communications, media relations, digital social media and SEO skills to Front Page PR’s crowdfunding PR and media relations service portfolio.
Robert Hoskins
(512) 627-6622
@Crowdfunding_PR


Mr. Robert Hoskins is a seasoned marketing veteran with a proven track record of helping entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses as well as Fortune 500 corporations launch successful marketing communications campaigns to gain market traction for a wide variety of products and services.
On a regular basis, Mr. Hoskins consults with crowdfunding campaign managers as well as crowdfunding sites, portals and platforms to deliver successful crowdfunding marketing campaigns.
Google search “Robert Hoskins Crowdfunding” to see why Mr. Hoskins is considered one of the industry’s foremost crowdfunding experts that has amassed a huge social media following, which is dedicated to supporting donation-, rewards- and equity-based crowdfunding campaigns.

How to Use Crowdfunding PR, Social Media, Websites and Email Marketing to Launch Successful Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Title IV Equity Crowdfunding Campaigns

20 Oct

Crowdfunding PR helps crowdfunding sites and their campaign managers plan effective marketing campaigns that give fundraising efforts a higher than average chance for crowdfunding success!

By Robert Hoskins

What’s the best way to get the word out about a crowdfunding campaign?

Build an in-depth website including a well-provisioned press room full of information such as a primary PR contact info, logos, head shots of executives, press releases, press coverage, product photos, graphs, charts, white papers, and anything else that a reporter needs to write a news brief or a feature length article at 4:00 am in the morning without talking to anyone.

Always cover the: who, what, where, when, why and how much. Use the website as an electronic sales person that provides comprehensive FAQs that lead customers, crowdfunders and investors directly down the path that you want them to follow with regard to product/service education. The goal is to remove all fear, uncertainty and doubt from the sales equation.

Next, offer them a free white paper or something worth of value such as early bird discounts, VIP memberships, etc. that makes them want to share their email address and phone number with your team for future fundraising marketing efforts.

Use this process to build up an email list of 5,000 or more customers that have expressed a desire to purchase your products before the crowdfunding campaign launches. This step will be a major factor in determining its ability to achieve crowdfunding success on the very first day of the campaign.

Build an extensive social media network on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and as many other social media networks as possible. Grow your social media network by sharing the content from your developing website as well as distributing leading industry news stories for your industry.

And, as you are tweeting out the leading news articles, begin building a database of the reporters, their twitter handles and any subject matter experts quoted in the articles. Also note the frequently used buzzwords, catch phrases, and learn what formulas a reporter likes to use when they write a story.

Use these terms to SEO your crowdfunding profile so that customers who are searching for similar products and service to buy may find the crowdfunding campaign accidentally.

Follow reporters, industry analysts and subject matter experts and make friends with them, a process known as building media relations. Learn what they care about, what they do for fun, and what subject matters they like to talk about.

There is a huge difference in trying to pitch a reporter with a cold, un-researched email versus building a relationship with them before asking them to write a story for you. This strategy should also be used to target angel investors, venture capitalists, private equity and institutional investors.

The most important thing to let them know is that based on “my” extensive research, the articles that “you’ve” written, and the “buyers” that have invested/purchased my company’s product and services are a “perfect match” for your “editorial environment” or your current “investment portfolio.” And it is important to note, that this process usually takes around two-to-six months and needs to be done prior the crowdfunding campaign’s launch.

Issue well-written press releases on one of the top four paid wire distribution services. To reporters “free” or “cheap” wire services equal a potential fraudulent company since they are not willing to pay to use a real wire service and, if so, they may not be a reputable company.

Think of press releases as an extension of content marketing. Add links in the press releases to content on your website that goes into a much deeper discussion of the press release’s primary message. Include a “call-to-action” that tells readers exactly what you want them to do.

Also, write the press release as if you were writing the press release specifically to fit within a trade publication’s editorial environment. The easier it is for reporters and bloggers to cut and paste a story, the easier it will be for you to get media coverage.

And don’t think for a minute that a reporter will find your release by themselves. Instead email a copy directly to the reporter, which by now should now know who you are if you have been doing a good job of building a good media relations as detailed above.

Only target publications and media outlets that contain a high composition of the desired target audience with the right purchasing authority and a high propensity to buy your product or service. In other words, if you wouldn’t spend any money to place an advertisement in any given publication, don’t waste your time trying to pitch your story to a reporter that writes for an audience that really has no interest in purchasing your type of product or service.

All of these crowdfunding campaign prep-work marketing strategies should be done at least two months prior to the crowdfunding campaign. The more months that are spent on prep-work before the campaign begins the better the company will be positioned to achieve success on their crowdfunding campaign.

This entire process will educate the founders and their crowdfunding campaign managers and allow the whole team to learn about the industry, their competitors and how to effectively position their product/service and make it desirable in a very competitive global marketplace.

Why? When potential donors/investors like a crowdfunding campaign’s product, the first thing they will do is research how many likes it has on Facebook, what kind of professional resume the founders have built on Linked and how many followers they have on Twitter.

Next, they will do Google searches on the founders’ names, the company name and its brand names. If they find very little or nothing when searching for information on the company, the crowdfunding campaign will be doomed because it means the company clearly does not understand marketing, social media or PR.

However, if there are several pages of Google search results with news stories, press releases, product photos and a huge following on social media, this means that the founders are dedicated, hard-working employees that have exemplified a better than average chance of being successful long after their crowdfunding campaign concludes simply because they understand marketing.

If all of these crowdfunding puzzle pieces are in the correct place, potential crowdfunders will be convinced that there is a very good chance of receiving the high-tech gadget they want to pre-order to help the company get off the ground.

 

What is the biggest unexpected problem crowdfunders face?

The single biggest problem that founders and crowdfunding campaign managers face is not putting together a realistic marketing budget. It will cost at least $20k to shoot a great crowdfunding video and spend several months mastering the marketing prep-work outlined above.

For example, if you went and hired someone off the street and paid them $7.25 times 40 hours a week times 4 weeks a month times 3 months in a prep-work marketing program, that would equate a marketing budget of $3,480.

The reality is that most good marketing people will bill out at least $25 per hour and great talent will bill out at $100 or more per hour.

So using this math, crowdfunding campaigns should plan to spend at least $15,000 for marketing, social media, and PR support and another $5,000 to shoot a great pitch video and write a well-written crowdfunding campaign profile with language that sells. The campaigns that are raising millions of dollars are typically spending at least $50,000+ on one or more forms of digital advertising networks.

There is a whole sub-crowdfunding industry that will offer press releases, backer programs, social media posts, etc. for a couple of hundred bucks. The problem is that they simply will not provide the success that crowdfunding campaign managers are hoping to receive.  These companies know that founders don’t have much money, but are willing to take whatever they can get.

The same is true for marketing companies that promise to work for a 35% post-paid commission after the campaign ends. The problem is that several days into a crowdfunding campaign that raises hardly any money, these commission-only companies will sever their ties, move onto the next campaign with a better chance of being successful and leave struggling founders hanging out to dry.

We get calls from angry crowdfunding campaign managers all the time that have gone through this disappointing experience. There is no such thing as a “Free Lunch.”

What do crowdfunders need do to achieve excellent results for their campaigns?

In our four years of working with founders on their crowdfunding campaigns, we have seen a trend that is worth pointing out. The single best strategy to prepare for any type of crowdfunding campaign for any founder, entrepreneur, startup or existing small business is to perform an in-depth competitive analysis on as many competitors as possible.

This means researching a minimum of 100 campaigns on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The same is true for equity crowdfunding campaigns. Examine successful campaigns as well as ones that have failed.

  1. How are their crowdfunding pitch videos shot?
  2. How are their crowdfunding profiles written?
  3. What perks sold the best/worst and how were they worded and priced?
  4. What was their original crowdfunding goal?

Even better is to search for companies that failed on their first campaign and then raised millions of dollars on their second campaign, such as the “Coolest Cooler,” and then examine what the changed between the first and second try.

The second most important thing that successful crowdfunding campaigns need to have is enough support from family and friends to raise the first 30% of the crowdfunding goal.

Nothing is worse than a campaign that only raises $100 during the first several days.

This is why smart founders will set their goal as low as possible so that they can raise 50% of the goal on the first day. A low goal doesn’t mean they can’t raise a million dollars!

What is the number one piece of advice for anyone wanting to do a Kickstarter or Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign?

We highly recommend taking out a yellow writing tablet and going to Crowdfunding PR’s free crowdfunding training classes at https://crowdfundingtrainingclasses.wordpress.com.

Crowdfunding PR Offers Crowdfunding Training Classes to Help Campaign Managers Plan Cost-Effective Marketing Campaigns

Crowdfunding PR Offers Crowdfunding Training Classes to Help Campaign Managers Plan Cost-Effective Marketing Campaigns Using Social Media, PR, Email and Content Marketing

Reading through these free tutorials will educate founders on the various components of the crowdfunding process. For each section, founders should write down their thoughts about what they might want to do to raise money for their own crowdfunding campaign.

Next, take advantage of Crowdfunding PR’s free 30-minute telephone consultations for founders that are considering launching a crowdfunding campaign. If they are willing to learn about crowdfunding first and then write down their initial thoughts on what they might like to do with their campaign, it will lead to a much better first conversation on what they want to achieve with their Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Title III/Title IV equity crowdfunding campaign.

Call Crowdfunding PR at (512) 627-6622 to setup a call!

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Robert Hoskins, a seasoned Front Page PR veteran provides more than twenty-five years of external communications, media relations, digital social media and SEO skills to Front Page PR’s crowdfunding PR and media relations service portfolio.
Robert Hoskins
(512) 627-6622
@Crowdfunding_PR


Mr. Robert Hoskins is a seasoned marketing veteran with a proven track record of helping entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses as well as Fortune 500 corporations launch successful marketing communications campaigns to gain market traction for a wide variety of products and services.
On a regular basis, Mr. Hoskins consults with crowdfunding campaign managers as well as crowdfunding sites, portals and platforms to deliver successful crowdfunding marketing campaigns.
Google search “Robert Hoskins Crowdfunding” to see why Mr. Hoskins is considered one of the industry’s foremost crowdfunding experts that has amassed a huge social media following, which is dedicated to supporting donation-, rewards- and equity-based crowdfunding campaigns.

Arrow Electronics Brings Technology and Design Hardware to Life with Up to $1 Million for Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaigns 

1 Sep

Arrow Electronics and Indiegogo launches groundbreaking crowdfund-to-production service aimed at accelerating the pace of innovation for technology entrepreneurs

San Francisco, California – Arrow Electronics, Inc. (NYSE:ARW) and Indiegogo launched their groundbreaking crowdfund-to-production service, which is aimed at accelerating the pace of innovation for technology and internet of things (IoT) entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs can apply for Arrow certification on the Indiegogo platform. Arrow Electronics’ engineers will then analyze the design and manufacturability of each application. Projects deemed “ready for manufacturing” will be denoted with official “Arrow Certified” badges on their Indiegogo campaign site to let potential backers know the project is ready for production."Arrow

Every “Arrow Certified” campaign on Indiegogo that meets certain eligibility criteria can compete to receive a share of $1 million in flash-funding that Arrow will give away to 20-50 campaigns during the next 12 to 15 months. Click here for full funding details and rules.

Arrow Certified” campaigns on Indiegogo will also lock-in up to $50,000 in benefits that help entrepreneurs succeed in prototyping and manufacturing their innovative products, which include some or all of the following:

  • Direct, online access to the prototyping tools available through Arrow.com and Silicon Expert, one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive database for technology component design
  • Comprehensive technical reviews of the raw materials, sub-assemblies, intermediate assemblies, sub-components, parts and the quantities of each needed to manufacture a product
  • Professional design-for-manufacturing product reviews and certification
  • Up to $1,000 in materials for prototype development
  • Free access to the Arrow Testdrive program to try out the latest innovations from leading semiconductor manufacturers with no up-front investment
  • Customized marketing and promotional support on Arrow.com and through Arrow’s extensive technology-focused media network
  • 10 percent off and free shipping on millions of products available through Arrow.com that will help accelerate prototyping and bringing innovations to market

In addition, a handful of “Arrow Certified” campaigns that Arrow experts deem truly technologically exceptional will qualify as “Arrow Innovator” campaigns and receive additional support, which includes some or all of the following:

  • Supply chain services and contract manufacturing support worth up to $500,000
  • Up to $10,000 in materials for prototype development
  • A dedicated local Arrow technical concierge available for on-call or on-site support
  • Perk protection that guarantees campaign backers will get their money back if for some reason the product is never manufactured—providing current and future campaign backers with increased confidence
  • A fast-tracked review with Arrow’s in-house financing team to help fund the cost of getting production up and running

Arrow and Indiegogo formalized an alliance in May after Indiegogo entrepreneurs had been increasingly turning to Arrow to help transition innovative ideas into successful commercial products. Arrow is now a key component of Indiegogo’s efforts to support the entire product lifecycle for entrepreneurs on the platform.

Current and new Indiegogo technology or design campaign entrepreneurs interested in applying to become “Arrow Certified” should visit www.arrow.com/indiegogo.

“This groundbreaking crowdfund-to-production program will help so many tech entrepreneurs and startups accelerate their path to market and revenue. Halo Smart Labs didn’t have access to a formal production program like this when we were successfully crowdfunded on Indiegogo. However, we did have the good fortune of getting introduced to Arrow experts early on who helped us refine designs, source the right components, tackle first runs and scale to full production,” said Ben Stagg, Halo Smart Labs’ CEO. “Without the crowdfunding support we received on Indiegogo and without the go-to-market support we received from Arrow, we wouldn’t be preparing for the first Halo and Halo+ smart fire alarms to hit the shelves of major retailers this fall.”

“Arrow is leading IoT design and production for many of the world’s largest companies. We are broadening these capabilities to support the rising wave of innovation coming from crowdfunding,” added Arrow’s Chief Digital Officer, Matt Anderson. “The comprehensive design, manufacturing and go-to-market support that Arrow will provide Indiegogo campaigns will help IoT and technology innovators succeed in even greater numbers, making Indiegogo the only game in town when it comes to launching an IoT or technology idea.”

Indiegogo CEO’s David Mandlebrot commented, “This collaboration improves the experience for both entrepreneurs and backers on Indiegogo. Supporting the entire lifecycle for technology entrepreneurs—from idea, to funding, to manufacturing and ultimately retail selling—is a priority for Indiegogo and this collaboration with Arrow allows us to build on those efforts in an incredibly impactful way. At the same time, this alliance will enable backers to have greater confidence that they will ultimately receive their perks.”

Arrow Electronics is a global provider of products, services and solutions to industrial and commercial users of electronic components and enterprise computing solutions. Arrow serves as a supply channel partner for more than 100,000 original equipment manufacturers, contract manufacturers and commercial customers through a global network of more than 460 locations serving over 85 countries.

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VerteCore Lift™ Offers Chiropractors a Peer-Reviewed Spine Decompression Medical Device They Can Prescribe to Treat Herniated Discs, Degenerative Disc Disease, Scoliosis, Sciatica and Back Pain

21 Mar

 Get in Line Now if You
Want the Early Bird Special

Read the three customer testimonials from doctors that detail their own personal battle with chronic back pain and how the affordable, easy-to use “Lift™” made a big difference in returning to a normal life

By Robert Hoskins

 

Los Angeles, California – VerteCore Technologies announced a new program for Chiropractors that will allow them to lease affordable, mobile spinal decompression units that will augment scheduled chiropractic adjustment procedures. The VerteCore Lift™ can be used in a clinical setting that allows Chiropractors to offer spinal decompression in a very compact office setting that was not previously available with the large spinal decompression tables that cost $125,000 or more to install and required a very large footprint.

VerteCore Lift - Close Up - Brown on Black

VerteCore Lift – Affordable, Mobile Spinal Decompression for Active Adults

The clinical version of the Lift sells for only $1,199, which makes it the most affordable spinal decompression medical technology product on the orthopedic marketplace, and multiple units can be stored in a single small cabinet.

Chiropractors can prescribe the VerteCore Lift as in-office treatment or offer it as an at-home-use solution that back pain patients can wear 20-to-30 minutes per visit/day to allow the spine to be stretched out, which allows blood, nutrients and the body’s natural healing processes to flow through the spine uninhibited to help the body repair itself by rehydrating and resorption of the herniated discs, which relieves the pressure on pinched nerves that cause most types of back-pain-related disorders.

During the VerteCore Lift’s med-tech’s product development process a number of medical doctors and pain management specialists have peer-reviewed the compact spinal decompression device and provided not only positive customer testimonials, but have made personal investments in the company in order to introduce the VerteCore “Lift” to the $57 billion Orthopedic medical device marketplace.

VerteCore Lift, Affordable, Comfortable, Mobile Spinal Decompression

VerteCore Lift, Affordable, Comfortable, Mobile Spinal Decompression

The following medical professionals have had a variety of back pain related medical problems and recently had a chance to personally try on and evaluate the VerteCore Lift. All were skeptical about trying out another new promising back pain relief medical device based on their trials and tribulations with other devices such as inversion tables that did not work, gave them headaches from too much blood rushing to their head and ended up causing more pain in their ankles and knees than the relief it provided for their back pain.

But after years of spending thousands of dollars on doctor visits, MRI’s, long-term physical therapy sessions, cortisone shots, pain medications, and back surgeries, all of these medical professionals were just like a wide cross-section of the American population that were willing to try anything to get rid of their chronic back pain. And when they did they were surprised at how well the “Lift” performed.

Dr. Mark J. Mulvihill, Ph.D., Vice-Pres., X-Rx, Cambridge, MA

“I woke up on Christmas Day six years ago and my leg hurt extremely bad and I thought maybe I had pulled a hamstring. After several doctor visits and an MRI exam I was diagnosed with Sciatica, which was being caused by a herniated L5 S1 disc.

For five years I went through extensive physical therapy, cortisone shots, and many types of pain medications, which caused problems with my digestive tract and gave me pretty bad heartburn.

I have tried many back pain devices that are advertised on TV, but the only one that gave me any type of relief was an inversion table where you hang upside down and let gravity stretch the spine with the body’s weight. While it gave me temporary back pain relief, I am tall and weigh around 200 pounds. Putting that much pressure on my knees and ankles hurt and negated the effects of my back pain relief. It also gave me headaches because of the blood that rushed to my head while hanging upside down.

Before all of this started I was a competitive golfer and the back pain basically forced me into early retirement. I longed to play the game, but I simply could not because I could not rotate my back at all without excessive pain.

By nature and due to my medical education I am very skeptical when it comes to trying out new back pain devices, but a friend of a friend introduced me to Paul Leake. We agreed to meet during a business trip, which was actually good because travel usually is an excruciatingly painful experience for people with back pain.

Paul Leake, VerteCore Technologies, Managing Director

Paul Leake, Managing Director, VerteCore Technologies

We met and after wearing the VerteCore Lift for 20 minutes my back pain was completely gone. For the first time in years, I could actually sit up easily from a laying down position. It was incredible. I felt so good the next day that instead of sitting on the sidelines as usual, I spent a full day sliding around slippery slides at the local water park with my family. It was an awesome feeling.

A good friend of mine, Dr. David Curtis, also suffers from back pain associated with degenerative disc disease, which left him with six herniated discs. One day we played 36 holes of golf and both of our backs were sore so I mentioned that I had the VerteCore Lift with me. We took turns wearing the Lift for 20 minutes each and the pain relief was immediate.

It worked so well that David wanted to purchase a Lift and was disappointed that my device was a demo unit and that they would not be available until an upcoming Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that will be launched sometime in April 2016.

If you have any type of back pain caused by herniated discs and pinched nerves, I highly recommend that you try a VerteCore Lift. It is simple, cost-effective and very easy to put on and wear during a 20-minute doctor visit or buying your own Lift so that you can wear it during your normal daily routine.

 

Dr. David Curtis, Ph.D., Psychologist, based in Long Island, New York

“My story is similar to Mark’s. I was diagnosed two years ago with degenerative disc disease and by the time I had my first MRI, the exam showed that I had six herniated discs.

Like Mark, my back pain made it tough to play golf. So when he called and asked me if I wanted to play a round of golf I wanted to say no, but he said that he had a new med-tech device that would decompress the spine and help reduce my back pain. When I tried it on, much to my surprise it did and I felt the decompression effects for the whole day. And I only wore it for 20 minutes.

What surprised me is how simple the device was to operate and how much better I felt. I would highly recommend a ‘Lift’ to anyone with back pain. Simple back pain relief is a good thing for everyone.”

Dr. Richard F. Mestayer, Medical Doctor/Psychiatrist, Springfield, Louisiana

“The VerteCore Lift was introduced to me through a good friend, Stanley Cooper. He told me some very positive things about the med-tech spine decompression device and I became very interested in the product due to my own person experience with chronic back pain.

Unfortunately for me, I have had back surgery twice with the final one being a “Fusion.” So instead, I had several patients try it on at my office and it was very clear from their facial expressions that it was doing a good job at melting away their pain.

As an MD, I think that the VerteCore Lift would have been very helpful to me during the years prior to my surgery. The VerteCore Lift is not designed to help patients with fusions, but I wish that it had been available when I began having my back pain. I feel confident that if I had healed better from my earlier minor back injuries that I probably could have completely avoided undergoing back surgery altogether.

I would definitely recommend that all future patients try a VerteCore Lift before contemplating irreversible back surgery. You will be glad you did.”

If you would like to pre-order single units or purchase volume quantities before the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign begins, please fill out the contact form at http://vertecore.com or call Paul Leake direct at (601) 807-2148.

The company is currently recruiting sales people, resellers, distributors, and manufacturing representatives. The Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is going to offer a 40% discount (save $240) on both the clinical and consumer models on the first 500 units to be pre-sold. About 200 orders have already been placed.

Get in line now if you want the Early Bird Special

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Amazon Demonstrates Its Business Expertise, Provides Superior Marketing and Distribution Services for Entrepreneurs and Startups

17 Nov

Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Other Top Crowdfunding Sites Should Pay Attention and Start Providing a Deeper Portfolio of Marketing and Distribution Channel Services or Suffer the Consequences

By Robert Hoskins

Seattle, Washington – Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced Amazon Launchpad, a new program that makes it easy for startups to launch, market, and distribute their products to hundreds of millions of Amazon customers across the globe. The program offers a streamlined onboarding experience, custom product pages, a comprehensive marketing package, and access to Amazon’s global fulfillment network, all geared toward helping startups successfully launch their innovations and share their stories. With Amazon Launchpad, startups can overcome many of the challenges associated with launching new products by using Amazon’s retail expertise and infrastructure to create awareness and drive sales.

Amazon Launchpad for Entrepreneurs and Startups

Amazon Launchpad for Entrepreneurs and Startups

“As the pace of innovation continues to increase within the startup community, we want to help customers discover these unique products and learn the inspiration behind them. We also know from talking to startups that bringing a new product to market successfully can be just as challenging as building it,” said Jim Adkins, Vice President, Amazon. “Amazon Launchpad gives customers access to a dedicated storefront featuring a variety of innovative new products from emerging brands. For startups, we handle inventory management, order fulfillment, customer service, and more, allowing them to focus their efforts on the innovation that results in more cool products.”

Amazon Launchpad offers participating startups:

  • Brand Development: Custom product pages help bring products to life through visually-compelling imagery and videos. Founders can tell their story and connect with customers in a personal way with Q&A about the startup. Products from these emerging brands are featured in the new Amazon Launchpad store, which is dedicated to showcasing startups and their innovations.
  • Customer Reach: Amazon’s most powerful marketing tools – including merchandised placements, personalized recommendations, and participation in the Amazon Vine customer reviews program – give products from startups added visibility. Startups also enjoy access to Amazon’s global fulfillment network, fast and free shipping with Amazon Prime, and customer service.
  • Global Expansion: When startups are ready to reach customers outside the U.S., Amazon Launchpad can help them expand globally with cost-effective supply chain solutions and marketing programs in more than 10 Amazon marketplaces around the world.

Amazon is working with more than 25 venture capital firms, startup accelerators, and crowd-funding platforms to bring startups into the Amazon Launchpad program. Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, and Indiegogo are a few of the companies that have funded the more than 200 products currently available in the Amazon Launchpad store – which features everything from Electronics to Kitchen to Beauty items. Products from startups in the program include the Bluesmart Smart Carry-On Luggage, eero Home Wi-Fi System, Cuff DVB Smart Sport Band, Fenugreen FreshPaper Produce Saver SheetsElectric Objects EO1 Digital Art Panel, Soma Sustainable Pitcher & Plant-Based Water Filter, Thync Mood-Changing Wearable System, and Casper Mattress, among others.

Initial feedback from some of the companies in the Amazon Launchpad program includes:

  • “Launchpad makes Amazon an ideal partner for the most innovative young tech companies,” said Marc Andreessen, Co-Founder and General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz. “It’s yet another way Amazon fosters a real ecosystem of invention and creativity.”
  • “At Y Combinator, our support doesn’t end on Demo Day. With Amazon Launchpad, we are reinforcing our commitment to help bring physical products to a wide audience,” said Luke Iseman, Partner, Y Combinator. “This program will help our hardware startups get in front of more users than ever before.”
  • “Indiegogo empowers campaigners to turn ideas into reality through customer engagement and funding mechanisms. By partnering with Amazon Launchpad, Indiegogo entrepreneurs gain instant access to Amazon’s powerful distribution capabilities and massive audience,” said Slava Rubin, Co-Founder and CEO, Indiegogo. “I’m excited to see how this unique partnership enables startups to accelerate their growth and share their innovative products with the world.”
  • “Amazon recognizes the increasing importance of fast and reliable home Wi-Fi as consumers stream more video and music than ever before and connected devices go mainstream,” said Nick Weaver, Co-Founder and CEO, eero. “We couldn’t ask for a better partner and are honored to be one of the emerging companies in the Amazon Launchpad program. We’re excited to showcase our product on the world’s largest discovery platform.”
  • “Amazon Launchpad is the perfect home for our smart jewelry. This innovative way to shop lets us tell consumers the story and philosophy behind Cuff, and hopefully makes them fall in love with our product,” said Deepa Sood, Founder and CEO, Cuff. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this initiative.”
  • “I am an accidental entrepreneur – I never dreamed that FreshPaper, which started as my middle school science project, would one day be in the hands of farmers and families across the globe. But my unlikely story is only possible because of visionary partners like Amazon who believe in our product’s potential to change the way the world eats,” said Kavita Shukla, Inventor and Founder, Fenugreen FreshPaper. “By throwing their considerable weight behind ideas like FreshPaper, Amazon is using its technology and reach to make innovation accessible to all.”
  • “The sheer scale that Amazon Launchpad offers a startup like Electric Objects is unparalleled,” said Jake Levine, Founder and CEO, Electric Objects. “Working closely with their team these last few months, I’ve been consistently impressed with the level of service and access that this program makes available. This partnership could be game-changing for our company, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to participate.”

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Robert Hoskins, a seasoned Front Page PR veteran provides more than twenty-five years of external communications, media relations, digital social media and SEO skills to Front Page PR’s crowdfunding PR and media relations service portfolio.
(512) 627-6622
@Crowdfunding_PR


Mr. Hoskins is a seasoned marketing veteran with a proven track record of helping entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses as well as Fortune 500 corporations launch successful marketing communications campaigns to gain market traction for a wide variety of products and services.
Hoskins is one of the crowdfunding industry’s foremost crowdfunding advocates and has amassed a huge social media following that is dedicated to supporting donation-, rewards- and equity-based crowdfunding campaigns. Due to the overwhelming demand from the general public for crowdfunding information, he empowers entrepreneurs with some of the internet’s most affordable ($20) online crowdfunding training classes, which provide insight to startups around the world on a 24 x 7 basis.
Hoskins adamantly believes that the crowdfunding industry will empower everyone in the United States to rediscover the possibility of living the American dream with a little hard work, a great business idea and the dedication to researching, planning and launching a well-thought-out crowdfunding campaign. He consults on a regular basis with crowdfunding campaign managers as well as crowdfunding sites, portals and platforms to deliver successful crowdfunding marketing campaigns.

SEC Details Rules for Title III Crowdfunding Investors and Crowdfunding Investment Sites

31 Oct

The SEC’s final Title III Crowdfunding Rule (Regulation Crowdfunding) will enable individuals to purchase securities in crowdfunding offerings subject to certain limits, require companies to disclose certain information about their business and securities offering, and create a regulatory framework for the intermediaries facilitating crowdfunding transactions

Chair Mary Jo White Gives an Overview of Title III Crowdfunding Rules

Chair Mary Jo White Gives an Overview of Title III Crowdfunding Rules

By Robert Hoskins

SEC’s Title III of the JOBS Act 

On Friday, October 30, 2015, the SEC passed the final Title III Regulation Crowdfunding Rule that will allow the offer and sale of securities through crowdfunding.  The new rules will give small businesses an additional avenue to raise capital and provide investors with important protections.  If adopted, this would complete the Commission’s major rulemaking mandated under the JOBS Act.

Title III Crowdfunding Investor Rules

The recommended rules would, among other things, enable individuals to purchase securities in crowdfunding offerings subject to certain limits, require companies to disclose certain information about their business and securities offering, and create a regulatory framework for the intermediaries facilitating crowdfunding transactions.  More specifically, the recommended rules would:

  • Permit a company to raise a maximum aggregate amount of $1 million through crowdfunding offerings in a 12-month period;
  • Permit individual investors, over a 12-month period, to invest in the aggregate across all crowdfunding offerings up to:
    • If either their annual income or net worth is less than $100,000, than the greater of:
      • $2,000 or
      • 5 percent of the lesser of their annual income or net worth.
    • If both their annual income and net worth are equal to or more than $100,000, 10 percent of the lesser of their annual income or net worth; and
  • During the 12-month period, the aggregate amount of securities sold to an investor through all crowdfunding offerings may not exceed $100,000.

Under the recommended rules, certain companies would not be eligible to use the exemption.  Ineligible companies would include non-U.S. companies, Exchange Act reporting companies, certain investment companies, companies that are subject to disqualification under Regulation Crowdfunding, companies that have failed to comply with the annual reporting requirements under Regulation Crowdfunding during the two years immediately preceding the filing of the offering statement, and companies that have no specific business plan or have indicated that their business plan is to engage in a merger or acquisition with an unidentified company or companies.

Securities purchased in a crowdfunding transaction generally could not be resold for one year.  Holders of these securities would not count toward the threshold that requires a company to register its securities under Exchange Act Section 12(g) if the company is current in its annual reporting obligations, retains the services of a registered transfer agent and has less than $25 million in total assets as of the end of its most recently completed fiscal year.

In addition, all transactions relying on the new rules would be required to take place through an SEC-registered intermediary, either a broker-dealer or a funding portal.

Title III Crowdfunding Company Disclosures 

Companies that rely on the recommended rules to conduct a crowdfunding offering must file certain information with the Commission and provide this information to investors and the intermediary facilitating the offering, including among other things, to disclose:

  • The price to the public of the securities or the method for determining the price, the target offering amount, the deadline to reach the target offering amount, and whether the company will accept investments in excess of the target offering amount;
  • A discussion of the company’s financial condition;
  • Financial statements of the company that, depending on the amount offered and sold during a 12-month period, are accompanied by information from the company’s tax returns, reviewed by an independent public accountant, or audited by an independent auditor.  A company offering more than $500,000 but not more than $1 million of securities relying on these rules for the first time would be permitted to provide reviewed rather than audited financial statements, unless financial statements of the company are available that have been audited by an independent auditor;
  • A description of the business and the use of proceeds from the offering;
  • Information about officers and directors as well as owners of 20 percent or more of the company; and
  • Certain related-party transactions.

In addition, companies relying on the crowdfunding exemption would be required to file an annual report with the Commission and provide it to investors.

Title III Crowdfunding Rules for Portals

A funding portal would be required to register with the Commission on new Form Funding Portal, and become a member of a national securities association (currently, FINRA).  A company relying on the rules would be required to conduct its offering exclusively through one intermediary platform at a time.

The recommended rules would require intermediaries to, among other things:

  • Provide investors with educational materials that explain, among other things, the process for investing on the platform, the types of securities being offered and information a company must provide to investors, resale restrictions, and investment limits;
  • Take certain measures to reduce the risk of fraud, including having a reasonable basis for believing that a company complies with Regulation Crowdfunding and that the company has established means to keep accurate records of securities holders;
  • Make information that a company is required to disclose available to the public on its platform throughout the offering period and for a minimum of 21 days before any security may be sold in the offering;
  • Provide communication channels to permit discussions about offerings on the platform;
  • Provide disclosure to investors about the compensation the intermediary receives;
  • Accept an investment commitment from an investor only after that investor has opened an account;
  • Have a reasonable basis for believing an investor complies with the investment limitations;
  • Provide investors notices once they have made investment commitments and confirmations at or before completion of a transaction;
  • Comply with maintenance and transmission of funds requirements; and
  • Comply with completion, cancellation and reconfirmation of offerings requirements.

The rules also would prohibit intermediaries from engaging in certain activities, such as:

  • Providing access to their platforms to companies that they have a reasonable basis for believing have the potential for fraud or other investor protection concerns;
  • Having a financial interest in a company that is offering or selling securities on its platform unless the intermediary receives the financial interest as compensation for the services, subject to certain conditions; and
  • Compensating any person for providing the intermediary with personally identifiable information of any investor or potential investor.

Regulation Crowdfunding would contain certain rules that are specific to registered funding portals consistent with their more limited activities than that of a registered broker-dealer.  The rules would prohibit funding portals from, among other things: offering investment advice or making recommendations; soliciting purchases, sales or offers to buy securities; compensating promoters and other persons for solicitations or based on the sale of securities; and holding, possessing, or handling investor funds or securities.

The rules would provide a safe harbor under which funding portals could engage in certain activities consistent with these restrictions.  The rules also would require funding portals to maintain certain books and records related to their transactions and business.

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Crowdfunding PR Rolls Out 2-Month Crowdfunding Prep Work Program to Help Startups Learn How to Launch More Successful Equity & Rewards Crowdfunding Campaigns

29 Oct

The Crowdfunding Prep Work Program Helps Clients Amass a Large Crowd of Followers on Social Media and Utilizes PR to Generate Hundreds of Articles on Leading Edge News Outlets and Blogs

By Robert Hoskins

Austin, Texas – Want to learn how to launch a successful Title III equity crowdfunding campaign? To help crowdfunders achieve this elusive goal, today Crowdfunding PR announced a special two-month Crowdfunding Prep Work Program that will significantly improve a crowdfunding campaign’s success rate by amplifying its founder’s social media profiles and by utilizing an effective crowdfunding PR campaign to generate hundreds of stories in the electronic news media prior to the crowdfunding campaign’s launch.

Tips on How to Plan a Successful Title III Equity-based Crowdfunding Campaign Using Cost-Effective PR/Marketing Campaigns

Learn How to Plan a Successful Title III Equity-based Crowdfunding Campaign Using Cost-Effective PR, Marketing and Social Media Campaigns

Crowdfunding Social Media Campaigns

One of the biggest challenges that most crowdfunding campaigns face are weak social media credentials and the lack of a large group of social media followers that are needed to support crowdfunding campaigns with donations and/or investments. Building strong, professional Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles and amassing the largest possible group of followers on social media networks is crucial to conducting a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Crowdfunding PR Campaigns

The second biggest task is generating stories on electronic news media outlets and blogs prior to launching a crowdfunding campaign. Not only can a well-orchestrated crowdfunding PR campaign generate hundreds of free, positive trade press articles to support the fundraising effort, but the same targeted, search-engine-optimized press releases will continue to drive new investors, potential customers and sales/distribution partners to the business long after the crowdfunding campaign ends.

“What many entrepreneurs and startups need to recognize is how important social media is in the world of crowdfunding,” said Robert Hoskins, Crowdfunding PR’s Director of Crowdfunding Campaigns. “The very first thing that an investor/donor does when they read through a crowdfunding profile they like is to look up the company and its team on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to check out their credentials. Having a strong resume on LinkedIn, lots of likes on Facebook and an army of followers on Twitter is crucial to determining the strength of the team and the likelihood that they have the tenacity and skill set to deliver on their crowdfunding campaign’s promises.”

“Next, most investors/donors will do a Google search to see what they can find online for both the company and its team members,” Hoskins continued. “With a two-month crowdfunding prep work campaign there will be several pages of search engine results that link to the client’s website pages, their social media posts/profiles and the crowdfunding campaign’s temporary landing page until the GoFundMe.com, Indiegogo.com,Kickstarter.com or Title III equity crowdfunding campaign goes live.”

Crowdfunding PR Campaign Consulting

If you would like to speak with a crowdfunding PR, social media and/or marketing expert regarding your crowdfunding campaign please call Robert Hoskins at (512) 627-6622 or fill out the contact form at: https://crowdfundingpr.wordpress.com/about-crowdfunding-pr-campaigns/ to setup a telephone consultation appointment.

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Robert Hoskins, a seasoned Front Page PR veteran provides more than twenty-five years of external communications, media relations, digital social media and SEO skills to Front Page PR’s crowdfunding PR and media relations service portfolio.
(512) 627-6622
@Crowdfunding_PR


Mr. Hoskins is a seasoned marketing veteran with a proven track record of helping entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses as well as Fortune 500 corporations launch successful marketing communications campaigns to gain market traction for a wide variety of products and services.
Hoskins is one of the crowdfunding industry’s foremost crowdfunding advocates and has amassed a huge social media following that is dedicated to supporting donation-, rewards- and equity-based crowdfunding campaigns. Due to the overwhelming demand from the general public for crowdfunding information, he empowers entrepreneurs with some of the internet’s most affordable ($20) online crowdfunding training classes, which provide insight to startups around the world on a 24 x 7 basis.
Hoskins adamantly believes that the crowdfunding industry will empower everyone in the United States to rediscover the possibility of living the American dream with a little hard work, a great business idea and the dedication to researching, planning and launching a well-thought-out crowdfunding campaign. He consults on a regular basis with crowdfunding campaign managers as well as crowdfunding sites, portals and platforms to deliver successful crowdfunding marketing campaigns.

Staples Opens First-of-Its-Kind Online Retail Store Shelf Slots for New Crowdfunded Products

21 Aug

The debut of the online store marks the first time a retailer has used crowdfunding to determine market demand and social support in choosing products to carry

By Robert Hoskins

Framingham, Massachusetts – The winners of the inaugural Crowd2Shelf Contest debut on Staples’ new entrepreneurial store at Staples.com/fundable. Created by Fundable and sponsored by Staples, the Crowd2Shelf Contest drew thousands of startups across the country competing for a chance to crowdfund their way to Staples. The Crowd2Shelf Contest was also made possible by the business strategy firm Sprosty Network.

Staples Carries New Crowdfunding Products via Online Stores

Staples Carries New Crowdfunding Products via Online Stores

Contestants demonstrated demand for their innovative products by gathering votes and crowdfunding pledges. A panel of innovation experts, including Fundable and Staples representatives, chose the winners based on votes, success of crowdfunding campaigns, and each judges’ understanding of what it takes for a startup to be successful.

The debut of the online store marks the first time a retailer has used crowdfunding to determine market demand and social support in choosing products to carry.

“We’re proud to showcase our Crowd2Shelf entrepreneurs through our new online store and help them launch their ideas,” said Daniel Reilly, Director of Product Design and Innovation at Staples. “We were incredibly impressed with the caliber of startup product companies that participated and are thrilled to offer our customers these innovative new products to help them make more happen.”

The winning products and contestants include:

  • Folding Bluetooth keyboard
    Jorno – Los Angeles, Calif. (exclusive to Staples)
  • Remote-controlled recessed LED lighting
    EVA – Wilmington, DE (exclusive to Staples)
  • Outlet-mounted Bluetooth music player
    The Plug Radio – Hollywood, Calif. (exclusive to Staples)
  • Smartphone-controlled lighting
    Plum – Austin, Texas
  • Secure tablet holder
    nHand – Tulsa, Oklahoma

“We’re pleased to see the winners of the Crowd2shelf contest now available on Staples.com,” said Wil Schroter, CEO, Fundable. “The contest has been an incredible journey for each of these startup companies, and given each of them the opportunity of a lifetime to turn a great idea into a household name.”

Staples makes it easy to make more happen with more products and more ways to shop. Through its world-class retail, online and delivery capabilities, Staples lets customers shop however and whenever they want, whether it’s in-store, online or on mobile devices.

Fundable is one of the largest business crowdfunding platform with nearly $200 million in commitments and exclusively dedicated to helping businesses. Different from any other crowdfunding platform, Fundable offers both rewards and equity business crowdfunding options. Fundable is a part of the Startups.co platform, the world’s largest startup launch platform with tools to help startups and entrepreneurs at any stage of their business.

Sprosty Network is a business strategy and innovation firm helping clients re-imagine technology and the delivery of products, services, and experiences. They have worked for companies ranging from Fortune 50 retailers to startups, and bring a wealth of expertise in leading and developing consumer technology, wireless solutions, and emerging technologies.

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Illinois Governor Rauner Signs New Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Bill into Law

21 Aug

New crowdfunding legislation means more available capital forIllinois entrepreneurs and small businesses, resulting in more Illinois jobs being created by these entrepreneurs and small businesses

By Robert Hoskins

Chicago, Illinois – Governor Rauner has signed intrastate equity crowdfunding into law.  This new vehicle for raising capital empowers the small business community by allowing business owners and entrepreneurs to raise capital from a large number of people.  In exchange, investors receive a small equity interest in the business.

Illinois Equity Crowdfunding Intrastate Exemption

Illinois Equity Crowdfunding Intrastate Exemption

“Intrastate equity crowdfunding can be a game-changer for the small business community, it will allow business owners and entrepreneurs to invest in, and empower one another.  Many states, including Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan, have already passed legislation allowing companies to raise money in this way.  Passing this legislation has ensured Illinois businesses are able to compete on a level playing field with those in neighboring states,” said Elliot Richardson, Small Business Advocacy Council, CEO.

The SBAC and a coalition of chambers and business groups spearheaded a grass-roots effort to bring intrastate equity crowdfunding to Illinois.  Through the power of critical mass, the small business community worked with legislators and moved this important legislation.  “This is a tremendous step forward for Illinois small businesses and entrepreneurs. This will mean more available capital forIllinois entrepreneurs and small businesses, resulting in more Illinois jobs being created by these entrepreneurs and small businesses,” said attorney, Anthony J. Zeoli of Freeman & Peters LLP.

State Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, issued this statement, “As Co-Chair of the Small Business Owners Caucus in Springfield and primary bill sponsor, I’m thrilled Governor Rauner signed our Crowdfunding bill!  I know the business community has been anxious to see this legislation passed.  It has been a sincere pleasure to work with the SBAC on this and other measures over the years.  Illinois has so much to offer small businesses and today marks a milestone in finding new ways for small businesses to raise capital.”

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Wells Fargo Announces Four-Point Plan to Expand Credit Coaching Programs and Offer $75 Million in Investments, Grants and Micro-Lending for Small Businesses in the U.S.

21 May

To help business owners learn how to obtain credit, as well as better understand the reasons for a decline and learn how to prepare to reapply, Wells Fargo has launched a new Credit Coaching program

  By Robert Hoskins

San Francisco, California – To gain more insight into the experiences of diverse business owners in the areas of lending and operating their businesses, Wells Fargo commissioned Gallup to conduct a national study of small business owners. Today, as Gallup releases the findings (on Gallup.com), Wells Fargo is announcing a four-point plan to address needs identified in the study. The plan will help more diverse small businesses become credit-ready and gain access to credit. The Gallup survey included findings of business owners in six segments – African American, Asian American, Hispanic, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender), military veteran, and women.

Please click on this banner to vote yes for Crowdfunding PR's business plan to open up Crowdfunding Training Facilities Nationwide

Please click on this banner to vote yes for Crowdfunding PR’s business plan to open up Crowdfunding Training Facilities nationwide in tandem with co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators

“Serving diverse communities has long been a focus area and priority for Wells Fargo, yet we know there’s more work to be done, and it starts with gaining a deeper understanding of the experiences of diverse small business owners working with financial institutions,” said Lisa Stevens, head of Small Business for Wells Fargo. “For this reason, we commissioned the Gallup study, which gave us new insight into the perceptions and experiences of diverse business owners working with banks, and how we can improve as a company and as an industry.”

Overall, the national study revealed there are more similarities than differences between small business owners in all diverse segments and those in the general population. It also shows specific areas in which the financial services industry can provide more support for diverse business owners.

Credit Coaching Program

In the Gallup survey, diverse-owned small businesses were more likely to respond that they have been declined for business credit – about one in five African American, Asian and Hispanic business owners said they faced a credit decline in the past (14 percent of general market respondents said they faced a decline). After being declined, a higher percentage of African American business owners (64 percent) said they did not apply for credit again than their peers in the general small business population (47 percent). African American (14 percent) and LGBT (15 percent) business owners also reported greater personal credit challenges than the general market (5 percent).

To help business owners learn how to obtain credit, as well as better understand the reasons for a decline and learn how to prepare to reapply, Wells Fargo has launched an enhanced Credit Coaching program. It offers expanded support to business owners who have been declined business credit. The phone-based program has been rolled out to small business owners who apply for Wells Fargo Business Direct credit products (primarily credit products under $100,000 sold through its retail banking stores). Business owners who use the program will be connected with a credit specialist who will review the business’ credit profile, explain why the business was declined credit, and share resources that can help the business strengthen its credit profile and improve the likelihood of being approved for business credit in the future.

In addition, while the majority of business owners surveyed across all segments said they did not feel a perception of discrimination from a financial institution impacted their chances of obtaining business credit, 22 percent of African American and 11 percent of LGBT business owners reported that perceived discrimination impacted their chances of obtaining credit for their business, compared to 5 percent of the general small business owner population. The Credit Coaching initiative will be one way Wells Fargo will further increase transparency of credit decisions and facilitate conversations that build trust with all customers.

“We take pride in the fact that diversity and inclusion has long been one of our core values in every aspect of our business, and at every level of our organization,” said Stevens. “We want to make sure all customers feel welcome, respected, understood, valued and appreciated. The actions we’re introducing today are the next steps for Wells Fargo to better serve and connect with diverse-segment business owners.”

Community Development Financial Institutions Investments, Grants

Another key finding in the Gallup study is that African American, Asian and Hispanic small business owners are more likely to be in the start-up and growing stages of their business, compared to the small business population in general, and as a result may not qualify for many conventional bank loan products. In addition, 49 percent of African American-, 47 percent of women- and 45 percent of LGBT-owned businesses in the survey reported annual business revenue of less than $50,000, compared to 36 percent of small business owners in general.

To help newer, smaller and start-up businesses access the appropriate business financing and support they need, Wells Fargo will extend $50 million in investments and $25 million in grants to organizations called Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that serve small businesses and entrepreneurs. The investments and grants will be directed to CDFIs that help small businesses get started and established by providing flexible capital and technical assistance. Wells Fargo will work with existing and new CDFI customers in diverse communities across the country to deploy this capital and measure its impact.

“We know that in order to address the range of financial needs within all of our communities, we need to support and work with the ecosystem of organizations that serve small businesses,” said Jon Campbell, executive vice president, government and community relations for Wells Fargo. “Through this increased investment and connections with community lending organizations, we are making meaningful strides toward increasing access to capital for small businesses, as well as helping more business owners get the coaching and educational resources they need to succeed financially long-term.”

Nationwide Referral Network

In the Gallup study, more African American, Asian and Hispanic business owners reported they were unable to obtain all the credit they needed in the past year than the general business owner population, yet the majority of small business owners in all diverse segments said they did not need credit in the last year. At the same time, nearly one in four African American, Hispanic and Asian business owners plans to apply for credit in the next 12 months, higher than the general small business owner population planning to pursue credit (15 percent). Businesses in the startup and growing phases in general expressed more intentions to apply for new credit.

To ensure business owners are aware of and accessing the full range of financing options available to them, Wells Fargo recently established referral relationships with more than 20 nonprofits and other lenders in cities across the country that are participating in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Community Advantage program. Participants in the SBA’s program specialize in providing hands-on guidance to small businesses and offering credit to qualifying businesses in underserved markets. Wells Fargo, the nation’s No. 1 SBA lender 7(a) in dollar volume for six consecutive years (U.S. SBA data, federal fiscal years 2009-2014), established these relationships with the intent of providing small business owners with an additional financing solution that may better meet their lending needs.

Chamber Training Institute

On the topic of business education, the Gallup study showed that African American, Asian and Hispanic business owners were more likely than business owners in the general population to be extremely or very interested in learning how to build a strong business credit application, choose a credit product, and develop a business plan. To meet this demand, Wells Fargo is supporting a Chamber Training Institute that trains leaders of diverse-segment chambers of commerce on key business and leadership topics for their members, such as how to access business credit and craft strong business plans. This cross-chamber initiative builds on Wells Fargo’s strong working relationships with chambers nationwide that specifically serve and represent African American, Hispanic, Asian American and LGBT business owner interests.

“There’s no single answer to the challenges reflected in the study, just as the challenges facing all diverse-owned businesses are broader than any one financial institution can address,” Stevens said. “As America’s leading small business lender, we have a responsibility to do more. We believe the steps we’re taking will make a difference, help us foster more lifelong relationships, and move us closer to our goal of helping every business we serve succeed financially. We want to contribute to a national conversation, involving the public and private sector, industry stakeholders and small business owners, about how to better support small businesses in every community.”

Additional Gallup study findings

Other key findings in Gallup’s industry study included:

  • Only about half of small business owners say they have ever borrowed money for their business, including the general population of small business owners (50 percent), Asian (53 percent) and Hispanic (51 percent) segments, while the percentage of African American business owners who have used credit (42 percent) is somewhat lower.
  • African American (21 percent) and Hispanic (18 percent) business owners were more likely than their counterparts in the general population (10 percent) to be in the startup phase.
  • Nearly half of Asian-owned business owners (49 percent) said they were in the growing phase of their business, a higher percentage than the general population of small business owners (37 percent). Also, 38 percent of Asian-owned businesses reported annual revenue of $250,000 or more, compared to 22 percent of businesses overall.
  • A higher proportion of veteran-owned businesses (24 percent) reported being in the winding down phase – preparing to retire, sell or transition their businesses – than small business owners in general (15 percent).
  • Just 9 percent of women business owners reported plans to apply for new credit in the next 12 months, compared with 20 percent of men surveyed.

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