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FinMason Launches Fin-Tech Accelerator Program that Provides Startups with Free Access to Investment Analytics

29 Jun

The FinSpring accelerator is a six-month program for start-ups that share a mission of educating investors / advisors in order to help them make better investment and retirement planning decisions

By Robert HoskinsCrowdfunding PR

Boston, Massachusetts – FinMason, a Boston-based FinTech and investment analytics firm, is helping industry start-ups overcome one of the biggest challenges faced during the development stage – accessing high quality investment analytics. The firm announced the launch of FinSpring, an initiative that will provide free access to FinRiver, a set of flexible and lightning-fast investment analytics APIs.

Finmason - Institutional Grade Analytics that Investors Actually Understand

Finmason – Institutional Grade Analytics that Investors Actually Understand

“FinTech start-ups face tremendous competition in the marketplace and pressure from their investors to quickly achieve their business goals,” said Kendrick Wakeman, CFA, CEO and founder of FinMason. “We feel that many start-ups and potential start-ups are held back because of the time and expense of building robust analytics platforms. FinSpring lets smart entrepreneurs put analytics anywhere in their product with just a simple API call, leaving them free to focus on prototyping, getting to market and solving consumer problems.”

The FinSpring accelerator is a six-month program available to start-ups that meet four criteria: share a mission of educating investors or advisors to make more informed investment and retirement planning decisions; operational less than two years; under $500,000 in revenue; and, have raised no more than $1 million in funding.

Wealth technology start-ups accepted into the FinSpring program will have access to more than 700 analytical data types, including risk and performance metrics, aggregate factor exposures, scenario analysis and stress testing.

“Part of the strength of the APIs is their simple structure,” said Bob Leaper who runs the FinSpring program at FinMason. “You send us a simple API call containing a list of securities, a list of their weights in the portfolio, and a string of request codes telling us what analytics you want. We then perform the calculations, package the results into a JSON object, and send it back to you. Usually, we do this in under 21 milliseconds. That instantly puts a start-up on even ground with the biggest firms in the world.”

FinMason is a Boston-based financial technology and investment analytics firm dedicated to providing tools that help financial advisors and their clients move forward with confidence. FinMason’s cutting-edge platform analyzes millions of global investments and delivers institutional-grade analytics at scale via three core products:

  • FinRiver provides financial technology platforms with robust analytics and proprietary data sets via lightning-fast APIs;
  • FinScore Pro provides financial advisors with a quick, intuitive and uncomplicated risk assessment tool that systematically develops a mutually understandable, bright-line agreement on risk from each client and prospect; and
  • FinScope provides compliance teams with a way to screen through each client portfolio every night with robust analytics to detect problems before they become problems.

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Robert Hoskins, a seasoned Front Page PR veteran provides more than twenty-eight 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 runs one of the industry’s foremost crowdfunding PR, social media and marketing agencies that has amassed a huge social media following and is dedicated to supporting a wide variety of donation, rewards and equity crowdfunding campaigns.
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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.

GenYrator Launches Equity Crowdfunding Site for USC Startups Combined with an Entrepreneur Business Accelerator and Mentorship Program

6 May

GenYrator is the One of the First Mission-Driven Equity Crowdfunding Platform that Combines Real Returns with Real Impact by Investing in the Next Generation of USC Entrepreneurs

 By Robert Hoskins

Los Angeles, California – GenYrator launched its private beta for an equity crowdfunding site concentrating initially on startups from USC, the alma mater of co-founder Sean Nasiri. The GenYrator platform looks for emerging generation-y founded businesses with revenue that are not quite ready for institutional investors, and encourages regular people to get involved to fill that gap.

GenYrator Equity Crowdfunding Site for USC Startups

GenYrator.com Equity Crowdfunding Site and Business Accelerator for USC Startups

The company is currently being advised by notable figures from both the startup and USC communities. Current advisors include famous venture capitalist and USC Trustee Mark Stevens, former Managing Partner at Sequoia Capital, as well as Alex Cappello, former President of the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors who also served as the only two-time international chairman of YPO. Other notable advisors include Rob Ukropina, former CEO of Overnite Express, who also served on USC Board of Governors, and Ryan Meyers, Managing Director of General Assembly LA and former CEO of AlumniFunder.

“The problem GenYrator is solving,” explains Nasiri, “is that too many good millennial founded startups end prematurely or stagnate because they lack the support they need to grow, and the only way to fix this is by getting everyone involved.” Millennials now have the largest presence in the workforce, but according to the Huffington Post, they are facing the worst job market in more than twenty years. “We are starting businesses out of necessity. There are just not enough opportunities out there for people our age, and we need the support of all generations to create more jobs and grow the economy,” Nasiri continues.

GenYrator has recently achieved proof of concept by helping two companies close their recent rounds. First is wearable technology startup, Loopd, with noteworthy lead investors Tim Draper and Marc Benioff, which closed out its $1M seed round. Second is triple bottom line Hawaiian water bottle company, Waiakea, which closed out its $1.6M dollar Series-A. GenYrator has since opened up its platform to all, but still requires a private beta access code to view deals. It is currently featuring a selection of promising USC-founded companies in “preview mode,” with more being added over the next couple of months.

While investing through equity crowdfunding is only accessible to accredited investors, GenYrator’s unique platform is also open to those who are interested in other ways of helping out, such as being a mentor, advisor, or service provider. The platform also plans to expand beyond just a university platform. “The long-term vision of GenYrator is to establish itself as the premier destination for the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders,” says Nasiri, “and to show people from all different backgrounds that they can add value and impact the success of a young startup.”

Founded with the mission to generate a more prosperous future through supporting entrepreneurship, GenYrator is the online platform that brings the benefits of the Silicon Valley ecosystem to the mainstream. GenYrator’s online community enables all interested parties, provided they are accredited in accordance with current regulatory guidelines, to directly participate in promising millennial founded businesses. Beyond simply crowdfunding, members and other supporters can lend guidance and mentorship.

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Why Every University and College Should Develop a Rewards-based or Equity-Based Crowdfunding Ecosystem

18 Mar

Crowdfunding platforms can be used to support research & development, transfer technology, protect IP, build co-working spaces and finance incubators and accelerators to launch new startups

 By Robert Hoskins

 Austin, Texas – The purpose of this equity crowdfunding article is to encourage universities and colleges to begin thinking about how schools and students might benefit from:

The Need to Build a Crowdfunding Ecosystem

There is a new generation of “Millennials” that do not want to go to college due to the poor economy and because they do not want to start their life as young adults by incurring $50,000 or more in college loan debt. And there is a growing concern for many students that there may not be a job waiting for them when they finally graduate. 

Read more:  What is Crowdfunding?

But what if there was a way to attract more students by convincing them that they could work their way through college by researching, planning and then launching their own business while earning their college degree? This would allow some certainty about their career path and teach students how to put a lot more money in their pockets than working for a large corporation that will stick them in a cubicle for the rest of their life.

Entrepreneurship Centers

For this reason, “Entrepreneurship Centers” are becoming a huge draw for students who do not want to work for a living, but instead want to live for working. That means learning how to build new startups from the ground up.  Entrepreneurship Centers usually start with a co-working space, then adds a business incubator with mentors to guide students through the startup process and when budget permits, accelerators are created to help students raise money from angel investors, accredited investors and sometimes venture capitalists.

Co-Working Spaces for Startup Companies

The biggest challenge for incubators and accelerators are the costs associated with building a 25,000 sq. ft. co-working space, paying mentors salaries and finding experienced executives with great track records that are willing to share their wisdom and industry experience with students. There is also resistance from departing from the “old school” way of transferring technology from a university Research & Development laboratory, protecting the intellectual property and then utilizing a licensing or royalty revenue model to realize short-term deals to provide a revenue for the college or university. 

JOBS Act: Nationwide Equity Crowdfunding

Enter the 2012 JOBS Act, General Solicitation and a new Equity Crowdfunding alternative financing tool that can help startups raise seed investment capital to startup new businesses. While the SEC and NASAA seems hell bent on preventing the national guidelines from ever being released (they are three years past the official deadline mandated by President and the United States Congress), approximately 14 states such as Texas, Michigan, and Georgia have passed their own Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Exemptions. Add to that another 15 states have a Crowdfunding Exemption in progress.

Map of U.S. States that approved Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Exemptions

Map of United States that have approved Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Exemptions

Source: CrowdfundingLegalHub.com

Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Exemption

In states where intrastate equity crowdfunding is legal, any trade school, college or university can build an equity crowdfunding platform and use it to begin fundraising campaigns to raise money, not only from Angel Investors and Accredited Investors, but also from the general public who are non-accredited investors.

Read more: What is an Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Exemption?

This means anyone can take a brilliant idea, create a business plan and investor deck to support the business case, build an online equity crowdfunding profile and then use marketing campaigns to advertise the deal to millions of potential investors. Like any e-commerce site, Investors can then visit the equity crowdfunding sites to shop for deals by minimum investment amount, by products or services or by vertical business segment to find deals they want to invest in.

This means that a college or university can build an equity crowdfunding site and use it to raise money for every one of its R&D programs and streamline the entire technology transfer process so that promising technology can be transformed into startups businesses. The school collects a certain percentage from each crowdfunding campaign called a platform commission fee. For a $1 million raise and 10% platform commission fee, a college could collect a $100,000 fee from each campaign. This money could be used to fund co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators and Entrepreneurship Centers.

Creating Equity Crowdfunding Investment Syndicates

By the SEC’s securities law, a crowdfunding platform’s management team or employees cannot invest in equity campaign hosted on its own site unless they are registered broker dealer with the SEC. But a popular trend that is growing is building a college or university equity crowdfunding investment syndicate. An investment syndicate is usually led by one or more Super Angel Investors, who are seasoned veterans that have been investing in startups for 20 to 30 years and completely understanding the process of vetting deals with due diligence and understand the real risks of investing in startup companies.

Novice accredited investors with little investment experience join the investment syndicate so that they can follow or invest along side the Super Angel Investors. In addition, where it is legal, investment syndicates will pool a large pool of non-accredited investors together, who make small investments, into a single LLC and then invest the group’s money similar to how a venture capitalist invests money on the behalf of others.

Adopting an Equity Crowdfunding Ecosystem

For colleges and universities that adopt an equity crowdfunding business model might, it might completely change the way a school recruits, raises money, builds relationships with alumni and earns revenue by seeking long-term equity stakes in their students startups versus short-term licensing and royalty agreements.

Read More:  Top 100 Crowdfunding Sites in the United States

Launching an equity crowdfunding platform would not just increase a school’s earning potential, but they might dramatically change the manner in which that Millennials are taught. Instead of just course work, students would be taught at an early age to begin to engage with the world around them and plot a course for their own future destiny rather than relying on fate. Some Millennials might reject the idea of going to college, but the lure of becoming a successful entrepreneur and launching their own business while earning a college education has the potential to create one of the most vibrant and thriving economies the world has ever seen.

Even students that do not start up their own companies have an outstanding chance to benefit from the equity crowdfunding business model. All students seek a way to get some type of real world work experience usually by working as free or highly underpaid interns. Imagine the learning benefits that student would receive when applying their desired major’s education such as business administration, finance, legal or marketing to the intense equity crowdfunding process of launching a startup company.

Instead of adding a bullet point for working a menial job as a small cog in the corporate machine as an intern, students just might be fortunate enough to work on several successful crowdfunding campaigns that would highlight their professional expertise such as business planning, structuring equity finance deals marketing, PR, video production, and/or copy writing. And if the sweat equity pays off in equity crowdfunding shares, they might become extremely wealthy when that startup goes public a couple of years after they graduate. This is how many, many Silicon Valley millionaires got their start. They just did not have a term for the process, which is now branded as equity crowdfunding today.

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Need help setting up a college/university crowdfunding sites?

Please fill out this form to get started:

Understanding the Best Type of Crowdfunding Site to Support a College or University Campus

16 Mar

What’s the Best Type of Crowdfunding Platform to Serve a College or University Entrepreneurship Center, Co-Working Space, Incubator or Accelerator Program?

By Robert Hoskins

Understanding the Crowdfunding Funding Process

The first step in building a crowdfunding business model is to understand the various forms of crowdfunding and at what step of the business creation process each should be used.

This crowdfunding infographic is a good representation on each step of the business creation process from the business idea, generating revenue, validating marketplace demand, expanding operations and maturing into a fortune 500 company.  It also shows what type of crowdfunding is usually best to fund startups and each step of the business’ evolution.

The Crowdfunding Escalator by CrowdSuite  Shows the  Different Types of Crowdfunding

The Crowdfunding Escalator by Crowdfund Suite Shows the Different Types of Crowdfunding

Source: CrowdfundSuite.com


Donation-based Crowdfunding
– At kitchen tables, dinner parties, happy hours and dorm rooms around the world many brilliant ideas are born and discussed for the very first time. Once an idea has been pitched and vetted among friends and family and it begins to gain momentum toward the first step of crowdfunding, Donation-based Crowdfunding, which is used to scrape enough money together to begin building a business plan to figure out how much it will cost to bring a business idea to fruition and/or develop at one or more prototypes. Donation crowdfunding sites make it easy to collect money for new creative ideas as well as expand the crowdfunding campaign’s reach from just family and friends to a global audience of potential supporters.

Most donation-based crowdfunding sites are usually built to provide fundraising activities for campaigns that do not offer any rewards or perks.  They are also used to support non-profit causes.  Donations to 501(3)(c) are tax deductible and can be written off at the end of the year.  

Most universities will only build donation-based crowdfunding sites that can be used by students and faculty to collect money by students and faculty for a wide variety of projects including college educations, scholarships, research and development, campus improvements and all kinds of not-for-profit endeavors. Crowdfunding can be used for very small fundraising efforts to raising millions of dollars from alumni, foundations, institutional investors and corporate sponsors.

Donation-based crowdfunding sites will make it easy for anyone to search for, discover, research and fund their favorite pet projects on their alma mater’s campus.

Rewards-based Crowdfunding – Surprisingly enough 90% of people in the world still are not familiar with the term crowdfunding. Mention Kickstarter or IndieGoGo and most people do recognize the brand name and know its purpose and have heard of popular crowdfunding campaigns such as Oculus, Star Citizen, Coolest Cooler and the return of the Pebble Time SmartWatch.

Rewards-based campaigns are used to take ideas, concepts and prototypes to the next level. They are used in a similar fashion to how typical marketing campaigns are used to support product/service launches and rollouts with an added twist.

People with ideas build a crowdfunding profile, shoot a crowdfunding pitch video and build a list of up to 20 perks or rewards that are pre-sold to raise enough money to develop a prototype or pay for the very first manufacturing production run.  Not only do rewards-based crowdfunding campaigns validate industry demand, but they allow businesses to test market various product versions, colors and price points to gauge public interest. More importantly, they help startups generate their first revenue by pre-selling their products and services in order to raise enough money to get the business started. Gaining this type of market traction is very important to angel investors because it shows that there is an audience of people who are willing to pay for the company’s products and services. 

The best way for universities and colleges to cut their teeth on the crowdfunding business model is to launch a rewards-based crowdfunding site, which usually collects a 5% commission on the crowdfunding campaign’s total amount raised. That may not sound like much but since 2009, Kickstarter alone has raised $1.6 billion, which at 5% means $80 million over 5 years in gross revenue or an average of $16 million per year that could be used to fund a wide variety of college/university projects.

Not only are crowdfunding platforms a good source of revenue, but with the right marketing resources crowdfunding campaigns have the potential to raise a huge amount of marketplace awareness for the university’s projects, business development goals, research and development labs and technology transfer programs. All at no cost to the university because the crowdfunding campaign managers are the ones that spend money to market their crowdfunding campaign to the world.

The other reason to consider launching a rewards-based crowdfunding program is that they are easy and do not fall under the jurisdiction of the SEC or state securities board regulators because no securities are being sold. For new startups it also means that raising money does not involve selling any equity shares or giving up any control of the company’s administration.

Rewards-based crowdfunding campaign commissions can also be used by colleges/universities to establish co-working spaces and to fund college incubator and accelerator programs. Co-working spaces with at least 25,000 sq. ft. can generate millions of dollars per year in additional revenue from rent and mentorship programs.

It is important to note that rewards-based commissions combined with co-working space revenue can provide millions of dollars in seed investment capital to begin funding the next step in the process, equity-based crowdfunding sites, where schools, students, faculty and alumni can become equity investors in new startups.

Equity-based Crowdfunding – Setting up equity-based crowdfunding websites will allow schools to play the role usually enjoyed by Angel Investors, Venture Capitalists and/or Broker-Dealers. They will allow students to raise money for startups by selling debt, such as convertible notes, or selling equity shares for a certain percentage of the company to raise enough seed investment capital to produce prototypes, fund early manufacturing runs, setup distribution agreements and hire manufacturer representatives. 

Other types of equity crowdfunding involve sharing 20% of the gross profits with investors or making royalty payments on a per item sold basis until the investors receive a 3x to 5x payback on their initial investment.

Investing in startups is a risky business, but with the right education and building a small group of experienced Super Angel investors to follow, a large group of novice accredited investors can invest smaller amounts of money along side seasoned experts with a proven 25-30 year track record.

In states like Texas, Michigan, Georgia and 11 others non-accredited investors can also pool their money together to purchase equity shares of stock. This is something that has been illegal for the past 80 years, but intrastate crowdfunding exemption laws are now allowing average people to begin investing in startups just like angel investors and venture capitalists.

The aggregation of novice accredited and non-accredited investors are known as Investment Syndicates, which is the process of following expert investors.  This allows students, faculty members and the general public to learn the equity investment business and enjoy the benefits of being an insider when a great business idea is transformed from a startup company to an Initial Public Offering (IPO).

For example, a $300 investment for a single share of stock and pair of Oculus virtual reality goggles would have paid investors a return on investment of $45,000 when Facebook bought the company for $2 billion dollars.

Equity-based crowdfunding is much more complicated than rewards-based crowdfunding due to the stringent requirements needed to meet the SEC and state securities board regulatory requirements.

Unlike rewards-based crowdfunding, equity crowdfunding provides a great opportunity for business administration, legal and finance students to get hands-on experience writing business plans, structuring deals, protecting intellectual property (IP) and planning real world product/service launches that are part of every single equity crowdfunding campaign.

Working alongside experienced angel investors and venture capitalists is also a great way for students and faculty to learn the finance industry from the inside out.

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Paid Mentorship Management Consulting Fees Can Help Fund College University Incubator and Accelerator Programs

14 Mar

Allowing Mentors to Earn Revenue while Colleges/Universities Collect a Commission for Facilitating the Knowledge Transfer is Great Way to Bring Leading Expertise to Remote Areas

By Robert Hoskins

Paid Mentor Management Consulting Fees

Another option for schools to generate funding is to create a management consulting practice in tandem with college and university incubators and accelerators. Many sources of mentorship can be attracted by allowing the subject matter experts to generate revenue by providing mentoring services for a consulting fee. 

Incubators/accelerators could take a 15% commission out of the consulting fee to add monthly recurring revenue to their incubator and accelerator programs. Payments for services can be paid in cash and/or might include an option to purchase equity shares in the first class of equity shares being offered during the seed fundraising round.

Using this strategy, schools with video conferencing capabilities can tap into talent on a worldwide basis. Using teleconferencing and distance learning applications schools can access the world’s leading entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and private equity investors, even in remote locations.

A single community college might not able to afford a speaking engagement with Guy Kawasaki, Elon Musk or Richard Branson, but working with numerous community colleges in any given state they could launch a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign to solicit enough cash to pay for an event that could be broadcast to a network of participating schools.  These single session tutorials, mentoring sessions or consulting engagements could be setup in a very similar manner to the very popular TedX talks.

Other sources of revenue can be earned by hosting conferences, trade shows, pitching competitions and/or training classes.

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How to Generate More Revenue for Co-Working Startups by Launching a Rewards or Equity Crowdfunding Ecosystem

13 Mar

How Equity Crowdfunding Can Take College and University Co-Working Spaces and Incubators to the Next Level

By Robert Hoskins

Generating More Co-Working Revenue with Crowdfunding

Most major universities and colleges have set up on-campus Entrepreneurship Centers, Innovation Labs or co-working spaces to facilitate an environment that encourages students to use their creative minds to develop innovative ideas and turn them into successful startup businesses.

Joining a co-working space allows students setup an affordable office or working space to rub elbows with like-minded individuals and discover people who have the same set of goals and objectives as they do.  This provides a unique opportunity for new startup founders to cross pollinate each other and fertilize new ideas that sometimes leads to the decision to co-found a business together.

Part of the draw for co-working spaces are community lunch rooms, founder dating events, after-hours cocktail parties, social mixers and Meetup groups, all of which can provide access to great sources of well-educated, but very cost-effective labor pools.

All of these activities serve a useful purpose in allowing co-founders to find talented workers that will be needed to help their new businesses begin harvesting new ideas and business concepts, put them on paper and turn them into a high impact startup ventures.

In addition to people, co-working spaces provide cheap office space, meeting rooms to setup video/teleconferences, board rooms for team meetings, video production facilities to shoot pitch videos, access to data centers and hardware/software laboratories where new ideas can be tested on the latest and greatest smartphones, smartwatches, tracking tags and bracelets, tablets, laptops and wearable technology devices.

For larger audiences, a large auditorium or theater provides the perfect venue for visiting guest speakers, corporate presentations, pitch contests and many other type of large meetings with panel discussions.

Below is an example of what a well-planned co-working floor plan might look like courtesy of the T-Rex facility in Missouri.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

T-Rex Co-Working Facility in Missouri co-locates two venture accelerators, venture capital companies, an SBA-funded resource center, and a training and mentoring organization along with other incubator companies

Source: T-Rex Co-Working Facility in Missouri co-locates two venture accelerators, venture capital companies, an SBA-funded resource center, and a training and mentoring organization along with other incubator companies


Co-working spaces have the ability to offer very affordable working spaces for students and local entrepreneurs that want to start a student or family-owned business. Renting out space for $250 to $500 per month and serving 250 entrepreneurs would create potential monthly recurring revenue opportunity worth $62,500 to $125,000 or up to $1.5 million per year.

An average size cubicle is 75 sq. ft. so serving 250 co-workers would require approximately 18,750 sq. ft. to provide very comfortable dedicated working spaces, but many average co-working desks are much smaller.

Increase the facility’s size to accommodate a kitchen/lunch room, conference rooms, rest rooms and one large auditorium and the total space required would be around 25,o00 sq. ft.

Co-Work Space Business Plans

Thinking about opening a co-working space, but need help with writing a good business plan?  We Googled a bunch of business plans and here are three co-working business plans that we thought are worth a look:

If you want more examples, please check out this list of the Top 75 Co-Working Spaces in America.

Rewards or Equity Based Crowdfunding Platform

Once a co-working space has been set up, the next step in the process is to launch a rewards-based or equity-based crowdfunding ecosystem so that members of the co-working space can use the site to raise seed stage investment capital to get their companies up and running.

Learn more about crowdfunding:

 

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Starting a University Equity Crowdfunding Ecosystem to Build Better Alumni and Local Community Relationships

12 Mar

Crowdfunding Sites Provide Alumni with a Personal Way to Begin Investing in their Alma Maters’ Promising Startups and Reap the Benefit of Making a Lot of Money if They Invest in the Right Projects

By Robert Hoskins

Stimulating Alumni and Local Community Engagement

Establishing an Equity Crowdfunding Ecosystem is a great way for colleges and universities to reconnect alumni with their alma maters and engage them to begin investing in the school’s future.  

Unlike giving donations to a school with no idea of how the money is going to be spent, investing directly in equity crowdfunding campaigns not only gives alumni a way to give back to the university that that helped launch their careers, but also provides them with a personal way to begin investing in creative projects that are near and dear to their hearts as well as reap the benefit of making a lot of money if they invest in the right projects.

Building an Equity Crowdfunding site to market college and university projects to alumni and the rest of the world can help:

  • Build Better Relationships with Alumni;
  • Migrate Alumni from Blind Donations to Targeted Equity Investments;
  • Generate Substantially More Revenue to Finance School Programs;
  • Increase Long-Term Return on Investment; and
  • Produce Much Better  Global University Marketing Opportunities.

Equity Crowdfunding Sites are Great Marketing Tools

Not only do crowdfunding campaigns provide a great opportunity for students to raise money for their startup companies, but the marketing that is done to drive investors to their crowdfunding profiles is a great way for colleges and universities to market their school’s brand name and recruit new students in a similar manner to running TV advertisements during college football and basketball games.

The difference, however, is that instead of producing a bland 10,000 ft. overview of a college’s academics, research and development facilities and a fly over of the university campus, each equity crowdfunding campaign has the opportunity of demonstrate exactly what is actually going on inside their R&D departments, computer science data centers and bio-tech wet labs. It is a new way to streamline the Technology Transfer process.  

Equity Crowdfunding is a much more cost-effective way to bring new technology and businesses to market and can earn schools substantially more money via equity investments than licensing agreements or royalty deals. 

Entrepreneurship Centers, Incubators and Accelerators

In addition, crowdfunding sites allow schools to promote the fact that they are now offering entrepreneurship centers, co-working spaces, incubators with mentorship programs and accelerators that can help raise money to fund new startups.  Equity crowdfunding ecosystems and alumni angel networks will make is possible to attract more millennials, smarter entrepreneurs and aggressive startup high-tech and bio-tech companies seeking a fertile environment in which to launch their business ideas.

For example, look at the successful marketing campaigns that the Coolest Cooler or the Pebble Time SmartWatch crowdfunding campaigns are generating for Kickstarter.  Not only are they transforming Kickstarter into a global brand, but with 18 days left to go the Pebble Time SmartWatch has raised over $17 million. These marketing, PR and social media campaigns have generated massive amounts of free, positive and credible publicity. The same type of exposure can be generated for any college that has startups marketing their university’s equity crowdfunding campaigns via the internet and social media networks.  

Equity Crowdfunding Generates Nice Revenue Streams

Not only is the free, positive publicity great for promoting a school’s brand name, but collecting a fee similar to Kickstarter’s five-percent crowdfunding site commission fee is also a great way to make money to fund the school’s incubator and accelerator programs.

For example, the Pebble Time SmartWatch crowdfunding campaign’s site commission fee will deposit more than $1,000,000 into Kickstarter’s bank account for doing little more than setting up an e-commerce site. A simple task for any computer science college. 

College and university crowdfunding sites will start slow at first like Kickstarter did but given the strength of the university’s mass communication department, it could be much quicker.  Regardless, over a five-year period, a school’s crowdfunding site has the same opportunity to create a massive crowdfunding ecosystem like Kickstarter’s which to date has collected almost ~$2 billion in investment seed capital over the past 5 years.  

It you are a school administrator, what would injecting $2 billion into your Technology Transfer Office do for your college or university?  And that is straight rewards-based crowdfunding.  What would the same $2 billion return if just 10% percent of your startup companies went public and raised $100 million each? Once the first several dominos fall the financial returns would sufficient enough to continue growing a stronger pool of wealth with each generation of graduates. This method is precisely how Palo Alto, San Jose and San Francisco built the Silicon Valley in California into a global angel investor and venture capital powerhouse.

Alumni, Mentors and Future Students

Future students, leading mentors and disconnected alumni will suddenly have a purview into exciting projects and developments that are percolating behind the scenes in a very similar manner to Kickstarter. Crowdfunding will make it possible for the local community and general public to see the huge innovations that are going on behind the scenes, which will create the desire to get involved in the process so they too can strike it rich. Suddenly, alumni will be very motivated to keep in touch and invest often. 

Conclusion:

The crowdfunding industry is clearly fueling a new generation of makers that realize that it is more possible now than ever to bring their creative ideas to life with other people’s money, not just on the east and west coasts, but anywhere in America.

Learn more about crowdfunding:

 

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