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Torment Closes as the Best Crowdfunding Game in Kickstarter History

7 Apr

By Paul Tassi

Forbes – I realize that saying something is the “most something” in Kickstarter history isn’t all that impressive given how young the service is, but what Torment: Tides of Numenera has achieved is definitely worth highlighting.

Torment: Tides of Numenera raises more than $4.1 million on Kickstarter

Torment: Tides of Numenera raises more than $4.1 million on Kickstarter

We’ve been following the project for a while now, and the funds just kept pouring in as Torment beat the Ouya in the race to a million dollars in donations. I mean “pledges,” or “commitments” or whatever we’re calling it when you give money to Kickstarters these days.

So what’s the final total? After meeting its $900,000 goal in under 24 hours, the Kickstarter has ended its run with $4,188,927 in donations, more than 450% of its goal.

This makes it the most funded game of all time, and the second most funded gaming-related project on the site besides the Ouya itself which ended up raking in $8.5M in donations. I mean pledges.

Read more…

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View into Crowdcube’s Successful Equity Crowdfunding Platform in the United Kingdom

31 Mar

By Robert Hoskins

Founded in 2010, Crowdcube is the next generation of business investment in the United Kingdom. It is a new way to fund start-ups and business expansion by crowdfunding for equity, giving entrepreneurs a platform to connect with ordinary people and raise venture capital. By attracting lots of investors who invest smaller amounts of money into a person, company, product or idea you can bypass the traditional ways of raising venture finance.

Having founded, and worked for several entrepreneurial businesses Crowdcube’s founders understood how difficult it was to raise money in order to start and grow a small business. The task of securing investment is a notoriously perplexing and sometimes sluggish process that can be a struggle at the best of times. In today’s worldwide economic crisis this climate has become even more challenging.

Thus, Crowdcube now gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to take control of raising funding from their own network of friends, family, customers and strangers.

Stats Behind Crowdcube's Successful Equity Crowdfunding Platform in the UK

Stats Behind Crowdcube’s Successful Equity Crowdfunding Platform in the UK

Capital One Bank Gets into the Crowdfunding Business with Kiva Microlending Platform

25 Mar

By Robert Hoskins

Capital One announced that it will expand its “Investing for Good” partnership with Kiva by providing $500,000 to match loans made to U.S. small businesses on Kiva’s crowdfunding platform, helping entrepreneurs across the country with additional funding to start, sustain and grow their businesses.

Capital One to Match up to $500,000 of Kiva Microloans

Capital One to Match up to                                           $500,000 of Kiva Microloans

Kiva is a non-profit organization working to alleviate poverty by connecting people around the world through microlending. With as little as a $25 loan, anyone can help a borrower create new opportunities for themselves and their family. Together with more than 890,000 Kiva lenders and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva has created economic opportunity for more than 975,000 borrowers. Since its inception in 2005, Kiva lenders have funded more than $390 million in loans with a 98.9% repayment rate.

A single loan, a single business or a single job can change the trajectory of families, communities, and cities. Now, with Capital One’s support, the amount donors lend will be matched and small business owners across the U.S. will be that much closer to realizing their dream.

Through Kiva’s proven microlending model, anyone with an Internet connection and $25 can help crowdfund a loan to a small business owner profiled on kiva.org. Since 2005, Kiva has crowdfunded more than $400 million in microloans by connecting a growing global community of 890,000 lenders to 975,000 entrepreneurs from five continents. In June 2010, Kiva opened up their crowdfunding platform to U.S. small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in several cities, including New Orleans, Detroit, Los Angeles and D.C. Now, with the support of Capital One, Kiva is bringing its popular microlending model to reach more entrepreneurs across the country.

“Small businesses are the engine of our economy, as they do well it has a ripple effect on local economies – jobs are created and communities are strengthened. Kiva helps make an important connection between local businesses and the people they serve, giving local community members a vested interest in business success,” said Jonathan W. Witter, President of Retail and Direct Bank, Capital One. “At Capital One, we’re committed to helping aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses of every size grow and thrive – whether it’s directly through our products and services, or through innovative partnerships and digital channels like Kiva.org.”

Capital One’s support of Kiva’s work in the U.S. and small businesses builds on the successful launch of Kiva City D.C. in January. Kiva City D.C. is a new partnership between Capital One, Kiva and the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC). Through this partnership, LEDC identifies entrepreneurs in the D.C. area who can benefit from a microloan, posts their profiles on kiva.org and administers the loan program. Since the launch just six weeks ago, nine local businesses in our nation’s capitol have received funding from more than 1,000 lenders and Capital One through Kiva City D.C.

“If the money stored in our wallets was given a new life for a short amount of time, as a loan to a small business owner, each of us could help to shape the course and success of the economy,” said Premal Shah, President of Kiva. “A single loan, a single business or a single job can change the trajectory of families, communities, and cities. Now, with Capital One’s support, the amount you lend will be matched and small business owners across the U.S. will be that much closer to realizing their dream.”

According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses create two out of three net new jobs in the U.S. over the last 17 years.

Over the past seven years, Kiva has helped to mainstream microlending and pioneered the field of crowdfunding. Capital One is also driving new innovations at Kiva through its support of Kiva Zip, a pilot program that aims to expand access to capital for entrepreneurs, lower costs of capital, and increase connections between lenders and borrowers. Through Kiva Zip, even individuals and organizations without loan programs can help bring borrowers onto zip.kiva.org to be crowdfunded.

Through Kiva’s proven crowdfunding model, anyone can go to kiva.org or zip.kiva.org and browse through profiles and stories of people in need of a microloan and choose someone to lend as little as $25. With a 98% repayment rate, the money that is lent to a small business owner is truly a loan, not a donation. Every dollar helps to crowdfund that business’ microloan, which in turn helps to support thriving local economies, communities and jobs.

A Year Later the PowerPot Demonstrates the Power of Kickstarter Crowdfunding Campaigns

21 Mar

By Robert Hoskins

Power Practical, a Utah-based company, has developed a game-changer for backpackers, campers and environmental preparedness enthusiasts alike. The innovative product, called The PowerPot, transforms heat into DC electricity. The new twist on a lightweight backpacking pot will provide electricity where solar options do not: at night, during storms and indoors.

 

The PowerPot was introduced last Spring on Kickstarter, a popular crowdfunding platform. The product’s 30-day campaign smashed it’s funding goal of $50,000 and went on to earn six-figures. Riley Swenson, the company’s VP of marketing said the company is in a very different a year later. “The PowerPot was a mysterious idea that gained a lot of traction last year on Kickstarter. This season, it is an established product, with numerous independent reviews, retail-store availability, and is proudly owned by more than 2,000 happy customers in 40+ countries.”

The genius of the PowerPot is that it charges any USB device. The personal USB device market is literally exploding. From portable lighting to smartphones to ham radios, there seems to be a new USB-charged device everyday of the week. This makes the PowerPot attractive to people going on long-term adventures with a rechargeable gear-set. In some cases it can replace several pounds of batteries.

The device also has vast potential in developing nations. “There are over 200 million people in Africa that use cell phones but lack access to electricity. Some must walk over a mile and spend over 15% of their monthly income just to charge their phone,” said Power Practical VP of Sales Caleb Light. “It is difficult to keep in touch with loved ones or do business off-grid. Since most people faced with this problem cook on an open fire, the PowerPot fits perfectly into their routine.”

Power Practical says it was able to donate roughly 100 units of its innovative PowerPot to NGOs working in developing countries. The units have been donated to groups working in Ghana, Uganda and other locations in Sub-Saharan Africa. The company hopes to expand its humanitarian operations into the subcontinent of India, southeast Asia and elsewhere.

Power Practical is a Salt Lake City-based group of 8 engineers, entrepreneurs and outdoor enthusiasts who emphasize diversity in energy resources by developing innovative, effective and affordable energy products. While the grid that supplies electricity to most of the World is generally reliable, everyone experiences the occasional power outage and there are vast areas of the World that are simply off the grid. The problems posed by imperfect and/or unavailable energy resources are what drive Power Practical’s research and development.

iCrowd Launches the Industry’s Most Sophisticated Equity Crowdfunding Portal to Date

24 Feb

By Robert Hoskins

In a growing a landscape of Crowdfunding Universities with no actual classes and Global Crowdfunding Education Networks with zero content or even a place to signup, the new iCrowd Equity Crowdfunding portal is the real deal and it is a must-see website for everyone in the Crowdfunding industry.

Most Crowdfunding sites will tell you that their lack of content, business partner programs, and other Crowdfunding services is due to the fact that the SEC has not yet issued Title II and Title III guidelines. What they do not want to tell you is that they actually have very little business experience and have never been involved with running a functioning industry portal in any industry.

The exception to the rule is the iCrowd Crowdfunding portal, which is live now and has risen quickly to the top of the Equity Crowdfunding industry pyramid. Unlike the competition, the iCrowd site offers richly interactive web-based community based on web 3.0 technology.  Primarily supported by user-generated content, iCrowd promotes socially enriched exchanges that foster a shared passion for Crowdfunding inspired ideas to empower entrepreneurs with the information, insight, and motivation necessary to translate these concepts into tangible business success.

iCrowd is led by John Callaghan, a former Wall Street portfolio manager, security analyst, and expert in small capitalization businesses, and Brad McGee, who served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Tyco International Ltd. and Chief Administrative Officer of the CIT Group.

“Working as an analyst and a small-cap growth portfolio manager, I saw the parallel frustrations of small business owners who were unable to raise capital and investors who were unable to buy into early-stage companies,” Callaghan said. “The internet has opened many opportunities for individuals to take charge of their investments. Investment crowdfunding will be the next step in that evolution.”

iCrowd intends to become a premier, registered equity funding portal once the final rules for Investment Crowdfunding under the JOBS Act are implemented.  At that time, iCrowd will enable entrepreneurs to engage with each other and with potential investors to fine-tune their business concept or growth idea and secure financing directly from these investors.  Investors become an integral part of the entrepreneur’s success through their advice, investment, and advocacy.

“Social interaction is the key to investment crowdfunding. Raising capital is critical to business success, but it is not sufficient. Development of interactive networks of supporters and potential partners along with access to sound business advice is crucial to transition entrepreneurs from people with ideas to people with successful businesses,” said Brad McGee. “iCrowd makes it possible for entrepreneurs to develop those partnerships.”

Small businesses can find communities of entrepreneurs, mentors, peers, and experts to begin gathering advice and support in preparation for launching a successful Equity Crowdfunding campaigns in the future. iCrowd offers small enterprises the opportunity to start building the right network of contacts and establishing the relationships that will be crucial to their success.

iCrowd is actively building a Partners Program to pursue creative ways to join forces with businesses and industry influencers through cross promotions, affiliate arrangements, sponsorships and custom strategic partnerships as well as an iCrowd Validated Experts Program, which is seeking experts to promote their capabilities and services to their iCrowd community.

Check out what the iCrowd Crowdfunding Portal Business Service Portfolio has to offer:

Expertise Profiles – iCrowd user profiles are designed provide an online supply chain so that investors, ancillary Crowdfunding service vendors and future Crowdfunding campaign managers (Crowdfunders) will have a place to shop for the Crowdfunding expertise they need to make smart investments and/or plan successful Crowdfunding campaigns.

Credibility Badges – To help users ascertain the credibility of any user’s profile, iCrowd uses a point system that allows the crowd to award or subtract points for both questions asked as well as answers given on the portal’s discussion boards, the advisory boards they sit on, the user groups they manage, etc.  The more points a user earns the higher they rise in the rankings, similar to the way fantasy football leagues award players points based on their performance during a game. As the Crowdfunding industry evolves using a sophisticated ranking system to rate users based on their investment interests, Crowdfunding expertise, and ancillary service backgrounds will make it very easy to search, find, validate and then build many value-added business connections.

iCrowd Academy – Not quite yet an academy with instructor lead classes, the iCrowd platform is still by far the most interactive education platform that we have seen to date in the Crowdfunding industry. If it is true Crowdfunding knowledge you seek, the iCrowd Academy is the only place on the internet where you can read up on important Crowdfunding subject matters for free. One feature that would be helpful in growing a professional iCrowd Academy would be a Crowdfunding library, where users could upload white papers, research reports, PowerPoint presentations and infographics for research purposes.

Ask the iCrowd – For inquiring minds that want to know more, the Ask the iCrowd chat rooms allow users to search for any Crowdfunding discussion topic by keyword, and then read through many associated threads that offer great pro and con viewpoints from fellow Crowdfunding members. This is where the Credibility Badges come in handy.  It is very easy for the iCrowd members to give an answer a thumps up (+5 points) or a thumbs down (-5 points). Based on a member’s total iCrowd score, it is easy to determine how credible their advice might be. It is important to note that the iCrowd chat rooms are the only place on the internet where you can get your Crowdfunding questions for free. As iCrowd members become more knowledgeable and their intelligence continues to increase, the iCrowd platform is positioned to become the number one Crowdfunding repository due to its sheer volume of free information.

Advisory Boards – This feature is a very well thought out section and probably will become one of the most important value-added benefits of doing business on the iCrowd platform.  As users explore the many areas of knowledge, they will begin to get a sense of who the real Crowdfunding experts are in the industry. The Advisory Board feature allows Crowdfunders to send invitations to members to ask them to join their Crowdfunding campaign’s advisory board.  An advisory board might include experts from the legal, financial, fundraising and marketing industries that specialize in Crowdfunding. This will be a great way help mentor entrepreneurs and guide them through the intricacies of starting up and operating a business via private networks with secluded discussion forums that will allow business-specific advice and very candid feedback.

iCrowd Groups – In the business world there are many vertical business segments, each with its own distribution channel of manufacturing companies, distributors, resellers, retail outlets and online eCommerce portals. The iCrowd Groups feature on the iCrowd platform allows members to build vertical business-to-business communities of like-minded investors, service providers and Crowdfunders around mutual business interests, which are designed to stimulate fruitful discussions among their members. Groups can be public, by invitation only, or completely private.

Architects Turning to Crowdfunding to Save Stalled Real Estate Projects

6 Feb

By Robert Hoskins

Crowdfunding, the practice of investing in projects through the use of a crowd-supported web based fundraising campaign, shows significant promise for attracting investors to smaller real estate projects and getting them off the architect’s drawing board, according to a report issued today by the American Institute of Architects.

According to the white paper, “Crowdfunding Architecture,” the increasingly popular tool is being used to leverage dedicated internet fundraising websites to spur community support and financing for an assortment of infrastructure ventures that would ordinarily have difficulty finding money due to their smaller size.

The report, compiled for the AIA by massolution, inc., concludes that “donation-based crowdfunding” holds the most potential as a financing tool for beleaguered developers and architects. According to massolution’s May 2012 “Crowdfunding Industry Report,” the amount of money generated by crowdfunding was close to $1.5 billion in 2011, of which almost half was raised via donation-based crowdfunding.

That’s because the donation-based crowdfunding campaign model relies not on providing tangible returns for its success, but rather the enthusiasm of a local community for causes such as covering an individual’s medical expenses, political campaigns or community projects that would otherwise require municipality or government funding for completion, the report concludes.

For the architect, who is often the primary catalyst for new projects and construction, the crowdfunding concept holds special promise. Usually architects’ role in funding projects is limited. But crowdfunding increases the role of architects in the funding cycle by providing investment models and communications tools for a broad array of self-selected projects, from pedestrian bridges to urban skyscrapers, the report notes.

“Crowdfunding Architecture” details specific examples where crowdfunding has already had an impact in providing financial support for community projects that were too small to get started with traditional financing methods. Click here to download a database of AIA’s stalled projects.

CircleUp Explored: Crowdfunding Insight from Co-Founder, Rory Eakin

6 Feb

by 

I had the pleasure to sit down with Rory Eakin, co-founder and COO of CircleUp. Rory gave a wealth of insight into the pioneering equity crowdfunding model him and his team have built to fund underserved companies in a targeted industry vertical (emerging growth consumer product and retail companies).  I’ve distilled and summarized key themes below for convenience, but the full interview offers far more depth. So make sure to carve out 20 minutes to give it a view.

Currently only open to accredited investors (as legislation permits), CircleUp is a front-runner in the investment crowdfunding space. It’s one of a handful of platforms “crowdfunding” (personally defining as executing transactions entirely online) from accredited investors today; to date eight companies have raised a total of ~$7.5 million on CircleUp’s platform.

I’ve paid acute attention to CircleUp because (i) it has traction, i.e. data exists, and (ii) i’m a big believer in the merit its crowdfunding model is proving out. Broadly, it couples domain expertise and curated partnerships with technology to efficiently and transparently deliver high-quality, shepherded deal-flow to investors. It’s a model championed by many other platforms—e.g. RealtyMogul and Fundrise attacking real estate—and I have no doubt it will be applied to nearly many other industry verticals in time. It just makes tremendous sense; on so many levels.

Read more…

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Awesome Fast Company Case Study on How a Successful Kickstarter Crowdfunding Campaign

5 Feb

Awesome Fast Company Case Study on How a Successful Kickstarter Crowdfunding Campaign Can Create Problems

Twine is exactly the type of sensor-stuffed, Wi-Fi-connected gadget you would expect to take off in Kickstarter’s tech section. The device promises to make your washing machine tweet when the laundry is done and your basement send an email when it floods. Blogs called it “the future” within a week after debuting. Nobody was surprised when it raised more than half-a-million dollars–except for its creators.

When John Kestner and David Carr posted Twine on Kickstarter in November 2011, they had set their fundraising goal at $35,000. Their plan was to produce about 200 units using the same process that created the prototype. But six weeks later, having raised $556,541, they were now committed to shipping almost 4,000 units. The homemade wax mold used to create Twine’s prototype was no longer going to cut it, and there wasn’t another plan. “We were definitely not thinking of the risk of being too successful,” Kestner tells Fast Company.

Read more…

Building a Mature Crowdfunding Industry with Business Partner Programs

31 Jan

By Robert Hoskins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29 Jan
By Robert Hoskins

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

SimplePen1 Universal Stylus Pen for Wireless Mobility Devices

SimplePen1 Universal Stylus Pen for Wireless Mobility Devices

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

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

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

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