Crowdfunding Pitch Show EP 2: BlindBox Comics

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We had another great show with BlindBox Comics founder Court Gebeau, and crowdfunding expert Darren Webb from Crowd Assist. Darren shared his expertise on how to have a successful campaign, and broke down some of the most important aspects of having a successful campaign.

Then we had an awesome pitch from Court on how he’s changing the way you buy comics, and how to get both awesome titles and custom covers! Make sure you check out his campaign on Kickstarter!

CrowdFunding Pitch Show Episode 1: Biometric Match

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We had an awesome premier episode of The Crowdfunding Pitch show on October 10th with the founders of Biometric Match coming on the show to pitch their startup.

Dal Ellinton, the founder has created an amazing platform leveraging bio-metric to enable users to determine how they match up with a potential date, person you want to hang out with or just see what you have in common with friends. The current standard is to answer long questionnaires to answer these questions, but Biometric Match is changing that process forever, rendering these long questionnaires a thing of the past, using emotion-based facial cue system powered by Affectiva.

They’re currently trying to raise $95,000 to go beyond beta and build out a more user friendly platform. Check out their crowdfunding campaign, and back this awesome new technology!

4 Ways to Keep Your Backers Happy After a Crowdfunding Campaign

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You did it! You hit the magic number, thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign built on preparation, a compelling video, strong promotion and a savvy campaign page. Give yourself a pat on the back and save some energy, because once the buzz of your successful campaign fades, you’ll quickly realize you are accountable to hundreds, if not thousands of contributors, rather than a few VC board members.

SkyBell raised over five times our funding goal with thousands of backers in 50 countries. We entered the development phase looking to turn our home automation concept into a reality, and quickly realized our success depended on our ability to execute our vision and fulfill our orders. It wasn’t easy, but these four principles helped us launch successfully — and turn our own crowdfunded product into a sustainable business.

Tip 1: Stay Focused on the Product

One of the great outcomes of a crowdfunding campaign is the feedback you receive from backers and the public. Take every opportunity to document this feedback, but also consider how implementing a new feature may impact your timeline, costs and core offering. Be more conservative, as adding features after the campaign can push you beyond the committed delivery date of your initial concept.

It’s also tempting to entertain ideas for second product versions, distribution and other opportunities too soon. Take the time to assess these opportunities yet stay aware of how they impact your short-term fulfillment capabilities. Your objective is to ship your product. Then, focus on growing from a successful launch.

Tip 2: Keep Your Backers in the Loop

Your backers share your vision and passion. Even though they are not investors in the traditional sense, backers are a part of the journey and will want to participate as much as possible.

The key to keeping backers happy is communication. Even when we thought we were communicating consistently, it still wasn’t enough. While it’s easy to get bogged down in development or conserve your message for proprietary reasons, make every effort to provide detailed updates on a frequent basis. This will assure your backers that things are rolling and that it’s all part of the crowdfunding process.

This becomes particularly important if your launch date pushes out. On average, crowdfunded projects that fulfill their perks do so 90 days after the original target date. If you don’t communicate enough during the development phase, you could see a turning point where backers become anxious. We learned that the best approach is to share as many details as possible and keep communication consistent. This gives you the best chance of keeping backers positive leading up to the launch.

Tip 3: Plan Ahead for Customer Support and Bug Fixes

In a perfect world, every launch goes exactly as planned and users sing your praises. The reality is that all startup product launches have bugs. Your team will be small due to operating on discounted funds from your campaign. This puts extra pressure on creating an efficient customer service strategy.

Break your support efforts into web support, customer service and bug reporting. First, your website should have documentation, FAQs, photos and videos on how to use the product or service ahead of the launch. Make sure it is easy to find. Second, document potential issues and their solutions for your customer service team so they understand how best to help customers. Third, create a plan to record bugs from users, consolidate them for the development team and to communicate fixes to users via updates and customer service team.

Remember, your backers will expect a few bugs and they’ll be thrilled if you have the resources ready to solve problems quickly and efficiently.

Tip 4: The Bridge From Campaign Funds and Your Next Round

Your ability to cultivate a second income stream quickly after launch could be the difference between a thriving business and fifteen minutes of fame.

For most crowdfunded startups, there comes a time when your initial funds run low. This can happen before or just after your launch. The result is a gap between your initially crowdsourced funds and your next round of funding. Financing will likely not be an option.

The key is to identify additional revenue sources that will help you obtain new orders after launch. If you offer hardware and media perks, consider selling direct on your website and on Amazon.com. If you developed software, try to regenerate the buzz from your campaign and drive sales on your site.

There’s no doubt that crowdfunding has created new opportunities for startups that could never have been possible otherwise. From start to finish, it’s a great vehicle that makes innovation possible and allows you to build a sustainable business. To get there, you’ll have to carefully navigate the post-campaign phase to strategically position yourself for long-term success.

Andrew Thomas (@apthomas) is co-founder of SkyBell – a home automation startup pioneering a Wi-Fi video doorbell that allows users to answer their front door from a smartphone. SkyBell raised $585,000 through Indiegogo and was named a 2014 CES Innovations Award Nominee.  Andrew specializes in marketing and mobile user experience design for product and software development.  Andrew speaks and writes on topics including home automation, crowdfunding and startups.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

How to Take Advantage of the Latest Trends in Crowdfunding

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Those of you familiar with crowdfunding know it’s quickly evolving into an industry itself. In fact, crowdfunding is predicted to create at least 270,000 jobs and inject $65 billion into the economy by 2014’s end.

As an entrepreneur (current or aspiring), how can crowdfunding help you grow your business? To find out, it’s helpful to understand the trends driving the most successful campaigns and to choose the right platform for your project.

Entrepreneurs can take advantage of these three big crowdfunding movements:

The Rise of the DIY Entrepreneur

In the past, entrepreneurs with business ideas relied on venture capital or raised seed funding from friends and family. Crowdfunding offers an advantage traditional methods don’t by providing validation as well as money. A successful campaign shows that there’s a market for what you offer. Getting additional funding is easier once an idea is proven viable.

For example, Bluff Works, a wrinkle-free men’s pants company, had over a thousand backers on Kickstarter and raised more than $128,000 — far exceeding its $13,500 goal. Its founder used the campaign to conduct market research and learned that customers wanted black pants, something he hadn’t considered when launching the campaign.

Leveraging an Existing Network

Another emerging trend is using your existing network to jump start a campaign. This works for entrepreneurs, writers and artists with devoted followings who are invested in what you have to say.

People enjoy the “story behind the story.” A behind-the-scenes look at what you intend to create increases your likelihood of getting funded. After losing her child, Angela Miller built support for her book by sharing her story on social media. Her campaign garnered 217 supporters (70 percent strangers) and raised $12,978 on Pubslush.

Funding Tech, Apparel and Video Production

Cutting-edge gadgets do especially well on crowdfunding sites. The Pebble Smartwatch raised over $10 million on Kickstarter, for example.

Fashion also gets a lot of coverage in the crowdfunding space. Stantt, a casual shirt company, raised cash on Kickstarter and was able to offer over 50 sizes, thanks to precise body measurements and 3D body scans.

Producing films costs a lot of money, and crowdfunding mitigates some of the financial risk. The “Veronica Mars” movie projectshattered Kickstarter records when it raised more than $5.7 million from 91,585 fans of the canceled show.

If your project fits into one of these categories, it’s made for crowdfunding. Even if it doesn’t, you can see what made these campaigns succeed: A real user need (Pebble), dissatisfaction with current offerings (Stantt), and a cult-like following (“Veronica Mars”).

Choosing the Right Platform for Your Campaign

Before setting up your campaign, evaluate the platforms available and weigh the advantages of each.

  • Kickstarter: This company specializes in creative projects (films, games, music, art, design and technology), all of which remain fully owned by their creators. The funding is all or nothing, meaning you must raise the entirety of your goal to receive any money.
  • Indiegogo: Geared toward the international community, Indiegogo supports 224 countries and territories, five currencies, and four languages.
  • Pubslush: My company, Pubslush, funds literary and publishing projects. Authors can evaluate interest in their ideas and learn readers’ demographics. Readers can pledge money to bring books to fruition.
  • Crowdfunder: Crowdfunder connects investors and entrepreneurs in film and entertainment, small business and technology. It serves North and South America and accepts minimum investments of $1,000.
  • StartSomeGood: This site specializes in social entrepreneurship and allows you to set a Tipping Point Goal (what a project must raise to make an impact) and an Ultimate Fundraising Goal.

Once you’ve chosen a platform, position your campaign for success.

  1. Learn from other campaigns. Review the most successful campaigns on different sites to see what worked. What wording did they use? What rewards were offered? How much interaction did the users have with backers?
  2. Get advice from those who’ve been there. Reach out to individuals who’ve run successful campaigns. Ask what worked well, what they’d do differently, and what insider tips they can offer.
  3. Develop a pre-campaign strategy. Campaigns that gain 30 percent of their goal within the first week are more likely to succeed. Get between 30 and 50 percent of your supporters in place before launching your campaign.

Crowdfunding opens a world of possibilities, but it’s not an easy out or a guaranteed way to get funding. But if you do your research, choose the appropriate platform, and promote your campaign before its launch, your odds of success are much better.

Amanda L. Barbara is the vice president and co-founder of Pubslush (www.pubslush.com), a global crowdfunding and analytics platform for the literary world. Follow on Twitter

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

The Slow Revolution of Private Equity

Jobs Act, Title III, Crowdentials, Crowdfunding, Cleveland startupBy: Rohan Kusre, COO // Co-Founder, Crowdentials

After months of restless anticipation, there is finally some substantial progress towards the implementation of the JOBS Act. It has been exactly one month since the Title II rules- the ones based around general solicitation- went into effect and the SEC is moving forward with implementing the next portion of the monumental legislation.

Title III, the poster child of the JOBS Act, is focused around the sale of private equities in an open market. It is as groundbreaking for the industry as it is controversial in its own right. There are as many proponents of the crowdfunding bill as there are naysayers and today the SEC discussed the proposed rules that would provide the infrastructure for equity crowdfunding to take place.  Platforms such as EarlyShares have been waiting for these exact rules in order to set in motion their part in facilitating the sale of private securities.

There have been claims that equity crowdfunding will result in a ‘ghetto stock market’ due to the high risk of fraud and the low barrier to entry. There have also been concerns about the cost of properly keeping up with SEC regulations. Currently, an investment group will spend anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000 in due diligence and this begs the question of how such practices will be handled at a smaller scale for investments that will be under $20,000.

Well, where there is a will there is a way. Solutions are already in place for companies wishing to utilize the new legislation as the SEC continues to implement it. Companies like CrowdCheck provide quick and secure diligence reports while companies such as Crowdentials assist with making sure your investor is accredited among various other compliance needs. Sure, the waters of the JOBS Act regulations are currently a bit murky but there is a lot of money to be made within these environments and those that take advantage of it will be handsomely rewarded. So when can those interested to utilize the new legislations expect to be able to do so? This is where it gets a bit tricky.

Title II of the JOBS Act, which went into effect one month ago on September 23rd, and it allows for companies that are making a private security offering to be able to use public advertising in order to get the word out. While the JOBS Act itself was signed on April 5th, 2012, the SEC didn’t release the proposed rules until July 10th of this year. This seems to be an ongoing trend as the SEC has delayed the implementation of the whole act by several months multiple times.

There is hope that this trend will be broken as the SEC held a live webcast today where the commission discussed the rules surrounding equity crowdfunding. Once these rules are posted to the Federal Registrar (this usually only takes a few days), they will be open for comment and the ball will be rolling to get this brand new industry up and running.

With industry experts waiting to pounce on the opportunity to help out investors and entrepreneurs navigate through the dense regulations of the JOBS Act, those on the fence about joining the crowd should feel a sense of assurance in doing so. CrowdCheck, Crowdentials, and several other industry leaders are poised to iron out the wrinkles as more and more people get involved with Title II and Title III of the JOBS Act.

Startups: Content Could Be the Key to Crowdfunding Success

Amanda L. Barbara headshotBegging might not be so bad.

In its early days, the popular gaming blog Penny Arcade was run purely on donations for more than a year.

“The word crowdfunding hadn’t been invented yet,” said Jerry Holkins, one of the site’s creators. “Back then, people simply called it ‘begging.’”

As the site grew, it became dependent on advertising dollars, but the founders yearned for those early days. They launched a Kickstarter campaign to see if their “begging” model could work again. Their fans overwhelmingly said yes, donating more than half a million dollars to remove ads from the site.

Great content made the difference for Penny Arcade. Dedicated gamers were hungry for the site’s comics and commentary, and they were willing to break out their wallets to support the content.

You, too, can use content to win fans and accelerate your crowdfunding efforts. By providing useful information your audience wants, you can ask for financial support without coming across as spammy or feeling like you’ve resorted to begging.

4 Tips to Make Sure Your Content Hits the Mark

1. Know your audience. Who are they? Where do they live? What are they passionate about? You can’t provide your audience with valuable information if you don’t know who your audience is and what interests them.

Author Janna Leyde is a great example of what can happen when you truly understand your audience. Janna’s father suffered a traumatic brain injury from a car accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. Janna hoped to write a memoir about dealing with the injury. She reached out to survivors of traumatic brain injuries and their families, with the goal of reaching one new person each day to talk about her Pubslush campaign to write her untold story. Her supporters donated more than $15,000 to make her book, “He Never Liked Cake,” a reality.

2. Provide fresh content. Don’t just regurgitate the things everyone else is saying. Be innovative enough to stand out from the crowd, sharing your own unique ideas and insights. Use your creativity and branding power to create a special voice and style people can associate with you.

The content shouldn’t be too self-promotional, either. If you are providing valuable information and unique insights, word will spread, and your brand will earn trust.

3. Engage with your audience. It’s important to not just spew out information, but to also allow readers to comment and create a conversation. The Internet gives businesses unprecedented access to directly interact with customers — use it! Respond to comments, engage in conversations on social media, and always provide a way for your audience to get in touch with you.

4. Know your business model. If you were courting investors in the real world, they would ask dozens of questions about your business, your goals, and where their money will go. While your online campaign might be soliciting hundreds or thousands of micro-investors, the idea is no different. Know your business model and industry inside and out so you can be ready to answer any question that comes up.

Content marketing for a crowdfunding campaign is essentially the same as content marketing for a product or service. People aren’t just investing in the project you’re raising funds for — they’re investing in your brand. By providing valuable information to your audience, you can build trust and interest and drive traffic to your campaign — without having to beg.

Amanda L. Barbara is Vice President of Pubslush. Pubslush is a global crowdfunding publishing platform for authors to raise funds and gauge their audience for new book ideas and for trendsetting readers to pledge their financial support to bring books to life. Follow Amanda on Twitter

Scholarship Funds Set Up On Indiegogo For Teenage Pennsylvania Heroes

Temar Boggs, Chris Garcia, Indiegogo, Crowdfunding

Back in July a 5 year old girl named Jocelyn Rojas was abducted from her Lancaster, Pennsylvania home. Meanwhile an incoming freshman, 15-year-old Temar Boggs, was helping a neighbor move a couch into her home. While they were moving the couch, Rojas’ mother hysterically asked them of they had seen her daughter. Boggs and friend Chris Garcia immediately joined the search for the little girl by foot.

Many sites, like the Huffington Post, reported that the two teenage boys thought it would be more effective to continue the search on their bikes.  The neighborhood they all live in is filled with dead ends and strange cul-de-sacs. The local police were already on the scene and congregating at some of the intersections in the neighborhood. This made the abductor drive in and out of the backstreets and look very suspicious.

Boggs saw that suspicious maroon car and kept up with it on his bike for 15 minutes, eventually making eye contact with the suspect and the little girl. The suspect eventually wanted to flee and knew his cover was blown, so he pushed the little girl out of the passenger seat. She ran straight to Boggs. Many news outlets report that once in Boggs’ arms, the young Rojas didn’t want to leave the boy’s protection. He eventually convinced her that it was safe to go with the police.

If you choked up a bit during this story, you did the same thing as Mary O’Donnell, a complete stranger from Dunkirk, New York.

“I just felt like, ‘God, I would love to do something for these kids’,” O’Donnell told Lancaster Online by phone. “And I figured there were probably lots of other people who felt the same way.”

She jumped into action, launching a college fund campaign on popular crowdfunding website Indiegogo. Now we typically cover Indiegogo when someone is creating a new and exciting gadget or product. We’ve even used Indiegogo to crowdfund our sneaker strapped startup road trip. But after seeing how easy it was for O’Donnell to put some action where her mouth was, we found this story about crowdfunding to be an amazing one.

O’Donnell set out to raise $10,000 which she planned to give to Boggs and Garcia’s families for college. However, four days after putting up the site it was already over-funded. In fact with 23 days left, as we publish this story there is well over $15,000 raised. It looks like they’ll have no problem clearing $25,000.

Right about the same time David Reed, a 59-year-old retired pilot from Missouri also established a fund for the boys. He is hoping to raise $100,000.

“I’m sure that’s a lucky expectation, but with the cost of college these days, I figured it would be great to help them out. They certainly deserve it,” Reed said in an interview. His fund has raised over $2500 to date.

Tamika Boggs, Temar’s mother, has also set up a scholarship fund in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. More information on that can be found here.

Crowdfunding will be a hot topic at this national startup conference.

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Ohio Startup Crowdentials Launches Crowdfunding Compliance Platform

Crowdentials, Ohio Startup,startup,crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is the hottest space for startups right now. And now, with changing regulations, it could get even hotter.

The Jumpstart Our Business Startup Act was passed over a year ago, paving the way for crowdfunding startups to offer equity. After the bill passed in both the Senate and the House it was then referred over to the Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC) to come up with the regulations for crowdfunding.

The JOBS Act has a lot of regulations to follow, including the fact no individual making less than $100,000 can invest more than $2000 or 5% of their net worth. Crowdfunding is going to spawn a whole new type of investor and there are currently no regulatory software programs out there. That’s the guts behind Crowdentials.

Richard Rodman, the cofounder of Crowdentials, spoke about crowdfunding in February at the Everywhereelse.co Startup Conference in Memphis. He founded the company with Chief Operating Officer Rohan Kusre and Chief Technology Officer Max Heckel. The three came up with the idea for Crowdentials in April and were recently accepted into the Cleveland-based FlashStarts’ startup accelerator program.

While the SEC is still finalizing its regulations, the Crowdentials technology is ready to go. “Our compliance solution is all variable-driven and will adapt to any regulations put forth,” Rodman said in a statement. Once the regulations are officially complete, the entrepreneur plans to launch “within minutes.”

In the meantime, Crowdentials is preparing a collection of multi-media resources and guides for both crowdfunding rookies and experts. In addition to teaching the basics, the comprehensive suite will cover the nuances, regulations, risks, and opportunities associated with equity crowdfunding.

Crowdentials’ technology ensures that investors, businesses, and platforms are following the SEC’s rules.  According to Rodman, “Crowdentials is the vital link between the SEC regulations and all crowdfunding parties”.

Individuals who gain compliancy through Crowdentials can trust that they are abiding by the regulations, and startups can feel confident that they are raising money through compliant individuals. Rodman believes the SEC’s regulations are meant to protect the new crowdfunding population from fraud and financial distress. “That’s why compliance is so important,” the entrepreneur said. “When everyone is aware of their level of compliance, we can make more educated investment decisions.”

Crowdfunding has spawned hundreds of crowdfunding sites that will help connect would-be investors to startups and other small businesses’ needing funds. Now startp founders are finding ways to support the crowdfunding economy. Cowdfunding vetting companies, insurance companies, and even discovery companies have all popped up over the past year with more expected when the rules change to allow equity investments.

In the meantime feel free to check out Crowdentials at crowdentials.com

7 key elements of a successful crowdfunding campaign.

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7 Key Elements Of A Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

Fundable, Eric Corl, startup,crowdfunding, Guest Post, YECCrowdfunding can be an effective tool for accomplishing your startup goals. Whether you’re looking to jumpstart your marketing efforts, expand your customer base, or reach out to friends and family for funding, crowdfunding provides a platform to rally support around you and your company. Having worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs who have conducted successful fundraisers, we have distilled seven key strategies for launching a successful crowdfund:

  1. Tell your story. As the old adage goes: facts tell, stories sell. When it comes to eliciting customer engagement, a campaign with a good story is an unparalleled strategy. Did you experience some kind of obstacle on your path to entrepreneurship? Did a major life event influence your career choice or business decisions? Tell your story in your crowdfunding pitch to make a connection with backers and encourage engagement.If you don’t have a personal story to share with your audience, share facts and highlights about your startup, product or vision instead. Describe the problem (and severity of the problem) your product will solve, or discuss the vision for your startup. Keep your tone and messaging personal to make backers feel closely connected to you and your project.
  2. Provide value for value. Crowdfunding campaigns hinge on reciprocity. If your startup offers fantastic products, rewards or opportunities, you’ve created a huge incentive for backers to pledge to your campaign. When choosing your reward tiers, reflect on whether the incentives would appeal to you if you were the consumer; ask friends, family members and business acquaintances for their honest opinions as well.
  3. Introduce scarcity. A basic law of economics dictates that scarce supply inherently creates greater demand. Create greater demand for your startup by limiting one or more of the higher level rewards to just a few — this will inflate demand for those rewards and result in higher pledge amounts for your crowdfunding campaign!
  4. Create a marketing event. People love to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Try to build a feeling of excitement and rally others around your crowdfunding campaign by tying the launch to a large, well known event. You can connect your product to a holiday, sporting event, or season to increase the momentum surrounding your launch. You can leverage the emotional connection surrounding these events to get people excited about your product and engage them in discussions.This is especially useful for connecting with backers through social channels, capitalizing on trending topics and popular hashtags to get more eyes on your fundraise!
  5. Highlight examples of social proof. Going back to the human desire to feel like a part of something bigger than themselves, most people don’t want to be the first or only supporter of a crowdfunding campaign — they want to see other influential advocates joining in. Do you have someone notable as an adviser, backer or endorser of your startup? Share your list of partners and patrons to give confidence to new backers and let them know that they won’t be the only one at your party.
  6. Build credibility and legitimacy. Many backers will believe it when they see it. In other words, they require some kind of evidence  that your startup is legitimate and picking up steam before deciding to back your crowdfunding campaign. Show your backers what they’ll be supporting in detail — how it works, how you came up with the idea, and even pictures or videos if you have a prototype. Remember that you will likely never meet your backers, so the more proof you can provide that your startup is legitimate the better.
  7. Interact with your supporters. Don’t leave your backers in the dark for weeks after they’ve supported your project. Interact with your audience through frequent updates, thank-you emails or social media outreach, and responses to their questions and feedback.You can build anticipation and increase engagement in many ways. Post updates counting down to a big surprise regarding your project, conduct a product giveaway, or even host a contest involving your crowdfunding campaign. The opportunities here are endless and can be tailored for your specific startup.When interacting with your backers, always encourage an open dialogue and engagement. In general, people would rather talk than listen. Treat your updates and outreach as a conversation rather than a one-sided message.

Eric Corl is the Co-Founder and President of the crowdfunding site Fundable.com. Eric has been on the founding team of three successful startups including Fundable, IdeaBuyer and Startups.Co, all of which have focused on getting early-stage startups to market quickly and effectively. He is also a partner at Virtucon Ventures, an early stage incubator that brings new ideas to market.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

Now that you’ve got that down check out 12 Tips For Crowdfunding Your New Startup

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12 Tips For Crowdfunding Your New Startup

Crowdfunding your startup, guest post, YEC,Startup TipsChoose an Entrepreneur Facing Platform

“Spend some time researching successful projects. You’ll notice that there are core elements of a successful campaign: compelling rewards, a powerful story, and out of the gate support from friends and family. At Fundable, we coach our clients through best practices, and provide them with resources to increase their chance of success. Every entrepreneur should look for that type of support.”

Eric Corl | President + Co-Founder, Fundable LLC

 

Read the Fine Print

“Read the fine print of what the future ramifications of fundraising are for your business after taking on crowdfunding. Walk through the different scenarios for future funding and analyze whether crowdfunding your first round will be a turnoff for other potential investors.”

Abby Ross | Co-Founder & VP Operations, ThinkCERCA

 

Solve a Problem, Don’t Create One

“When it comes to crowdfunding, the best and most successful ideas come from entrepreneurs that are trying to solve a problem, not create one. If you have a product that will solve a problem that everyone has, you’ll have a good chance of succeeding with your crowdfunding efforts.”

Derek Johnson | CEO/Founder, Tatango

 

Understand the Downsides

“Crowdfunding is not a panacea for first-time entrepreneurs. While it can reduce the regulatory burdens of initial capital raising, it comes with downsides. You need to ask yourself whether you want to deal with information requests from 100 shareholders, trying to convince a seed or VC to join that quagmire or the potential of losing your friends’ and families’ savings. ”

Peter Minton | Founder & President, Minton Law Group, P.C.

 

Build Momentum First

“Crowdfunding campaigns can become “stale” over time, much like a house that has been on the real estate market for a while loses luster. Make sure to launch your campaign after having folks commit to participate, and then try to schedule a dripfeed of interesting news throughout your campaign. Show momentum — everyone wants to back a winner!”

Aaron Schwartz | Founder and CEO, Modify Watches

 

Tap Into the Power of Video

“If you’re looking to crowdfund a new idea I’m going to assume you’ve done your research and have determined it’s a good route to take. Many crowdfunding success stories have said a great video was key to their success. A study by Econsultancy said people are 97% more likely to buy your product after watching a video of it. That’s huge!”

Natalie MacNeil | Emmy Award Winning Media Entrepreneur, She Takes on the World

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Develop a Network of Influencers

“Crowdfunding websites are simply funding platforms. That means you can’t rely on them to market and find funders for your venture. You’ll need to do your own marketing and develop critical mass to get your project funded. Increase your chances of getting crowdfunded by developing a strong network with plenty of influencers.”

Benjamin Leis | Founder, Sweat EquiTees

 

Build Your Own Platform Instead

“Follow Lockitron and App.net’s path. They built their own platform to crowdfund, and it worked — so now they don’t have to share a percentage. Lockitron even recently opensourced the code to do so. Check it out here: http://selfstarter.us.”

Ben Lang | Founder, Mapped In Israel

 

If You Almost-Build It, They May (Still) Come!

“For physical products, I think crowdfunding presents a unique opportunity to test a market before spending on inventory. That alone is a great reason to build a campaign to sell something that you’re fairly sure the market will love. That said, get as far into the design/build process as possible, so potential customers know you’re serious, and so you identify challenges/costs early.”

Derek Shanahan | Marketing, Playerize

 

Plan Your Next Move

“It’s important to have clear plans for how you will use the funds you raise and how you will sustain your success. Be sure that the funds you raise can serve to launch a profitable venture.”

Lisa Nicole Bell | Founder/CEO, Inspired Life Media Group

 

Only Raise What You Need

“Despite the big numbers that often grab headlines, most companies don’t need millions of dollars to build a minimum viable prototype (MVP). Spend as little as possible to validate your business idea and then you can attract more capital on better terms. ”

Robert J. Moore | Co-Founder and CEO, RJMetrics

 

My Advice? Don’t!

“Your ability to raise money on crowdfunding sites is not correlated in any way to your ability to run a business. If you need outside financing, force yourself to raise money from professional investors — have the door slammed on you a few times! Crowdfunding is “safe,” but a first-time entrepreneur needs to experience hardship, and understand what experienced investors look for in a business.”

Sunil Rajaraman | CEO/Co-Founder, Scripted.com

So what’s this Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference?

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Chicago Startup Project Travel Launches Peerfunding For Students For Educational Travel

ProjectTravel,Chicago Startup,Startup LaunchIt seems that more and more things we did as younger students are making their way to online platforms. Memphis startup Boosterville is disrupting the school fundraiser and bringing it online and to the mobile phone.  Gradfly is helping students manage their online portfolio.  Boston startup Abroad101 is the trip advisor for students studying abroad, and that’s just a few.

Now, a Chicago startup called ProjectTravel has launched their crowdfunding platform to the public.

ProjectTravel allows students that are going on educational trips to crowdfund that trip well beyond their tiny network of local family members who have been left holding the boot.

“We help students take an active role in affording their program when financial aid and scholarships aren’t enough,” said Jennifer Thomas, Project Travel Founder & CEO. “Financial barriers should not block a motivated person from having an educational travel experience.”

Project Travel partners with academic institutions, non-profit and third-party program providers to help more students and program participants go abroad, while directly advising them on how to successfully peer-fund and offering online international education resources. The fundraising platform launched its private beta in January 2013 and has been honing the online experience for travelers in preparation for its public launch. Taking advantage of current web design trends and online crowd-funding best practices, the platform offers a user-friendly way for Project Starters to connect with potential donors and supporters.

 

Thomas has just completed an extensive beta test of the platform and sure enough there is wide interest. Now the “peer funding” site is launched and anyone who is raising money and support for educational travel experience through a school or organization can use the platform. To Project Travel, educational travel includes: studying abroad, volunteering, interning, teaching, service language, language and cultural exchanges and much more.

 

Project Travel vets all of the applicants before their projects show up on the site but they’ve left the criteria incredibly open ended so almost anyone can take advantage of it that has a legitimate educational travel mission planned.

 

You can find out more about Project Travel here. 

 

Check out this other recently launches Chicago travel startup BTSocial, the social network for business travelers.

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Jacksonville Startup EventHash Is Tracking OneSpark’s Social Graph [video][onespark]

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According to Elton Rivas, co-founder and executive director of OneSpark, since Wednesdawy there have been nearly 80,000 people on the streets of downtown Jacksonville. By our non scientific estimate we dare to say he is probably right on!

So with 80,000 people on the ground and just as many keeping up with The World’s Crowdfunding Festival back home, that’s a lot of social media mentions.

Luckily, Jacksonville startup EventHash, which just launched Tuesday night, is here to help. EventHash co-founder Brett Erpel has a team of five on the ground navigating through the mass of people while the EventHash system tracks the rest.

We’ve seen a ton of social media dashboards here at nibletz.com but none really give such a robust picture as EventHash and none have their platform set up in a native mobile app that functions as well as the web platform.

EventHash shows the latest tweets, the users, topics, and even the hash tags that are trending. The system ranks users by how many times a user is mentioned, not how many times a user tweets.

EventHash also has a media data stream that shows the latest pics from an event. They round the platform out with a graph that shows peaks and valleys as related to the social graph. Finally they can show a geolocation graph that shows how many tweets are coming from where.

All of this information is extremely valuable to an event organizer. Having real time access to these analytics is vital to changing and improving the course of an events social graph during an event. The data available after an event is a great case study for any event organizer.

Check out the video below and for more info visit eventhash.com

We’ve got even more OneSpark coverage here!

Crowdfunding Creates Great Customer Base

Crowdfunding,startuptips,guest post,startup,seedinvest,seedinvest.com

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Drive Revenue, Customer Development Through Crowdfunding

One of the biggest advantages to raising funds through kickstarter is the potentially broad community of backers formed around the fundraising campaign.  These backers create an instant base of potential beta testers, early adopters, customers, suppliers, evangelists, and twitter followers (and retweeters).

New and established companies should consider how crowdfunding can be used to generate revenue (as opposed to investment).  People who have skin in the game, even a small amount, are much more likely to be loyal customers, give valuable feedback, refer you to new customers, and help the company in countless other ways.

Here are some scenarios that we could see playing out:

1)  Growth Stage Startups: A startup like Birchbox with over 100,000 subscribers closes a $25 million Series C financing round.  It then allows each of its customers the opportunity to participate in a $1M crowdfunding follow-on round on the same economic terms.  Their current customers would be thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in the upside of the Company and, with skin in the game, would be more likely to recommend the product to their friends, give feedback, and help the company.  More people would want to become customers in order to be part of the “club.” Also, because this would be a follow-on to a venture backed investment, many of the concerns about fraud are minimized.

2)  Local Franchise Businesses:  A local business like Vezzo allows everyone within its zip code to participate in a crowdfunding round for purposes of opening a new store.  Local investors will become local customers and evangelists and suddenly the pizza stores have hundreds of new local people financially incentivized to promote the new and current pizza stores.

3) Early Stage Startups Requiring Critical Mass:  Some businesses (particularly social media) don’t work without a critical mass of users (see facebooktwitter, foursquare, quantia MD, quora, lawpivot, etc.) to create network effects.  Even if a company is capable of raising money through the traditional angel or VC route, it may actually prefer to go with a crowdfunding round in order to gain access to this potential early user base.  After a successful crowdfunding round, the company would be able to tap into hundreds or thousands of early adopter types with skin in the game, forming the necessary critical mass.

4) Early Stage Startup Customer Development: One of the key tenets of Steve Blank’s customer development principles is to get customer validation prior to going through the expense of creating a product.  You would do this through surveys, landing pages, mock screen shots, and letter of intents where potential customers agreed to be early users.  Getting a customer to invest in a product before it is created may be the best way to validate the product before it is created and will be a great indicator on whether a customer would buy, or at least try, a product once created.

The feasibility of each of these scenarios is highly dependent on the rules that the SEC ultimately comes down with on what can be contained in a crowdfunding notice and how it may be delivered.

What else?  How else could crowdfunding be used to generate revenue?

This post originally appeared on the seedinvest blog one of our great content partners. Check out the whole seedinvest blog here.