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August 26th, 2014

Germany – the land of printed books?

Germany – the land of printed books?

When Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450, it marked the start of a new era. The new invention allowed books to be easily duplicated. From now on access to the classical writings were not only limited to clergy and nobility but gradually expanded to a continuously growing audience. Now fast forward to the new millennium: The launch of the e-book about 600 years later has made printing almost obsolete; the product innovation has changed the reading habits of millions of people across the globe, in particular in America, where e-book sales have already overtaken paperback sales.DACH flags

But what about Germany, the birthplace of the printed book? According to a survey conducted by the internet platform deals.com, 93 percent of all participants stated that they still read print books, only 38 percent said that they would also read e-books. This is a relatively small percentage given the fact that 46 percent of all participants stated that they enjoyed audio books. When it comes to newspapers and magazines, Germans still prefer the print version with their morning coffee: A whopping 95 percent admitted to reading the print version.

Although e-book sales have increased by 77 percent in 2013, they only make up 1 percent of all book sales, the market research institute GfK reported. But why are German consumers so reluctant to e-books? First and foremost, it’s a cultural issue: Books are more deeply ingrained in the German way of life than elsewhere. Books and bookshops are ubiquitous in the daily life. Germans like the sound of paper and the smell of fresh ink.

Many Germans might still be reaching for the paperback for a more economic reason. The German book market is regulated by a fixed book pricing – the so called Buchpreisbindung – which requires all German booksellers to abide by the prices publishers set, so the little corner bookshop can compete with the international retail giant. In Germany, print books are exempt from the standard 19 percent value-added tax and subject to a 7 percent tax instead. E-books, however, are not exempt and are notably pricier.

Digital reading might not be as popular as in many other nations (yet), but modern devices such as smartphones and tablets definitely are. With their strive for technical innovation it is just a matter of time until technophile Germans trade in their hefty tomes for a featherweight e-book.

If you’re a German, Austrian, or Swiss company that wants to launch into the UK or US markets – or a company looking to launch and get more traction in the  DACH region, then email us at dach@prompt-pr.com.

By the way, we speak your language!

Wenn Sie ein deutsches, österreichisches oder Schweizer Unternehmen sind, dass am britischen oder US-amerikanischen Markt Fuß fassen möchte – oder ein Unternehmen, das seine Präsenz in der DACH Region ausbauen will, dann kontaktieren Sie uns doch unter dach@prompt-pr.com

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August 15th, 2014

Achtung, start-up alert!

Achtung, start-up alert!

Silicon Valley was yesterday. Now say hello to Silicon Allee. Frankfurt may be Germany’s financial capital and Hamburg the country’s media hotspot, but when it comes to founding new tech start-ups Berlin is definitely the place to be.

With almost 3,000 start-ups and hundreds of millions of euros in investment, Berlin is rapidly gaining a reputation as Europe’s most exciting innovation hub. IT giants Google and Microsoft are rushing to the German capital where tech companies such as SoundCloud, ResearchGate, Wooga and 6WunderKinder have become the face of the city’s start-up success.

But why is Berlin so popular with young entrepreneurs and professionals? Certainly its comparatively cheap rents and utilities make the German capital a desirable location when choosing the right spot for a new venture. But economic reasoning alone does not drive flocks of business-savvy tech geeks to the once divided city. For many of them, Berlin is also a cultural Mecca where traditional arts meet new innovations. A hotspot of contemporary art and music, a rich variety of restaurants and an internationally acclaimed clubbing scene, the multicultural melting pot attracts young and highly educated people, providing the perfect soil for pioneering spirit and innovative ideas.

In the city once described as “poor but sexy” by its mayor Klaus Wowereit about a decade ago, tech related sales now contribute more than nine billion Euro per year. And the booming start-up scene is also bringing good news to the job market. According to McKinsey & Company, start-ups are expected to deliver more than 100,000 new jobs to the capital city by 2020.

As a native German speaker working at Prompt working for DACH-based software and for American software companies that are ramping up their PR presence in DACH, I’m really pleased to see how the region is transforming.

If you’re a German, Austrian, or Swiss company that wants to launch into the UK or US markets – or a company looking to launch and get more traction in the  DACH region, then email us at dach@prompt-pr.com.

By the way, we speak your language!

Wenn Sie ein deutsches, österreichisches oder Schweizer Unternehmen sind, dass am britischen oder US-amerikanischen Markt Fuß fassen möchte – oder ein Unternehmen, das seine Präsenz in der DACH Region ausbauen will, dann kontaktieren Sie uns doch unter dach@prompt-pr.com

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Posted in Technology | Comments Off on Achtung, start-up alert!



August 13th, 2014

Crowdfunding: Kickstarter is not the only fruit(ful way to fund your business)

Crowdfunding: Kickstarter is not the only fruit(ful way to fund your business)

The crowdfunding model is proving to be a spectacular success, boosting the prospects of tens of thousands of entrepreneurs while growing into a $5 billion industry. But despite conservative estimates that today’s business visionaries now have more than 450 different crowdfunding platforms to choose from, the vast majority of people still think that crowdfunding is synonymous with Kickstarter.

Now, Kickstarter is certainly a stunning platform. After five years in operation it has reportedly received over $1 billion in pledges from 5.7 million supporters backing over 135,000 projects. But it certainly isn’t the only game in town, and chances are that Kickstarter might not be the best match crowdfunding platform for your own project’s structure, audience, rewards, subject matter, ambition, location, financial model, equity structure, ethics – you name it. For example, you can’t use Kickstarter if you plan on giving money or goods directly to a charitable cause.

Fortunately you are only one fun afternoon’s online hunting expedition away from flushing out your perfect crowdfunding partner. Nail down your top priorities, get your fingers at the keyboard, and bag yourself that dream platform. To get you started, I thought I’d share some of the more interesting models out there to give you a little inspiration.  If you’re coming to our one-day crowdfunding comms and PR workshop on September 5 in Boston then we’ll be covering a number of these – and how to build a solid PR and marketing plan – in more detail.

  • Indiegogo – One of the very first crowdfunding sites and perhaps Kickstarter’s closest rival, Indiegogo is still the go-to platform for many start-ups and charity projects. It gets nearly ten million visits every month and runs on an investor/reward model that will pretty familiar to fans of the big K.  The most obvious difference is that Indiegogo offers project owners the choice to bag partial funding even if their initial goal isn’t hit – however Indiegogo does then take a greater slice of the pot
  • RocketHub – Another platform that offers the opportunity to take out funds even if goals aren’t realized, RocketHub is building somewhat of a reputation as a hothouse of community, arts, science and socially aware projects. Perhaps most interestingly, a recent partnership with US media company A&E Networks and the launch of ‘Project Startup’ can mean big exposure for some lucky project owners, and perhaps even direct funding from A&E itself
  • Fundable – Boasting $137 million in funding to date, Fundable does things a little differently. It’s a business-oriented platform focused on driving capital injections and even allows you to offer equity rather than rewards if that’s what you’re looking for. The Fundable team is very hands on with project owners and doesn’t take a cut from successfully funded projects, but it does charge you $99 a month in return for its training and marketing efforts
  • Razoo – One of an alternate breed of crowdfunding platforms focused exclusively on the needs of non-profits, Razoo has enabled nearly 90,000 fundraising projects to see the light of day, helping them to raise over $230 million to date. It’s free to start a fundraiser, visibility is particularly high in the US, but Razoo is still a business (even with a heart) and it will still take 4.9% of all donations for itself
  • Seedrs – As its name suggests Seedrs’ model helps financially sophisticated startups raise seed capital from independent investors as well as closer contacts like friends and families. The hope is that investors will be there to offer advice, mentoring and advocacy for early-stage businesses as well as raw capital. Equity purchases start as low as £10

These are just a few alternative options to the almighty Kickstarter. Remember there are hundreds of others out there filling pretty much every investment profile niche you can imagine. MoolaHoop focuses on female entrepreneurs, Trillion Fund favors renewables, Quirky likes whacky inventions, Unbound funds publishing projects, Gambitious rewards gaming developers, and appbackr… backs apps! You get the idea – let’s hope thousands of cash-rich investors get yours.


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Posted in Crowdfunding, Kickstarter | 1 Comment »



August 11th, 2014

Crowdfunding: Accentuate the rewards and eliminate the risks

Crowdfunding: Accentuate the rewards and eliminate the risks

You’ve thought long and hard about the amazing new product you’ll soon unleash on a waiting world. Creating a new crowdfunding project from just a blank template and a head crammed with ideas is a fantastic process of creativity, education, expectation and patience. But how can you help to encourage interest and pledges while doing your best to prevent that perfectly baked project from going stale?

Well, rewards and ways to say thanks, basically. Material (typically, at least) goodies promised in return for a stranger’s trust and belief in what you care for. But of course there’s more to it than that, as you might expect.

As a project creator, you’ll need to define a few parameters pretty early on – establish a funding goal, set a deadline, define the levels of pledges you are seeking, and agree on rewards for various levels of backers should your project succeed. Remember that funding on the majority of crowdfunding platforms – certainly Kickstarter – is still an all-or-nothing affair. If you hit your goal then you get your money, and the more momentum you can generate before that deadline whooshes past, the more funding will land on your desk at the end of it. But only if your project is compelling.

There are just three ways to make your crowdfunding punt convincing, and once again it’s an all-or-nothing route to success. Firstly, the product or service core to your business idea must be sparklingly brilliant – think bordering on sheer genius – a genuine solution to a genuine problem. Next, you’ll need to sell yourself and your associates as loveable, ethical, deserving entrepreneurs with hearts of gold and brains of silicon that mere mortals would be crazy not to hang out with. And finally, you’ll need to think loooong and hard about your pledge reward structure to ensure that your product pricing is spot on and that any extra bounty is perfectly pitched to appeal to your prospective backers.

Kickstarter claims that backing a project is more than just pledging funds to a creator – it’s pledging support to an idea that you want to see exist in the world. But it also recognizes the importance of rewards: “Some backers are just inspired by a new idea, while others are motivated to pledge by a project’s rewards — a copy of what’s being produced, a limited edition, or a custom experience related to the project.”

Of course only a project’s creator can judge rewards perfectly. But here are just a few tips to consider:

• Offer a very low entry-level pledge – you’ll be surprised by how many backers will pledge a dollar or two in return for a simple email of thanks or regular updates of the project’s progress
• Always offer the actual product or service made possible by the successfully funded project as a basic pledge reward – at a backer discount, naturally
• Be creative with tiered bundles in return for pledges. If you’ve created a new single garment that will revolutionize clothing as we know it, then make sure the whole family/class/town can secure a bulk discount in return for their belief in your madcap scheme, you crazy diamond
• Think about retailers, and maybe even wholesalers, by offering large packages of product at extremely preferential rates – perhaps complete with retail showcasing and marketing gumpf
• Be creative (again) and offer premium backers products that are customized, personalized, faster, lighter, brighter, greener, turbo-charged or tastier
• And have fun with your rewards – offer to call backers with thanks, stalk them on social media, deliver goods personally, name a product feature after them, tattoo their name on your forehead – whatever you think will work (and that you will be sure to fulfill!)

But it’s not all Kickstarter – in my next post I’ll be looking at the different crowdfunding sites…

Meanwhile, if you’re based on the East Coast of the US and are planning a launch on a crowdfunding site, please check out our one-day intensive PR workshop in Boston on September 5th.

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August 7th, 2014

Kickstarter woes: Coping with crickets, tumbleweed – and direct user feedback

Kickstarter woes: Coping with crickets, tumbleweed – and direct user feedback

Over the last few days I’ve spoken a great deal about crowdfunding, with a focus on Kickstarter, so thought I’d share a few thoughts about ‘crowdfunding fear’.

I’ve previously written about ‘launch jitters’ – that moment when a start-up team or entrepreneur has to unveil its project to the big, bad outside world.  It can be a terrifying moment.

TumbleweedTake that anxiety and add a boatload more scrutiny, remorseless user comments and sudden exposure to the industry limelight and you have yourself a crowdfunding launch.

On a basic level, that is what crowdfunding may initially deliver –intense scrutiny of everything you have worked to deliver. It can be very challenging, unforgiving, harsh and intimidating. And if you think that sounds unnerving, just think about the reverse experience – post-launch tumbleweed. You hit the launch button, brace yourself for the severest of comments, and instead there’s… nothing at all. Crickets!

This is why crowdfunding is never an easy option for the faint of heart. It’s raw, immediate, unpredictable and involves direct contact with users. And yet it’s also an amazing market in which to float your idea.

According to Massolution Crowdfunding Industry Reports, crowdfunding platforms raised $1.5 billion in 2011, $2.7 billion in 2012 and $5.1 billion in 2013.

Crowdfunding has transformed how start-ups and entrepreneurs choose to launch products. They can retain equity. The success and relevance of their product or service is not determined by a room of VCs or even a single investor but by their target audiences. And the sum they actually raise might easily exceed what they targeted – just think of projects such as Star Citizen ($500,000 goal versus $2.1million funded through Kickstarter and an additional $49 million as funding continued on the company’s website), Pebble ($100,000 versus $10.3 million) and OUYA ($950,000 versus $8.6 million).

You certainly need to have a lot of confidence to secure high-figure funding on a crowdfunding platform, but it’s not always about the money. Crowdfunding is also an amazing way to test a market. Just think how Canonical’s bid for $32 million to support the Ubuntu Edge phone really dipped more than a toe (it didn’t get funded). Crowdfunding sites can be just that – a great, low-cost yet far-reaching way to test a product or idea that has  immediate and unfiltered feedback.

In our next post we’ll be reviewing some ideas for pledges and rewards to encourage backers.

Meanwhile, if you’re based on the East Coast of the US and are planning a crowdfunding launch, please sign-upfor our one-day intensive PR workshop for potential crowdfunders on September 5th.


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