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May 13th, 2019

Hazel Butters

Crowdfunding scientific research: Interview with Experiment

Crowdfunding scientific research: Interview with Experiment

“Our mission is to create a world where anyone can be a scientist”

Crowdfunding scientific research: Interview with Experiment

Cindy Wu, co-founder, Experiment

We interviewed Cindy Wu, co-founder of Experiment, a platform for discovering, funding and sharing science. With one of the coolest mission statements we’ve heard: “to create a world where anyone can be a scientist”, Experiment enables scientists of every professional level to fund research – accelerating scientific discoveries through collaboration and information-sharing.  Cindy answered some questions about Experiment and shared some of her thoughts on crowdfunding.

What sets Experiment apart from other crowdfunding platforms?

CW: “Experiment was built for science and scientists. This is a place on the internet for people to propose research projects and for people to fund research projects. The reward for backers is the process and result of the research project, so we don’t support tangible rewards. Our mission is to create a world where anyone can be a scientist.”

When did Experiment launch?  Can you share any insight into its creation – what need or gap did you see in the market?

CW: “We launched in April 2012. The vision to create Experiment started when I was 19 and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) awarded me a grant for young scientists who have no research experience. During the year that HHMI funded me, I worked on designing new immunotherapies by engineering immune cells. That summer, I also worked with a team of undergraduates to design a new anthrax therapeutic. Denny (Luan, co-founder of Experiment) and I published the research in a peer-reviewed journal and the army is now doing follow-up studies.

“After designing the new anthrax therapeutic, I discovered the drug could also be used as an antibiotic for generic infections. When I asked my professor where I could find $5-10K to test out my hypothesis, he told me: “the system doesn’t fund people like you.” The funders today are so conservative that they only fund the most obvious ideas– and certainly not ones from undergraduate students that don’t have a PhD.

“We initially built Experiment for ourselves, but quickly found that early stage funding for ideas was just as big of a problem for tenured faculty. The initial idea for Experiment was inspired by Denny’s involvement as a University of Washington campus leader for Kiva.org, building a Kiva for science.”

How would you advise individuals or entrepreneurs to select the crowdfunding platform that will serve them best, from such a crowded market of compelling options?

CW: “Do your research. Understand what types of projects each platforms support. There is a difference between funding platforms that support tangible rewards and platforms that don’t support tangible rewards. Understand if tangible rewards make sense for your project.

“During a crowdfunding campaign you want to make sure that you get all the data you need to be successful. Look for platforms that provide you with analytics. Who is visiting your site and from what sources? This should be in real-time. It is unlikely any of the larger platforms will do marketing for you, but you should look at how big their community is and what percentage are repeat donors.

“Many platforms have lots of one time donors that are very unlikely to donate to your project. Check on this beforehand so you set your expectations for how much your team will need to raise.

“If you are running a larger campaign you may want to contract a team to help you. When looking ask these teams for past examples of crowdfunding campaigns they’ve helped with and set clear expectations of what they would be responsible for.”

Can you give us an idea of a typical successful project idea for your crowdfunding platform?

CW: “Projects on Experiment are well-defined research projects. The project has a clear plan to try to answer a specific research question. An ideal project has a way to engage the backers in the science, but is not required. This is an ideal project: experiment.com/gmoexperiment

How important is the choice of platform for any given crowdfunding campaign or potential project?

CW: “It is important especially if you want to utilize the platform to keep your donors engaged until the end of the project. Delivery and engagement are just as important as raising the money if you want to keep a loyal community. Many less popular or newer platforms only do a good job of providing a payment platform for your project. Think about your project as a long term investment. If you are going to be sticking with this one platform to keep your donors updated and eventually share the final outcomes with your community you will want to choose wisely. Think about what you need for your community to be successful and research which platforms support your project best.”

What is the single thing that you find yourself repeating to first-time crowdfunders or wishing that people knew before they go live with a crowdfunding project?

CW: “Crowdfunding always starts with your friends and family. It is close to impossible for your project to be funded entirely by strangers on the internet. People have this misconception that people on the internet will just find the project and give. This rarely happens. Most traffic is self-directed or directed to the project page through some effort put in by the team. There are clear techniques that can be replicated for projects, but you must put in the work to get the return.”

What features, functions or services do you offer that sets you apart from other platforms? What are your fees?

CW: “We support research projects only. We also work well with academic institutions which are often hard to navigate. Scientists do not give tangible rewards in return for donations, scientists share the scientific research process through what we call ‘Lab Notes’ on Experiment. Scientist are able to use the Lab Notes forever for free to keep their community engaged and updated. We also have a Journal where scientists can publish their results for their community at experiment.com/journal. Each project also receives a digital object identifier (DOI number), so that other scientists can cite a specific project.  We take an 8% fee if a project is fully funded. Experiment is an all-or-nothing funding platform.”

 Check out Experiment at: www.experiment.com, read updates and news at http://blog.experiment.com/, follow Experiment  on Facebook and follow @lets_experiment on Twitter.

Some stats from Experiment*:

Amount pledged to date: $6,285,138

Researchers: 6,623     Live projects: 68     Lab notes published: 4,936

Backers: 26,727      Repeat backers: 1,482

Average pledge size: $162

Launched projects: 1,136     Funded projects: 481

*As of May 13, 2016

 

 

 

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May 10th, 2016

Hazel Butters

Is the all or nothing crowdfunding approach a good thing, or seriously flawed?

Is the all or nothing crowdfunding approach a good thing, or seriously flawed?

In previous posts we’ve covered the concept of all or nothing crowdfunding and shared several Kickstarter stats.

For some people, the combination of these two things can lead to the question: Is the ‘all or nothing’ crowdfunding approach a good thing, or seriously flawed?

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Kickstarter, and seeing that Kickstarter’s only funding mechanism is ‘all or nothing’, you’d be right in guessing that I have no beef with it. But I understand why some people may interpret it as ‘unfair’ – that all that work and effort and even if you’re short by 50 cents then you walk away with nothing. Zero. Zip.

It’s a tough call for many first-time crowdfunders. The promise, and safety-net, of ‘keep what you get’ funding can be tempting. While the ‘nothing’ of all or nothing can be a real driver – both for those running the campaign and for its backers.

The crowdfunding ‘flavor’ that you pick really depends on the project you are launching and the audiences you want to connect with. But for certain types of projects there is evidence that suggests that ‘all or nothing’ can lead to a higher success rate.

In 2014 York University in Toronto and Université Lille Nord de France collaborated and analyzed tens of thousands of Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns seeking to raise between $5,000 and $20,000 to compare the success of all or nothing campaigns compared to keep what you get (both of which can be run on Indiegogo). The findings? That if you’re after funding, then ‘all or nothing’ is the way to go.

The researchers found that 34 percent of the ‘all or nothing’ campaigns reached their funding goals compared to 17 percent for the ‘keep what you get’ campaigns. A statistic which I thought was interesting was the number of backers attracted, with an average of 188 backers attracted to ‘all or nothing’ campaigns, while the ‘keep what you get’ campaigns attracted an average of 73 backers.

So the conclusion – from this (yes, single) study would be that ‘all or nothing’ campaigns are statistically more successful. In the following posts we’ll look at some of the potential reasons. all or nothing crowdfunding approach

If you have a question about funding or crowdfunding that we may be able to help with, then sign up for a free advisory session to see if we can help you and share our experiences of crowdfunding campaigns.

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March 10th, 2016

PromptBoston

Crowdfunding Campaign PR: An Interview with Mitch Rosenberg, KinderLab Robotics

Crowdfunding Campaign PR: An Interview with Mitch Rosenberg, KinderLab Robotics

Mitch Rosenberg is the CEO and co-founder of KinderLab Robotics – a Boston-based company that’s created a developmentally-appropriate robot kit, KIBO, to help teach programming concepts to four- to seven year olds.

KIBO was funded on Kickstarter. We worked with the KinderLab Robotics team on crowdfunding content, blog content, social media content and working with the press to secure briefings and coverage with The New York TimesForbesBoing BoingGizmag,BostInnoBoston Business Journal and more.

KinderLab Robotics continues to work with the team at Prompt to share its vision, growth and successes.

We sat down with CEO and co-founder Mitch Rosenberg to talk a bit about his experience. See what he had to say about us below.

Why did you work with Prompt?

Mitch Rosenberg: Well, I went to a lot of firms in the Boston area. When we founded our company, we knew we were going to get it moving via Kickstarter. I asked many of the firms that are well-known in the area if they would sign up to help us publicize that Kickstarter, and most of them said no.

In contrast, Prompt came up with a very effective and creative approach for publicizing our company and a very creative way of financing it so we could afford it even as an early startup.  Because Prompt was unique in its ability to provide support for Kickstarter, we felt that it was a great fit for us.

So, we chose Prompt because it demonstrated a results-based program that was specifically designed for crowdfunding-based campaigns. Prompt worked with us on our successful Kickstarter campaign, and gave us valuable advice about our target audiences, helped us work with the press and created excellent copywriting. The Prompt team has a strong process, works methodically, and delivers results.

What results have you seen from working with Prompt?

Mitch: Working with Prompt, we have been featured in articles in The New York Times (more than once), Forbes, The Huffington Post, and many other local and radio media outlets and we’re very happy with the results.

And in addition to the media side, the Prompt team was instrumental in creating a social media presence for us that resulted in a wide variety of inquiries and sales. In summary, the results have been both prolific and business meaningful for us. We’ve gotten a lot of business because of our marketing with Prompt.

What has your experience been working with Prompt?

Mitch: The process working with Prompt has been really professional and fun. We have regular meetings, Prompt supplies us with a dashboard of statistics of how the various projects that we’re working on are fairing and we’re really happy with both the tone and results of working with Prompt.

Would you recommend Prompt?

Mitch: We highly recommend Prompt – especially for young and fast growing startups. But also for any innovative companies looking to make their presence known in the marketplaces they’re doing business in.

Interested in ensuring your crowdfunding campaign’s success? Check out our Crowdfunding Success 60-Day Program which leads you step-by-step on how we set up, run, manage and publicize crowdfunding campaigns.

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May 29th, 2015

Hazel Butters

New enrollment period now open: Launch your First Crowdfunding Campaign Success Blueprint Program

New enrollment period now open: Launch your First Crowdfunding Campaign Success Blueprint Program

If you are crowdfunding, it’s important to plan and execute it as a product launch to get maximum impact and drive business (and personal) success. Let us guide you, step-by-step, with our proven 15-part part system that has helped successful rewards- and donation-based crowdfunding campaigns to raise funds from $70,000 to $215,000.

This program contains everything you need in order to plan and run a crowdfunding campaign, including: ready-made content, templates, worksheets and resources. Topic covered include how to create a plan, hone your messaging, calculate financial goals, come up with engaging rewards, work with the press, create compelling content, identify key audiences, attract supporters – and transform them to customers and fans! These are key activities to not just support your crowdfunding, but to build your future business.

Click here for more details or email us at crowd@prompt-communications.com with any questions at all.

Next enrollment opens June 8 for the program starting June 15 2015.

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March 17th, 2015

PromptBoston

Prompt to the rescue: New crowdfunding PR packages

Prompt to the rescue: New crowdfunding PR packages

Crowdfunding can be exhilarating with ups and downs against the backdrop of constant momentum. That’s why the team here at Prompt loves working on crowdfunding journeys.

Over the years, we’ve worked on many rewards and donation-based campaigns (think Kickstarter and Indiegogo, though there are plenty of others to choose from) campaigns to help bring innovative, creative and fun products, services and offerings to new audiences. We may come out the other side of a campaign a little tired, but never worse for wear – and with even more ideas and experience.

We’ve spent a long time bringing together all of our hard-earned crowdfunding expertise and created the perfect package – the Crowdfunding Rescue PR Package. It’s a step-by-step public relations program designed specifically forcrowdfunding campaigns.

We’ll provide you with a detailed review of current communication, media and PR activities – because you can’t get anywhere without proper analysis and planning. Then we’ll get going on coaching calls, Q&A sessions and some pre-made templates to nail down messaging, content, goals, media engagement best practices and ultimately, a customized launch plan.

Intrigued? Check it out here – you won’t want to hit launch without us.

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January 23rd, 2015

Hazel Butters

Crowdfunding platforms A-Z (part three): Examples from Quirky to ZIIBRA

Crowdfunding platforms A-Z (part three): Examples from Quirky to ZIIBRA

Over the past week we’ve been counting down the crowdfunding options A-Z. If you missed A-P, be sure to scroll back through this week’s blog posts here. As for Q-Z, here we go:

  1. Quirky. A site geared to support inventors of new gadgets, Quirky provides community collaboration, as well as funding for selected projects. It then manufactures and sells the products. quirky.com
  1. Razoo. This site offers donation-based crowdfunding for ‘causes that make a difference’. It provides widgets, social media integration and an iPhone app to help publicize campaigns. razoo.com
  1. RocketHub. Calling itself “the world’s crowdfunding machine,” this site offers donation-based crowdfunding for social, charitable, business and creative projects. rockethub.com
  1. SellaBand. Another donation-based site helping musicians to raise funds from fans. Customize your funding page or create your own stand-alone pages to embed on other websites. sellaband.com
  1. SelfStarter. Started by a group that was turned down by Kickstarter, this open source solution lets self-starters build their own crowdfunding platform. It’s low cost, but takes some work. selfstarter.us
  1. Somolend. A debt-based crowdfunding site helping small, established bricks-and-mortar US businesses raise funds from friends, family, customers and accredited investors. somolend.com
  1. StartupCrowdfunding. Connects startup companies with funding from investors and angels worldwide. startupcrowdfunding.com
  1. ZIIBRA. Just as farmers markets bring ethical food producers and discerning consumers closer together to share the things they enjoy, ZIIBRA helps artists and other creative types get closer to the people that love, support and buy the products they make. ziibra.com/

Remember, that we know there are many options to consider before launching your own crowdfunding project and it can be daunting – so sign up for one of our Sunday ’15 Ways to Increase your Crowdfunding Campaign Success’ webinars, which run live every Sunday at 11am ET/ 4pm GMT. To your crowdfunding campaign success!

 

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January 21st, 2015

Hazel Butters

Crowdfunding platforms A-Z (part two): Examples from IgnitionDeck to PledgeMusic

Crowdfunding platforms A-Z (part two): Examples from IgnitionDeck to PledgeMusic

If you were here earlier this week, then you know that there are thousands of crowdfunding sites to choose from. On Monday, we went over A-H and today we’re making it all the way to P. Be sure to check back Friday for all your options A-Z.

  1. IgnitionDeck. Provides all the tools to run your own crowdfunding campaign on your own WordPress website. You get a plugin with widgets, in-depth admin panels, customizable themes and e-mail integration. ignitiondeck.com
  1. Indiegogo. One of the most popular donation-based general crowdfunding sites, Indiegogo supports product development, music or film projects and charitable causes. indiegogo.com
  1. Invested.in. Create your own donation-based crowdfunding site using this platform. It works with a range of businesses, charities and individuals. invested.in
  1. Kickstarter. Still the best-known crowdfunding site, Kickstarter is focused on donation-based funding for technology and innovation products, as well as creative projects including art, music and film. It does not allow charitable or personal causes. kickstarter.com
  1. Kiva. A debt-based crowdfunding site that provides microfinance loans for people in third-world countries without access to bank loans. Help a farmer in Rwanda buy seeds. kiva.com
  1. MicroVentures. An equity-based site helping startups raise money from angel investors. It performs due diligence on all startups, and lets contributors invest as little as $3,000. microventures.com
  1. PeerBackers. Funding big ideas including entrepreneurial, civic and creative projects, PeerBackers works with businesses at all stages to provide consultancy and education. peerbackers.com
  1. PledgeMusic. Helping “fans become part of the music-making experience” by using donation and reward-based crowdfunding to fund the careers of musicians. pledgemusic.com

If you’d like to talk more about crowdfunding, what makes a campaign successful and to pick up hints and tips from our team, then sign up for one of our Sunday ’15 Ways to Increase your Crowdfunding Campaign Success’ webinars, which run at 11am ET/ 4pm GMT.

 

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January 19th, 2015

PromptBoston

Crowdfunding platforms A-Z (part one): Examples from AngelList to GoGetFunding

Crowdfunding platforms A-Z (part one): Examples from AngelList to GoGetFunding

There are thousands of crowdfunding sites out there. New ones appear every week, while others melt into the background or simply evaporate. So we thought we’d compose an alphabetical snapshot of some of the best of the current batch of platforms available. We’ve covered a wide variety of business models, including equity, reward and some original approaches for owners and backers. Come back later this week for more.

If you’d like to talk more about crowdfunding, what makes a campaign successful and to pick up hints and tips from our team, then sign up for one of our Sunday ’15 Ways to Increase your Crowdfunding Campaign Success’ webinars, which run at 11am ET/ 4pm GMT.

Meanwhile, here’s some ideas of different platforms out of the hundreds and hundreds out there:

  1. AngelList. An equity-based crowdfunding site focused on technology startups that have already raised at least $100,000 in seed funding. Contributors, aka angel investors, are accredited investors and institutions. angel.com
  1. CircleUp. Planned as one of the first JOBS Act sites this equity site handles angel investing, mostly for small businesses in the food industry or consumer products. circleup.com
  1. CrowdFunder. With a large network of accredited and angel investors, this equity-based site was a leading backer of the JOBS act. It focuses on small businesses and startup companies. crowdfunder.com
  1. CrowdRise. Helping charities raise donation funding, CrowdRise primarily helps non-profit groups dealing with issues of disease and inadequate education, as well as more personal causes. crowdrise.com
  1. CrowdSupply. If your project makes a physical, shippable product then CrowdSupply can help you raise funds via pre-orders, as well as sales in its e-commerce store once manufacture is complete. crowdsupply.com
  1. FundingCircle. A debt-based site helping small businesses looking to raise up to $500,000. It connects them with non-traditional lenders such as accredited investors seeking investment opportunities. fundingcircle.com
  1. Fundable. Another leading backer of the JOBS act, this site has a strong technology focus and uses both donation and equity models to get your campaign moving. fundable.com
  1. Fundly. This site lets you raise money for pretty much anything. Set up a custom donation web page that works on its mobile app and integrates with Facebook to help spread the social word. fundly.com
  1. Gambitious. Focused on game creation, this site requires developers to submit a business plan. Contributors can donate for perks or get equity if both they and the company are located within the EU. gambitious.com
  1. GoFundMe. This donation-based site helps you raise money for a charitable cause, or for personal campaigns such as medical bills, funeral expenses or education. It offers plenty of social media integration to help with social word-of-mouth. gofundme.com
  1. GoGetFunding. A UK-based site developed to raise donated funds for local charities and personal causes, such as medical bills or legal funds. gogetfunding.com
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January 11th, 2015

Hazel Butters

Hazel Butters – come and join our crowdfunding webinar:

Hazel Butters – come and join our crowdfunding webinar:

Please join us to learn how to increase the success of your crowdfunding campaign and register for the crowdfunding webinar on Sunday at 4pm ET (11am GMT) by clicking here

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October 7th, 2014

Hazel Butters

Crowdfunding: Real-world testing

Crowdfunding: Real-world testing

Prompt-PR-Sign-Up-CTA_revisedCrowdfunding concepts can be wonderful things that seize moments, spark imaginations and capture the zeitgeist. But let’s face it, they can also be flawed imaginings that miss the mark, fail to float and sink without trace.

One of the pitfalls of crowdfunding can be that many of these ideas – wonderful or otherwise – are only shown to a test group of friends and family before being thrown to the crowd for approval. There is an obvious flaw with this process that too many potential startups continue to learn in the hardest way possible.

It all comes down to a lack of objectivity. You love your project, and have been so wrapped up it for months or years, that you lost any objectivity towards it a long time ago. You’ll deny this of course; you’ll even have a thorough mental list of the only faults that others might potentially see in your design, and another equally thorough list of bulletproof responses to all those accusations. And then of course there is your domestic test group itself. They love you (mostly) and so they love your project (sort of), and whatever reservations they may have about its practicality and real-world brilliance, they won’t want to hurt your feelings (much). So they might hesitate and suggest it could be better if it were a little smaller or bluer (rather obvious criticisms which of course you’ll already have ready-made responses for). But very rarely will your sibling or best friend look you in the face and tell you straight that it’s a terrible idea and that you are wasting your time with this design.

Sadly the result of such an overly comfortable soft launch and worthless sensitive advice can be truly harmful. You’ll feel invigorated, joyfully create your project page, throw your beautiful project to the crowd, and watch as it is either savaged and ripped apart or – worse still – totally ignored and starved of attention.

So here’s the rub. Whoever you are and whatever idea you’ve come up with, please assume that your project isn’t perfect. None of them are, frankly. Don’t go completely overboard and lose confidence in it entirely, but do contemplate the idea that it might possibly be improved, and that you may have missed something important that could just be the difference between successful funding and abject failure.

What you should do instead, if you’re brave and sensible, is present your idea to a truly objective group of people with a relevant mixture of talents and experience. That you aren’t related to. Who are not your friends. And who have nothing to gain or to lose whether your idea is great or a disaster. Before you go to the crowd, you must first find at least one objective test-bed to provide you with two invaluable things: honest feedback, and a new-found willingness to listen to that feedback and act with detachment.

You may find a useful test-bed for your project presentation in many places, but a local small-business networking event often works very well. One that you’ve not attended for long enough to build relationships at of course. If you’re feeling braver still, then why not consider presenting to a number of different groups of people? Students at a college perhaps. Or residents at a retirement home, a staff room at a school, the canteen of nearby factory, a local interest group of some kind. Remember to tailor the audiences you choose by their relevance to your potential market, and not because they might be less scary – scary is good!

So please try and be courageous and risk a little rejection and hurtful criticism in the short term – ultimately it will help your brainchild to grow up big, strong and successful, without having to take its very first steps in front of that unforgiving crowd…

Have a crowdfunding campaign you are working on? Fill in the form below Click here to to receive your free crowdfunding starter kit

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August 13th, 2014

Hazel Butters

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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August 11th, 2014

Hazel Butters

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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Posted in Crowdfunding, Kickstarter, PR Practices | Comments Off on Crowdfunding: Accentuate the rewards and eliminate the risks