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May 13th, 2019

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 29th, 2015

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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May 8th, 2015




dividing line Prompt Byte

The how-to newsletter from Prompt PR

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Welcome…

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Happy Friday everybody and welcome to another edition of the Prompt Byte. We hope you’ve had a great week and are ready for some new tips.

This week, we talk about ‘social’ acceptable copy, the three things to focus on while gearing up for a product launch and having a good newsletter. And don’t forget – we want to hear your Geek Speak guesses! Get in touch on Twitter.

Happy reading,

Hazel

Hazel Butters

CEO

Prompt PR

Twitter: @PromptLondon and @PromptBoston

Facebook: Prompt London and Prompt Boston

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How to
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How to think about product launches: Vision, authority and impact

At Prompt we help entrepreneurs and businesses launch products: apps, hardware, consumer technologies, innovative gadgets, business products and services, and high-end, complex enterprise products.

Many product launches are driven by a desire to increase sales. But selling your product, service or idea isn’t just about money – it’s about something much bigger than that. It’s about having an impact.

When we are talking to clients on the essential groundwork for effective communication that engages, influence (and helps to drive sales) we work on three core areas: vision, authority and impact.

Vision
This is the purpose behind the company or organization – the why, the reason for existing and the rationale for your anticipated path. In short, this is why your organization exists. It’s important to be clear on your vision, because it’s also the underlying ‘why’ for your product or service. Without a why it’s hard to have a passion. With it, all marketing and sales comes from a place of passion and belief.

Authority

Authority is about sharing your expertise – both in your market and on your product. It’s important to be an authority and consistently demonstrate it. This is why it is important to grasp opportunities to share your views, insights and advice on a market – speak with press, brief industry analysts, share expertise over social media and comment on relevant forums and blogs. Within your company you have experts, so allow them to have their expert opinions – on the market, on what prospects needs to be aware of and to ask – and to express these opinions and demonstrate their authority.

Impact

Impact is about results – not for your organization or company, but the impact your product, service or app has on your users’ lives. Impact could relate to a cause, emotional results, or tangible results such as saving time or money and increasing business efficiency. It’s about the transformation. Sharing examples, transformations and support from existing customers is a great way to help explain this impact to prospects.

Want to hear more about how to define your vision, authority and impact to drive technology sales? Then join our ‘How to drive technology sales’ webinar on May 15 – simply register here.

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App of the week
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Opinion 2


Opinion 2

Opinion Podcasting has been the free podcasting tool of choice for many for some time now. It’s a brilliant little app that allows you to create high-quality audio podcasts, then trim and edit them with natty drag & drop tools that make the whole experience fun and easy. But in its latest update, Opinion 2 has made the logical step to add online publishing and sharing options, removing the need for a third-party export service. Opinion 2 now provides your podcast with its own webpage and an RSS feed — and it’s all still free.

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App of the week
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Linux

The correct way to pronounce the name of this revolutionary open source operating system is NOT ‘line-ux’ to rhyme with ‘mine-ux’ or ‘pine-ux’. The creator of the Linux Kernel has always been very clear that his OS should be referred to as ‘Linux’ to rhyme with ‘Win-ux’, ‘Pin-ux’ or perhaps more pertinently, ‘Finn-ux’. That’s because the Finnish born software engineer is called Linus Benedict Torvalds, and in Scandinavia everybody pronounces Linus with a short ‘I’, not a long ‘I’ like Charlie Brown and Snoopy’s friend. But there’s no need to take our word for it when you can listen to the man himself explaining. The poor chap has been trying to tell everyone since 1991…

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Geek speak
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“Get a pocket computer, try to do what you used to do, yeah.”

Without the help of Google, can you identify the voice behind this quote?

Tweet us at @PromptBoston and @PromptLondon if you can.

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Copy corner
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Social acceptable copy

There was a time when writing for the web was considered to be a specialist skill, separate from other forms of copywriting. Content was king, but only if it was direct, pithy, succinct, short enough to fit on one screen, and compelling enough to prompt action. Webmasters and writers determined that people online were either too busy or too fickle to devote much attention span to reading tranches of text (while presumably those who preferred to read their news printed on pulped up trees had more time to fritter away digesting long features and turning pages).

Today lines have blurred considerably and pretty much all timely, consumable, disposable writing is published on the web in some form or another. This means that all content must be written with online readers in mind. It’s entirely reasonable to expect a higher degree of skipping, scanning and flicking from someone with multiple sources of information available simultaneously at their fingertips, than just one newspaper on their lap. Immediate copy writing that fits ‘above the fold’ of most computer screens is more likely to get noticed by more people. There’s still space for quality long-form copywriting online, but if anything that initial need for brevity has been compounded further by the ubiquity of small screen mobile devices and social media.

Away from more technical considerations of SEO and keywords then, are there any enduring rules of web writing that remain appropriate for social writing? We can certainly offer half a dozen quick tips that might help if you’re struggling to be heard above the hubbub:

1. Headlines must still work hard whether you are writing a 3,000 word feature or a 200 word blog post. It’s your only chance to seize a reader’s attention with big bold type and hold it for as long as you can. A clever headline is also extremely tempting and easy to forward and share without explanation

2. Only post copy that really matters to somebody, because whether your target readers are devoting 30 seconds to your piece or 30 minutes, they still need to understand clearly why you wrote it in the first place, and why they should care enough to come back for more

3. Try and make readers think ‘huh!’, or better still to utter it out loud in a cryptic way that makes other people nearby say ‘wuh?’ Copy shared is exponentially more valuable than copy swiped away, and those social media buttons are so very easy to click

4. Have faith in good copy and be patient with it. Online writing may sit on the back burner for days, or weeks, and still pick up hits and comments months or years later. Today’s copy is no longer tomorrow’s fish and chip paper

5. Be fresh, make a clear point, and ask for feedback. You’ll quickly lose trust and return visitors if you say the same old woolly things over again and never ask readers what they would like to read

6. Don’t be afraid to go long occasionally. Not everything can be explained sufficiently in 140 characters, one smartphone page, or even above the fold on a laptop screen. Never be afraid to trust your instincts and write your ideas to their natural length if you believe they need room for expression. You can always create teaser posts on your favorite social media platforms that link to the full article for those readers who trust your judgement (and have the social stamina).

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Copy corner
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Newsletters

Do you have a big email list? A small email list? Working to build an email list of any kind? No matter the you’re situation – you should absolutely be sending out e-newsletters.
Over the years, we’ve created countless newsletters for a number of clients. They’re all different lengths, different structures and are send out at different frequencies but they all wielded results.

Newsletters give you the opportunity to educate your potential, existing and past customers about your field and your company. It opens the doors for two-way communication, sparks interest and allows you to leverage existing content in new ways.

I mean, you’re reading this after all — aren’t you?

Not sure where to start? Get in touch today!

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Contact Prompt
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We hope you find our newsletter an interesting read. For any feedback on our newsletter, or to discuss how we can help you with your PR, marketing, social media/blogging initiatives, copywriting or surveys, please contact us using the details below. We are always delighted to hear from you.


London


22 Upper Ground

Eighth Floor

London

SE1 9PD


Boston


745 Atlantic Ave

Third Floor

Boston

MA 02111

info@prompt-pr.com | www.prompt-pr.com

space man
Prompt

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Copyright Prompt Communications 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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January 23rd, 2015

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

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

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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October 7th, 2014

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

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

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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June 19th, 2014

Kickstarter PR: KinderLab Robotics hits crowdfunding goal

Kickstarter PR: KinderLab Robotics hits crowdfunding goal

Kickstarter PR

KinderLab Robotics’ KIBO

Kickstarter campaigns. Like so many PR campaigns, these are not sprints, they are marathons.

This week KinderLab Robotics, a Prompt PR client, reached and exceeded its Kickstarter goal.

Since Kickstarter launched in 2009, interest in the site has grown. And over time there have been changes in how you would promote your product, service or app if you are looking to be funded on Kickstarter.

Back in the day, the news that you even had something you were launching on Kickstarter could drive exposure, user commitment and funding for projects. But now, Kickstarter competition is tough. The fact you are simply on Kickstarter isn’t the story anymore — in fact, it discourages some members of the press, because they don’t want to write about something that may not reach the market. After all, while Kickstarter has raised $1,170,361,695 in funds to support 63,835 projects, the success rate of funded projects is 43.38 percent.

Sometimes it may be that the product just can’t engage buyers. Or it could be an engaging and interesting project, but there’s not enough influence to motivate the behavior of buying. Or perhaps the people you are trying to reach simply aren’t aware of your Kickstarter campaign.

That’s where PR for Kickstarter comes in — it’s about driving ongoing news coverage, connecting with audiences and explaining the story in order to influence. Working with founders as committed as KinderLab Robotics’ Marina and Mitch certainly helps — they are clients of ours that are always ready to take a call; show their product (KIBO, a robotic kit for four to seven year-olds to learn to program) over Skype to a Forbes journalist; and understand the need to respond to the press in a timely way.

As a result, coverage for KinderLab Robotics and its KIBO robot to date includes CBS Boston/WBZ, Boing Boing, Gizmodo, Dork Adore, GeekDad, Upstart Business Journal, Boston Business Journal and Forbes.

Like I said, this isn’t a sprint. Yes, there are crowd-funded projects that hit the ‘go’ button and experience the funding equivalent of going viral. But typically you launch your project and then you are waiting for the pledges to come in — it’s a marathon. You need to keep updating supporters, drip-feeding news across relevant social media outlets, and keep beating the press drum.

So we’re happy. Not just because KinderLab and its KIBO robot has been funded, but because we’re big fans of programming. So anything that encourages small children to understand logic, control of technology and how to creatively play with a robot has certainly influenced us. And yes, we ordered a KIBO — the Kickstarter is still open for another nine days — so you can order one too, simply head over to their Kickstarter page.

Need help promoting a project on Kickstarter or any other crowdfunding platform? Get in touch with us at kickstarter@prompt-pr.com

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February 19th, 2012

Cambridge MA startup rides Kickstarter for safer city cycling

Cambridge MA startup rides Kickstarter for safer city cycling

The Defender - by Gotham Bicycle Defense Industries

This creative project from a business starting up close to our Massachusetts office caught our imaginations for many reasons – we love start-ups and entrepreneurial spirit, we’re fascinated by slick design and smart engineering, and like a growing number of people these days, we enjoy nothing more than getting out onto the streets with our bikes when we have the chance.

Gotham Bicycle Defense Industries had a huge incentive to get its innovative theft-proof cycle light to market as quickly as possible, but needed more publicity and financial backing to make it happen. Now thanks to crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, the company’s founders hope to fight back against a serious city cycling issue that saw a friend hit by a car after his lights were stolen.

Designed and engineered by Gotham, The Defender is an extremely rugged but lightweight aluminium LED theft-resistant bike light, delivering 100 hours of ‘be seen’ lighting from three AA batteries. A patent-pending security screw mechanism and robust waterproof construction will prevent owners of The Defender joining a third of city bikers who have had their lights stolen, or the 80 percent of cyclists who forget their lights because they are concerned about leaving them attached to handlebars.

Kickstarter is an online crowd-funding site for creative projects that lack traditional funding but are sufficiently innovative and exciting to inspire investment by like-minded souls from around the world. Incentives encourage backing, so for example, if you pledge between $10 and $600, you’ll not only help Gotham Bicycle Defense Industries’ bike light vision become a reality, you’ll also be rewarded with great gifts ranging from a branded water bottle or t-shirt, to the light itself – or perhaps even a big box of Defenders for your bike shop?

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