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March 10th, 2016

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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March 17th, 2015

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 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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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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May 29th, 2013

Prompt Communications wins Equiso public relations account

Prompt Communications wins Equiso public relations account

Prompt Boston to lead US media relations campaign for maker of streaming, gaming and browsing SmartTV Stick

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Prompt Boston, the Massachusetts office of Prompt Communications, a public relations and digital communications agency specializing in innovative markets including high-technology and green-tech, has won a new contract with Equiso, the developer of the SmartTV Stick.

Equiso’s SmartTV Stick transforms televisions, screens and projectors into web-connected Android 4.0 devices with access to a range of popular media channels and apps, including HBO Go, Hulu, Netflix, Crackle and Vudu. Along with streaming movies, TV shows and sports, the low-cost ($78), high-quality stick gives users unrestricted access to the Google Play store, with 500,000 games and apps.

EquisoThe company is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Its SmartTV Stick was launched via a Kickstarter project which received the support of nearly 3,000 backers, who collectively more than doubled the company’s initial $100,000 goal.

Prompt is a digital PR consultancy with offices in Boston, London and San Francisco. With extensive experience in high-tech, including applications, services, software and hardware, Prompt has worked with start-ups to global software and technology companies including Oracle Corporation, Capgemini and IBM.

Prompt Prompt will work to increase recognition of Equiso as the company distributes its SmartTV Stick online and increases its presence with retailers. Working with Equiso’s management team, Prompt will drive a targeted PR campaign based on media outreach and analyst relations to support and demonstrate Equiso’s sales, market position and thought leadership.

Adam McBride, CEO of Equiso, said: “Prompt’s proven record of successfully working with high-tech start-ups, coupled with its Cambridge-based office that allows for desk-next-door communications, made selecting a PR firm an easy choice. Consumers across the US are looking to cut the cable cord, and the momentum we are seeing is testimony to that. With Prompt’s PR strategy, we hope to continue reaching new audiences while transforming the future of streaming, gaming and browsing.”

Hazel Butters, CEO of Prompt, said: “Equiso has a fascinating Kickstarter background, a talented management team, and a strong, relevant product. Consumers want to access apps, the internet and new programs over their TVs – the dumb TV’s days are numbered. Equiso’s SmartTV Stick gives consumers an affordable alternative without any extra cable boxes or cords. Prompt is looking forward to driving media recognition and consumer awareness around such an innovative product.”

About Equiso
Equiso.com, Inc. is an innovator of digital media platforms that leverage the convergence of internet and entertainment. Its flagship product, the Equiso SmartTV Stick transforms televisions, screens and projectors into fully-featured web-connected Android devices with access to media channels and apps including Crackle, HBO Go, Hulu, Netflix and Vudu. The device gives users full access to the Google Play store and its 500,000 games and apps, while the affordable and intuitive open platform accelerates consumer adoption of new media by lowering barriers to access. www.equiso.com

About Prompt Communications
Prompt is a communications agency that enables marketers and entrepreneurs to increase their sales and marketing effectiveness. Specializing in innovative markets including technology and healthcare, Prompt helps clients communicate effectively and authentically with core audiences online and offline through PR, media relations, copywriting, webinars, market and industry analysis, social media, video content and customer programs. Founded in 2002, Prompt Communications has US offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts and San Francisco, California and European offices in London. Prompt’s experience includes Adeptra, Adobe Systems Incorporated, Aperture, Corizon, Dell|Compellent, Foviance, Genesys Telecommunications, IBM, Integralis, jovoto, KANA, Oracle Corporation, smartFOCUS and Webtide. www.prompt-communications.com

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September 19th, 2012

What have you started?

What have you started?

Last week over coffee and an insistent inbox, I suddenly became part of two cheering crowds receiving exciting news about our recently funded Kickstarter projects.

In the first crowd I was shown post-production photos of the gleaming Defender Bike Lights rolling off the factory lines at Gotham Bicycle Defense Industries, an innovative cycling parts firm that I helped to fund at the turn of the year. And in another, far larger (and more heavily sequinned) crowd, I received my investor’s extended digital download and artwork for the latest album from Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra. It was a big day for my personal investment portfolio!

Which got me thinking. What do readers of Prompt’s blog know about Kickstarter? What do you think about the whole concept of crowd-funding? What projects have you funded to date, successfully or otherwise? Perhaps you even have live Kickstarter projects of your own?

Of course Kickstarter is just the largest and best-known of a relatively new breed of online crowd funding platforms breathing new life into creative projects that need help to gain traction and become realities. It’s been around for over three years now, encouraging people with creative ideas to present their ideas to the global public in the hope of attracting guaranteed financial backing, usually in return for products, services, merchandise or just good karma. There’s no guarantee projects will come to fruition, but as of 22 August Kickstarter had launched 68,224 projects with a success rate of 44 percent.

A core value of the crowd-sourcing concept, is that backers like me must use our judgement in supporting projects that we believe in. I helped fund Gotham after hearing @HazelButters talk enthusiastically about the drive of founders Slava and Brad and reading their story. As a keen cyclist, I didn’t want just branded merch though, I wanted one of the first theft-proof lights they planned to build. So I stumped up the necessary dollars and waited, receiving regular updates on production progress. Gotham needed $18,000 dollars to start building; it received $84,000. The light should be on my doormat at the end of this month.

On a totally different scale, funding Amanda Palmer’s latest album was no risk at all. This alternative musician’s online adventures to replace old school record label and management support with the emotional and financial backing of an international mob of fans connected through her Twitter, Blog, Newsletter and now Kickstarter, have been widely reported. Everybody knew the onetime Dresden Doll would easily get the $100,000 she needed for new album ‘Theatre is Evil’. In the end she secured $1.2 million, the album has been despatched, and the band are now embarking on a world tour – (some of @PromptBoston were also lucky enough to get tickets for her closing night at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club in November).

But what do you think about Kickstarter, and crowd sourcing in general? Is it a good thing? Is it a welcome, innovative new stream of funding, or is it replacing traditional funding mechanisms with a model that provides very little quality control or guarantee of success? We’d love to hear about your own experiences, and of course any projects of your own you’re seeking backing for.

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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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