Tag archives: crowd funding

Crowd Funding – Practical Applications – Restaurants and Cafés

Crowd funding involves thinking outside the square. It involves thinking about what activities, projects or events you need to fund. You need to consider the rewards that you want to offer, and you have to put it together in a format that will stand out and be eye catching.

An area to which crowd funding is being put to good use is in the food trade, specifically in the areas of cafés and restaurants. Owners of “food joints” are by nature rather creative. They have activities on the boil (no pun intended) all the time. They are able to offer their product at reduced rates as rewards to those who pledge.

The two case studies below will give you an idea of just how cafés and restaurants can use crowd funding to their benefit.

A local café was doing OK. The owner was full of initiative and continually innovated and found novel ways of attracting new business. Their fare was first class, and customers continued to ask about their chutneys, their sauces, and accompaniments. They recognised the business opportunity to build a larder from which they could sell jars of their produce. It was then a simple exercise of putting up a project on iPledg – enough to cover the building, stocking, and promotion of the larder (just a couple of thousand dollars). The rewards were discounted breakfasts and coffees, as well as discounted tickets to their “Larder Launch” – a swank evening for which tickets were $50, but anyone pledging $30 to the project got a ticket for free. The campaign was promoted to the café’s Facebook following and to the traffic coming in and out each day (which got the customers talking about it to their family, workmates and friends, further spreading the news of the café). It lead to great exposure for the business for doing something different and memorable. The larder is set up, and the café goes on forever enjoying a new income stream.

The restaurant game, at present, is a tough one – especially due to COVID19. A local Indian restaurant was known for their great curries, but needed something to stand out from the heavy oversupply in the market that existed in the vicinity. Occasionally, the restaurant would have a big event at their premises. Belly dancing, Indian music, complementary traditional drinks and with the dining room festively decorated always saw a full house and residual business for weeks afterward. But such nights are costly. So they turned to crowd funding.  Their project went up, offering discount meals and free add-ons to those who pledged. Tickets to their event were on sale in the restaurant for $60 a head, but given away “for free” to those who pledged $40 or more. Advertorials were use to get the word out to the community, and the night was presold (to the extent of a second night having to be staged). The event became a regular occurrence, attended by good numbers every time it was held.

These case studies are merely examples, but they illustrate what can be done. A well put together campaign is a great way to stand out from the crowd, to be heard, and to promote your business in a different way to that of your opposition. Crowd funding engages your audience, and gets them talking about the unique way that the business is doing what it does.

Posted on August 28, 2020 By iPledg With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – Practical Applications – Artistic Endeavours

Given that the origins of crowd funding commenced in the artistic arena, it seems logical to write a piece to discuss the practical applications of crowd funding in this field. It was back in 1997 when English rock band, Marillion, first engaged fans and followers to fund their initiative (in this case, it was their tour of the US) for which they were given cool rewards like records and T-shirts. Since then, crowd funding has breathed life into hundreds of thousands of creative and artistic endeavours, something that continues to thrive and grow at an exponential rate today.

Musicians are finding crowd funding to be the answer for a broad range of initiatives that previously remained in the “too hard basket” as funding for these projects and requirements was ever elusive. Recording that hit song or securing that venue are now affordable when put out to the fan base for support. Tech-savvy musicians are finding new ways to use crowd funding and incorporate it into their repertoire. Buskers can put a QR code onto their guitar case and fans can “scan and pledge” directly from their Smartphone to the funding campaign page.

Artists too now have a lot more possibility, scope and freedom to get their works in front of potential fans and to sell their pieces to astute collectors. Exhibitions, promotional collateral, and general awareness campaigns are all able to be funded by “the crowd” given that the campaign is well constructed and has a strong call to action.

Writers and novelists have found that crowd funding has turned a new page for those that have ventured to try this exciting form of ecommerce. The costs of publishing or attending conferences to hone their skills can now be met with a clever, well worded campaign (and who better to construct a well worded campaign than a writer?). But it is not just individual writers who can benefit. Writing groups and associations can offer greater inducements to their members with initiatives such as funding a guest speaker of great note at their annual conference. Such a campaign is usually self fulfilling as members will happily part with some money to see the speaker, thus helping the association create a more successful event with extremely enthused and committed attendees.

Whilst it would be an exceptional effort to fund a film on crowd funding platforms, it has been done. Feature length films can been funded in this way, but it is primarily the shorter, “indie” films that have had success, whether it be to fund the cost of production, or to fund the cost of pre or post production. Some film makers just need to raise the cost of professional services or some external expertise to bring their films to life, and what better way to do this than through crowd funding.

Artistic projects are in many ways the easiest ones on which to create and offer rewards to supporters. Usually it is a product of the project that is offered to great success. A CD, or a personally autographed copy of the book or DVD of the film will inspire people to pledge support. Pledges of greater amounts can be rewarded with acknowledgements in the credits, or by being offered a minor role in the production. The rewards do not need to be about receiving a tangible gift. People are all too willing to pledge their support for the chance to receive an experience they otherwise would never get. Imagine having the musician play at your home or event (even virtually), or getting the chance to dine with the stars of the movie. Many would feel inspired to give money to enjoy such a unique experience.

Art is passion. It can evoke a response strong enough to see individuals willing to lend their support. Coupled with the cool rewards and a proven history of success with projects funded by the crowd, artistic endeavours are well suited for this wonderful form of ecommerce known as crowd funding.

Posted on March 4, 2020 By iPledg With 0 comments

Crowd Funding For Community Endeavours.

Never has there been a better alignment between the requirements of community groups and the potential solution offered by crowd funding.

Sporting clubs, as a great example of a particular type of community group, constantly have two aspects that make them perfect for crowd funding – a never ending stream of “need” for which they are running projects, and a loyal supporter base. Their need for equipment, to cover travel costs, or to hold events, is ever present. At the same time, sporting clubs always have some form of loyal fan base. Whether that be the local community, the families and friends of the players and staff, or the following that their efforts and passion has accrued over time, there is always a band of followers that are keen to step up and do whatever it takes to help “their team”.

The eternal question has been how to effectively link the two, the wants and needs of the organisation, with the willingness of the fan base.

Crowd funding is the answer.

By putting a project up on a crowdfunding platform such as iPledg, community groups are able to articulate their needs, and communicate their requirements to the masses. They are able to explain exactly what they need as well as express their requirements in a finite, measurable manner with a pre-determined funding target and timeframe. In some ways, with a set date by which their funding is required, they are able to create a greater sense of urgency.

The fan base or audience can see exactly what is required. They can be called to action by the passion of the cause, or even receive additional motivation from the attractive rewards or inducements that may be on offer. Most importantly, they can feel part of the outcome that can be gauged and documented. And, finally, they can be rewarded for their involvement and publicly recognised as one of the supporters to whom rewards were delivered.

Here we have mentioned sporting clubs, but the same is the case with any community group. The key ingredients are a group with a need, as well as a group with a following. Regardless of what the focus of the community group, if these ingredients for success are there, a well promoted campaign is well placed to achieve success.

Crowd funding is a unique vehicle for community groups, perfectly positioned at a time when organisations seek a point of difference in their fund raising and community engagement efforts. It allows for the unlocking of resources, especially funding, that have long eluded clubs. Crowd funding also is an effective tool to create awareness and involvement in the projects that are at the very core of the community group’s existence.

Posted on February 12, 2020 By iPledg With 0 comments

So what is Crowd Funding?

Crowd Funding is a rapidly emerging form of e-commerce, leveraging off the growth of the internet and social media. According to Gartner Research, $1.2 billion was raised by Crowd funding sites in 2009, and is expected to grow to over $6 billion by 2013. In these tough economic times, Crowd Funding continues to buck the trend as it fills a very real and relevant need for raising money for initiatives that (in many cases) would just not get up if it weren’t for platforms such as iPledg.

But despite this, in Australia, Crowd Funding remains a relatively unknown term. When asked by people “what do you do”, our answer “we run a Crowd Funding platform” is met with a puzzled look as if we had answered in a foreign tongue. In fact, our biggest challenge at this point in time is to educate an unaware yet very receptive market as to the existence of this wonderful form of e-commerce. The most rewarding part of our role is watching peoples’ faces light up as the penny drops and they start to imagine the applications for which this new vehicle can work for them. Everyone has a project, or knows of someone who has a project, but most commonly these initiatives are not actioned because of a lack of funds. Crowd Funding now allows for project creators to unlock the possibilities and get support from those in their social and extended networks.

According to Wikipedia, “Crowd Funding describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.”

Crowd Funding is receiving renewed attention from both commercial and social entrepreneurs, charities and community groups, and those in the artistic and creative space now that social media, online communities and micropayment technology make it straightforward to engage and secure pledges from a group of potentially interested supporters at very low cost and low risk.

One of the pioneers of Crowd Funding in the music industry has been the British rock group Marillion. In 1997 American fans underwrote an entire US tour to the tune of $60,000, with donations following an internet campaign – an idea conceived and managed by the fans before any involvement by the band. Marillion has later used Crowd Funding with great success as a method to fund the recording and marketing of several albums.

iPledg is a crowd funding model using a PLEDGE funding model. A pledge is not an investment, so is not bound or encumbered by traditional legislation around funding and investments. A pledge on iPledg is simply a pledge of financial support for a project.

Essentially a project creator creates a project online and indicates how much funding is required to complete the project and in what timeframe they wish to raise those funds (usually 30 – 120 days). Anyone posting a project invites friends, family, fans, and broader networks to offer support. Visitors to the website may then pledge money to projects they like via an automated online payments process, and for which they are offered a reward.

Only when projects meet their funding target within the specified time frame will the monies be passed onto the project creator. When posting a project, project creators may offer rewards (which may not be paid for out of funds raised). The project supporters then receive rewards from the project creators once funding targets are realised in the funding timeframe. Should the minimum funding target not be reached in the specified timeframe, the project supporters do not part with their money and the project creator then has the opportunity to review their pitch and start again. This is what is meant by “all or nothing” funding.

Apart from a wonderful way for project creators to raise the capital they require for their initiatives, a successfully run fund raising campaign often provides social proof for a project creator’s concept, showing that more than just the project creator believes the initiative to be a good idea . It allows project creators to raise funds without going into debt or giving up equity, whilst presenting the idea to (potentially) a worldwide audience.

We welcome you to the exciting world of Crowd Funding with iPledg.

Posted on January 20, 2016 By iPledg With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – Helping The Project Creator

Some project creators have the time and energy to put together a great project with all the ingredients to really make it sing, but do not have the have the time (the few minutes each day), the confidence, or the know-how to get their message to the crowd. iPledg has now developed the solution that will hopefully become the norm amongst those who run crowd funding platforms – The Campaign Assistance Packages (CAPs) Program offers project creators support, direction, and some impetus to their campaign.

 

In response to market needs, iPledg created the CAPs program. Some project creators said they had time to put their project together but no time to promote it, or to do so consistently. Others needed someone to provide them the initial (first month’s) direction and momentum, so iPledg created a service by which they could have their social media engagement done on their behalf, as well as database marketing, and internet research for like minded groups. People can then determine if they want to list a project for free on iPledg and do the work themselves (as is currently the case with most crowd funding platforms), or if they want to pay a small fee and have some of this work done for them.

 

Matching the voice and tone of communication is key to the success of this social media service. By really getting to know the project creator, and their underlying objectives as well as the manner in which they have gained the support of their crowd to date, the essence of their voice is captured, and communication is effectively executed on their behalf. Although the operators of the platform run the process, the project creator must engage and approve the outgoing communications to ensure that the communications indeed reflect their voice and tone.

 

The CAPs program is not intended as a long term service to any project creator. It is their passion and their crowd, so the CAPs program exists to help projects get traction in their early days. It provides impetus, as well as giving the project creator the direction and the confidence to remove the training wheels and hopefully ride successfully to the finish line and achieve a successfully funded campaign.

Posted on September 2, 2012 By iPledg With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – Fad or Phenomenon

Seldom do you get an industry that grows at the rate of 91% per annum. Rarely do you see a sector achieving global growth that is not restricted to one continent or another. And never do you see such exponential growth surviving beyond the “fad” phase. But in the case of crowd funding, we see a wonderful new form of e-commerce defying conventional thinking and achieving all of this and so much more.

Perhaps it can be argued that the growth curve may flatten out a little. Whilst that may be true, the naysayers who dismiss crowd funding as merely a fad fail to recognise the deeper significance of this form of e-commerce, its timeliness given the state of the world economy, and the stage it represents in the evolution of social networking.

Venture capitalists are no longer venturing. Over the last 10 years, the amount of venture capital worldwide has dried up by 90%. The conservative nature of this source of funding has left start ups and new concepts without venture capital as a reliable form of funding, as venture capitalists require a proven track record and a degree of market traction to have been established before they consider their financial intervention. Indeed, it can be argued that the term “venture capital” should be recoined “development capital” as it has shifted to being just that – funding for the development of verified products, theories and business concepts.

Venture capital as a source of funding is not on its own in retracting its cavalier approach to the markets, especially since the GFC three years ago. Punch drunk banks and traditional funders as a whole have been beaten by regulator and market scrutiny post the losses of the global economic meltdown. The amount of available capital has dried up, and those seeking funds have realised that the bar has been considerably raised, leaving a gaping hole at the bottom of the funding ladder. Those with great ideas and inspiring innovations have found it nigh on impossible to access the lowest rungs of available funding. It is this vacuum in the capital markets that has created fertile ground on which crowd funding could succeed at the grass roots level.

The economic conditions of the world, coupled with the emergence of microfinance (the ability to transfer small amounts of money quickly and easily) and the rapid rise of social media created the perfect storm in which the planets aligned, with crowd funding being the solution of not only best fit, but of perfect fit.

And with the power of social media, the concept of crowd funding was build on a rock solid and sustainable platform. Many recognise crowd funding as the next evolution of social media, where people not only say they “like” you and what you are doing, but are prepared to put their hand in their pocket to show it.

With the world in post GFC mode and traditional lenders being more conservative with loaning money, this is a fast and flexible form of accessing capital, and allows “tribes” to support their own. It is true governance by the people, for the people, where the real judges of what “gets up” and what does not is determined by the most democratic of ways – by the crowd.

Posted on August 27, 2012 By iPledg With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – Providing Strategic Linkages

Some projects just lend themselves beautifully to crowd funding campaigns. The local gym that needs equipment can easily offer memberships, personal training sessions and yoga classes in their efforts to raise funds from their “crowd” for the equipment they require. But some projects struggle to find the rewards to motivate the crowd into action and to get them supporting with their wallets. However, this gives rise to the opportunity for good strategic linkages if a little thought is exercised, benefitting not just the funding campaign but the project it is aimed to support.

With campaigns aimed to fund projects of a more technical nature, getting creative with rewards can be difficult, but some great ideas can be found when the project creator starts to think outside the square. Recently an inventor of piece of equipment for a commercial kitchen asked us at iPledg “what rewards could I possibly offer?” With a bit of thought, we explored the markets and motivators around the product on which their campaign was centred. We progressed from commercial kitchen, to cooking, to the popularity of cooking shows, and bang! We came up with signed cookbooks from some of the famous chefs from our top ranking cooking shows, a chance to attend a dinner catered for by a top chef, and so on. Now we had some rewards related to the project, and a way forward was forged.

But this is so much more than just rewards for the life of the campaign. This is where strategic alliances really come to the fore, and provide a longer term and more far reaching benefit. It is great that the campaign now had a suite of rewards to motivate the masses, but getting the message out to the crowd became the next challenge. Having engaged the famous chefs, we now had incredible reach to a wide audience. Not only had we secured widely sought after, really cool rewards, but we had a channel to market to let even more people know about the project than the project creator ever could have reached on their own.

So the campaign was well positioned for establishing a good relationship with a large crowd. We had the sweetener by way of great rewards. In securing the rewards, we forged a relationship with people that agreed to give us far greater reach than could have ever been reached by the project creator on their own. If you think this is pretty good, the best was yet to come.

The support from the famous chefs was then topped off with an offer of an ongoing alliance. The offer of a few signed cookbooks was great. The offer to let their audience know of the campaign was a great leg up in the chances of achieving the funding goal. But the support from the strategic linkages formed with the famous chefs really came to the fore when the campaign was due to finish, with the chefs offering to maintain contact, and open doors for the project creator to get the product (the output of their project) into some great applications. They didn’t just provide a few cookbooks as rewards, but an association was formed that bore results right through to a commercial return, which was the project creator’s ultimate goal.

Not everyone knows a famous chef, a well renowned sportsman, or an Oscar winning actor. You don’t need to. The local cake shop can help with rewards and help with spreading the word to the dozens of customers that walk in and out of their doors. Businesses are hungry to engage with their community, to offer their rewards to help project creators (their philanthropic gesture) while building awareness of their own business through a few give-aways (their commercial gesture). Most are willing to engage with and assist the community by promoting the local campaigns to their customer base, even if it is through putting a small sign up in their shop (every little bit helps). All it takes is a bit of creative thinking that not only delivers wonderful rewards, but far greater and ongoing benefits to the project creators, their campaign and the ultimate goal they are trying to achieve.

Posted on August 20, 2012 By iPledg With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – Setting a Realistic Target

Setting realistic expectations and creating a plan that is based on logic right from the start gives a project creator the best possible chance of success. Ambitious plans are quickly exposed, early in a funding campaign, creating a disincentive to continue, and almost a resentment of a non supportive crowd. The project creator quite often disconnects from their fan base, achieving the exact opposite of what a funding campaign is supposed to deliver. But we now have some industry intelligence that sets down the basis on which to set your campaign targets.

There is a great rule of thumb formula on which you can base your funding target. Add up all of your networks. That is, all of your Friends of Facebook, your Followers on Twitter, everyone with whom you have a connection on any form of social media, and every person in your email address book. Once you have amassed the grand total, remove any duplication, and you will end up with your total network reach, or the total number of people with whom you can directly communicate. Whilst you may be buoyed to see the number of people with whom you can connect exceeding your expectations, now comes the grounding piece of news – in setting a target, you should base your forecasts on only 10% of these people pledging their support. So if you have 1,000 people in your total network reach, you should base your forecasts on just 100 people making a pledge. With the average pledge being $50, your target should be around 100 (people) x $50 = $5,000. This then becomes your conservative, realistic, base target.

Ok, so the Pebble guys didn’t have 2 million people in their total network reach (do the maths based on them having achieved $10mil in funding). They did, however, bring into play the next great component in achieving an amazing total. They offered really well sought after rewards. Their inducements evoked a feeling of “I’ve just got to have it” in the hearts and minds of prospective project supporters. T-shirts and coffee mugs just don’t inspire the same emotions, so you really have to give some thought to the rewards you offer and be realistic about the impact these will have in driving the campaign to achieving a greater total. If you take your base target of $5,000 in the example above, and offer a really attractive reward that people really desire, you can comfortably set your target considerably higher. Without such rewards, you are best to stay closer to your base target.

Once the campaign is underway, you have a greater deal of control over their campaign than you would believe. A campaign is work – teamwork! During a funding campaign, you must spend a few minutes each day, engaging the ”team” through social media, email blasts, winning over the media to get them to offer coverage – anything you can to get the word out there. Not just once, but repeatedly. If you are not committed to doing this, then in setting your target you should be far more conservative with your base target. How can people be expected to support a project about which they know nothing or haven’t even heard of? Many would argue that if the project creator is not prepared to really drive their campaign, they should reconsider whether crowd funding is actually for them.

But what does “driving it” actually mean? There are five golden rules for promoting a funding campaign:-

  1. Find other groups on the internet and let them know about the campaign, tapping into your shared passion.
  2. Ask people to not only support the campaign, but to spread the word.
  3. Don’t beg. It is not always about the money. Inform the crowd about the campaign and its intended outcome, and they will engage.
  4. Saying thank you publically and singling out project supporters in social media delivers great kudos, creating a flow on effect in their efforts to provide their ongoing support
  5. Persistence, Persistence, Persistence – keep promoting, even when the campaign hits its target, continue to spread the word and engage the audience

Exploring your immediate crowd and using a simple formula based on global data will help you define your base target. Take into account your preparedness to drive and promote your project – the greater your intentions, the more you should consider increasing your base target (as long as you actually do live up to your intentions! Or as long as you use services like that offered on iPledg whereby they do your social media and database work on your behalf). And don’t forget to consider how you will use the five golden rules for communicating your message.

With the information at hand, and a good hard look at what you really can achieve, you should be able to set realistic targets which, when pursued with unrelenting drive, deliver wonderful results to your crowd funding campaign.

Posted on August 13, 2012 By iPledg With 0 comments

The Essence of Crowd Funding – Getting The Crowd To Follow

Crowd funding is seen by many to be the next development of social media, achieving a deeper of level of engagement whereby the crowd not only says they LIKE you, but they are willing to put their money behind you to assist in “making it happen”. Getting the crowd to support you is the essence of achieving success, and achieving this is built around a simple formula. 21% of crowd funding campaigns receive no funding at all (not a single cent) due to project creators not planning and then not “working” their project. Realise that this is about the activity you undertake in planning and execution, and you are already ahead of many in the pack.

Project supporters are motivated to pledge their support because they like you, they share the passion for your project or the outcome, and they want either one of the cool rewards on offer or the kudos they get from being seen to pledge. Recognise this as the key motivators, and you can start to plan a successful campaign.

When it comes to rewards, many project creators leap before they think. Put some thought behind the rewards, using the teachings of the global industry. Campaigns with a $25 reward raise 30% more in funds than those without a reward for this amount. Keep the tiers of rewards simple and concise. It is best to perhaps have an entry level ($2) reward, a $25 reward, a $50 reward (this is the most commonly pledged amount), and a $100 reward – in most cases that’s plenty.

Make sure that you clearly define your project in your project description. Many projects that are initially submitted to iPledg have some great wording, but don’t actually say what it is they plan to do with the money they raise, thus failing to engage the crowd as they just “don’t get it”.

With authenticity being key to a successful campaign, your chances of success will be greatly boosted by having a video in your project description. Shoot a quick video (it doesn’t have to be a full scale Hollywood production – a 60 second clip shot on your iPhone is fine). Campaigns with a video raise 122% more in funds than projects that do not have a video. Have people in it (not just shots of your product or plan). The crowd wants to see (and fund) your passion and that of your team and closest supporters. If you can include a couple of endorsements in your video from potential customers or beneficiaries from your project, then that will add to its effectiveness.

The most common misconception about crowd funding is that you just need to post your campaign on a platform and the money will magically come. To be successful you, as the project creator, need to spread the word and reach your network. That us, you should be aiming to get your message in front of every single person you have had contact with in recent times.

You need to reach 25% of your funding target (typically) before strangers start to take note and start supporting your campaign. To achieve this, prime your closest networks first, even before your launch, getting them ready for you to start your campaign. Effectively this will give you a rolling start and you won’t be held up while you build your initial momentum. In preparation for your campaign, build your Facebook network as figures show that it is the top referrer to crowd funding platforms.

Also in the preparation phase, make sure to build your team of advocates. Have a team that will push the message to their networks as well, effectively giving you more angles from which the crowd will be approached, and more networks to whom your message can be sent. And if you or anyone in your team knows a celebrity, ask them to make a few shout outs on your behalf.

Once your funding campaign is underway, don’t just ask for blatantly ask for money, but continue to inform people of what you are doing. It doesn’t always have to be about the money. Make sure you don’t beg, but maintain the interest of the crowd and continue the attraction (build it, let them know, and they will come). Another great topic about which you can make shout outs regularly during your campaign is thanking people and letting them what their support means. Single people out and give them that social kudos that means so much.

Be sure to also make updates through the site on which your campaign is being run. Regular, on-site updates allow you to double your money according to the stats. Tell the crowd what you are up to, both with the funding campaign as well as project itself.

Celebrate milestones as you meet them. Let people know when you hit the half way mark or the first $1,000 raised. Who could go past Amanda Palmer’s celebration of her crowd funding campaign hitting $1mil by appearing in social media pages, bare chested and with the words “One F*&#ing Million” painted on her semi naked body. No, perhaps you don’t have to go to such extremes, but the message is the same – celebrate loud and proud, and the crowd will share (and spread) your joy.

Make sure you do the big count down towards the end of the campaign. Even if you have already met your target, counting down to the end of the campaign will further engage the audience to conform to the urgency and pledge within the remaining time.

Afterwards, once the dust has settled, be sure to follow up everyone and welcome them into your “family” and into a long term relationship created through this wonderful form of e-commerce and the new, deeper social media engagement tool that is crowd funding.

Posted on August 6, 2012 By iPledg With 0 comments

They’re Marshalling Behind The Blocks, Ready For The Great Crowd Funding Race

They’re marshalling behind the starting blocks, awaiting the sound of the gun that indicates the start of this long distance race. Amongst the field there are the contenders and there are the pretenders, those that will succeed and those that will quickly be left behind by the pace and experience of the pack.

No, we are not referring to the Olympics, but the positioning prior to the race that begins on January 1, 2013, to become one of the challengers in the race that will be Investment Crowd Funding in the hub of the crowd funding world, the USA.

To win gold, competitors must be au fait with the rules of competition. They need to develop skills. They need their supporters, and need to be recognisable on the track. This is the jockeying that is currently going on “pre-race”.

The rule makers are now engrossed in writing the rules of the game. What is “in” and what is “out”. What can competitors do, and what does the field or track really look like. They are anticipating and defining where are the ruts and dips in the track, what parts will be uphill struggles, and how do we protect players from themselves, and from other competitors. Most importantly, how do we protect the crowd and supporters?

How do we attract players of all levels and abilities, and how do we structure a competition made up of different divisions suited to differing levels of player ability and levels to which they are prepared to commit?

As with the success of any sport, the initial event has to generate interest (and that is already gaining momentum). But the game play must be fair, inviting, intriguing, and not just great for those who observe, but be such that people want to become involved in one way or another

It will not be until the officials have set the track, worked out the rules of the game, and understood how all players and supporters will be protected, that the competitors will actually be able to start the race. Any attempt to jump the gun will be met with disqualification from competing, or worse. All competitors keep must remain behind the starting line and continue to hone their skills and build their supporter base, ready for the official’s gun to start the great race on Jan 1, 2013.

Posted on July 30, 2012 By iPledg With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – If At First You Don’t Succeed….

The stats are clear. Globally, on average, 45% of crowd funding campaigns reach their target. That means that about half fall short, often receiving no funding at all. But how does a project creator use the lessons learned and go back for a second bite at the cherry to achieve their desired outcomes. Experience is a wonderful teacher and, used correctly, can lead to successful funding campaigns.

Whilst it may seem at the end of an unsuccessful campaign that you are left with an incomplete puzzle, these pieces (when used correctly) can form the basis of a bigger, more attractive master piece.

Firstly, there are those that have pledged support to your initial campaign. You have a database of people who you now know will support you, and believe in you and your project. These become your first port of call when you relist your campaign, as asking them to do it once again gives you a rolling start. All the energy you spent getting them on board can be quickly repaid by telling them that you now know where you went wrong initially, and how this new campaign represents a better approach to achieving your funding target.

To deliver on this promise, you need to revisit your initial campaign, repeating what worked, fixing what didn’t, and addressing areas you must improve on.

The first area to visit is the project itself. Ask people if they understood what it is you were aiming to fund (often we see pitches that don’t actually state what they are hoping to do with the funds raised). Ask people around you and those who have pledged if the project seems logical, achievable and sensible. You may even wish to put out a quick poll on social media to find this out (even asking if people would put their money towards such a campaign – those that say yes should also be amongst those that you initially target when your project goes live once again).

Then you need to visit the areas that drive people to pledge. Support will come if people understand the benefits that your project will deliver – have you explained these and really spelled out what these benefits are? Also, your rewards are a key inducement for people to pledge their support. What worked first time ‘round, and what rewards were largely ignored? Re-use the popular ones, and perhaps replace the ones that no one really wanted. Ideally, you should have 4 tiers of rewards, so make sure that you don’t have too many or too few. Don’t be shy to cater for those who want to “pledge big” (we see so many people who only offer rewards for low dollars amounts). Ensure you set the first tier as an entry level pledge, and then cater for the steps in between.

Improved media (photos and videos) always enhance your chances of success. Many who have not used a simple video (and simple will suffice) find that moving pictures help tell a story far better than text or a few photos. It allows you to show your personality and engage empathy from the crowd to not only your project, but to you as the project creator.

External links to your project more than double your chances of reaching your funding target. If you have 4 or more links on other sites or blogs, linking people back to your project page, you have a 104% greater chance to raise your funds. Find sites, blogs, and discussions on the topics best related to your project, and post your links there.

And make even more noise than your first attempt. Look at the level of activity you undertook to promote your previous campaign, and see what you could beef up given a second attempt. Could you perhaps make social media announcements more often (twice a day rather than twice a month)? Could you achieve greater reach by Googling topics related to your project, its outcome, or your audience, and post comments and send messages about your project? Could you start a blog, or tap into other blogs and post your comments there? Are there media opportunities in the local press or on local radio that you could pursue?

Crowd funding is one of the fastest growing forms of e-commerce on the planet today. Too many view it as a one-off activity, but it should be seen as a tool for you to use for regular funding of initiatives or stages of an ongoing program. Make crowd funding part of your regular funding activities – fund one part of a project, and then another. Engage your “crowd” and keep incentivising them to continue their involvement in your growth and success, as well as funding your aspirations.

When it comes to crowd funding, the old adage rings true – “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”.

Posted on July 24, 2012 By iPledg With 0 comments

Filling the Gap at the Bottom of the Funding Ladder by Crowd Funding with iPledg

What are your options if you are involved in a start-up and you need early stage seed capital? Most would say the choices for funding are banks, grants, or perhaps even getting sympathetic friends or relatives to “kick the can”. The same applies to small business, with there being seemingly less than a handful of options for a small parcel of funds for those with little than more than a great idea and a ton of passion. That was, at least, until the advent of crowd funding.

For ever (perhaps even longer) there has been the stock exchange at the top of the funding ladder. The cost and effort to list is well out of reach of most small business and start-ups, making an IPO a non-option for smaller enterprises.

Venture capitalists say they fund start ups, but statistics show that the amount of capital offered by this source of cash has dried up by almost 90% globally over the past 10 years. That said, the reduced pool of available funding from venture capitalists is seldom granted to early stage business. Perhaps “venture capitalists” should be redefined as “development capitalists”, due to their propensity to only fund once an enterprise has a proven track record and achieved significant milestones.

Traditional sources of finance such banks, loans and debt used to be the unpalatable but necessary evil for start-ups. The GFC turned off the music when it came to dancing with the devil, as banks became more conservative in their policies around lending. So small business that already found it tough to get finance, or had to offer up all of their assets as security, now find the well dry, and little or no joy when seeking funding from traditional financiers.

More sophisticated suppliers of capital, such as trade finance or factoring, again are more aligned with businesses with some form of existing cashflow, turnover of a certain volume, and momentum. Whilst each has their merits, they do not represent viable options to start-ups or small business.

Governments in many countries offer grant programs to support initiative and innovation. Especially in areas of community enrichment, environmental benefit, and new-to-world technologies, ruling administration on local, state and federal levels often assist by offering financial grants to assist early stage concepts to germinate and take flight. Qualification for such grants is often competitive, with applicants needing to meet or exceed the assessment criteria. Unfortunately many early stage initiatives can’t meet the requirements, especially for grants that require matched funding or a co-contribution from the grant recipient, making them another non-option. Furthermore, as other funding options dry up, there is increased competitiveness for grant funding, giving each applicant less chance to receive a grant and for the total pool to be divided amongst the increased number of recipients.

The height to which start-ups and small business are required to jump when going in search of funding is getting ever higher, to a position that is nigh on unachievable for new businesses. Until recently, there was a yawning gap at the bottom of the funding ladder, leaving the most accessible rungs of funding out of reach of small business despite their best efforts to leap and grab a hold.

 

However, we now have a relatively new, highly accessible, and extremely flexible form of finance known as crowd funding. This exciting and dynamic form of e-commerce fills the void at the bottom of the funding ladder, giving opportunity for great ideas and initiative to be judged by “the crowd” rather than stony faced men in grey suits with boards to please and KPIs to meet. Innovators can now articulate their projects, and engage the crowd to support the campaign based on shared passion or their desire to get their hands on the sought after inducements that may be on offer.

According to Wikipedia, “Crowd Funding describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.”

In addition to raising the funds required for their venture, project creators can also gain invaluable social proof, validating that there is a market for the concept or a broader appeal for the idea. This then paves the way for more traditional sources of greater funding to now venture in and further fund the project (assuming that further capital is still required after a successful funding campaign!).

The new renaissance has begun! The birth of crowd funding has given rise to a whole new world of opportunity for creative, commercial, charitable and community projects. By simply posting a project on sites like iPledg, there now exists an avenue of finance that gives the power back to the people, and allows the crowd to determine the beginning of initiatives that will shape our world.

Posted on July 15, 2012 By iPledg With 0 comments

Funding The Birth of Creativity

As it stands today, one crowd funding site in the US is on track to funnel more money to the arts in the year than the National Endowment of the Arts (that’s the national body responsible for the Arts sector in the US). In effect, funding for this sector has more than doubled since the birth of crowd funding, and the same is now possible in many other sectors and in countries all around the world.

Creativity in the fields of film, fashion, music, and artistic endeavours has for too long been under-funded by governments whose budgets seem unable to provide for the necessities, let alone for the ‘niceties’. Now, through the emergence of crowd funding, those with creative projects are able to take control of their destiny, and engage their social and broader networks to raise the necessary funding in a very timely and effective manner.

Creative projects are primarily driven by either a passion for a cause or a desire to explore creativity for creativity’s sake. Given that the passion is shared with “the crowd”, engaging the masses seems well suited and a natural progression into crowd funding for creative and artistic projects. Engaging family, friends, fans and followers to support and fund creative projects seems to go hand in hand with the work done after in getting the word out about the project itself. Getting “buy-in” just becomes part of the process.

Most creative projects fall well within the ‘Sweet Spot’ for crowd funding, being between $3,000 and $30,000, but larger amounts have been raised. To improve the chances of raising funds for those with larger creative projects, many successfully funded campaigns are those that have been broken down into smaller, bite sized pieces which all become integral parts of a larger project.

Crowd funding offers a low-risk option to project creators in their pursuit of funding to initiate or complete their projects. And because crowd funding does not represent an investment in the project, the exposure for project supporters is mitigated as they receive no financial gain from their gesture of support. Project supporters do so to support a project creator, because they feel passionate about the project or the cause being supported, or for some of the small enticements on offer in recognition of their pledge.

Whilst crowd funding is ideal for creative projects, it is also an ideal platform for those in commercial pursuits, or those with community and charitable projects to raise the funds they need. Crowd Funding has been receiving a lot of interest and support from governments, universities, and industry groups, all of whom have an interest in securing funds for the projects of the people they represent.

Inventors and start up businesses are recognising crowd funding as a very relevant source of funding as monies raised in this way do not have to be repaid, and do not involve surrendering of equity in the idea or venture. Governments, as a result, are increasingly interested in crowd funding as they see it as a catalyst for innovation, business liquidity, and job creation at grass roots level.

It is rewarding for those involved in the world of crowd funding to have found a vehicle to allow creativity to flourish, and to give those with a concept that has no other substance other than being a really good idea, an opportunity to not be judged by traditional, conservative lenders, but to be supported by an enthusiastic and engaged crowd.

Posted on April 23, 2012 By iPledg

Pledging Support To A Funding Campaign

Whilst project creators are the initiators of a funding campaign, success is based on receiving support from “the crowd”. But many potential project supporters still have many questions around crowd funding, the process, and about the concept in general.

The science of why people pledge their support to a project is proven. They do so out of a desire to support or be involved with the project creator or their team, out of a passion to support the “greater good” brought by their project being successfully achieved or implemented, as well as for cool or great value rewards on offer.

It should be clearly understood that currently we are unable to offer crowd funding for investment or financial gain. It is a heavily regulated area, but recent changes in the USA may pave the way for more globally adopted change allowing (in the future) for crowd funding to be used for investment purposes. But for now, we run crowd funding only on a pledge basis.

Unless a prospective funder receives an invitation from a project creator to have a look at their particular project, the first step for a supporter is to find an initiative that they may be interesting in supporting, and this can be done in a number of ways:

  • They are able to search for projects by category (Creative, Commercial, Charitable, Community etc.) by simply going to the bottom of our Home Page and clicking on your choice of category;
  • It is possible to look through all current campaigns on iPledg by clicking on Browse All Projects at the top right corner of our Home Page, and then reading through each project. Alternatively, the Browse All Projects page contains quick links to campaigns that are Successful, Most Popular, or Ending Soon;
  • By typing in search terms in the search bar in the top right corner of our Home Page.

Once the potential backer finds a project that they wish to support, they should do some work to check out the project creator. In its instructions on how to post a project, iPledg recommends for project creators to include in their project description links to any articles about them or their project to give possible supporters an idea of whom they are supporting. Potential backers need to satisfy themselves as to the identity or bona fides of the project creator, the project’s feasibility, the project creator’s capacity to carry out the project or provide any reward offered. Social media sites (such as Facebook) and searches on the internet are a great starting point for such research. At the end of the day, iPledg does not warrant the projects or project creators, and potential backers really need to rely on their own investigations.

Once a project supporter has found the project that they wish to support and made all of their independent enquiries about the project creator and the project, they can start the process to pledge support by simply clicking on the “Make a Pledge” button on the right side of the project page. They will be asked to sign up (and enter some details about themselves at that point), or requested to sign in if they have already signed up previously. Then the process is quick and easy – from the list of rewards,  they choose the reward they wish to claim should the funding campaign be successful, enter in the dollar amount of their pledge of support, and enter their PayPal details.

It should be remembered that this is an “all or nothing” funding platform, so backers will only be charged at the end of the funding period, and only if the funding target is achieved. If the funding target is not reached by the funding deadline, project supporters will not be charged, and the project creator gets nothing. The funding campaign must reach its funding target as a minimum for any money to change hands. Also, the project supporters are never charged any fees for supporting a project.

During the funding campaign, supporters should feel free to liaise directly with the project creator, by posting comments under the Comments tab on the relevant project. This facility can also be useful in the research phase as anyone is able to post comments here during the funding campaign, and any comments posted here may give indications as to the bona fides of the project or project creator. Backers can continue to do this even after the funding campaign has ended to keep an eye on the progress of the project and the delivery of rewards. Also, project creators are encouraged to post comments under the Updates tab on their campaign page to let funders and the world in general know all about milestones reached and progress made.

Posted on March 25, 2012 By iPledg With 0 comments