Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Some Best Practices: Crowdfunding

I have been asked on numerous occasions now from friends and acquaintances whether or not they can leverage the power of donation based crowdfunding for their ideas and if so, how to go about doing it - sounds like that is worth a blog post. Here are my thoughts.

Choosing Crowdfunding

Some ideas are better suited for crowdfunding at this stage of the industry's development. The defining market tie is consumer focus. Products and projects that are relatively simple to understand and use work well - creative variations on familiar form. Physical, philanthropic and artistic projects have historically seen the most successful fundraising. Yes, technology/software has had the largest, most advertised wins, but they are not the current market norm.

Choosing a platform is a nuance of your product/idea. Kickstarter has the largest brand and more internet traffic, and is particularly selective and creative oriented. Indiegogo has a flexible process, an international scope and accepts a broad range of campaigns. Each has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your project. Other platforms are specialized around industry or product. No matter which one you choose, choose one platform and focus your efforts.

The business model for crowdfunding is still evolving. Make sure you read the terms, conditions and pricing parameters. Some platforms are all or nothing campaigns, others are progressive, where you  keep any portion of your raise. Also payment processing fees may be included in or in addition to platform transaction fees. These parameters are the difference between raising $100k and having up to $15k of it sliced off in total fees or all of your raise "returned" to donors. Finally, be sure that you are satisfied with all of the payment options available to potential campaign contributors.

Managing Crowdfunding

A successful campaign requires you to be ready to leverage your network - before you even add a project to a platform. Find a couple of friends or donors that will commit to your campaign in order to build momentum from day one. Organize and notify all of the people in your network and in your team's network to set up your campaign for success. In this sense, you can see how it is better when more than one person is involved.

Take the time to put together an executive summary of your idea or product, but then distill it to the key points. Use this to create a concise presentation. It should highlight the uniqueness of your idea, its funding schedule, product timing, relevance to the market, the expertise of your team, and passion. A video is a necessary media touch. It is the quickest way to inform, educate and connect with potential donors. I recommend making it about 2-3 minutes. Use it to amplify and personalize the project.

The most successful crowdfunding campaigns are donation based right now, but most offer something in return. If you choose one of these platforms, put time and effort into determining attractive rewards for potential donors. Do this before you launch your campaign. Think about your budget in terms of time and money. How much time will it cost you to organize and create these rewards and how much money will they cost? Be creative from a consumer perspective, what would you want?

Social Media
Crowdfunding works well as a social media funnel. You need to actively use it to draw attention to your campaign and keep it in front of potential contributors. Build and use connections to bloggers and journalists to help boost your signal. Entice them with stories on big wins for your campaign or project, and be sure to give your followers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter updates on progress.

Choosing and managing a crowdfunding campaign takes a fair amount of work - as it should. Asking for external funding is a serious undertaking. Take the time and the effort to make sure that your product is right for the market and that you make right moves. Good luck.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Class Actress: Rapprocher. Review Sketch

year: 2011

tones of: david bowie, harold faltermeyer (co-writer of grammy award winning beverly hills cop soundtrack), prince, depeche mode

genre samples: synthpop, electric keyboard, electro-pop, new wave

music: mellow, smooth, playful, swirling, pretty, vintage, robotic, sweet, pulsing, light, fun

lyrics: all about love: swimming in, letting go, losing control, longing for, falling in - the works

favs: keep you, weekend, limousine, missed, let me in

interesting: rapprocher (rap-pro-shay) is the French verb form - to bring closer/together. class actress is from brooklyn. not implying anything. just stating facts.

score: 7.5/10

Friday, February 22, 2013

Crystal Castles: Crystal Castles (II). Review Sketch

year: 2010

tones of: sleigh bells, the knife (vocal distortion)

genre samples: synthpop, sigur rose (on: year of silence), dubstep, indie electronic

music: complex, loud, eerie, up tempo, echoes, urgent, distorted, robotic, noisy

lyrics: dark, intense, introspective, regretful, morality obsessed, 
disjointed, haunted, full of imagery

vocals: shredded, soft, screaming, harsh, muted, manipulated

favs: celestica, doe deer, baptism, empathy, pap smear, not in love, i am made of chalk (great come down closer)

note: my favorite album of the three

score: 8.5/10

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Startup Standouts: ZooZ


ZooZ is a complete and secure in-app checkout solution that makes it easier for mobile application developers to accept payments.

Location: Israel
Size: < 10 people
Funding: $1.5M Seed
Founders: Oren Levy (CEO) / Ronen Morecki (CTO) / Eyal Kotler (Product) / Nir Zohar (R&D) 

Why it stands out: 
- ZooZ is a mobile first payments solution; no traditional online commerce focus here
- Product works/links payments across multiple mobile applications (in the ZooZ network)
- Platform is an open solution with broad range of payment options (credit cards, PayPal, Dwolla, Stripe)
- Very developer friendly: built for multiple languages and mobile operating systems (including HTML5) 
- One of the few payments startups with an international team, location and product

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lana Del Rey: Born to Die. Review Sketch

year: 2012

tones of: duffy, amy winehouse, adele, gwen stefani (on lolita), 

style of: madonna (her iconic potential), katie perry (her superficial flash), pink (her irreverence)

genre samples: glamour pop, r&b, blues, hip hop, noise pop

music: sweeping, somber, full, orchestral, playful, nostalgic, immersive

lyrics: picturesque, love obsessed, intense, plain, unstable, storytelling, confessional, emotional, longing, fragile, disturbed, unsophisticated, straightforward, one dimensional

vocals: smooth, glamorous, sweet, sexy, majestic, dreamy, smokey, passionate

favs: born to die, blue jeans, video games, dark paradise, radio (encapsulates the whole album), summertime sadness, this is what makes us girls (awesome production), without you

note: you can hate the presentation/hype/musician/SNL performance/story line all you like, but strip that away and THIS is GOOD pop music.

score: 7.5/10