13 Year Old Launches “PocketHat”

Thirteen year old entrepreneur Neil Krafsur is the maker of PocketHat - a lightweight athletic performance cap can store credit cards, keys, an iPod, money, business cards, etc. Now he’s raised almost $14,000 to launch his new company, and is being picked up by press around the nation. We caught up with Neil to get a few brief insights on his creation and current RocketHub campaign. I came up with the PocketHat when I would go to the races with my parents and I’d notice the runners didn’t have a place to put their stuff, and that’s how I came up with the PocketHat. As a teenager no one would take my product idea seriously. It was difficult as a thirteen year old to get a loan. However, with crowdfunding the overall experience has been amazing! Crowdfunding has made selling a product much easier. Without it, I don’t think I would find the success I’m experiencing now. My advice for others looking to crowdfund their own projects would be to start off strong because if you can get a ton of support from the beginning then it will spread faster and create more excitement! Neil Krafsur - Entrepreneur, Inventor, Teenager  Click Here to Explore This RocketHub Campaign

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  • September 9, 2014

Project Silver Tags - Heart Songs for Veterans

Heart Songs for Veterans is a Veteran inspired music company. Our artists donate all of their digital media (music and videos) to us and we pay forward at least 25% of the royalties to Veteran organizations across the country. Our Military Spokesperson Mike Corrado, who is an active service member, wrote and recorded the song Silver Tags. He asked me to help him fund the music video, with 100% of the royalties from the music video being donated to The Semper Fi Fund. The message we want to deliver is clear. ID tags aka dog tags are not jewelry to be worn as a status symbol. To the Gold Star families who have lost their loved ones in sacrifice to our country this is a disgrace. We want to educate the public through this campaign and beyond to respect the meaning of the ID tags and why our service men and women wear them.   Having launched this campaign a few days ago we are inspired by the response and  we are excited  to continue to promote our Rockethub campaign.  Our goal is to deliver our project silver tags mission.  We are proud of this campaign and look forward to creating future campaigns to support our mission. I would recommend this platform to others, the customer support has been stellar, the building platform was easy to follow. It is important to share the campaign not just through social media platforms but also through the mail, phone and ask others to help you promote the campaign. We prepared in advance and on our first day of launch, we were able to track over 150 shares through Facebook alone.   Jill Pavel - Vice President of Blingnot Media

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  • August 25, 2014

RocketHub Partners with U.S. Department of State

The U.S. Department of State and RocketHub have teamed up in a pilot partnership to help alumni find alternative funding for their innovative solutions. This new initiative, called “AEIF 2.0”, is focused on accelerating projects from the Department’s Alumni Engagement and Innovation Fund (AEIF).   AEIF awards grants to alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs enabling them to create solutions to some of the world’s toughest challenges. Funds are limited, however, providing for just 53 of nearly 700 projects submitted last year. The new partnership will create investment options outside of USG support and provide visibility, support sustainability, and accelerate the social impact of exceptional alumni who have demonstrated proof of concept with past projects. Alumni can also leverage RocketHub’s educational tools to maximize their projects’ potential, tell their stories, build the capacity of their organizations, engage local communities and develop sustainable solutions. Through the annual AEIF competition, the U.S. Department of State has supported more than 150 alumni initiatives in over 80 countries that promote shared values and innovative solutions to global challenges. 

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  • August 21, 2014

Prepare for Takeoff: Bing Ads and RocketHub Partner to Give Small Businesses a Boost

 Guest Post by Matt Lydon, General Manager at Microsoft When we say we’re passionate about small business, we mean it, and today we’re putting our money behind it. Bing Ads has partnered with RocketHub on a crowd-funding challenge to help support small businesses find their path to success. The Bing Launch contest, which starts today, is an opportunity for ambitious entrepreneurs to showcase their business model for a chance to win a grand prize that includes $10,000 cash, $500 in Bing Ads credits and one year of account management consultation. Both Bing Ads and RocketHub know that while a business may start small, the hopes, dreams and ideas behind it are HUGE. It takes courage to take that first step in making the vision a reality…and it can be tricky. We want to make it easier, and a little less scary. The Bing Launch contest will help a business get the added boost they need to get started. Whether you call them clams, bills, bucks or Benjamin’s, ten thousand of ‘em make a pretty nice launch pad! If you enter, you can win—it’s that easy! To learn more about the challenge that concludes on September 13, visit www.bingads.com/rockethub.   Please feel free to share the news of this exciting opportunity with your friends, and let them know about #binglaunch— they’ll be glad you did!  We look forward to seeing your entries! -Matt Lydon - General Manager, Microsoft

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  • August 13, 2014

Project Spotlight: Farm Story - Locally Grown TV

The inspiration for the script is a little different than the inspiration behind the full project. The script Farm Story was written by my former NYC roommate, Terri Coduri Viani, and she loosely based it on the last 10 years of her life - when she moved from NYC to a very small farm in rural CT. But the inspiration for the whole project is a bit more involved. Basically, Terri and I had been wanting to work on a project together for awhile (something we hadn’t done since the late 90’s), and for me, after years of theater work, I was looking to branch into television production. When Terri first told me about the script, I was intrigued; but when I read it, that was when I really got hooked on the idea of making this show. It was so different from so much of what’s on TV today - a quiet character study about a forty something woman, her husband, and his brother, searching for a place to call home. For me, what really stood out about Farm Story was how different it is from just about everything else that’s out there today. In today’s television (and I include web series in the term “television”) environment, when you see characters in their 40’s, they seem to have their lives all figured out. They’re successful professionals, they don’t worry about money, they seem pretty together. In my experience, (as a forty something woman myself, with forty something friends), that’s not a very accurate representation of the people I know. Farm Story shows people who are in their 40’s and who may have had some success in their lives but are still figuring out how to have the lives they believe they’re meant to be living. In tone, Farm Story simultaneously feels like a throwback, to shows like Northern Exposure and Thirtysomething and something completely new. I was too excited by the project not to jump in with two feet. Crowdfunding has been an amazing experience for me. Having raised money for a few theater projects on Rockethub, I’m well aware that those shows could not have happened without crowdfunding. So there was no question that I would do it again when I moved into television production. I love crowdfunding in general, and Rockethub in specific because I love the family and community vibe behind it. It really captures that feeling of everyone doing this thing together. I’m from a big Italian family and I’ve spent my life believing I could be successful in the (unpredictable and fickle) entertainment industry, in part because I have my family backing me up, always have. Crowdfunding gives your whole community a chance to be part of your project, part of your family. I can’t help it, the idea of that just gives me the warm fuzzies. With Farm Story, one of the unique things we’re doing with it, is trying to apply the “locally grown” idea to television. We’re trying to build this show locally, within our community, our family. So, of course, since that’s how I’ve always seen Rockethub, it made perfect sense that I would use crowdfunding again to not just tap into that group, but to actually broaden the community we could reach. I have three pieces of advice. #1) Don’t give up. If you believe in your project and you have a passion for it, that belief and passion will not just shine through every time you talk about the project, it will also infect others with that same excitement - and who doesn’t want a little excitement in their lives? #2) Know that you’re not doing anything wrong. I think whenever people start a project where they need to ask friends and family for money, there’s always that feeling of “I’m doing something wrong. I shouldn’t ask for money from people.” But the truth is you’re not doing anything wrong. In fact far from it, if you believe in your project (see advice point #1) you’re actually giving your donors something wonderful. You’re giving them the chance to be a part of something exciting, something awesome! Not to mention you’re giving them rewards. Who doesn’t want that? And, #3) always, always, always be thankful and let your donors know how thankful you are. Make sure they know that you appreciate them and their donations. They are your family, your community, they are what will make your rocket soar… Jessica Ammirati, Producer & Director at Going to Tahiti Productions

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  • August 12, 2014

Spotlight on Buffalo Stack

What was the inspiration behind your latest album you are currently running on RocketHub?    In the summer of 2013, shortly after getting married, my wife and I moved form Long Island City, Queens, upstate to Hudson, NY.  We were looking for a bit of a different lifestyle, one with more space for creativity, a deeper connection to nature, and more time.  For a while I’d been reconnecting with my early blues and jazz influences and finding my voice in that music. That sound crept it’s way into the music I was writing, and with time to develop new material it was able to snowball.  Prior to this project, my other records were a bit more on the melodic pop side. One night at Levon Helm’s barn in Woodstock, I met some new friends that would become the other members of Buffalo Stack.  I invited them to do some gigs and recordings, and we hit it off right away.  Now the band is well on it’s way with gigs booked through the end of the year.  What has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the music world - how are your supporters responding? Folks are responding quite well.  It’s really amazing to see people coming out of the wood work to support our project.  There have been old friends and fans contributing, and some new folks we’ve met on our new journey upstate.  Also, Tania, my wife and musical partner, has been touring with the Avett Brothers, so some of their fans have noticed our project as well and have gotten on board with tweeting and instagram, etc.  We initially set our goal low to kind of ensure a good, morale boosting outcome.  But we’ve gone beyond that goal and things are looking promising. We are looking to hire a PR company, and our budget is almost there. I think real music fans appreciate being on the ground floor of a project that they dig.  It will be amazing for them to see us progress and follow through on their investment.  Any advice for others looking to crowdfund their records? Don’t be afraid to try!  There are so many people in your network that you probably aren’t even aware of that’d be happy to show support. Also, it’s good to connect with the public if your goal is to be a performer. Crowdfunding creates visibility and a good rapport with the public.  Write as many folks as possible and be enthusiastic and positive.  Take a proactive approach and view every contribution as a blessing. Our outlook is very powerful.  Andy Stack - Singer/Songwriter & Recording Artist

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  • August 4, 2014

Behind the Scenes with Doghouse

I have always been a fan of dark comedies from the Coen Brothers to Paul Thomas Anderson to Wes Anderson.  In 2012, I asked my college friend, Gina Monreal, who was writing for ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters” to write a dark comedy with myself as a lead character.  She completed the script for our short film, DOGHOUSE, shortly thereafter.  Having the availability to use a crowd-funding platform such as RocketHub, allows me to then take this original vision and make it reality. As working artists, technicians and creators, using RocketHub to fund DOGHOUSE is an incredible opportunity to produce a movie outside of traditional film financing avenues.  The ease of a crowd funding platform has simplified the process for colleagues, fans and family to offer their support.  For those interested in following the careers of lead actors, Erin Daniels and Michael Maize, they have been thrilled to have access to unique fan-based perks/goods. Also, the ROCKETHUB platform offers folks an opportunity to receive a producer credit on a high caliber movie, when they wouldn’t normally have that connection. Every great film project starts with a great story.  When producing a short film, it’s the same as producing a feature film; you need to create a great package around your script.  We were fortunate to attach an internationally acclaimed director, as well as actors with numerous film and television credits.   This package in partnership with RocketHub’s platform, has gone a long way to helping us crowd fund our project. - Michael Maize, Actor, Producer, Crowdfunding Success

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  • July 28, 2014

Mother’s Day - Crowdfunding a Story about Family

I got the idea for the play, ironically, on the train home for Mother’s Day. All of these adult children, some with their own families, returning with flowers and balloons to a place they once called home. We fall into old roles when we come home, no matter where we are in our own lives. So I wanted to see what would happen if I sent this particular character—a sharp-tongued New York drag queen named Helen Back—on that journey home. I wrote the play asking, “What might happen?” and it just took off from there. Mother’s Day has been accepted into the New York International Fringe festival this year, which is a huge honor, and will be the first time the play has been produced. As a producer, I’ve had the opportunity to get very involved in that process and watch the play transform completely. Getting to watch these characters become people in a room and not just lines on a page continues to inspire me every day. This experience has been so positive! It’s all about reaching as many people as possible. You will have donations of $100 or more (which is great of course!) but typically people have donated around $25. The goal for this project is $8,000, so that means spreading the word far and wide and getting creative about how to appeal to possible funders. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to even be doing this, though. It’s been a dream of mine for years to get my writing produced, so the mere fact that I’m finding a way to do that now is so exciting. For crowdfunding, you can’t be shy about what you’re trying to do. In an ideal world, if you build it, they will come (donations in hand!), but the reality is that you’ll need to give people some directions and more importantly, a reason to show up. And while a big part of that is including some great donation incentives, it’s also a lot about marketing your project in the right way. So my biggest piece of advice: don’t play small. Don’t sell yourself short or be modest about your accomplishments. While everyone loves an underdog, now is not the time. You need to inspire people—even your friends and family—to get as excited about this project as you are! And stay excited, even if the donations are not where you want them to be by a certain point in your campaign. It’s not about just hitting your fundraising goal—it’s about pursuing your passion and doing the work to bring it to life. It’s so important to always remind yourself of that. - Colin Drucker, Emerging Writer and Designer, Crowdfunding Success

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  • July 16, 2014

With No Shame and a Ton of Talent, Amy G. Crowdfunds New Show

I have been working as long as I can remember on this project. I have been trying to figure out a good place to put all my shames and failures, someplace useful where people could laugh at them, including myself, ever since they were fresh and new and really needed tending to. I gave the show a name about 3 years ago, though, in the middle of a long season working in Germany. I recognized the look on especially older women’s faces, as I sang and danced and generally behaved badly in glamorous clothing. They were thinking, “You should be ashamed of yourself, cavorting like that.” Some people have a lot of shame. I recognized it because the feeling was familiar, and it felt like something that I was addressing, whether I wanted to or not. So why not address it head on? Should we be ashamed of ourselves when our only sin is being shameless? No, I do not think so. There is so little use to caring about the judgement of others, or judging ourselves too harshly, based on heavily mandated perfectionism and other bad ideas. I think a lot of us, myself included (again) have so much useless shame crowding the corners of our personalities that it’s a miracle we can get out of the house, let alone with a smile. So this show was all in purpose of shedding some light in those freaky dark corners, for the fun and shameless entertainment of us all. I have tested the show in Vienna, NY, LA and Seattle, and this project takes the show to the world, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where the performing arts go to shop. I want to spread the word of Entershamement, and this is the biggest and best platform there is. Innovation is the fruit of so much failure. Therefore, the opportunity to fail is the springboard to innovation. It’s a confronting and scary thought, but it’s actually true. I was so nervous to start asking for money. All my cultural shame about not being wealthy enough to fund the project myself, or any residual shame about whether the project was good enough for anybody else to want to fund, all these backwards thoughts, and more, have been overturned. For whatever reason, there is shame around asking for support, and especially money. The show being what it is, it felt like just another flaming hoop I’d jump through for the cause. I’m still getting used to it, I may never be, but practice makes perfect and I’m certainly practicing daily. My supporters have been mind blowing in their generosity. It’s all the same broke friends that I’ve supported in the past on their projects, of course. I thought there might have been more funding from outside people that I met more tangentally, but that really have the money to spare. But of course, it comes from the people who love me, no matter what they have in the bank. The feeling of giving is the same as having, abundance makes abundance. It’s a gift to receive and to give. Crowdfunding: do it. Get over your shame and ask for what you need, to do what you believe in. People who love you will be so happy to be involved in your process, and it gives a great reason to talk to everybody you meet about the project. Sometimes these self-produced adventures can feel quite lonely in the solitary execution of every last detail from the writing, rehearsal, performance, booking, lighting, editing, sound, marketing, and press. Why not get a community involved at least in the production end? They say a network is only as strong as the number of points in it, so if you want a stronger network, you’ve got to reach out to all those possible points. Lets get involved with each other, people! Theatre is communal, and so is its production. #noshame - Amy Gordon, Entertainer, Singer, Actress, Global Crowdfunding Innovator

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  • July 10, 2014

End the Job Hunt - Crowdfunding Empowering Literature

Most people know how it feels to be stuck in an unproductive job hunt clicking refresh on their email every minute hoping for a reply to one of the dozens of job applications they have fired off into the ether. The plight of the employed is often not much better. People are at their desks in cubicles doing work that doesn’t fulfill them for supervisors they don’t find inspiring. All the while they feel trapped because they don’t know how to pursue better careers. Our project is for all those people who want to create that career - one that is fulfilling and meaningful - and wish they had a process to move forward that is structured, well-organized and effective. A little over two years ago, the coincidence of seating assignments at a conflict management firm in Cambridge, MA created the conditions for the design of a model that does just that. My co-author Carly and I didn’t know each other before we worked in adjacent cubicles at the Consensus Building Institute (CBI). We became friends and, as friends do, over lunch and on break talked about life. We mainly focused on how to investigate and advance our careers. I had just entered the field of alternative dispute resolution and was working as a mediator and freelance writer/researcher, while around the edges I was doing any work I could find as a negotiation trainer. Carly was working full time at CBI doing administrative work and trying to figure out in what direction she wanted to go with her profession. As we compared notes, we noticed that the strategies each of us was using to advance our careers had a lot of overlap. Both of us were asking for guidance from experienced professionals through dozens of informational interviews, while practicing the negotiation skills we were learning in our work. What we found most striking in our comparison was how different our personality types and backgrounds were and yet the same strategies were working for each of us. I had often thought that luck and personality were the main drivers of my ability to advance faster than most in the dispute resolution field. As Carly and I talked, I realized that both of us were making swift progress not only because of luck and our dispositions, but also because we had learned how to harness the keys to being successful negotiators and transformed them into a methodology for career development. Tad joined the project as we sought out people with broader professional experience to test if our model would work for those in their mid-career. He corroborated our experience and was able to expand on our model by bringing his perspective from several career jumps from advertising, marketing and airline pricing to sculpture and mediation. The model we developed was distilled from a combination of the people we interviewed and research on negotiation theory. It is made up of three types of negotiation utilized continuously throughout four phases of career development, as summarized below. Three Types of Negotiations: 1. Negotiating with you —to get clarity about your values, long-term goals, and immediate next steps. Without clarity, you’re stuck, either in a fruitless job hunt or in the rut of an unfulfilling job. We’ll help you to identify the core needs and interests that underlie your professional ambitions so that you can negotiate with purpose and direction for what’s truly important to you. 2. Negotiating with connectors —to get the information and contacts you need to understand, enter, and excel in your field. We’ll walk you through our unique, practical, two-step approach for conducting informational interviews. By engaging and collaborating with connectors, you’ll catalyze ideas, strategies, and next steps you never would have dreamed of on your own. 3. Negotiating with gatekeepers —to get concrete training and work opportunities that advance your professional goals. Every professional opportunity—be it a job, professional development training, or the chance to publicize your work—can only be accessed through other people. Learn the art making a “yesable” proposal, asking for something that meets your needs and also meets theirs, thus making it easy for them to say YES! View our video to learn more about “yesable” proposals. These three types of negotiations will come up again and again in your work as well as your personal life. But what you negotiate for and about—how you approach the conversation, and how you interact with your counterparts—changes dramatically depending on where you find yourself in your career development. We will explain how to utilize the three negotiations as you move through the following four distinct phases of career advancement. Four Phases: Phase 1 —Finding focus. Effective career management begins with developing an understanding of what drives you, where you want to go, and where you honestly stand. Phase 2 —Gaining access. You then strategically negotiate for the support, assistance, and collaboration you need from others—connectors—in order to understand the professional landscape you’ve chosen and gain entry to paths that previously seemed unavailable, or were entirely unknown to you. Phase 3 —Doing the work you love. By learning to “expand the pie” and make creative agreements that meet both your needs and those of employers—gatekeepers—you land work opportunities that give you perspective, skills, credibility, and leverage. As you get established and your bargaining power improves, you can begin to refine your workflow and opportunities to better meet your interests and ambitions. Phase 4 —Building fulfillment. Managing your career ultimately becomes a process of creation and ingenuity. Honing your work-life balance, spending your time doing what’s important to you, and seeking to shape your impact on the world are crucial to reaching a place of personal fulfillment. Our main motivation for writing the book is to share with a broader audience the insight that we were lucky enough to gain from our, now, hundreds of interviews with successful professionals and lessons from well-established negotiation theory. Today all three of us frequently get asked to do informational interviews with college/masters degree graduates or mid-career professionals looking to change course. In these conversations people have had overwhelmingly positive responses to the advice that we have given based on our model. It seemed like the best way to grant access to this information to a wider audience was to put our ideas on paper. So we decided to turn the project into a book. To do that we needed not only support and funding but also a community willing to give us ideas and spread the word. Crowdfunding seemed like the perfect vehicle to do that because it provides both an opportunity to ask for help in the form of ideas and funding, as well as an organic way to spread the word about the project. To our surprise and delight the response from our supporters has been overwhelmingly positive. From young people the response is almost always, “When will the book be finished? I need to read it now!” It is encouraging that we are writing something that’s relevant and useful. Responses from established professionals have supported our willingness to take a risk and put our ideas out there; to try to make navigating the process of career development a more structured organized, and hopeful process. We felt some anxiety that people would discourage us from taking this risk or say that the book wasn’t needed. We are pleased to report that our experience has been quite the opposite. The advice we would give to crowdfunders first is: “Do it! Go for the crowdfunding.” It is a great way to force you to sharpen your thinking and give your project real definition and life. Second, I’d say that if you’re having trouble moving your project forward, creating a crowdfunding campaign gives you accountability so that you will complete the project. Even when it becomes overwhelming and you want to drop it, you have to finish because you have hundreds of people to whom you have committed. Creating this kind of support and accountability is extremely valuable for any entrepreneurial venture especially one as challenging as writing a book. Drilling down to specifics, I would say there are two things that we learned in our research about crowdfunding that I would encourage anyone doing it to take seriously. The first is to take the time and spend the money to produce a good video. Our society seems to be shifting increasingly towards high stimulation, short-form data transfer (videos/audio) and away from long-form written text. Having a video that’s fun, funny, engaging and has a high production value is clutch for spreading the word, especially if your target audience is younger people. The other piece of advice we found, which I can’t emphasize enough, is the importance of doing a good bit of reach-out before you launch the campaign so that the day of the launch you have funders who already know what the project is and are ready to pull out there credit cards to support you immediately. Doing this creates momentum for the rest of the project. Like restaurants that are empty, projects with no backers are ones people will likely avoid because it appears there must be a good reason for the lack of interest. - Justin Wright, Co-Author, “End the Job Hunt”

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  • July 3, 2014