Spotlight on Charlito’s Cocina and Charles Samuel Wekselbaum

Charlito’s Cocina honors timeless gastronomic traditions by producing high quality, pasture raised American charcuterie & cured meats. We caught up with founder Charles Samuel Wekselbaum to get some insights on his RocketHub campaign.  What was the inspiration behind your campaign on RocketHub? I’m a huge believer in crowdfunding.  To me, crowdfunding has the capability to dramatically level the playing field between people who wish to start/grow businesses and those who actually can.  It many ways, it is the ultimate entrepreneurial equalizer.  I love this notion.  It is one that has had a dramatic impact for the better on the business landscape since effective crowd-funding platforms like RocketHub began.  The business landscape is now more voluminous, more diverse, more interesting, and more accessible to more accessible to more people than ever before.  Anyone with an internet connection and a bank account can theoretically crowd-fund an idea. The inspiration for the Charlito’s Cocina RocketHub campaign has its roots in three primary reasons:  1) My wish to fund the growth of Charlito’s Cocina in a way that reflects the combined efforts of many, rather than the lopsidedly powerful spending ability of a few.  The fact is that Charlito’s Cocina has gotten off the ground as a result of the combined efforts of many people- friends, family, staff, customers, suppliers, etc.  It would not be possible without the amalgamation of all these efforts.  Rockethub allows us a fantastic platform to continue this sentiment in financing the growth of Charlito’s Cocina. 2) My wish to not be indebted to a bank, an investor, or any other party, especially one who knows little to nothing about our business and has no interest in it other than its ability to create a return on investment.  My hope is that our community, our customers, our RocketHub supporters feel a vested interest in seeing us grow and prosper because we provide goods and services that enhance their lives in a gratifying manner. 3)  Of all the crowd funding platforms out there, RocketHub is my favorite.  I admire its mission and its execution of that mission.  RocketHub’s staff has been responsive, efficient, and genuine with me through the development (and many questions and delays I’ve had) of our campaign.  Every person I’ve spoken to at RocketHub has followed through on their word with me, even if that was just as simple as a follow up to check on how the development of the campaign was going.  I did not have this experience with other crowd funding platforms.   I also feel as though the people I’ve spoken with at RocketHub are genuinely interested in what we’re doing, which makes a huge difference to me.  The humanity and sincerity I’ve encountered at Rocket Hub has been awesome.  And, in addition to all that, Brian’s Ted Talk and RocketHub’s Success School has seemed the most helpful in navigating how to create and conduct a successful crowd-funding campaign.  As a novice crowd-funder, I’ve felt quite overwhelmed and lost going into this process, especially since we have such an ambitious funding goal.  RocketHub’s Success School and Brian’s Ted Talk really helped me to get organized and feel in control of the process.  What has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the food space - how are your supporters responding? It’s still so early to tell, but so far, so good!  My friends and co-food producers, especially those who have had some crowd-funding experience, have been incredibly helpful and supportive.  I’m confident that our supporters will rally behind us and help us reach our goal, and hopefully inspire other producers to crowd-fund.     Any advice for others looking to crowdfund a similar project? Do it! My biggest challenge in the process has been getting organized and getting over the preoccupation of soliciting friends, family, and customers for money.  But at the end of the day, it’s not a big deal and it’s totally worth it.  It’s the best way of raising money that I know of.   Charles Samuel Wekselbaum, Founder of Charlito’s Cocina

Read the full post »

  • October 17, 2014

CMJ Showcase at Rockwood Music Hall

Rockethub is proud to present some of our favorite musical alums at Rockwood Music Hall. When: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21st, 12noon-4:30pm
 Where: Rockwood Music Hall stage 1

 Who: 12:00 Kelley Swindall

 12:40 Niall Connolly

 1:20: Buffalo Stack 

2:20 Mariachi Flor de Toloache

 3:20: 2/3 Goat

 No cover and no badge needed. We shall see you there!

Read the full post »

  • October 10, 2014

A&E Project Startup Supports Art Heroes & The Organic Center

A&E Project Startup continues to support a new wave of entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers to help bring their ideas to life. The latest RocketHub campaigns to receive seed funding and additional exposure include The Organic Center, which supports organics farmers - and the pro-social creative community project Art Heroes. A&E will continue to work with RocketHub to identify key entrepreneurs who have current projects in development on RocketHub’s platform that reflect the network’s commitment to the new entrepreneurial spirit.  Congratulations to these RocketHub projects, and be sure to stay tuned for more updates on A&E Project Startup.

Read the full post »

  • September 24, 2014

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

Read the full post »

  • 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

Read the full post »

  • 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. 

Read the full post »

  • 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

Read the full post »

  • 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

Read the full post »

  • 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

Read the full post »

  • 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

Read the full post »

  • July 28, 2014