A Beautiful Winery/Brewery Flies in Virginia

Our combo winery/brewery is the first in Virginia under one roof. We have over an acre of outdoor space that is adjacent to the Dan River. Our river, historically, has not been seen as an asset and its beauty has been damaged by industrial use. Our project will help us beautify the outdoor area to take advantage of our proximity to the river. The goal is a scenic, relaxed outdoor setting where family and friends gather. We’ve been so pleased with the RocketHub platform and the response from our supporters! Many people have never supported a crowdfunding campaign, so we are helping to educate lots of people about it’s benefits. This has also given us a way to allow extended family and friends to feel like they a part of our new venture. Never underestimate that there are people out there, many of whom you’ve never met, that will have a shared passion for your project. Most people are “top of mind”, so our greatest surges have been after a new Facebook post or friendly email reminder. AND.. give serious thought to your giveaways. The more unique, the better. - Julie Brown, Wine and Brew Master, Entrepreneur, Crowdfunding Success

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  • June 12, 2014

A&E, Comcast Business, and RocketHub Begin Project Startup with a Bang

Last week, Comcast Business, A&E Networks and RocketHub launched the first of a series of entrepreneur forums, Project Startup Live. Budding entrepreneurs gathered at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, UT for a panel discussion and networking reception with experts in the innovation and startup space. Thirty-four local small businesses entered a pitch competition for the chance to present their ideas and win $10,000 in cash and prizes. A hearty congrats to finalists Raziehs Organic Skin Care and Made To Simplify for being recognized and supported by A&E Project Startup. The winner of the Provo Project Startup Live competition was Shilo Case from Rejuvatek Medical with Tatt2Away – an innovative, non-laser tattoo removal process. Tatt2Away uses a method similar to how a tattoo goes on but instead of ink, Tatt2Away uses a patented solution to release and expel the ink pigments from the body. The next Project Startup Live event will be held at TechTown in Detroit, MI on June 4, 2014. For more information, please visit www.projectstartuplive.com. - The RocketHub Team

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  • June 2, 2014

An American in Texas - Coming of Age, Conflict, and Crowdfunding

Stephen and I were both really interested in doing a poignant, coming of age film that offered an alternative narrative to the era of the first Gulf War. The story is based on a true story, our story, of being in a band, having some pretty conflicting feelings about what was happening on TV in 1990- the 24 hour news cycle marketing death and patriotism to us, and really feeling helpless as to how to express opinions that were considered somewhat dissenting and unappreciated, especially in small town Texas. Stephen started pushing the project to me as far back as 5 years ago, and began writing before we even finished our first film, and we worked on and off for a few years as I produced a few other projects, and did a documentary. Seems like every time I would come up for air, Stephen would be there with more pages, and enthusiasm about getting this done. So in 2012 we really dug in and focused on writing, and eventually invited other filmmakers, Darko Lungulov and Kenny Riches to get involved, and both had a good amount of input on the script and provided a fresh set of eyes and fresh ideas, which was really welcomed, because we had been going round and round with the script. The problem with telling your own story is killing your darlings, and bringing some really talented writers, and producers in that were able to assist us in navigate through the story, and still preserve the original voice of the story. They were really key to helping us arrive at a finishing point, and encouraging us to start working on funding. As Anthony has said, the inspiration came from wanting to tell a story with an alternative narrative to a particular time and place that always carried a lot of emotion and memories for us, late 1990 at the start of the gulf war. He really said it best when he said we felt helpless at what we were seeing and hearing. At that time, cable was exploding and the war seemed like perfect product for them to market to the country. The government used the media as a conduit for propaganda about smart bombs and targeted death and all we saw and heard outside of these reports was support from our community for yet another conflict. There was talk of the draft and a long protracted war, it was a very tense time if you were either of a certain age and/or were opposed to the war. I had been tossing the idea around in my head for a long time and a few years ago I brought it up to Anthony and started working on the script.   What has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of American film and indie production in Texas and beyond - how are your supporters responding? Haha, I hadn’t considered us as pioneers, but thanks…haha…American film is really at a great place, and getting better really. Technology was something we were all waiting for. Digital cinema cameras have finally bridged the gap and opened doors for story tellers, but even being able to reduce the major line items of film stock and developing costs and filmmakers learning the new roles of editor, sound designer etc….we still have the giant hill of financial support to climb. Crowd funding is now breaking down that barrier as well, and when used in conjunction with social networking the obstacles are almost completely removed from indie production. We are still contending with the delivery/distribution model, but I am confident that we are developing that as well. In addition to crowd funding though it is important to mention community support. For many of our other projects, we have relied heavily on connections in our town of Victoria, TX that has been incredibly supportive of our films. The community here offers us lots of support on line items like lodging, food, locations and ancillary cast and crew. We also have recently been gifted the use of about $300,000 worth of film gear from a local philanthropist who has recognized our passion for filmmaking, and for what that has done for our community. It is really amazing to see this kind of support from a community that we truly felt alienated from as young people. I can honestly say that this small town has really embraced this new phenomenon of independent cinema, and have gotten behind the film as well. Three years ago the city began funding us to develop a film festival in Victoria, TX and in just its second year was voted by Moviemaker Magazine as one of the top 25 film festivals worth the submission fee. In our third year the city offered $25,000 in funding for, An American in Texas, and we launched our campaign opening night of the festival. I hope other communities will take a cue from Victoria’s forward thinking and recognize the incredible common ground that we all share through the appreciation of film. For success: know your network, put together a solid story, have some people lined up to give at the launch so that the campaign takes off with a bang. Our opening night of launch yielded almost $5000, which gave the campaign some legs. Don’t rely on FB posts, although posts are great to keep the project in the peoples eye, you have to reach out to people personally. You can’t expect people to just see a post and give you $100. Posts get you “likes”, but likes aren’t dollars, sharing the posts don’t add to the campaign. You have to reach out to the people that “like” the posts and personally make a case for them to jump in. Don’t suggest for people to just give $10, leave that open for them to decide, you would be surprised at what people are willing to kick in. Don’t get frustrated. I have seen people post stuff on FB like, “I don’t care if anyone gives to my campaign, we are doing this!” That looks like crap to the people that do give, and makes you sound bratty. People give because you are positive and because your passion is infectious. If you remain positive people will get on board. And lastly, have a great Video for people to look at and know what the project is about. I think our teaser inspires people to give. We had a great illustration from Walter Sickert that people really responded to, a great teaser that Darko, Stephen and I shot with some actors that will be in the film and just some actors that wanted to support the project. Stay positive, have some direction and be ready to put in 3 to 4 hours a day on emails, phone calls and letters. These have been our recipes for success. - Anthony Pedone & Stephen Floyd

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  • May 29, 2014

ISEE-3 Reboot Project - Crowdfunding the Revival of a Spacecraft

The inspiration for this project goes back a long way. In the 1980’s I worked at the University of Alabama in Huntsville at the Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research. We worked with data from the ISEE-3 spacecraft and I knew of its heritage. Fast forward to this year and we started reading the reports that the signals had been received from the spacecraft but NASA said that they did not have any money to contact the spacecraft. We already work in using advanced 21st century technology and applying that to recovering old data from 1960’s era spacecraft and we raised money on RocketHub for that last year. This is moving into the 1970’s to actually control a spacecraft but between the 60’s and the 70’s things did not change that much and so we were familiar with the technology. The rest was just figuring out what we wanted to do and to see if we could pull it off. Thanks to many volunteers and sponsors that have shown up, it looks like we have taken the impossible and made it just hard! It is interesting to us that it seems that the majority of our supporters are not from what we call the traditional space advocacy community. There is a very wide interest in space out there in the geek world, of which we are a proud part, and it is that community that has come together to make this happen. This is true of our corporate volunteers as well and the companies and institutions that are supporting our efforts. To me this shows a huge pool of interest for things space out there. We also have had many small donations, which to us are wonderful as well in that many many people are participating. We are well over 1,700 supporters now and this is very cool to us. What we’ve learned from our previous RocketHub project is more media exposure equals more funding. That simple. It all comes down to eyeballs and of course having a compelling project that others think are interesting and then that interest leads to them parting with some of their hard earned cash. For success, go with your heart. Go with what you believe in. If the fruit is good as the old saying goes, then people will come to sample it! Crowdfunding is much harder work than most people think as well. People need to be updated. People need to know what you are doing, even while the fundraising is going on. Don’t just sit there and expect the totals to climb by osmosis. Then also, fulfillment is hard and make sure that you make those that give to you happy! Thus if you ever want to do it again, then you have people out there who have given to you before, know that you are going to do what you say, and then are more willing to support the second time or more. - Dennis Wingo, Founder of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) and the CEO of Skycorp Incorporated

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  • May 14, 2014

A&E, RocketHub, and Comcast Business to Host Project Startup Entrepreneur Forums in Boston, Detroit and Provo and Provide $60,000 in Cash Prizes and Services

NEW YORK and PHILADELPHIA – April 28, 2014 – A&E, RocketHub and Comcast Business have joined forces to launch Project Startup Entrepreneur Forums, a unique series of live events bringing together some of the best and brightest entrepreneurial minds in three U.S. cities; Boston, MA, Detroit, MI and Provo, UT. These forums will host aspiring entrepreneurs, local businesses, business students, and community leaders as they share insights and best practices about launching or growing a small business. A live panel discussion will be followed by a pitch competition featuring three pre-selected local businesses. One Grand Prize winner for each city will be awarded $15,000 in cash prizes and technology services from Comcast Business and A&E. Two runners up for each of the three cities will receive $2,500. Project Startup is a multi-platform brand initiative focused on supporting the new American entrepreneur. Whether it’s the chefs on Wahlburgers® or the buyers on Storage Wars®, A&E’s unique brand of original programming emphasizes the new entrepreneurial spirit in the nation today. Working with business service provider Comcast Business and crowdfunding platform RocketHub, Project Startup supports small businesses and helps aspiring entrepreneurs take their innovative ideas to the next level. With the help of RocketHub, attendees will also learn about technology’s latest role in launching successful startups and the basics of crowdfunding, an increasingly popular method of financing small business growth. U.S. Bureau of Labor research indicates that entrepreneurs and small businesses led the way in creating new jobs as the U.S. pulled out of the 2009-2011 recession, accounting for 67 percent of the net new jobs compared to larger firms (>500 employees).  From financing a new small business, and scaling up to meet increased demand to getting back on track after a failed venture, Forum attendees will hear from a panel of experts offering strategies to help enterprising business owners succeed and contribute to this vital part of the U.S. economy. The Pitch Competition is open to eligible small business owners. Those interested are encouraged to visit ProjectStartupLive.com for the Official Rules and to submit an entry. Three small businesses selected as finalists will be featured in the live entrepreneur forum with the opportunity to pitch the Project Startup panel judges. Attendance is open to the public on a first come, first served basis and attendees are encouraged to RSVP at ProjectStartupLive.com. The Provo event is May 20, Detroit is June 4, and Boston is June 10. “Small businesses and entrepreneurs are vital for a healthy American economy,” said Project Startup creator Libby H. O’Connell, Ph.D., SVP Corporate Outreach, A+E Networks. “They are the backbone of what makes our country so great. In Boston, Detroit and Provo, we look forward to gathering business leaders who are continuing to strengthen a thriving future for their communities.” “Comcast Business is committed to supporting small businesses, and Project Startup is an ideal opportunity for us to help entrepreneurs take their spirit of innovation to the next level,” said Karen Schmidt, vice president, Comcast Business. “As a technology leader, we understand first-hand the importance and role technology plays in not only growing existing businesses, but also launching successful startups. That’s why our involvement with Project Startup is such a strong fit for us.” "Project Startup provides an outstanding opportunity for entrepreneurs, enabling access to funding and pathways to new audiences. RocketHub is excited to deepen engagement with the Provo, Detroit and Boston markets, alongside our partners A&E Networks and Comcast Business,” added Brian Meece, CEO RocketHub. About Comcast Business Comcast Business, a unit of Comcast Cable, provides advanced communication solutions to help organizations of all sizes meet their business objectives. Through a next-generation network that is backed by 24/7 technical support, Comcast delivers Business Internet, Ethernet, TV and a full portfolio of Voice services for cost-effective, simplified communications management.  For more information, call 866-429-3085. Follow us on Twitter @ComcastBusiness and on other social media networks at http://business.comcast.com/social. About RocketHub RocketHub is a top crowdfunding platform that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs raise millions of dollars globally. Part of RocketHub’s mission is to educate the public on the power of the crowdfunding model. As a result, the founders have lectured on crowdfunding at top schools and conferences, and have even testified in the U.S. Congress on the power of online fundraising. About A&E Now reaching 100 million homes, A&E is the home to 100% original content that inspires and challenges audiences to BE ORIGINAL.  A&E offers a diverse mix of high quality, uniquely immersive entertainment ranging from the network’s original scripted series, including “Bates Motel” and “Longmire” to signature non-fiction franchises, including “Beyond Scared Straight” and “Storage Wars.”  The A&E website is located at aetv.com.  Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/aetv and Facebook at facebook.com/AETV.  For more press information and photography please visit us at press.aenetworks.com.

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  • May 5, 2014

Help Change The Vegas Travel Experience - Crowdfunding Vegas Rover

I think Hunter S. Thompson explained it best when he said “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.” The inspiration for Vegas Rover is quite simple… We noticed a gap and a trail of disinformation about Las Vegas floating around the internet. We started a Facebook group to see if we could dispel rumors and help confused travelers and seasoned veterans alike. What we found was an excited and very passionate group of people who loved Vegas, but always felt something was missing from the experience. We started first by compiling the most frequently asked questions our group members had and then did whatever was necessary to get accurate-detailed answers to those questions. At first, we looked at the obvious sources for these answers… Travel sites, blogs, casino websites, industry “insiders”, but we quickly found most of the information to be inaccurate, outdated or just plain vague. Thus, the painstaking 14-month journey of networking with casino executives, business owners, show headliners, and employees began. While we found most receptive to answering questions, the premise behind 2 guys running a facebook group to answer questions was foreign to them. As time went on, we improved these relationships and started securing exclusive deals for our group members (Casino Freeplay, Free Food, Discounted Show Tickets with special perks, and more). Our members loved these deals and continuously asked us for more with new partners. It was at that point that we decided that it was time to change the Vegas travel experience forever. If we were going to secure these deals, we needed a modern platform to deliver them on, so the brainstorming began. We hated the idea of a bulky coupon book, as they are disadvantageous and a nuisance if you were dressed up or walking around Vegas. Coupon books also had the inherent issue of duplication fraud, being non-trackable, and only allowing a fixed non-updateable list of deals for the year. So Brad and I said, let us be different. Let us give our members an easy to carry and uniquely identifiable card. We could allow our partners to choose from a multitude of promotion lengths and add additional promotions on the fly. Our members would not have to worry about buying a book where the coupons might be expired in 2 months if they purchased towards the end of a given year. We would be able to allow our partners to send out thank you messages and garner feedback from those who used one of the promotions at their location. The card will also become the perfect synergy of promotions and marketing for restaurants and nightclubs who do not want to pay costly group buying site rates. The card would be a win-win for everyone involved. Crowdfunding is… Exciting… Stressful… Tedious… Gratifying… Unexpected… As soon as our RocketHub campaign launched, we hit the ground running and it has been non-stop ever since. Our second pledge to come in was at the $777 level and it completely shocked us and made us truly humble (Thanks Alex). We honestly expected that most of our group members would likely donate $5 or $10, but wait to get the full membership until we were fully established. Instead, we have had an overwhelming support via the purchase of our $50 basic membership and the $100 gold membership package. When we were leading up to launching our RocketHub crowdfunding campaign, there was not allot to go off of in regards to our niche. We appeared to be the first travel site that was community oriented that attempted to launch via crowdfunding and almost everything we could find in regards to crowdfunding didn’t apply to us. We’re essentially writing the book as we go in our endeavor and it’s made us have to think on our feet and evolve. I can most certainly say that it has been a lot of trial and error as what works one day, may not work the next day. One of the hardest things to overcome being a previously established free community, is encouraging people to make the spend and getting over any senses of entitlements people might have had. The only thing I can compare it to, is a Tech Startup who’s coming off a long beta period and now suddenly your telling people “thanks so much for helping us grow and using our product, and making everything what it is today, but now it’s time for us to move into the reality of being a business. Everything we’ve done up to this point from closing exclusive deals, to hosting large meets throughout the country cost time and money. We have unfortunately lost some of our strongest group members, but also gained some new advocates to fill the gaps of those leaving. With a large community, you are dealing with a human factor that most crowdfunding campaigns might never experience. You have to be 100% respectful to everyone who asks questions or makes statements, even if you might disagree with them. We love our member’s passion; we think it’s one of our strongest assets as a company. There is of course that .1% of people who cannot be made happy and you just have to let them go. I think the best way to sum up the experience is with one word… Enlightening. Be ready for anything and always be willing to adapt to your member’s needs. You should practice coming up with objections and responses for as much as you can think of. Simply writing something in an FAQ is not enough… Be ready for people to ask the same question over and over and over and over and over again, and become offended when you tell them to go read a FAQ or your campaign page. You have to give a hands-on-1-on-1 approach when crowdfunding a community site. How you react and respond to situations now, is a direct reflection of how people feel they will be treated later on as a member of your community. Say one wrong thing, and people will lynch you and the trolls will jump on you… Nevertheless, you still have to remain calm, cool and collected. You will also quickly find out whom your community advocates will be by how some contributors start to answer questions for you and will come to bat for you when some people may object to your campaign. I would also stress that it’s very important to give detailed descriptions on what you will offer with your service. Be clear on when any deliverables/perks will be made. (also don’t skimp on perks) It’s a fine line of protecting trade secrets about what your service will offer, and giving enough information to convince your potential funders to invest. I will end with a quote from Leo Buscaglia “Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.” - John Moura and Brad Baker, Vegas Rover Co-Founders, Crowdfunding Pioneers

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  • April 30, 2014

WO Bone by WO Design - Crowdfunding a Dog Toy with a Purpose

In the fall of 2012, while serving in Ethiopia, I was struck with a clear calling to leverage my resources and knowledge to help widows and orphans in developing countries. For the past 6 years, my wife Holly and I have owned and operated a natural pet supply boutique (Dee-O-Gee) in Bozeman, MT. I also had some connections in the “product design world” and realized that I could launch a product design company that directly assisted widows and orphans with the sale of each product. WO Design was born in the summer of 2013 and the first product from WO Design, the WO Bone was launched on RocketHub in March of 2014. For the WO Bone, I partnered with Bring Love In, based in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia. Bring Love In (BLI) exists to connect widows and orphans into permanent family units, locally in Addis Abbaba. Each of the orphans in the BLI homes attend school together each day. Providing lunches for those kids is a challenging part of the BLI efforts. This is where WO Design is leveraging sales of the WO Bone to help! For every WO Bone sold, 2 home cooked lunches will be given to a child in the BLI organization. 1 WO Bone = 2 lunches for orphans! The WO Bone is a unique interactive dog toy, with it’s unique “triple twist”, divots and bumps (for oral health of your dog) as key features. The WO Bone will be manufactured in Montana (Made in the USA!) and was conceived and designed in Montana as well. Prototyping and test molds have already been made. Manufacturing and order fulfillment strategies are already in place. Once the WO Bone RocketHub campaign concludes successfully, it will take approximately 1-2 months for order fulfillment. Wholesale pricing and Retail Packaging of the WO Bone is available for Independent Pet Retailers. Our typical customer in the pet specialty “channel” is 40-50 year old female. She usually makes the buying decisions for the pets in the family. But, she is not the typical person that would be familiar with crowd funding, etc. So, we’ve had to do lots of additional “how to” work in person and via email to a number of would-be funders. For crowdfunding success, plan for extra “how to” work in person and via email to a number of people at the beginning of the campaign. This is something we added “on the fly” and I wish we would have had it clearly laid out at the beginning. - Josh Allen, WO Design, Entrepreneur, Crowdfunding Pioneer

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  • April 25, 2014

New York-based Icey Company Crowdfunds Growth

Our inspiration was simple. We need dough. I mean everyone “needs” dough, but we had a particularly wild couple of months. It seemed that if it wasn’t for bad luck we would have had none. We had lost a premier location the Summer before due to some circumstances way over our heads, and that snowballed into losing the roof over our heads, and then we lost 2 vehicles in the span of about a month and all of the sudden we were like “uh yeah, so how are we going to do this now?” We had looked into traditional forms of raising money, meaning banks, venture funds, and private investment but, quite honestly we discovered we aren’t exactly the most credit worthy crew on the planet. You can blame that on our ability to have made just about about every single possible mistake you can make as young businesspeople on our path to where we are now. Keeping that in mind though, while we have made every single mistake you can make, we also figured out to make things happen in a very big way. In our past lives we produced one of the largest snow sport and music tours in the world, we launched a pretty successful marketing company, we rocked mics just about everywhere on the planet as musicians, our activism got us as far as the Oprah Winfrey Show, and we had a pretty glamorous extended stint on Wall Street. Long story short, our mistakes were our greatest teachers. Plus, all of those other lives had built us a pretty good base of fans of how we get down. We thought, “well what is one thing we must have to keep ourselves afloat?”. Our answer? THE VAN!!!! We had seen several of our musician fans have success raising money for projects and we came up with “HELP SCOOPS GET A VAN!” Now, $5000 plus later we are pushing into our last week of funding with the hope of getting something even better than we expected at the start of the campaign. Our supporters have been incredible. We are very excited to whip the new van to their spots and drop off some fresh all natural ICEYs to help them beat the heat this Summer. That is after all what Cool Suppliers do best. The Cool Suppliers are a gang of kids that have a plan to cool the planet. We believe we are on the right side of Global Warming. We believe people are going to be needing their bodies cooled more and more every year. We believe that ALL NATURAL goodness, ICEYs that taste like we just cut the fruit off the respective trees (because in a sense we did), and packed them into freshly designed squeeze cups are the answer to life’s problems. We believe being cool is paramount even when you are not cool, and nothing is cooler than making those around you cooler. As the Cool Suppliers we recognize our place in the revolution. We recognize the importance of getting ALL PEOPLE eating better, and not GOUGING for the goodness. Our single serve squeeze cups are the same price and size as a frozen Snickers bar, or a FrozFruit bar, and that is about where the comparable’s STOP. Our Mango ICEY? Its mango, filtered water, cane sugar, and a few roots, same basis goes for our Strawberry Lemonade, our BlueBerry-Red Raspberry, and our Coconut. After that, there is NOTHING ELSE IN THERE. We don’t FRUC with that corn syrup. You cannot pack more fruit into a container than we do, you can only hope to tie us. We set the standard. We are delightfully DANK. All Summer you will find us on the cooling the streets of Bed Sty, the rooftops of Williamsburg, the beaches in Coney Island, the steps of Cyclone stadium, at festivals, parties, and just about anywhere people are being active in New York City. We will be walking in the doors of your favorite corner stores, delis, bodegas, mini marts, and letting the shopkeepers know they need to be reserving a spot for a couple of our boxes in their freezers. We are the at the beginning of the movement. The story is only beginning to be told, and we are dropping theme music right alongside it. A fresh mix of Summer anthem-NYC-all night and all day-music called the “SUMMER 60”, tied in with Reverb Nation, curated by DJ IMAGE of Wu-Tang and Cirque Du Soleil fame. So, let the Summer heat hit hard, the Cool Suppliers will come harder everyday, all day. For any of those that are looking to crowdfund, best advice we can give is have a singular goal. The more tightly focused on something you can be, the better. For instance, we need money for a lot of things but, a van is something that everyone can see and feel. Its a pure goal, its finite, its tangible. We saw our musician friends with their albums doing it like this, so we kind of copied that style. Next, be sure to create some worthy personalized perks. Definitely, definitely, plan ahead, don’t just drop the campaign, and expect everybody to jump to it. Make those closest to you aware of what you are doing before you do it. This way you have some momentum when you get started. Have a team, doesn’t got to be baseball team sized, but have a few with different networks, this will help spread your love a bit further. Also, know your networks, what can they support with, what will they respond to? Don’t be dropping caviar and champagne perks for your soup and crackers crowd. Then GET ACTIVE. Hit it all day long, don’t be shy, you have everything to gain, and nothing to lose because after all, you are where you are in the process of becoming cool and your fan base gets that, they want to see you succeed. If for some reason they don’t? Well, then maybe they need be downsized from your network. Truth rises. On we rock. Ahem, and by the way. If you gleamed anything from this interview, whether it be insight, energy, enthusiasm, or a laugh. Hit up our campaign and drop a few bucks. We have surpassed our $5000 goal, we have a week left, and it would be really fresh if we can get a van that is going to last us longer than a Summer or two. Cool? Cool. Here’s the link. - Timmy Grins, Entrepreneur, Crowdfunding Superstar

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  • April 23, 2014

With Large Voice and Fierce Talent - Kosi Crowdfunds New Album

This album is the natural extension of my first album, One More Cup of Coffee. My first album was done relatively quickly with just one guitar accompanist, and it worked well. However, there were certain songs I didn’t include, like the title track of my second album, Pictures of Us, because I needed more instrumentation to make it work. The inspiration for both of these albums came from a former collaboration with another singer-songwriter named Ryan Parker. While our project, the Kosi and Ryan Project, never did make it into the studio, it was Ryan who gave me the idea that this was something we could do, and then, after the breakup of the collaboration, I transferred that mentality into my own project. I find that crowdfunding is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. Having the RocketHub platform is certainly a boon, as it makes it much easier to handle the the technical details. However, the part that involves my asking people to participate is difficult for me psychologically. Luckily for me, I have two musician friends who successfully raised the money the money they needed for their respective albums, one of whom ran on the RocketHub platform and fairly recently, and so I’ve had a model of success to follow; I haven’t had to it up as I go along. My first and only piece of advice is that if you are like me, and have a psychological block against asking for help and/or participation, you’re going to have to get over it. Don’t hesitate to talk yourself up, even before the campaign begins. Don’t be bashful. - Kosi, NYC-Base Singer/Songwriter, Crowdfunding Success

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  • April 18, 2014

Big Al Crowdfunds Incredible Video Game Remixes

I was in a rap group 11 years ago in college, then took a break to pursue a professional career and chase the dollar. Years later I realized I was not satisfied with my life and something needed to change. I had taught myself to play the keyboard long ago, and instead of practicing to classical or whatever, I sought out the sheet music for my favorite video games and TV/movie themes from the 80’s and 90’s. I don’t know why. It’s just funny to me. It makes me laugh and that brightens my day—and hopefully others’. I have difficulty making music about “serious” topics and keeping a straight face. I would never be the John Mayer type at an open mic with the acoustic guitar. I think there’s enough of that already. Plus, I’m obsessed with variety and really, really like seeing art get “remixed” or re-created in a new genre or medium. Like an 8-bit Zelda piece played by a string quartet. A soul/funk version of MarioKart. Hearing one rapper’s voice over Depeche Mode instrumentals. PowerGlove oven mitts. Basically, if I like something a lot to begin with, imagine the joy of experiencing it again in a different way as if for the first time. My music gives me an ongoing vehicle for laughter and fun that isn’t available to a substantial degree within a business career. But I sure as hell didn’t want to try to make a career out of music or comedy because it doesn’t pay much and I’ve already experienced the joy of living in my car. So I committed to pursuing my real passion on evenings and weekends without regard for its commercial viability. My financial goal as a musician is to break even and get my money back. That’s all. Something about a self-sustaining hobby fascinates me. I got encouraged by two things happening in the same month a year ago. One was the documentary “Nerdcore Rising,” (available on Netflix) which is about the nerdcore pioneer MC Frontalot and his struggles to make it as a musician covering atypical topics for the hip-hop genre. I had not heard the phrase nerdcore before, and it opened my eyes that “Hey…this is a thing. There’s actually a growing audience for this kind of music.” The other was attending Rockage, an annual video game festival in San Jose, where artists like Mega Ran, Doctor Awkward, and Urizen came into town and inspired me with their performances. As I traveled home I thought, “What if it was me up there performing again, next year?” I’m happy to say that dream came true 2 months ago. Making a rap album was something I’d been thinking about for years and the hardest part was deciding to actually do it. Once I did, I started performing a few songs locally and produced one single with help from a professional studio and engineer and that clued me in as to how much an album costs to produce and what is really required. As I rap in one of my songs, “Anything you want is just a budget and a task list.” I don’t happen to have thousands of dollars on me at the moment, and if I did, then (to be frank) paying off debts or something would be a more righteous use of the funds, so I decided to reach out to my existing fans, plus come out of the closet, as it were, to my non-music friends, family, and business associates and ask for the money. This was really scary. I could picture them rolling their eyes and writing me off, so I did a lot of second-guessing before I finally clicked the Submit Project button. It was touching to see people sponsor me for $25, $50, even $100. To think that someone believes in me and likes what I do that much was encouraging. It’s been a fun experience so far and has given me an excuse to do some publicity, promotion, and other wackiness like my promo video and some other things during the campaign I would not have done otherwise. Several “nerd” musicians have put on crowd funding campaigns in the past, so I researched their projects and duplicated what seemed to work while also trying some new things I’ve learned in my career in marketing online. We are progressing steadily towards my funding goal, and even if we do not reach 100% of it, my album is still going to be produced as every dollar helps. Some people are against asking fans for money to make your album, but my response would be “Well, where the hell is the money supposed to come from if I don’t have it all myself?” I figure if there’s nothing wrong with selling an album then why would there be anything wrong with pre-selling it during a fundraiser. We’re all in this together…there’s no music without the fans and no fans without the music. I’d suggest using a platform like RocketHub that does not deny you your funds and make the entire campaign a ginormous waste of everyone’s time and energy in the event you fall one dollar short of your funding goal. That is too all-or-nothing for my taste, as I believe that something is almost always better than nothing. The other thing I’d suggest is find out all the proven, best practices for conducting a successful campaign and then implement them. RocketHub’s PDF guide was very helpful…I went through it and broke it all down into a checklist and did it over several months until the time as right to launch. Vlad took the time to consult with me on the phone for 45 minutes and that was pretty cool. I appreciated the personal touch and sincere desire to help. Also, there’s a fantastic post on Tim Ferris’s “Four Hour Workweek” blog about putting on a successful funding campaign. I applied everything demonstrated there, including shamelessly modeling the structure of the sample funding promo video given:) But marketing hacks aside, I’d bet 80% of it boils down to your existing relationships at the time of your project’s launch. I’m glad that I took 6 months first to meet other fans of the nerdcore, 8-bit, and video game music genres, as well as other musicians, both in the Bay Area as well as at MAGFest, the largest video game and music festival in the U.S., as most of my sponsorships (and fans) have come from them. So take your time, prepare well, and do it right when the time comes. Good luck! - Alan Brymer a.k.a. Big Al, Hip-Hop/Funk/Dance Artist, Crowdfunding Pioneer

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  • April 16, 2014