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

The Made - Crowdfunding Simplified Food Prep through Smarter Design

Trying to make a bottle for my crying, hungry 4 month old daughter. I couldn’t put her down or she would wake the whole neighborhood, so I was working with one arm. I was spilling, she was crying, it was 4:00 am and my brain locked up. In the back of my head I thought “This would be so much easier if the scoop were attached to the container”. That was my “AHA!” moment. My brother and I developed a simple cap that allowed accurate measuring and spill free dispensing of infant formula. We realized the methodology of what we created could be scaled to other products. This coupled with my passion for healthy living, has led to the Made, the coolest rice and whole grains dispenser on the planet. Crowdfunding is the biggest roller coaster I’ve ever been on! Definitely not for the faint of heart. Good news is followed by bad news and vice versa on a daily, if not hourly basis. Shockingly at this point, most people still don’t know what crowdfunding is. If you’re like me with a small social network, you have to find the right influencer’s for your product. Unless your product is tech related, there is only a small cross section of people who are crowdfund savvy, yet influential in your product’s field. Finding and reaching out to those people takes time. Launching a campaign should start well before you actually go live. That’s the hard part, if you haven’t been through a campaign before, or you have a paradigm shifting concept that needs market research, planning your pre-launch strategy can be daunting. Identify your products highest and best use, Identify those who most benefit from that use Immerse yourself in that culture, develop relationships, and listen to what they have to say. - CJ Knapp, Founder of Madcaps, Entrepreneur, Crowdfunding Innovator

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  • June 25, 2014

Skee The People with Crowdfunding

The inspiration for the campaign is to keep our Brewskee-Ball family together and our dream of professional skee-ball alive. We are the first-ever national skee-ball league, and over the past ten years, we’ve built an awesome family of rollers across the country and opened our own skee-ball bar in Brooklyn (Full Circle Bar). Skee-Ball, Inc., the company that manufactures skee-ball games, is now suing us for trademark infringement. In 2005, we met with the CEO of Skee-Ball, Inc., and explained our idea of taking skee-ball out of the boardwalk and into the bar. We asked him if he wanted to partner with us, and, although he chose not to, he gave us his blessing to start the league and to call it Brewskee-Ball. Now, after we’ve transformed the favorite game of our youth into an adult sport and bar staple, Skee-Ball, Inc., has changed its tune. We believe we’ve done nothing wrong, and we created the Skee The People campaign on RocketHub to stand up to Skee-Ball, Inc., fund this lawsuit, and keep the good times rolling — from skee to shining skee! It’s been a wonderful and inspiring experience thus far. Our story is unfortunately a common one. A big company trying to steamroll over the little guy because it thinks it can. It doesn’t matter that the big company has a flimsy case. It wants the little guy to struggle with heavy legal bills and ultimately cave. That’s not how it works in 2014. David had a slingshot, we have social media and crowdfunding. If this were 10 years ago we wouldn’t have this resource, but we do, and people are responding in a big way. Crowdfunding has given us the ability to turn this hurtful lawsuit into a positive thing. It has united and galvanized us and has sparked creativity, art and beauty. We hope that we can be an example to other small businesses in a similar circumstance. You don’t have to give in to a bully that is pressuring you with outrageous legal bills, thanks to companies like RocketHub, we live in a world where people can fund people! For success, surround yourself with people that you love and don’t be shy asking for help. I’m lucky to have a seemingly infinite supply of beautiful and talented people behind this campaign. I would not be here right now without dozens of friends and family members that have donated their time and expertise. Launching and navigating a campaign like this is not a one person job. I’m overwhelmed by the support I have received and have learned that I have really really smart and generous friends. That may be my best advise right there, have really really smart and generous friends and let them do their thing. This requires a group / family effort. - Eric Pavony, Brewskee-Ball Founder

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  • June 18, 2014

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