FreshDirect Joins Forces with RocketHub In Search of the “Next Big Food Thing”

RocketHub is excited to announce a brand new initiative with FreshDirect to help awesome food-related projects raised funds and receive support. Here is the official release: LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y. / NEW YORK, N.Y. - October 2, 2013 – Popular online grocer FreshDirect and top crowdfunding company RocketHub, today announced a call for entries for the “Next Big Food Thing” challenge. Entrepreneurs with innovative food-related ideas— from food products to kitchen gadgets, from farming advancements to food businesses, and everything in between—are encouraged to submit their projects. Finalists will be announced in November and will crowdfund for their idea via RocketHub.com. A winner will be selected by a panel of judges based on a number of factors, including money raised, funder engagement and overall quality of idea. The entrant with the winning idea will receive $10,000 to fund their venture and the chance to partner with FreshDirect. Two runners-up will receive $2,500 each to fund their businesses. Judges for the “Next Big Food Thing” include Geoff Bartakovics, Tasting Table CEO, Natasha Case, Coolhaus CEO, Sarah Copeland, Real Simple Food Director, John Craven, BevNet Founder and David McInerney, FreshDirect Co-Founder. “I’m constantly wowed by the incredible new ventures I hear about; ideas that can improve the way we grow, prepare and provide food, and ultimately change the way we eat,” said David McInerney. “We’re excited to support and spread the word about the newest and greatest small food businesses out there as they strive to take their ideas to the next level.” “RocketHub is excited to team up with FreshDirect to power the “Next Big Food Thing,” said Brian Meece, CEO of RocketHub. This partnership will leverage the massive power of crowdfunding to incubate innovative food endeavors.” To submit a project, visit www.freshdirect.com/nbft The deadline to enter a project is October 31, 2013. —- About FreshDirect FreshDirect is a leading online grocer in the U.S., delivering premium quality fresh-from-the-farm foods and brand-name groceries to customers in the greater New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware metro areas and greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. With a more than 2,500-member workforce that is still growing, FreshDirect places an emphasis on nutritious, delicious meals and convenient services that allow customers more time to live healthy lives. FreshDirect aspires to be a valued corporate partner in all communities in which it serves. For more information, visit www.freshdirect.com. Follow FreshDirect on Twitter: @freshdirect and on Facebook: facebook.com/FreshDirect About RocketHub RocketHub is a top crowdfunding company that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, and social leaders raise millions of dollars. RocketHub is a brand-friendly crowdfunding platform that delivers powerful pathways for success to its users.

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  • October 2, 2013

Tali Takes the Next Step - Crowdfunding and So Much More

The inspiration behind the About to Pop project is to take our music to the next level. We are ready to take our full band and signature sound beyond the boundaries of NYC so that we can reach new stages and give people living farther away an opportunity to hear what we have to offer. Our ultimate goal is a World Tour and in this project we are taking the first crucial steps toward that bigger goal, starting in the North East region of the US. We’ve had years of experience performing locally and building a fan base among our immediate neighbors. The time has come to live up to our potential, step out of our comfort zone (NYC) and experience life on the road. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go when I first posted our project. I didn’t know what to expect or not to expect. In all honesty I feel like a beginner. There’s so much to learn…even from exploring other projects alone I find inspiration and set new goals for myself and our band. Something else that I find interesting is that it’s not all about making the money you need to accomplish a personal goal. It’s about connection. It’s about building community around a project and keeping friends and fans involved and engaged in what you’re doing. It becomes a group effort. It really gives you a sense of community and gratitude. For crowdfunding success: Communicate. Be open and transparent about your project, your goal and where you are. People are curious and interested in more than just giving money. Acknowledge. Express gratitude and in addition to any rewards, give credit to those who have your back in what you are doing. You are making this happen together. Without them, you would not be where you are today. Let them know it. Feel abundant. No matter how much or how little you raise, know that there are people behind you and always think about the people who give and NOT the people who don’t. The glass is half full. Be creative. While you do make rewards that correspond with specific donation amounts, it doesn’t have to be black and white. It never hurts to reward people spontaneously and offer them your music/art in creative ways. It may even encourage a donation. Keep the project in mind and not just the money that you raise to fund it. While you are raising money to make it happen, remember that ultimately, the project is what matters. Don’t lose sight of what’s important. While the money helps, remember to continuously express the passion behind the music or art that you are promoting. True passion and love for what you do will inspire others. - Tali Ratzon of Tali & The Grind, Pop and Funk Innovators, Music Crowdfunders

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  • September 25, 2013

One Spark Brings Crowdfunding to Life through Festival

One Spark, The World’s Crowdfunding Festival, takes place in downtown Jacksonville for five days in April, and Creators showcase their best ideas ­at any stage of development in the areas of Art, Innovation, Music, Science and Technology for a chance to access $300,000 in crowdfunding and prize money and millions in capital investments. Heading into our second year, our goal is still to facilitate a community event. When I say community, I’m not just referring to Jacksonville, our local community, who we love and who have embraced and supported us every step of the way. I’m also referring to the creative community abroad. We want to help creatives from around the globe showcase their ideas in a unique and exciting festival environment so they can connect with the resources they need to make them a reality. One Spark is like making RocketHub come to life in downtown Jacksonville, and connecting those projects directly with the people who can fund them and help them launch. That community of people, people with amazing ideas, they inspired us to launch this project so we can grow the event and make it bigger and better ­ that’s who we’re working for, One Spark is for the Creators. It’s really been amazing taking crowdfunding to the streets hadn’t really been done before and people are really excited that we’ve taken it there. It’s obvious that crowdfunding works, that it’s the new capital economy, and it works really well on online platforms such as RocketHub. But I wonder how many times someone has had a great project, a really great idea, but they just didn’t have the network to find funders, or thought, “If I could just get in front of potential funders, I know I could sell my idea and I know they’d want to contribute.” One Spark has been amazing for the creative and innovative community and it’s already evolving to the next stage ­an accelerator and apprenticeship program for standout Creators called KYN. One Spark co­-founder Elton Rivas just launched that new initiative last month to offer continued support for Creators and the response continues to be tremendous. But it all starts with One Spark, and that’s what we’re still trying to fund here. This might sound obvious, but what you’re trying to do is new, and disruptive. To the creative community, this makes your project appealing. Get the word out early, bring key thought leaders into your feedback loop and ultimately, get buy-­in and build advocacy. You’ll need this powerful collaborative not only to fund your project but ultimately, to move it beyond the powers­that­be and on to a successful launch. There’s strength in numbers and like most crowdfunded projects, your success will depend largely on the strength of your network. - Joe Sampson, Executive Director, One Spark

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  • September 20, 2013

Jack is Back - Crowdfunding a Musical Journey

I came back to RocketHub because it was the obvious and clear-cut choice on how to find funding for my project. The campaign I ran in the early days of the community was simple, yet effective: we managed to raise $3,000 in only 15 days! (I’m still surprised we could do that!) It only stands to reason that our new goal, $4,000 in 60 days, would be just as easy, if not easier! The second campaign is very similar to the first, in that it takes a certain amount of time and energy along with the right about skill and wit to continue to persuade people as to why they should help fund your project. There are admittedly some new difficulties, but they are not unlike those that came with the first campaign. For example, the first campaign a few years back came with the anxiety of not knowing what to expect: would this actually work? When it did work, that eased that anxiety. However, now we need to be careful not to take anything for granted. Just because it worked before doesn’t mean it will automatically work again, so we need to remain diligent in our efforts. Similarly, when the fundraising plateaus, we need to remember not to get discouraged or frustrated. We just need to look for new ways to show why our project is so important. In addition to the above advice, creativity is key. It’s imperative to have a vision or a dream, and it’s equally important to have the drive to make that a reality. It’s also important to be able to improvise and think on your feet. Sometimes the best ideas are the ones you think up after you launch your campaign. Remember, your job is to show why your project is so important that people cannot pass up the opportunity to fund it. Finally, don’t be afraid to go a little out of your comfort zone. Obviously, you don’t want to sell yourself just to make your project happen, nor do you want to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable beyond the point of no return. But wading into the proverbial shallow end of the scary pool of unfamiliarity may be what drives your project to be fully funded. For example, our current project has an option of receiving a free concert in your house for a $500 donation. In addition to that, I offered the first person to donate $250 or more a free dinner with me on my tab. You never know who you’ll meet with these goods! - Jack Furlong, Recording Artist, Composer, Educator, Crowdfunding Veteran 

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  • September 17, 2013

Scorpions, Bugs, Crowdfunding!

BugFest is the largest bug event in the country, with over 35,000 visitors coming to learn about arthropods, sample buggy dishes at Café Insecta and participate in fun bug crafts and games. Each year, we allow our visitors to vote on the “Theme Arthropod” and this year scorpions were the winner! One of the things that makes BugFest so special is that it is all about science. We have dozens of entomologists and arthropod experts at the event. Once we knew scorpions were the theme for 2013, we brainstormed scorpion ideas and asked around for scorpion experts. Our contact at NESCent (National Evolution Synthesis Center) told us he knew a scorpion evolution expert and introduced us to Lauren Esposito. After talking with Lauren, we realized that not only was she a great scientist, she was an excellent educator and science communicator and we knew we had to have her come to BugFest! The response to our campaign has been amazing! Of course, the Museum has very passionate supporters, already, but I’ve been blown away by the response to this campaign. When talking to folks, everyone has a different reason for donating. Some do it because they love the Museum, some do it because they love BugFest and some do it because they love scorpions! Almost everyone that has donated is passionate about science education—I’ve had comments that folks “want the children to learn about science.” Folks definitely appreciate the goods but that does not seem to be the true motivation for our funders. We took our time when putting together our RocketHub page and we had a whole team involved. We did not just throw something up; we tried to make our page really cool! We even had a photo shoot for the goods in front of the Museum! Additionally, we have tried to be very thoughtful about how and when we send out the information to our supporters. We started by sending it out to Museum and Department staff (we are part of the State’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources), then we sent it out to our volunteers and then our members. Of course, we posted it to Facebook and Twitter, too! Moving forward, we plan to cycle through our lists again and hopefully hit our funding goal before the deadline on the 17th! - Kari Wouk, Senior Manager of Educational Collaborations at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Science Crowdfunding Pioneer

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  • September 13, 2013

The Dolly Llama Project - Dolls & Children’s Book Teaching Peace

Dolly Llamas started out as lighthearted, comical, story-time characters I’d created to teach kids about practicing peaceful actions. The characters soon evolved into actual Dolly Llama rag dolls, intended to be used as visuals. I’m a huge fan of puns by the way, so the name was too obvious, yet not trademarked. I couldn’t believe it, so I ran with it! I then decided that the first children’s book, Dolly Llama Says, should incorporate the play on words by using Dalai Lama type quotes and affirmations that children would understand, ponder and hopefully become inspired to act on. I decided to take the project even further by donating copies of Dolly Llama Says to children in need. My original hope was to be a “one for one” company, but soon realized that I simply could not afford it. However, I was still determined to give back somehow, so I reached out to local non-profits and decided to donate one book for every five books sold during this campaign. My crowdfunding experience has been that of a positive one; including major support from friends, loved ones, and random people who have stumbled upon the project. Crowdfunding would not be possible without backers or “fans”, so I have them to thank for lifting this project off the ground. Not to mention that Crowdfunding sure beats paying back a business loan at high interest rates, right! Thanks to a well received launch, I have since set my sights on larger Dolly Llama endeavors; including more character/plot driven stories, a ‘seek & find’ Picture Book Of Good Deeds, kid’s yoga mats, printed fabrics, ribbon, and clothing. Who’s ready for a Dolly Llama animated series? We sure are! In order to gain more followers and backers, one thing I wish I would have done differently is reaching out to local news early on. They are most always more than willing to help. Allow my mistake to be your guide. Crowdfunding endeavors are super exciting, but don’t jump the gun. I actively started working on The Dolly Llama Project nearly nine months before I even launched the products. Acquire a Trademark if necessary and have your non-disclosure agreements handy. Ask questions. Gather opinions. Research statistics. Stay organized. Network. Be inspired. Dream big. - Carla-Rose Branch, Teacher, Innovator, Entrepreneur, Founder

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  • September 10, 2013

A New Way to Find a Job - Jackalope Crowdfunds a New Path for Seekers

Quite simply, the inspiration was anger — too many people out of work, or too many people not happy with their current jobs. So many people want to get better jobs and the way they do it now is very inefficient, so how can we make this process (networking into companies) smarter, faster and easier? That’s where our technology comes in — what could takes hours or days take seconds with our technology. We hit 25% of our goal before our first week, so we are off to a great start, now the challenge is keeping the momentum. Most people we touch are open and supportive, but we need to see the actual financial support. We are seeing support at the higher levels (funding 100 job seekers, or a larger group) but not seeing the volume support at lower levels.   Make sure you know who your customer is — a person who is not working may not have the resources to fund this project, but someone he/she may others who can fund the project. How do you reach them?  For any crowdfunding project, plan plan and plan. Of course there a time to stop planning and start executing, but it is important to truly understand your value proposition and make sure there is a market of funders. Test your value proposition with outsiders - people who are not close to your project, but respect you enough to provide honest (and sometimes brutal) feedback — that is healthy. - Sudy Bharadwaj, Co-Founder and CEO of Jackalope Jobs

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  • September 3, 2013

Crowdsourcing a Better World through Wiki-Safety

The problem is that every year millions of people get hurt and seriously injured in accidents. We know that in the majority of cases these accidents can be prevented. They are caused by human error or the lack of awareness. Our aim at Wiki-Safety is to educate and to inform people around the globe on how to avoid accidents and how to react properly. Of course, not all accidents can be prevented. Nevertheless, the effects of totally unexpected events such as natural disasters or traffic accidents can be minimized. Preliminary action and knowledge of proper behavior play a central role in this. We saw it when the Great East Japan Earthquake hit Japan. People were well trained and prepared for the earthquake but not for the following giant tsunami. This is when we decided to launch Wiki-Safety. We bundle all the useful information on safety issues such as traffic safety, child safety, safety at home, workplace safety, IT security, theft protection, fire protection to mention only a few. Our aim is to make this information freely available to all people around the globe, across national borders, via internet and social media. We are not only a crowdfunding but also a crowdsourcing pioneer in the world of safety and accident prevention. Information on accident prevention and safety tips is collected and shared via crowdsourcing. For this we need the support of the crowd. Users are asked to submit articles and to rate and comment on existing articles. Submissions with extensive positive feedback are translated into other languages and made available to a wider audience. For now we operate in 3 languages with another 12 to follow. The idea of funding and sourcing via the crowd might be well known in the US but is still relatively new and less known to the general public in Japan and Germany. But this will change, I am convinced of that. Mass Media is slowly starting to pick up the topic. The response of our supporters is great and I am very glad about it. People do see the added value of the project and help us spreading the idea. As I say in the video the word of mouth of our supporters is priceless. To be honest we wouldn´t be running this campaign if there was no Crowdsourcing Week 2013 Startup Challenge. I applied, we won (there were 3 winning teams), and this triggered us preparing our campaign. In the future it will be interesting to see how the campaign on RocketHub impacted our Startup. We are reaching out to lots of people and I am very curious to see who I´ll get to know. Please ask me this question again in a couple of month or a year from now. From my perspective the idea behind crowdfunding is not only to raise money and to spread the idea of your project. Almost as important is the response of the crowd. I evaluate the success / failure of the campaign as an indicator of the social acceptance of my project. It is the feedback to me. We prepared a good video with a clear statement and now it is up to us to create attention and to reach out to as many people as possible. This is hard work and should not be underestimated. If you plan to crowdfund you should have press releases, texts of e-mails which you plan to send, contacts, and everything ready on the day of your launch. Once started it is a time consuming media battle and a roller coaster ride. We at Wiki-Safety were busy preparing our video and had a late start. But we´re working hard and catching up fast. - Ken Riebensahm, Wiki-Safety Founder, Global Crowdfunding Innovator

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  • August 30, 2013

Liberating the Genome - Crowdfunding Science

We were empowered to create a direct-to-consumer genetics company from our work on the Supreme Court Case concerning patents on human genes. Up until the court decision in June, individual companies controlled the rights to examine particular genes in your body. The most well known example is the BRCA1 gene for breast cancer which was owned by Myriad Genetics. Any woman in American who wanted to get checked for that gene needed to pay Myriad’s monopolistic fee of >$3000 when any other clinical lab could have done it for $200. We helped to correct this injustice by adding testimony as an expert witness for the case, wrote scientific papers, and then wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post to try to convince the court of the problematic implications of gene patents; the court ruled in our favor 9-0!   “The Supreme Court’s decision opened an era of genomic liberty, allowing people to look at the DNA for all of their genes – which had been hidden behind patent walls for companies that had a monopoly on such testing,” Mason said. “Our next-generation sequencing technology allows individuals to be proactive in understanding how their genome can affect their health decisions.” Previously, individuals had to rely on their doctors to understand their health and to make proper medical decisions for them. As scientists and doctors have found the molecular basis for disease and drug response, it has become increasingly clear that a “one-size-fits-all” framework for medicine is not in patients’ best interest. “Genome Liberty fills an important void in our current medical system,” Rosenfeld said. “For example, there are clear genetic markers for many medications that will determine whether a person will respond properly or may have extreme side-effects, including estrogen, codeine, Plavix, Nexium, Prilosec, Zocor, Dilantin, Coumadin, Haloperidol, Abilify, and Celexa.  Such tests are very rarely performed before a drug is prescribed, but they offer distinct advantages.  They overcome most doctors’ insufficient understanding of, and even fear of, genetics and genetic testing.” Genome Liberty will work directly with consumers as well as doctors to offer a Gene-Drug Interaction Test. Here is how the test works: A customer (1) orders the test on the Genome Liberty website; (2) receives a saliva-collection kit; (3) provides a saliva sample; and (4) mails the sample to Genome Liberty’s certified medical lab, which extracts the DNA and tests it for the genetic variants corresponding to drug responses. Customers receive a full report within two weeks to bring to their physician, outlining the medications that are recommended and discouraged, based upon an individual’s specific genetic profile. Results are kept confidential and secure and only given to the patient. The test costs $99, provides information for a lifetime, and covers hundreds of frequently prescribed drugs. It also looks for a condition known as Factor V Leiden that can cause dangerous blood clots when women who have this condition take estrogen, either for birth-control or hormone replacement.  Many of these tests are encouraged by the FDA on the drug label, but they are not widely requested. We have had strong encouragement from our supporters, but many other colleagues and friends are skeptical of the crowdfunding concept. They tell us that it is difficult for them to give a donation to a for-profit company. For their limited amount of money available to make donations, they would rather support a food bank, a homeless shelter or a traditional charity. Even though we tell them that are hoping to make a difference in human health and transform medicine, it is still a hard sell. To be successful and in order to have an effective campaign, you need to already have a large and committed following of people who want to support your project before it begins. - Christopher Mason & Jeffrey Rosenfeld, Scientists, Entrepreneurs, Liberators

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  • August 28, 2013

Mead!? Crowdfunding Delicious Gluten-Free Beverages from The Colony Meadery

We come from a background in craft beverages, Mike as a longtime award-winning homebrewer, and I (Greg) as a writer. I had been exposed to mead fairly early, but it was basically impossible to find. For me, though, I always had it in the back of my head as a beverage that could do well in the market with wide appeal. I had the good fortune to meet Mike, who made (all due respect to our friends at Moonlight) literally the best meads I have ever tasted, and we thought it was time to really try and get this beverage the attention it deserves. Every single person who we tell about it starts off concerned - will it be too sweet? Will it taste too much like honey? How could it be better than beer or wine - and every single person changes their mind after having some. After enough tests, we just had the confidence that people will love it. Our supporters have been great. There is no question that it really hurt us not to be able to give away mead as a reward. If we were a juice or hot sauce company, we could crowdfund our first batch as basically presale, but instead we’re more in a position of asking people to believe in a business and a beverage because of their community or the need for gluten free options or their support of local business. We’ve gotten a lot of traction and attention locally, and every event we go to we get constant questions about when we’re going to open up (looks like three weeks!), so people are on board and ready to purchase. I think we hit crowdfunding at an interesting time, though, where everyone has been hit up a lot with tons of good projects from a ton of platforms, and there’s a little fatigue. So we need to close strong and remind people that with small amount of money, they can really help us start strong and bring something new to the marketplace. If we had it to do over, we’d have done the campaign earlier, in spring. Summer made it tough to get consistent momentum because people are on vacation and it’s a crazy season for all beer-related things. We thought the activity might help, but it gets pretty easy to get drowned out in the beer world from June to after Great American Beer Festival in October. When people are dropping $75 on a case of pumpkin beer in August after springing for tickets to huge, awesome festivals like the National Homebrewer Convention, SAVOR, ACBF, etc… I think $100 pledges turn into $30. Really know the demographic of your primary network. We’ve found that friends our age (45) and older don’t know what crowdfunding is. We’ve had to explain it multiple times to many of them and it just doesn’t really click with a lot of them. It is definitely something to think about before launching a crowdfunding campaign. One thing we did correctly, though, was be ambitious and ask for support that would help, but that wasn’t make-or-break. You can have a great project with a lot of support, but you have to have the fortitude and funds to launch even if you don’t make a dime via crowdfunding. It’s not fair to your supporters to put it all on them, because they have lives and can get hit with bad luck, too. We’re so grateful for every pledge and penny that our supporters have offered, because it will make our start that much stronger. - Greg Heller-LaBelle & Michael Manning, The Colony Meadery Co-Founders, Crowdfunding Entrepreneurs

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  • August 22, 2013