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

Crowdfunding Maker House, the World’s First Artisan-driven Makerspace

At some point you realize the system is broken. For me it was a combination of watching my 16 year old daughter slog through traditional public school and talking to friends who weren’t as lucky as I was to escape the corporate culture of business. A world where we penalize you for failing, where we teach you to avoid risk, to not rock the boat, to follow the SOP and to do what you’re told is not a world that creates great minds and empowers great ideas. It isn’t a world that any of us really want to live in, so why do we continue to perpetuate it? Makerspaces are doing a great job of changing this culture of stagnation one warehouse, one city, one hacker group at a time. But when we reached out to customers and supporters of Artfire.com (the artisan marketplace that I run as my full time gig), we found that most maker/hacker spaces are not perceived as “welcoming” to fine artists, women, and people who are less focused on tech but still want to create. Maker House was conceived as a way to offer a gender neutral, cross-disciplinary makerspace that values art as equal to technology. After all, without art, technology is lifeless. Ask anyone who spends their time on Pinterest how many hours they would spend looking at the source code. It is the art combined with the tech that mesmerizes us. At Maker House we’ll focus on a wide range of art, tech and creative experiences in an environment where you are encouraged to take risk, fail, experiment and rock the boat. We’ll have Arduino and robotics courses, but  also live radio drama, lectures on physics and archaeology yoga and martial arts classes, knitting, painting, papercraft and jewelry making classes. We’re already focusing on classes that are cross-disciplinary. We have an instructor team for “Knit to Death” a class that combines knitting and self defense, and an instructor offering “Precision Chainsaw Carving”. We’ll also offer salon discussions, poetry slams, open mic nights, story contests, film festivals and workshops on everything from parenting to student loans. We conceived it as a YMCA for your mind, something that is accessible to anyone. In just a few months, over 70 instructors have signed on to offer over 150 classes. We’ve booked 40+ events and we’ve given tours of this magnificent historic mansion we are renovating to hundreds. All of that and we aren’t even open until September. In this process my daughter has elected to hack her own education, supplementing an online curriculum with maker/hacker/incubator space work and fine art performance with real world organizations instead of traditional schooling. People in Tucson are responding passionately to the idea of an artisan driven maker space and we’re budgeting for the AV gear and staff to put these classes, events, and performances online so everyone can access them. It doesn’t change the whole world. But it will impact thousands of lives for the better. That IS a world that I want to live in, so I’m going to help build it. Our supporters are responding fantastically. We’ve raised over $40,000. We are going after a big raise, which is challenging. The other challenge is that an artisan maker space can be a hard concept to communicate clearly because there aren’t a lot of things you can draw fast comparisons to. We’ve found that you have to be able to answer WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) with every channel and every message. That means producing a lot of interesting content, videos, photos and rewards. A lot of that content is used to further explain about Maker House, the building renovation, and introduce the people involved. Crowdfunding for something other than a product is challenging. You aren’t pre-purchasing a widget that you will get personally. You are funding a project that will change and improve the lives of thousands of strangers. For crowdfunding success: Be ready to produce a ton of video. Not just your main video, but your update videos, progress videos, behind the scenes videos and blooper reels. Video gets clicked, and it gets shared.  Find your one sentence summary. “Like a YMCA for your mind” has worked for us in numerous meetings, communications and conversations. I didn’t come up with that one, a friend of mine did. The minute he said it, it clicked. People are busy, you need to be able to communicate what you are doing quickly. Have a plan. We built a 45 channel, 5 person, day-by-day communication matrix to ensure we were reaching out to everyone we could with consistent messages. You have to have a plan. This is going to be a lot of work, and a lot of stress. Most people won’t fund you. Just like me, you will learn the amazing value of the select few who want to join in launching your project. They make more of a difference than they will ever know, and have impact that is vastly disproportionate to the few clicks it takes to contribute. - Tony Ford, Chief Operating Officer of ArtFire.com, Co-Founder of Maker House, the World’s First Artisan-driven Makerspace

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  • August 19, 2013

Spira Footwear to Introduce New Duck Dynasty Shoe on RocketHub

August 16, 2013, EL PASO, TEXAS – Spira Footwear and RocketHub announce the introduction of a new running shoe collection based upon the popular A&E Network television show “Duck Dynasty.” The line will feature Spira’s patented WaveSpring Technology and the duck camouflage pattern from the show, and will be available through RocketHub beginning August 16. “The Spira team has worked hard to create a better running shoe - and build their authentic brand from the ground up. Now through A&E Project Startup and RocketHub, Spira is collaborating with Duck Dynasty to share a wonderful story of entrepreneurship and empowerment,” said Brian Meece, CEO and Co-founder of RocketHub.  This is the latest initiative of A&E PROJECT STARTUP, which is designed to showcase up-and-coming brands and new technologies. This is the first time that network television has been directly involved in a crowdfunded project, and will include a television commercial that will air on A&E, social media and website presence that will all feature the new Duck Dynasty shoe. All of the filming for the initiative was done in El Paso by a New York based film crew. “A&E did a phenomenal job of showcasing El Paso and was genuinely excited to be here,” said Spira CEO and Co-Founder Andy Krafsur. “The biggest challenge for any entrepreneur is the opportunity to tell their story, said Krafsur. “We’re grateful to A&E Project Startup for discovering us and helping us along on our journey. A&E is one of the best story tellers on the planet and the Robertson’s are remarkable entrepreneurs. Like the Robertson’s, our business is a family business. My wife, Holly and I co-founded the Company and work side by side.” The Spira story itself typifies the entrepreneurial journey of many small businesses. “I had been a runner my entire life, and ran competitively in high school and college. But by my early thirties, I was so beat up after a run, I would have to take a week off.” said Andy Krafsur. “I had been a practicing attorney for 17 years. I will never forget the first time a tried on what turned out to be the very first Spira shoe. It was a crude prototype with the WaveSprings duct taped into a cut open midsole. I put the shoes on and shot around on our basketball court for a couple of hours and suddenly realized my legs were completely fresh. I knew at that moment that my life’s calling was to bring this phenomenal technology to the world. I left the practice of law and have been pursuing my life’s purpose.” We’re proud to be from El Paso,“ said Krafsur. “Our company is owned by the El Paso community. The majority of our almost 300 shareholders are El Pasoans.” Spira shoes are premised upon a patented technology called WaveSpring. The WaveSpring is a lightweight, laterally stable and compact spring, which is placed in both the heel and forefoot of all Spira shoes. The WaveSpring not only cushions, but returns energy, allowing people to participate in the activities with far more comfort and less stress and strain than traditional footwear. In addition, the WaveSpring will not break down and provides a “new shoe” feel for the life of the shoe. A recent pilot study found that runners who run in Spira shoes had reduced heart rate, respiration rate and oxygen consumption from their shoe of choice and the participants in the study were able to run 20 seconds per mile faster with the same amount of effort.   Fans of Spira and Duck Dynasty will have the opportunity to pre-purchase the shoe at a substantial discount. Once the project achieves its $100,000 funding goal, A&E will donate $20,000 to America’s VetDogs®, a 501(c)(3) organization that provides service dogs for disabled veterans and active duty personnel. The Spira campaign will continue for 90 days and offer a variety of deals for supporter of the project.  For more information, visit Spira. The project itself will launch on August 16, 2013 on www.rockethub.com/duck.

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  • August 16, 2013

"Everything Will Be Okay" - An Epic Documentary about ALS

As described in my trailer, when I was told I had 2-5 years to live, at 30 years old, I knew I had a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it.  With my disease, ALS, you eventually have to make a decision. To live or to die. It really comes down to that. As a filmmaker and as a person with a lot to live for, especially my son, I decided to turn the cameras on myself and to make a feature film about something which reaches for the truth & to document the journey. I wanted to show the world a different way to look at disabilities and a terminal diagnosis. The result has been nothing short of inspiring and humbling. I have always had this tight knit group of friends who rally and now, I have a lot more. So many people who just happened upon our RocketHub site have offered their creative help, their money and their network to help us complete the film. I consider all of them, an important part of this story. I’m grateful and hope it inspires others to fight through their adversities in life as well. My advice: Life is unpredictable. If you have a dream, go for it. - Patrick O’Brien, Filmmaker, Advocate, Crowdfunding Success

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  • August 15, 2013

Publishing an Art Catalogue - Global Crowdfunding Success

It all started a year ago at a joint art exhibition Catherine Aubelle and I organized in Tübingen, Germany. A very nice visitor - who happened to be a renowned art historian and curator, as we later found out - popped into the gallery and fell in love with our paintings. We began to talk - in three languages - and at the end of it, the art historian said, “You need to publish a catalogue!” That was the initial seed, which took hold immediately. I asked her if she would be willing to write the foreword, and she instantly agreed. A few months later, we met to discuss the catalogue project. Compared to fund-raising, the actual publications process is a piece of cake, as we are both experienced editors, translators, and graphic artists. It was clear from the start we needed to print a catalogue in the very best quality possible, that is offset, and this quality was only to be had for a price. We needed professional photographers to shoot the artwork, a graphic artist to produce high-quality repros, and we wanted to be able to pay the art historian for a professional text.  I began to research crowdfunding, which is all but unheard of in France and not very well known in Germany. But I had a hunch I could count on my American friends to be pioneer funders and I was frankly intrigued by the possibilities crowd-funding seemed to offer.  Because Catherine and I have been cultivating a large network of buyers and friends through our website and our social communities over the last couple of years, we decided a crowdfunding campaign would be one of three methods to raise the funds needed to print our catalogue. The other two bases were the sales of our artworks and an old-fashioned letter campaign asking for advance orders. In general, the response to the idea of crowdfunding has been extremely positive across all cultural circles. Our motto has always been “encounters” - what happens when creative people meet - and we have seen marvelous things develop as a result.  First, the video - which we considered the most important vehicle to transport our artistic mission - was shot by a professional documentary filmmaker, Pierre Bouillier, who volunteered his time out of sheer enthusiasm and the opportunity to do something fun and creative. We spent a lot of time thinking about and planning the video, which in fact would have never come to be if we hadn’t decided to crowd fund. Ultimately, we wanted the video to be an artwork in itself, with the unexpected bonus that all of us ended up having a fantastic time making it, thanks to Pierre’s intuitive grasp of our ideas. Second, we deliberately chose not to have any voice-over dialogue in the video because we wanted to avoid translations and subtitles, treating all three languages equally. (The exception is the last image, “Adopt a page!” in English.) We wanted to convey what we are doing purely through music, sounds and visuals. However, we didn’t want to incur copyright charges, so we decided on the sounds of the sea to accompany the images, keeping things simple. Along the way, a French clarinetist of Catherine’s acquaintance was so excited by the video that he offered to record Debussy’s Rhapsody with a concert pianist. This took some time to organize, but by downloading the music midway during our RocketHub campaign, we now have an unexpected highlight that we hope will make our campaign more attractive to potential funders. As we expected, there are big differences in the three cultural circles we’re targeting. Americans are very comfortable with ordering things online and paying by credit card. They’re used to it and know the lingo. I sent about 20 of my American contacts a letter explaining the crowdfunding principles and asking them to be pioneers as soon as we launched. Fortunately, about half a dozen obliged, getting us off to an excellent start. I should note that I tested the system by funding a RocketHub campaign with a small contribution, just to see how it worked. It was really easy, so I could convey this to my potential pioneers with the conviction of experience. So far, the German and French funders have been hesitant. The instructions on what to do in order to fund are only in English; RocketHub does not yet offer a way to include the instructions in other languages. The Germans don’t have any problems with English, but the French seem to. Thus Catherine has had to walk her French funders through the process over the phone. We have included translations of the project description in our campaign, but Germans and French generally appear to be unfamiliar with this type of fund-raising.  Another issue is currency. My two main reasons for choosing an American-based crowd-funding platform is that I have an American bank account and I knew Americans would not be reluctant to order something online. However, because I reside in Germany, I will have to deal with international currency exchange fees later, which reduces the amount of funds available for our project. So far, we have had no German funders for our RocketHub campaign yet. What we’ve discovered is that the idea of paying for something in advance, via credit card, via Internet, seems to be foreign to the Germans and French. It needs a lot of explaining, a lot of encouraging, a lot of time. So we’re constantly nurturing the network, feeding tidbits to our social communities to keep up the buzz. For crowdfunding success: Build your network in advance. There’s no way to know if a campaign will go viral, and the factors leading to virality are still a bit of a mystery to me. I don’t think it’s possible to start a crowdfunding campaign overnight. We didn’t start in a vacuum. We know our customers. We’ve spent years selling our artwork. Our buyers trust us. So far, every single one of our funders is a personal friend or art buyer. In other words, we are building on a network that is already there.  Do your homework. I spent months researching crowdfunding. I observed my own behavior: I only donate to a cause where I have a connection (either I like the idea or the person). The rewards don’t interest me. Being a fiscally conservative person of modest means, I calculated a very modest donation of $10 per head, though I’d read the average donation is $75 and that most people donate $25. I added up the number of social community contacts Catherine and I had, which was about 400, divided by 2, and multiplied that number by $10. I figured we could hardly go wrong. All the same, I was very anxious - I suffered many a sleepless night in the weeks before launching our campaign. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Our RocketHub goal is only one of three ways we’re raising funds. Of course we hope we can earn the lion’s share of the $13,000 we need through crowdfunding, but we have another base in the donations and advance orders we’ve received and will hopefully continue to receive. You could say we’ve been doing our homework for years, building our customer base. So while I fully expect we’ll reach our modest RocketHub goal of $2000, I believe the bulk of the funds will likely come from direct donations and advance orders.  - Gabriele Glang, Bilingual Writer and Artist, International Crowdfunding Success

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  • August 13, 2013