RocketHub Collaborates with NYC Business Solutions to Bring Crowdfunding to Local Businesses

NYC Business Solutions is one of the most valuable organizations we’ve ever encountered. The group was established in 2005 by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and supports new businesses, growing businesses, and established businesses with a multitude of free services. They provide business courses, legal assistance, financing assistance, tax credit access, government navigation support, recruitment assistance, training, government sales support, certifications, and more. RocketHub is proud to be working with NYC Business Solutions - the first step: our participation in the Prepping to Pitch: Non-Debt-Based Financing For Green & Tech Businesses event. Here are the details: Description: The workshop will feature a panel discussion teaching entrepreneurs how to find and pitch to investors, and how to understand and negotiate deal terms. In this session we’ll cover: venture capital and angel funding, crowd-sourced and project-based funding models, online platforms for raising money, and targeting sources for capital and equity investments in NYC. Speakers: Paul Cianciolo - FirstMark Capital Olivia Frazao - Mission Markets Jahan Ali - New York City Investment Fund Vladimir Vukicevic - RocketHub Date: Thursday, June 16th Time: 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM Location: NYC Business Solutions, Upper Manhattan Center - 215 W. 125th Street, 6th Floor Get your free tickets and join us for this valuable event. -Vlad

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  • June 9, 2011

Ari Neufeld Immortalizes a Musical Event

On May 21, 2010, there was an incredible musical undertaking at the Dream Cafe in Penticton, Canada. 150 people participated in Ari Neufeld’s live recording project. The project was hosted by Penticton’s eccentric top music organizer, Pierre Coutor. Ari was joined by his incredibly talented brother and vocalist, Chris Neufeld. During their performance, there was a live portrait of Ari painted by Penticton’s most sought after visual artist, Jenny Long. The project was recorded and engineered by Ari’s favorite indie producer, Corwin Fox. The concert was all captured on film by a 3 man crew of super talented film-makers. Quite an event. Now, Ari has taken to his friends and fans to help him immortalize the event and to create a multi-media package. Here is what Ari had to say about his innovative undertaking: What was the inspiration behind the music project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? Short version: my fans have been haranguing me for an album that accurately exemplifies my live experience. Ari Neufeld Live at the Dream Cafe is a visual and audio document of how I do what I do. This project is something I’ve been trying to get off the ground for years.Longer version: My project was very organized by a team of people highly trained at what they do.  First of all: me. I’ve been performing on average 200 live shows a year for the last 8 years, slowly developing my diversity into a multi-faceted journey hewn specifically to the energies of whatever audience I find myself with. Throughout the years, I’ve recorded albums on very small budgets more as documents of some of my compositions, than honest depictions of my live energy. My audience, taken in by the visual as well as audio aspects of my performance, is always nagging me to release a project that effectively captivates the energy of full-body music-making, plus some of the humor and insight spoken about between compositions. My first priority was finding a venue that optimized both my abilities as a one-man band, and the interest of my audience. Consistently, the Dream Cafe has been voted as one of the top three live venues in Western Canada. After performing at the other two consistent venues, and finding neither of them even remotely comparable to the inspirational and vibrant environment that Pierre Couture has managed to create at the Dream, where I wanted to record my ultimate live record was pretty easy to solidify. After 3 performances in the Dream and many, many concerts Pierre let me sit in on (as “part of my education”), I felt ready to capture a night of performing, confident to render my compositions comfortably and - though in a moment of spontaneous inspiration - without any mistakes. Corwin Fox is a genius. He is the mastermind behind several of my very favorite records, including Morlove, Scott Dunbar, Miss Emily Brown and NikTex. He was thrilled to hop on board and engineer the recording at the Dream Cafe. His tech assistant was Aaron Goodwin, a gifted musician and sensitive engineer with a quirky knack for sourcing “mids”. The video crew that came together for the evening involved two prominent local filmmakers and a professional photographer, filming in broadcast quality. My performance was augmented by my brother, Chris Neufeld’s harmony (brilliant and intuitive, as we grew up singing together, and inspiring one another’s art), and a live visual acrylic portrait (of my face) painting by local muralist and artist extraordinaire Jenny Long (incidentally, her portrait is the cover of my album!).Finally, I dug deep and invited all of my favorite fans from near and far to be a part of my performance. Each audience member signed a release sheet to be listed among the collaboratives involved. The booklet published with the album is a 16 page journal of the process, illustrated with many of my sketches, photos of some of my bigger projects, insights into some of the album’s content and huge thanks to the community that participated.On post-production, when I was trying to source out a line of credit to finish the job, it occurred to me that there were hundreds of people (on top of those directly involved with the night itself) that wanted to participate in the project, wanted to contribute to my career, were eager to get their hands on the product, so me and the production company I’m producing the CD/DVD with (Tribehouse, specialists in artist development) started looking for the right, organized system to effectively communicate my heart and channel funding for the project. Among the many companies that Tribehouse researched, Rockethub seemed the most slick and classy. Furthermore, Rockethub was set up to handle our 3 min explanation video, which gave us the opportunity to make the project look fun and personal, while getting all the information laid out. I also really appreciated the idea of being able to fuel the project through diversifying my creative talents into trades (many of them for physical art) for pledges. Thanks guys!! Wow, you have quite a creative and talented hive surrounding you. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of live music in Canada - how are your supporters responding? Crowdfunding is something I’m not entirely new to, as I grew up working for the non-profit missions organization my parents were involved with. We were constantly trying to raise support for various mission opportunities. Obviously, back in the day, we didn’t have the kind of slick opportunity that RocketHub provides. In those days, it was physically meeting with people, personally sending out letters and generating information through very physical means. I’m thrilled to see how my project has been inundated with interest already and clear support from people that care and want a piece of the creative process, with concise and yet not too-in-your-face advertising.  The only set-back thus far has been educating people to donate to an online presence. This format of fund-raising is still very new to the market, and many people seem hesitant to install finances into anything online. Aside from accruing donations through an actual, physical campaign, my efforts through RocketHub have been more effective than ANY other fund-raising project I’ve engaged in, to date! Keep up the good work - education is key. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? My advice for other Creatives interested in crowdfunding? Find a crowd of people with integrity and credibility to en-graft yourself to. This will diversify the project with deeper levels of creativity, expand your social influence, and increase momentum. The day that I launched my RocketHub site, the response was overwhelming, as people posted the video on their sites and facebook, etc. pages. Very cool, well-rounded push. Since launching the site, it is imperative now to keep the information flowing, let people know where the project’s at, how much interest is still needed, and how much funding still needs to be raised. Great advice - clusters of support are vital for crowdfunding success. Thank you Ari for your heartfelt and very honest perspective. Join the fun and support Ari, here. -Vlad

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  • June 8, 2011

A Volunteering Adventure with Aaron Frank

Aaron Frank is taking a very novel and brave approach to crowdfunding. He is engaging his family, friends, and fans in order to support his volunteering trip to Israel. I’ll let him take it from here: What was the inspiration behind the pro-social mission project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? At the beginning of my freshman year, I joined the Syracuse University Ambulance Corps., a 98% student-run volunteer organization, which sparked my interest in Emergency Medicine (EMS) because of the direct impact on someone’s life. This has been an extraordinary experience because I have the opportunity to save a fellow student’s life. EMS empowered my desire to make an impact, and it is the most fulfilling feeling to volunteer for a Saturday-overnight shift during the school year and to say, “I did something important.” This summer is going to be my chance to give back to Israel, a country I fell in love with last summer when I went on birthright. Pursuing this love for EMS, I am going to be volunteering with Magen David Adom, the Israeli Ambulance Dept. I didn’t want to party through my summer break, but to be a crucial member of an ambulance squad saving lives on a daily basis. With tensions rising, I understand the risks of traveling to the Middle East at this time, let alone working with EMS in this environment, but it is something that I have to do because I need to lend my hand and help.  This project is important to me because it will give my supporters an inside look to the best and worst parts of Israel. It will hopefully bring to light the hardships that come with working on an ambulance in the Middle East and a slice of life that many people will never be able to experience. Wow - that you have a very important summer planned. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of volunteering, particularly going to Israel - how are your supporters responding? It’s been a fantastic experience because at the age of 18 I am able to spread my project around the world. I have been very lucky with the donations that I have received through RocketHub, in addition to outside scholarships, but it hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be!  I leave June 14th to Israel, which is coming very close, and I keep my supporters updated through emails on the preparations for the trip. I’ve even asked a couple of my lovely supporters for advice. The most fun will come when I start working on the ambulance and I can give my supporters an inside look at the daily life of a First Responder in Israel through my blog.     Keep at it and keep us posted on your travels. You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Aim big. Don’t limit yourself to only a few friends and family members to ask for contributions. RocketHub is a powerful crowdfunding destination and you have to utilize every opportunity the site offers to reach as many people as possible. Thanks Aaron - we’re rooting for you at RocketHub HQ and we’ll be following your progress. Help Aaron succeed and support his very worthy project. -Vlad

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  • June 2, 2011

Crowdfunding Memories in Minnesota - Journals for All

P.J. Fanberg is on a mission to provide 111 journals for his squad of choirboys. As the Executive Director of the Land of Lakes Choirboys, he is dedicated to utilizing crowdfunding as a way to preserve the memories of those who experience the journey of musical travel. I spoke with P.J. about his mission: What was the inspiration behind the pro-social journalism project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? The inspiration behind our project was actually an idea that came from my experiences as a Choirboy. I came from a low-income family, where money for extra things like journals for writing was a low priority. Subsequently, I managed to have just cheap notebooks to take on our concert tours, which generally lasted around 3-4 weeks. After a few days of traveling, the covers usually were torn-off and my journal was mostly in ruins by the end of the tour. Over the years, most of those writings are gone and lost to time. I wanted to make sure the boys that are going on these tours today have a keepsake of their experiences that will last them a life time. These boys range from ages 7-15 and travel extensively throughout the United States and the World. The experiences they gain, at such a young age, are invaluable to their growth as productive, responsible members of society. With many lower income boys in our program, this felt like an ideal project to try on  Great inspiration! How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of public support in Minnesota - how are your supporters responding? My supporters are in love with the format and ease of Minnesota is usually atop every single list when it comes to philanthropic giving, so it comes as no surprise that our supports have connected with this project so easily. To be able to find a new and exciting way to give in this state is a great promotional tool to use in our area. Additionally, finding funding for specific projects, like our journals, has been much easier than raising funds for general operating costs. People love knowing exactly what their donations are funding, especially when it’s a great project. I plan to promote other projects on in the near future. Thank you for being a RocketHub supporter. You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Sell your idea with enthusiasm and fun. If you aren’t excited about your idea, your potential fuelers will not be either. That goes for financial contributions as well. If they look and see that you don’t even believe in your project enough to support it yourself, then they are going to be hard-pressed to put their hard-earned resources into it. Facebook was a great asset for us to use to promote this idea. Within minutes of posting in on our site, we had three fuelers. I was barely done with the registration of the product before it was making us money! For those looking to launch their own project, think of the networks of people you already have in place that can help your project succeed. For us, it was the friends and families of the Choirboys. My next step is to gain the support of our alumnus who went through our program in the past. Have a plan before you launch to help build momentum fast. Nothing worse than days going by without your project taking-flight. At this point, you have pretty much missed your launch window and will have a much more difficult time fueling your project. Very good advice - useful for all types of project. Thank you P.J. for your innovative approach and heartwarming project. Support this crew, here. -Vlad

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  • May 17, 2011

Supporting an Online Community through Crowdfunding

Jon Nicol is devoted to making intro a great website, a hub of knowledge and activity. He is utilizing RocketHub and the power of crowdfunding in order to keep most of the content free - a noble endeavor that I had the pleasure of discussing with Jon: What was the inspiration behind the design and development project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? is resource for church music teams. Most of my work is with smaller churches whose budgets don’t allow big conferences and expensive resources. I keep most of my content free and my workshops affordable. The poor design of the site hinders the use of the content and resources, so I’m hoping to raise money to professionally redesign the site. Very worth cause. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of pro-social development - how are your supporters responding? The first 10% came in quickly, but it slowed down. My follower base is not huge, so I will likely be dependent on a few bigger contributions to carry the project forward.  Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? This isn’t a “build it and they will come” field of dreams thing. It takes work to get the project out there. Most people will need to see it a few times before they decide to give. And many need a direct request: “will you contribute?” And from the ones that contribute, I ask them to tell a few others about it. Once someone helps you once in one way, they’re more likely to help you again, especially in a non-financial way. Very relevant advice. Thank you Jon - support this project here. -Vlad

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  • May 13, 2011

Vinyl Is Here to Stay: The Doorbells Crowfund a New Record

"Want Your Evil" is the debut that starts it all, and The Doorbells invites you to be a part of it. We love this band at RocketHub and wanted to learn more about their unique vinyl-making crowdfunding campaign: What was the inspiration behind the music project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? The inspiration behind this project was to create a way for fans, friends, and family to feel as if they all have a hand in the 1st release of us. They already are the reason that we can put together a project like this but it furthers their staple as part of the group. We also are doing this for the fact that vinyl is still the best way to listen to music and to receive a timeless piece of art as well. This is important to us because we want involvement from everyone who supports us and this gives them the chance to. Great way to build fan engagement. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music, particularly from the Midwest - how are your supporters responding? The experience has been great. It’s a great way for artists to share their passion with the people who support it in a more connected fashion other than just the music. Our supporters are responding with mixed reviews but mostly good. It’s been a slow start but momentum is picking up fast the more people become aware of the project. Keep up the momentum. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? The only advice I could give would be to just talk about the project as much as possible and let them know what it is really about. Promote the hell out of it. Good advice. Great music. Listen and join the ride, here. -Vlad

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  • May 13, 2011

From Baltimore, A Cool New Sound from a Family Band

Five Smooth Stones is a family band from northern Baltimore County, Maryland (aka The Hereford Zone).  Andrew, Colvin and Tom Franklin and Kathryn Clarke blend diverse musical influences, such as Jars of Clay, newsboys, Switchfoot, Audio Adrenaline, Third Day, Mute Math, Dave Matthews Band, David Crowder Band and more. I had the pleasure of chatting with Tom, aka Fu Manchuman, of Five Smooth Stones about their very successful crowdfunding campaign: What was the inspiration behind the music project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? The band, Five Smooth Stones, is a great blessing in my life- it is comprised of myself (real name Tom) on guitar & vocals, my daughter Kathryn on guitar & vocals, my son Andrew on drums & vocals and my nephew Colvin on bass and vocals. The band, formed several years ago, has been performing regionally and created a CD project in 2009 called Life From Dust. Over the next couple years, we were writing more personal songs and the music we were making developed and matured, and so it came time to get to recording a new project. We determined that we have an opportunity to create a top-notch album musically, and we want to match the packaging to that. So, after spending time in a cabin in Pennsylvania recording the basic tracks, we contacted a great designer to begin work on the packaging. We also researched the costs and options for producing the packaging, as well as put together a plan to market/promote the project. At that point we saw that we could make a really nice package for the fans with a little more cash- we had some funds earmarked for the project which had been accumulated from CD & t-shirt sales and gigging income- and we had heard about crowd-funding from several sources, so we checked out several sites. We chose RocketHub based on several factors, the most important being the feeling that RH was really focused on helping the artists and providing added opportunities for us. We have built a small base of loyal fans and we want to give them a great album to listen to, look at and enjoy. The songs are about the struggles of this life and the hope we have for better days, both now and in eternity, and we have a strong desire to share the message of hope with as many as we can. We love family bands from Baltimore :) How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music - how are your supporters responding? It’s been fun and challenging. The process of setting up the RocketHub project was simple, making the video was fun as well as deciding on the rewards for our fuelers. Our friends & fans have been very receptive and we are thankful for their support. It has been a great, added opportunity to connect with them and has opened some additional doors for the band as well. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Have a plan for getting the word out and make sure you tell everyone. Our biggest contribution came from an unexpected source, and if we hadn’t spread the word around we might end up short. Also, don’t be afraid to remind people and follow-up… people mean well and want to help, but this is a fast-paced world and they get distracted or it slips their mind. In fact, I’m need to call some folks right now… Thank you Five Smooth Stones for your refreshing sound and rockin’ campaign. You can still join the fun, here. -Vlad

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  • May 10, 2011

Rufus Khan: Not Just Another Improv Troupe

Rufus Khan is an innovative improv comedy troupe based in Brooklyn, New York. They keep the audience laughing with bizarre scenarios, memorable characters, and, of course, the occasional one-liner. The Rufus Khan team consists of Brendan Collins, Daniel Klein, Cem Uyanik, Jamie Rosler, Eric Austin, and Laura Darrell. They are leveraging the power of crowdfunding in order to fund future shows and development. We spoke with them about their campaign and about their creative process: What was the inspiration behind the improv theatre project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? First and foremost, laughter. Our deep desire to laugh and to make others laugh by playfully humiliating ourselves in front of a bunch of strangers. Some people call it unhealthy; we call it fun. We’ve also been influenced by subway panhandlers. Clearly, begging is funny, and gives you a great opportunity to perfect your sign writing skills. Living and working in New York City can drain you of your energy, your time, and your money, as well as making you wonder if all people are just innately awful. We hope that a RocketHub campaign will restore our faith and confidence in the general goodness of humanity, and also help provide us with more opportunities to challenge ourselves, inspire our friends and fans, and supply that much needed escape for anyone who’s just looking to have some good, usually clean, fun. Awesome! How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of improv theatre - how are your supporters responding? Our experience has been great, especially when we can get people’s attention. They all think they’re so important and busy with their lives and jobs and children.  After our most recent show, we received literally tons of positive feedback; our backs are just now getting over the aches and pains of carrying it all. People asked about our next performance, having videos made for people who missed the show, and just generally stroked our fragile egos. Monetary donations are always a harder animal to catch, especially in the midst of an economic downturn. We’ve made big strides, though, and are steadily making our way to the goal we set. You’ve caught our attention :) You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Nagging and stalking have been our main routes to success. Pretend to be interested in other people’s lives, and don’t be afraid to hide in someone’s bushes or linen closet. Think of all the internet and social media attack strategies at your disposal and just go for it. Be playful, witty, and fun when seeking support so that you’re always bringing people entertainment. Even crack dealers know that the first hit should always be free. After that, don’t be afraid to prod; if you don’t seek out donations, no one’s going to do it for you. Most importantly, have confidence that you deserve what you’re asking for, and that if it’s what you really want, you can make it happen. For us, it comes down to honesty, heart, and that slightly offensive joke about nuns that you overheard in the elevator last week. Thank you Rufus Khan team for your funny work and refreshing campaign. Check them out here. -Vlad

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  • May 9, 2011

The Crowdfunding Chocolateers

Chocolate and crowdfunding go together like chocolate and…peanut butter. Crowdfunding is the new peanut butter? Michael Sacco thinks so. This renaissance man is successfully taking his chocolaty aspirations to the crowd. Michael is looking to fund the construction of two machines that are integral to his up-and-coming chocolate factory! I spoke to Michael about his endeavor: What was the inspiration behind the cool invention project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? ChocoSol was started as a research project at the grassroots in Oaxaca Mexico. Our goal is to create an ecological production model for making chocolate that is accessible to people with lots of initiative and only a little capital. Moreover, it is designed to be an example of alternatives to destructive development. The idea is to create beacons of change that utilize ecological agriculture and production methods, and in sharing the delicious and nutritious food products thereby produced to educate and engage people. It is similar to the trade, not aid philosophy of RocketHub, and in this sense we see ourselves as a learning community social enterprise. Experimentation is keep to good crowdfunding. You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Honestly, I think we have kind of tapered off. The key to a good crowdfunding is consistantly promoting it. However, some of the cashflow constraints make this difficult. Perhaps a monthly payout would be helpful for small enterprises like ChocoSol. However, I have to say that the site and the idea are fantastic, and the infrastructure and design are very attractive and communicative. Successful crowdfunding takes work - keep at it and you will be successful. Check out this tasty project, here. -Vlad

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  • May 6, 2011

From Argentina with Love and Care

Crowdfunding can be a powerful source of pro-social good. The Por el Barrio Libertad team is proving that social support can be galvanized from across the world. Through RocketHub, this passionate team is helping children in impoverished area of Buenos Aires. Here is how they see it: What was the inspiration behind the international education and support project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? Our main motivation in the project is the Barrio Libertad´s children and their ability to access to better opportunities in the present and future through education, art and recreation. Barrio Libertad is a very humble neighborhood of the Buenos Aires province. Nearly seventy families are living there in an unhygienic situation. The homes are dilapidated and without access to key public services. In major cases, the vital needs are not fulfilled. Children face very difficult conditions for development. After an intensive 2010 we are focusing the project on the district’s children. The project mainly aims to set up a place for the children between five and twelve years old, in which they could receive school support, entertainment and supervision. We believe that these first years of life are fundamental. It is critical for them to get tools that allow them to interact and integrate in the society and in an increasingly complex world – a complex world which for sure is difficult, but that also offers new opportunities. RocketHub is one of these opportunities. It is an innovative way that enables us to share our project, to find support, and to make it visible to the world. Something that was impossible to achieve some years ago. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of pro-social work in Argentina - how are your supporters responding? Many social projects exist in Argentina, but we believe our project “Por el Barrio Libertad” is innovative. It aims to integrate the physical space with the web space to generate concrete actions that impact children´s life quality. We use social networks to go near more collaborators. We receive support from donors who are part of our circles of contacts, but also from the USA, France and England.  In Argentina, we are pioneers in this area. We confront difficulties with strategy; because in our country people are reluctant to use their credit card online. This use is emerging, for that reason we designed a video explaining how to use the platform. Experiences of this nature will be more frequent in a few years, gradually people will know and trust the system. We invite all Argentines to dare projects!  Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? The platform is not only a presence online, it is a dynamic thing. Design the page on RocketHub to let people know that both the project and the Internet site are transparent and sure - is a first step. Then you have to update the content permanently, to answer and to try to anticipate the reactions you receive. Do not expect donors to come, but go and find them with an active broadcast of the page and the project. Internet allows everyone a fast and easy access to a lot of information. But information must be innovatively clear to be understood and well received. We endeavor to give visibility to projects, and so to realize our dreams! Thank you for taking this brave approach to Argentina. Get involved, here. -Vlad

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  • May 4, 2011