In one future world, we will live in the less expensive suburbs or rural areas, and come into the city for work in our driverless vehicles. To avoid expensive parking fees, we’ll send our vehicles out to roam around, hang out at the mall and grocery store and come pick us up when work is over. The possibility of hoards of driverless and riderless vehicles on the streets and in parking lots, hovering, just waiting for instructions, seems like the opening scene of a movie where you know things are about to go terribly wrong.
This scene of the zombie vehicles taking over the parking lots and streets of urban centers is quite possible. But a University of California professor is working to save us all.
Lewis Fulton’s 3 Revolutions Policy Initiative
A professor at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, Fulton has been publishing work on a mobility program for the future world. He says, and back up his claims with science, that three things have to change simultaneously for the future of transportation and climate change to work: electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and ride-sharing. The Paris Agreement in 2015 hopes to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees. Some estimate this means 100 million new electrical vehicles on the road by 2030.
The snake in the woodpile is the lithium-ion battery, and the extensive mining for raw materials that is needed to supply the battery power for electric vehicles. There is concern that the current levels of energy use to produce these batteries means they will have a higher carbon footprint for much of their life, compared to current petroleum-based internal combustion engine vehicles. We can hope that the scientists who are working on this technology can continue to improve methods and materials used in manufacture, and lower the carbon footprint of these batteries. Continue reading
Crowdcasting is the newest use of the crowd to change the paradigm of two important functions of business: innovation and customer relationship management.
Innovation is being moved from the realm of experts to the crowd via problem-solving platforms like Hero-X. Incentives include contests and other forms of interaction, including cash prices, and problems that range in complexity are presented to the group. This use of the crowd as a group of out-of-field experts has produced some innovative and quirky thinking on knotty problems. Unlike university and other expert-based methods of traditional problem solving, issues of intellectual property and royalties for this work are managed by participants trading off their ideas for a possible prize.
This type of crowdcasting works to find innovative solutions to both business problems and complex social problems. Businesses can bring a problem to the crowd, where groups of unusual and esoteric specialists can collaborate. Non-profits can bring the complexities of social change and social justice to individuals and groups who bring off-center and out of the box thinking to multi-faceted issues.
One of the benefits of the crowdcasting model is the open-source ethos of shared problem solving. With the understanding that unusual solutions can be shared across industries and communities, the ideas and work are regularly published for use by others, with their different problems to solve. Continue reading
For startups concentrating on new product development, the first idea is the minimal viable product. When a market need is identified, the minimal viable product that can meet that need is developed. And then the product is further refined and developed by using crowdsourced feedback.
Gathering actionable metrics means the product is tested in small ways by a wide variety of people, and their feedback is solicited. When the Drumi was being perfected, after their successful Kickstarter campaign, they gave prototypes to people doing their wash. Detailed interviewing after use showed that the majority really liked the machine, but suggested a carrying handle. When people across the world, in Africa and Canada, both suggested a carrying handle would make the machine easier to use, the developers went back to the factory and redeveloped the prototype to include a handle. This change delayed shipment of their first production run by nearly six months, but they detailed the process and the changes on their website, so those who are eagerly awaiting their new Drumi will probably check out the new handle as soon as they open the box.
The goal of a startup is to develop a sustainable business by developing a product, making money, or meeting a service need. In the current business environment, agility is the key to this sustainability. Using metrics to measure feedback early during product development is the first step in startup development.
However if we think about organizational structure for a start-up, a new structure is needed that can adapt to rapid change. This could be done with a triangle working group model, designed to bring the strength of a geodesic dome to business structures. Continue reading
Equity Crowdinvesting is a crowdfunding rose of a different color, and while it shares many elements of donation or reward crowdfunding, its nature as a capital investment means it comes under securities laws in the country of origin. In essence, crowdinvesting is equity-based crowdfunding. With crowdinvesting the investor moves beyond simply supporting start-ups, and becomes an active player in the future of that project. Equity crowdfunding means an investment through a crowdfunding platform, usually for a startup or early business, in exchange for a piece of the business. It is hoped by both the investor and the business owner that the value of the business, and the value of the equity investment, will grow over time.
The popularity of crowdfunding of all types has put the pressure on governments to try and regulate the practice, especially equity crowdfunding. Capital investment has in the past been made with large sums of money by big corporations. Securities and investment law has been set into place regulating what should be done on both sides of the investment equation. There have been laws about who can solicit investments, how much, how much an investor has to have in order to invest, and similar. All of these laws are designed to protect both parties.
But equity crowdinvesting is different in that it allows, and is usually comprised of, the small investor with little to give and little to lose. The regulatory burden is significant, and involves financial statements, prospectus, and other documentary evidence suggesting the business is sound. This degree of regulatory requirement is in general not reasonable for the startup business – but there are certain reliefs in some european countries. So the new crowdfunding platforms that are offering equity crowdfunding are a new option for small investors who were previously not allowed into the market, and startups who had to find other ways to raise capital. These types of business investment also come with significant risk for capital loss. Continue reading
The New Capitalism brings together business values and practices to make a product, make some money, and change the world. The business values that are being built into these new companies from the beginning include fair labor practices, environmental stewardship, a supply chain with a conscience and transparency, and a social justice heart. They are also using new capital funding options such as crowdfunding to build sustainability into the bones of the enterprise.
Several successful textiles industry startups are using the new models to build companies that address, first and foremost, the issues of unfair labor practices and supply chain fixing. The textile industry is the source for some of our most shameful practices, including sweatshops that use child and forced labor and keep workers living in poverty, practices to fix prices of raw materials so farmers and shepherds continue to live in poverty without access to markets, and use of hazardous materials, such as heavy metal dyes for silk and other natural fibers that bring disease and environmental degradation to communities of craftsmen.
The new models are building environmental stewardship and fair labor practices into their companies through company values that address these areas, and many are structuring a business model with both profit and non-profit arms. Everlane is a clothing company that uses what they describe as radical transparency to give consumers a look into their supply chain and factories. They recently took their Black Friday profits and turned them over, providing worker-focused benefits. A couple of shipping container hydroponic gardens will be moving across the ocean to live outside the cafeteria of the factory in Ho Chi Mihn City, where many of their clothes are made, to supply the workers with fresh leafy greens. Continue reading
Crowdfunding is an excellent resource for hopeful entrepreneurs, with the potential for providing start-up capital for new businesses. It is a highly visible way to market your company and your ideas. However, there is a downside as well: a failed campaign can also mean bad press for your company. In order to avoid these downsides, have a look at our Crowdfunding Advice in this Blog. A vital step before jumping into the crowdfunding waters is to do your research first. The most common mistakes that cause new ventures to fail include:
- Lack of research and planning
- Financial mismanagement
- Poor hiring and leadership practices
Research and Planning
You need a solid business plan and a good working understanding of what your target market wants. You need to understand the value of your own product and how to communicate that value to your potential investors and client base. To garner the initial start-up funding you need with a crowd-funding campaign, you can’t just assume you have supporters out there—you need to identify and target your supporters. A professional investor pitch story is critical – why do you need funding, why should investors fund you, what separates you from your competition, what makes you unique and special? Will your product contribute to economic growth? Continue reading
Here is what we know about the engaged workforce: engaged workers, those who are loyal to the business and focused at work, those who are paying attention and working hard when they are on the job, are directly related to profit in the short and long term.
Now it gets more complicated. We can’t recruit and hire for engagement, because it is not a fixed quality. A worker who appears very engaged may get disillusioned or react to the business culture by becoming disengaged. The work may not meet needs the person can hardly identify, or may interfere with critical life goals and responsibilities, such as family. We do know a great about the characteristics of disengaged employees, because they are legion and vocal. But being disengaged is no more a fixed quality than being engaged. It’s not the worker, and it’s not the workplace. It’s the way those two meet and meld, or meet and clash.
The way we can influence the culture of the workplace to cultivate engaged employees is the same way we can attract those same people to support a crowdfunding campaign. If the company, not just the product or project, but the company is something people can believe in, they will support the ideas behind that belief. People get you, they get your ideas and goals, and they want to participate and contribute. Continue reading
A smart first step in planning a crowdfunding campaign is to study the crowdfunding websites and identify the elements that are common in the successful and the unsuccessful campaigns. A recent review of various dog-related campaigns showed some clear best practices.
Indiegogo has a system that from the beginning allows campaigns to become social enterprises. A cause, either personal or nonprofit, has no platform fees. But being a social enterprise alone does not imply a better outcome. A good example of an excellent and successful campaign is Tearribles on Kickstarter. They are for-profit and making a single product- a dog toy that is indestructible, in three sizes. They had a goal of $15,000 to manufacture the toy. Close to the end of the campaign, they have $107,572.
The product has been designed and tested, and is universally cute. But beyond having a good product, a toy that can be pulled apart by a dog and put back together again with Velcro, they made a short video showcasing the toy and starring dogs. Dogs acting normal and lovable and reminding us all that we love our dogs. All over the world, we love our dogs and buy them toys. The short video, 1:47, doesn’t have a human narrator but uses humor and captions, and lets the dogs star. The product description uses humor as well, and suggests a product and company that doesn’t take itself seriously, and is happy. All the world likes dogs, and all the world likes happy. Continue reading
One of the best ways to encourage people to donate to your crowdfunding campaign is to offer rewards to donors. However, you need to have a solid plan and strategy to make this work. Here are a few tips for crowdfunding rewards.
Do Your Research
Before you start out, make sure to research how other successful crowdfunding campaigns offered rewards. Make a list of a bunch of crowdfunding campaigns that focused on a similar niche or target audience. What types of rewards did they offer? How much did people need to donate in order to qualify?
Focus on the Big Fish
You might want to consider focusing on big donors and offering bigger rewards for them, rather than focusing on offering small rewards to those who donate very small amounts of money. Remember that you need just a few large donations to reach what you’d collect with many small donations. Again, research what others have done successfully and emulate them.
Offer Time-Limited Rewards
One way to get people to donate is to offer limited time rewards. For example, you can offer rewards only to the first set number of people who donate, or only to people who donate before a specific time. This will create urgency and get people to donate, and it will help tremendously for attracting momentum to your campaign.
Choose the Right Platform
When offering rewards, make sure to choose the right platform to launch your crowdfunding campaign. You need a platform that works for your niche and that will be able to give you the tools you need to make your campaign a smashing success. Contact us for more information.
Looking to raise money for your crowdfunding campaign? You need to attract attention and donors. Here are a few tips that will help make your campaign a smashing success.
Highlight Any Press
Whenever you get any mention in the press, make a big deal about it. Talk about it on your crowdfunding page, mention in on your social channels, and make a point about it in your advertising campaigns. The law of social proof will cause people to pay attention when they see that other people are paying attention.
Make sure to communicate with supporters and potential donors. When people leave comments on your webpage or social accounts, always reply to them. It’s important that people see that you’re active and that you care.
Besides engaging with your audience, show people an inside look into your campaign. If you have a staff, show pictures or video clips of them and what they do. Show pictures of you working on your project.
Be open about your plans and ideas. What are you going to do with the money you raise? What is your budget?
Track, Track, Track
It’s very important to track your traffic. Which sources are they coming from? Which countries are they located in? What are their age demographics? Use a link tracking tool to track all your traffic. When you figure out what your target audience is, you’ll be able to focus on them in your advertising campaigns.
For more information, please contact us.