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startup

The New Capitalism

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

engagement

Using Principles of the Engaged Workforce for a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

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

crowdfunding

It’s a Dog’s Life: Best Practices for Crowdfunding Campaigns

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

rewards

Crowdfunding Tips for Offering Rewards

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.

future

Imagine the Future: Then Crowdfund It

The world is changing so rapidly that much of the information we are given remains an abstraction. How many people is 9.5 billion? Oh, wait, now the number is 11 billion. This is the estimate of the world population in 2050. What does that mean, exactly? Probably a great deal, but the ideas are so abstract it is difficult to picture what it means. But for anyone considering starting a business today, or next year, consider that you will still be in business in 2050, and that number will matter a great deal to you and your business.

While it is hard to imagine 11 billion, or to form a picture of this number in our minds, we can form pictures of cities, and there is no question the people of the near-future will almost all live in cities. Cities we can picture. We have some experience with them; we all have ideas about their challenges and rewards. In thinking about your business, many people have a grand idea, and they work from the grand idea down to the details that will impact and influence how that idea is brought to life. It might be a good idea to think up from the grand idea, to place it firmly into the city of the future. This sort of thinking will require us to imagine the future- to imagine supply chains, transportation, methods of payment, energy use, and a number of other variables that could, from the beginning, impact how we will do businesses.

If there is one word to describe humans, it is variety. We all need socks, but when we think about socks, some of us will fantasize about the perfect long-lasting sock fiber, a mix of silk and nylon and maybe a touch of yak, or bison down; this person may be found standing in a field, studying a herd of bison and thinking about how to get some of that fiber. Another person, faced with the idea of socks, gets out the needles and silk and begins to knit a design of spiderweb delicacy and beauty. Another person imagines a drone, flying through the air, a pair of socks clutched in a mechanical claw. Another thinks of a way to use suit-buying behavior to design a sock subscription service that automatically matches socks needed to suits purchased, and even gives a yearly pair of athletic socks, though Sunday afternoons are most often spent taking naps rather than playing ball in the park. Another person designs a hybrid sock-shoe; another a sock with an exoskeleton for fitting prosthetic feet. Someone designs a 3-D knitting printer, with franchise capabilities, so people can walk down the street, stick their foot into a booth, and have a perfectly fitting sock knitted for them at once. One sock at a time, because only one gets that first hole in the toe, right? The only thing we can know without a doubt is that sock-people somewhere are thinking about socks. Imagining the future.

And when we imagine that unique idea, we need to find our tribe. There are a multitude of handspinners across the world who are experimenting with a precious supply of bison down at this very moment, plucked from barbed-wire fences in the American West, spinning and plying to make the magical fiber that will never wear out and will also smell fresh as a daisy when you take your shoes off after work. For these folks, socks means the fiber, and they can talk about and think about fiber, make samples and send test yarn to knitter friends, and some of them are going to figure it out and they will probably share the idea with everyone, though the sheer excitement of the moment. If one of those fiber folks finds her idea, and wants to develop that yarn, she is going to have a tribe ready to crowdfund the business.

Many of us tend to be magpies, and the ideas and challenges of the future-world give us so many ideas the inside of our heads looks like the sky, full of stars. To successfully imagine the future, and then crowdfund it, it helps to focus in and find your tribe. It is difficult to follow more than one dream at a time. Perhaps the biggest challenge for those who imagine the future is to narrow the field of vision down to the one small piece of it you are going to change. But if you can, you can crowdfund the future.

For more information about crowdfunding, please contact us.

 

crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has matured

Crowdfunding has changed since the first exciting days, and several new trends show the maturing industry. Projects rooted in sustainability remain popular, such as hemp fiber glasses frames and window blinds with integral solar panels. There is an emerging trend in remaking classic equipment using new lighter and less expensive technology, such as a large format camera with a lightweight wooden body, and a turntable with all-in-one functionality. Fashion and design projects remain popular, with a move toward minimalism and simplicity in clothing, shoes, and accessories such as watches.

Running crowdfunding campaigns has also matured. Those who invest in new product development have come to expect a degree of sophistication in the marketing of a campaign as a sign of business maturity. Common best practices have been identified, such as video marketing, a strong mail campaign before the crowdfunding (CF) campaign opens, contests to build up the mailing list, and access to products from the first production run at below cost. This last is a critical piece for companies with a working prototype, and allows the crowdfunding campaign to be used to estimate demand, take first orders, and form a customer base.

Some companies are also using multiple CF-campaigns through the course of their business growth. Expansion, new product development, and opening new branches or outlets are all reasons for a second or third crowdfunding campaign. Companies that have had success with crowdfunding are turning back to it as a method of funding business growth and expansion.

how it works

Crowdfunding Strategies

Crowdfunding is a unique funding opportunity for new ideas. Our platform offers innovative businesses and entrepreneurs the possibility to fund their products. Preparation for a crowdfunding campaign will need approximately the degree of preparation and planning of any business going to the bank to request a loan, including a functional business model and a business plan with projections. In addition, there is some planning and work that is unique to the crowdfunding platform:

  • Have your financial and business planning done before beginning the campaign.
  • The R and D should be done before a decision to monetize the product. Have a working prototype on hand.
  • Tell the story of how your business will change the world.
  • Successful crowdfunding campaigns, in addition to the financial planning for the business, plan marketing and outreach for several months before the launch of the campaign.
  • Start the buzz early about the campaign; showcase your social justice roots; convert backers to customers with discounts, information, and shared goals.
  • Clear communication with backers about the state of the project is another best practice.
  • Keep backers informed about progress, and convert backers to customers with financial incentives, information, and shared goals.

Our platform team supports you in achieving your goals.