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Crowdfunding is the future...

The Art of Asking

Posted: Sat, 09 August 2014 by Amanda

Singer, songwriter, artist, performer, Amanda Palmer's TED Talk has been viewed more than 3 million times. Even if you've seen it before, her message goes to the heart of crowdfunding... the art of asking.

I find it puzzling that people can be so reluctant, sometimes embarassed, to ask for support, whether that's cash, knowledge or skills. And yet, if you turn to the person immediately next to you and ask for help, with clarity and honesty, I'm prepared to bet the answer 90% of the time will be yes.

"Through the very act of asking people, I connected with them. And when you connect with them, people want to help you. It’s kind of counterintuitive for a lot of artists — they don’t want to ask for things. It’s not easy to ask. … Asking makes you vulnerable.

I don’t see these things as risks — I see them as trust. … But the perfect tools can’t help us if we can’t face each other, and give and receive fearlessly — but, more importantly, to ask without shame. … When we really see each other, we want to help each other. I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is, ‘How do we make people pay for music?’ What if we started asking, ‘How do we let people pay for music?"

What I take from Amanda Palmer's message is that most of us allow ourselves to be scared away by the 10% possibility of rejection.  Let's all be more brave. Let's 'give and receive fearlessly'; I can't think of a better slogan for crowdfunding.

Amanda

CEO / Founder

Networking on social media

Posted: Fri, 08 August 2014 by

There is huge, even boundless, potential for social media to expose your company to a wide audience, to build brand awareness, and to forge valuable connections. Are you harnessing this potential, and using your business’ social media to your full advantage?

The business value of an online presence cannot be underestimated. Much of the scepticism about the value of social media in business seems to stem from a misunderstanding of the “social” element. Social media is social in the sense of being connected, collaborative, and co-operative. It is not superficial or light-weight.

At BloomVC.com we have to be entirely immersed in social media – our business simply couldn’t function without it. The majority of project owners who come to us find us through Facebook or Twitter communities. As an online platform, our natural audience is those who are already engaged online, so it’s no surprise that 80% of our business originates from social media. It’s our business space, where we connect with people.

Compared to it’s marketing potential, the networking opportunities of social media are often overlooked. However, if you start thinking of the internet as one giant, always connected networking event, imagine the possibilities! Forums or networking events are great for meeting people in person, but experience has shown me that only about 20% of these connections will turn in to business prospects.

I first saw the potential for harnessing social media years ago when I, admittedly reluctantly, signed up to Linkedin. I was surprised to find myself really appreciating it. I was using it to chat with my peers, forge connections and build business networks – in other words, it was an online extension of what I was already doing offline. The difference was that online networking was, and is, quicker and easier and allowed me to engage more effectively on a much wider scale.

Having made an acquaintance, you should be putting your contacts to work on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Even one-person ventures can’t operate in isolation; you are likely to need to reach out to others for certain skills, advice, contacts or expertise. This is where the wider-reaching ripple-effect of social media comes into its own. In the spirit of online collaboration, there are also innovative new platforms structured entirely around providing help for free. Start by finding existing acquaintances on your social network, then ask them to use their contacts too – even if you don’t know a website designer, one of your contacts might. A good tip is seek out the “influencers” on social media – those who have established networks, with large numbers of likes and followers. Klout ratings and Hootsuite rankings can help you to assess who you need to know online.

When searching for new business contacts, think of your social media feeds as your shop window to the world. Twitter is a particularly great platform for frequent updates and sustained posting – it is hard to over-tweet on Twitter, whereas on sites such as Facebook people might feel that their newsfeed is being saturated by too many posts. Calls to action on Twitter are also surprisingly effective; a “please RT” makes it four times more likely that your message will be retweeted. Once you’ve got people’s attention, don’t forget to include new contacts by tagging, or using @address and hashtags on Twitter. This will open up your discussion to an even wider audience.

Whichever platform you use, it is essential that you engage with your audience. You have to participate in existing discussions, as well as starting new ones. Social media can provide you with the world’s largest audience, but you shouldn’t take to the stage without something to say. Many large businesses seem to view social media as just a bolt-on to their main marketing package, and have created their social media accounts simply because it’s now seen as “the thing to do”. I absolutely believe that every business ought to have an online presence, but only if they also have a purpose, a clear agenda, and a reason to engage. Social media is all about conveying your own personal message, whether you’re in the FTSE 100, or just have the beginning of a great business idea.

Lessons Learned - Campaigns

Posted: Tue, 05 August 2014 by Cara

If you’re ithinking about crowdfunding, chances are you already know about this campaign but if not, the Ubuntu smartphone project is the most ambitious target to date... at a whopping £32 million. Previously, the most successful crowdfunding project was the Pebble watch project, which raised more than £10 million and made crowdfunding history. If you’re really up to date, you’ll know that the Ubuntu campaign has now surpassed the Pebble Watch project in terms of money pledged, but unfortunately it looks like another £20 million in 5 days is going to be too much of an ask. As the project owners have a fixed funding project, this means that they won’t get anything unless they hit their target, which seems unlikely.

We wanted to highlight this story for two reasons – one, it proves the huge potential of crowdfunding, and two, there are lessons to be learned from this campaign. We’ve discussed some of the reasons why this campaign has been so successful, and also why it is likely to fail.

Reasons for success

There are several points which make this project very appealing.

1. This campaign is ambitious in every sense – attempting to triple the previous crowdfunding record, as well as breaking into the competitive smartphone market. Backers have clearly responded to this ambition and feel excited at the prospect of being involved in something which could potentially be massive. Are we looking at the next Samsung or Apple?

2. The project itself is very slick, displaying gorgeous graphics and a real sense of credibility. There has been a lot of time and effort spent creating this project, which helps to validate the company as it projects a professional image.

3. The rewards are great in the sense that backers can have access to the (potentially) coolest smartphone in the market, before the rest of the world jumps on the bandwagon and buys it too. I mean, come on, how awesome would it be to have the latest Samsung or iPhone before it was even released?

Reasons for failure

Unfortunately, the reasons for the campaign’s success could also be their downfall…

1. This project is too ambitious in too many ways, especially for a fixed funding model where they need to hit target or they’ll get nothing. Many backers probably see the target as greedy, and as money that could be much better spend addressing world poverty or global warming. £32 million cannot be justified as a minimum essential spend – we think the project owners should have split their goal up into smaller targets to build awareness, hook the market and then come back for more. Slow and steady wins the race!

2. Great graphics do not a smartphone make. Whilst the project compares the Ubuntu handset with various leading competitors, there is no real evidence or validation of the concept. The technology is perhaps too new and unknown to garner enough support.

3. The rewards are great, but they are priced far too high, especially for a crowdfunding campaign which should offer exclusive rewards. There also isn’t enough variety – what if you love the concept, but can’t afford the new handset? Well, you’re not really getting a good deal, and that’s cutting off a whole section of the potential crowd.

So that’s our take on the Ubuntu campaign, but we’d love to hear your thoughts so do tweet us, or comment on Facebook!

Are you/would you be a backer and why?

Mumpreneurs Make an impact

Posted: Mon, 04 August 2014 by

Mumpreneurs Make an impact

With so many parents setting up business from home whilst juggling family commitments, we're delighted to be helping so more Mums than anyone else jump start their new business ventures.

The Blog we dig this week is Top 10 Online Resources for Mums in Business by Business Amongst Mums. The blog provides useful links to sites that have been put together by other successful mumpreneurs, so will be very helpful for any 'Mums' looking to set up their new business' and who are not sure where to be connecting and networking! 

The Influencer we dig this week is Mumpreneur UK which is a huge platform jam packed full of advice, blogs, events, stories and so much more! Mumpreneur UK has a huge following and are so supportive to any Mums who are looking to turn their dreams into a reality. Join them on Twitter @MumpreneurUK and ask them to retweet one of your ideas. 

We are always keen to have your feedback at Bloom so please feel free to leave a comment on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @bloomvc or add us into your circles at Google+

Bloom Digs..Music

Posted: Tue, 15 July 2014 by

 

The Blog we dig this week is Go forth Music, which has a great section on how to crowdfund your music campaign. It breaks it down into 4 sections:

 Choosing crowdfunding to raise money

Budgets, Pledges, Amounts and Rewards

Getting started with crowdfunding( for musicians)

- Three lessons from the most successful music crowdfunds

 Helpfully, it includes videos and if you explore the rest of the blogs it goes on to explain how to use social media. It’s a great site for starting out musicians and music industry entrepreneurs.

 The site we dig this week for finding music events in the U.K is Music Week which has a massive list of music events and music industry events. However, the most important events when you’re running a music crowdfunding campaign will be yours and those of that your fans attend. Just because you’re running a crowdfunding campaign doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be gigging! In fact, we encourage it as you can promote your campaign at these events to your potential backers – your loyal fans.

The influencer that we dig this week is the Musician and Marketing Consultant Solveig Whittle(@shadesofsolveig).

 Solveig runs a great music website and has written some great blogs on crowdfunding, as well as great hints and tips on how to manage your band before and after your campaign! She has even guest blogged about successful crowdfunding campaigns on the website Crowdfunding for Musicians which you can read here

 Disagree with our choices? Think you know some better ones? Have you written something crowdfunding related in this category? Then let us know! Follow us on Twitter@bloomvc, like us on Facebook or add us into your circles in Google +

Grow your own online community

Posted: Fri, 04 July 2014 by

How to grow your own online community

Every project or venture needs a support-team, and all businesses need customers! Whomever your perfect customer is: whether they’re an eco-warrior, a busy single parent, a tartan enthusiast or a jam-jar collector, you can guarantee that they will be online somewhere. Blogs, forums, Facebook and Twitter have always been used to bring like-minded people together, and now you can use these same tools to find the people you need to make your idea a success.

Think what the point of connection will be between your project and the community who will support your venture. Usually, this connection will be the actual product or service your provide, but not always – sometimes you may need to think outside of the box.

Sandra Diamond’s Ecosse Candle Company creates high quality candles, and is based on the Clyde Coast of Scotland. Sandra realised that many people might choose to support her because they believed in maintaining manufacturing in their local area. With her message of “Fuel the flame of manufacturing in Scotland!”, she received generous donations from passionate supporters, and exceeded her £12,000 crowdfunding goal.

Other succesful projects we have supported through BloomVC.com include the creation of a new tartan for cyclists, a genre-crossing supernatural romantic comedy film, and a tribute for a celebrity cat. When you have the entire online audience at your disposal, nothing is too niche!

How to make social media work for you:

So, how do you find the people you need? Search tools on social media make it easier than ever to connect with people who have the same interests as you. Hashtags are a great way to find people on Twitter who could be potential new followers. YouTube channels and Facebook groups also offer good opportunities to get involved with existing online communities, and participate in conversations that are relevant to your project. Don’t forget to search for blogs and forums too!

Whichever platform you use, it is essential that you engage with your audience. It''s not enough on social networks to simply share links, or to announce your product like an advertisement. There are paid for advert options you can use to promote your posts on Facebook and Twitter, but forums and groups are not the place for blatant self-promotion! Nothing is a bigger turn-off than people feeling that their forum has been hijacked for advertising purposes.

You have to participate in existing discussions, as well as starting new ones. Create a buzz around your venture by talking about the latest trends in your sector, revealing behind-the-scenes activities and posing questions to your followers about developing your business or product. This audience are your ideal potential customers, so they should be interested in what you have to say.

Once you’ve got people’s attention, don’t forget to include new contacts by tagging, or using @address and hashtags on Twitter. Hopefully, your message will spread virally, and open up your discussion to an even wider audience.

Give it a go! Put our tips into practice, and let us know how you’ve made social work for you with #TellBloom on Facebook or Twitter. We’re giving away free tickets to an exclusive Entrepreneur Country forum event in London, for the best use of social media this week.

IWD: My Crowdfunding Experience

Posted: Sat, 08 March 2014 by

I''m writing this in between getting my daughter into a costume for World Book Day at nursery, tweeting about our current crowdfunding total and filling the dishwasher. If that doesn''t say something about International Women''s Day, I don''t know what does!  A crowdfunding project is much like a baby: it needs love, attention and praise, constant feeding in order to grow and 'Time Out' to think about the consequences when things don''t go as planned.

This year, we launched a new product range, Summerhouse Drinks, real lemonades made by ourselves here in Scotland. Our crowdfunding campaign is helping us raise the funds to build a van with a summerhouse on the back for selling at sampling at foodie events and festivals throughout Scotland. It is also helping us raise awareness of our new product and brand which is paving the way for our new drinks with both stockists and consumers before it hits the shelves.

I knew that crowdfunding would be exciting and nerve racking and I haven''t been proved wrong. What I have been surprised about is that to date, the majority of our pledgers are from business and personal contacts, very few are current customers. People are pledging to help us and be part of something, rather than get a financial gain.  I've also been surprised and delighted at the number of people who have become ambassadors for our campaign, encouraging their own following to pledge. That has been both helpful and humbling and they will get a very special welcome to our van when it is on it's VIP tour of Scotland.

Claire's crowdfunding project has been very successful thanks to her hard work and her great rewards! Check her project out here.

How to Motivate Backers

Posted: Sat, 30 November 2013 by Cara

Rewards crowdfunding is a simple process, but it requires a lot of hard work and it can be frustrating when you aren’t seeing any results. This could be due to a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that your message is probably not hitting home with potential backers.

Now crowdfunding allows you (potentially) to reach people all over the world, so how do you appeal to such a wide range of backers? By respecting this simple fact – research has shown that backers respond to projects which are either emotionally or geographically close to them.

So how does this work in practice? Read on for some pointers!

Preparing your project – think about both groups when you’re creating your campaign. Don’t offer too many rewards that are limited to geographic backers, make sure your local area is emphasised but also clearly demonstrate the project impact - who will your project affect and why? Also remember to keep the tone light and friendly, and include some personal background to add that special touch to your project.

Geographically close backers ­– this is your friends and family, and your local community. All the people that know you well enough to support you, or those that will be proud to say someone from their hometown is doing something amazing. Tap into this pool by speaking to your close contacts, attending local events, putting up posters and handing out flyers, and contacting your local media channels.

Emotionally close backers – this is anyone who connects personally with your business/social cause/community project. Someone who believes in what you are trying to do, and wants to be a part of making it happen. You reach this crowd by planning regular promotion, targeting relevant interest groups, asking to be included in relevant newsletters/blogs/videos, and participating in chats/webinars/events. This group is harder to reach because these people may be spread all over the globe, so you need to make sure that you have a consistent message, that your promotion is regular and that you’re using as many channels as possible to spread the word about your project.

 

Of course, there is much more to crowdfunding and if you’re thinking about a project, we would advise that you do some research and read everything you can about crowdfunding to get some useful tips. Our blog and e-book (available from the green banner on our homepage) are great places to start! Plus you can always take advantage of our expert knowledge by emailing eva@bloomvc.com or tweeting us @bloomvc.

(Image courtesy of www.nadinemuller.org.uk)

Join the Crowdfunding Forum

Posted: Sun, 10 November 2013 by Cara

As crowdfunding ambassadors, we’re always looking for new ways to engage with the Bloom community, but also the crowdfunding community at large. That’s why we are now joining in the conversation at http://crowdfundingforum.com/forum.php which is a fantastic place to share projects, ideas, tips and connect with many others. Please make sure you read the rules, interact with others and don’t spam! There are specific areas for project promotion so check those out too.

Our Community Manager Cara Pleym, will be taking the lead so look out for Cara@BloomVC on the forum, and let’s chat crowdfunding!

The Rise of Real Crowdfunding

Posted: Fri, 25 October 2013 by Jamie

The rise of Real Crowdfunding

Amanda Boyle, CEO and founder of BloomVC.com.



Crowdfunding has become a mot du jour in the media and entrepreneurial circles. However, the use of crowdfunding as an umbrella term has led to confusion around what it actually is, and what it is really meant to be.

In their latest consultation paper, the FCA identified different types of crowdfunding models, and confirmed the distinction between rewards-based crowdfunding, and the equity-based models. The regulations which the FCA has decided to enforce in April 2014 will only address the equity platforms.

Equity platforms are not a genuine “alternative” in the world of alternative finance. They operate on a loan or investment basis, and in essence they are simply the online versions of traditional financial institutions. The FCA’s decision to introduce new regulations to control these platforms is a recognition that they are burdened with exactly the same restrictions and the same risks as the banks.

Reward-based crowdfunding – real crowdfunding – is different. It is a genuine alternative finance solution, which allows people to support entrepreneurs or creative projects in exchange for personalised rewards. Reward-based models are not just about profit, but about great ideas, and allowing a spirit of sustainable entrepreneurialism to flourish. This is the ethos of real crowdfunding: a democratic, inclusive way for anyone with a great idea to garner financial support, without having to give up equity or control of their business.

Equity and investment platforms can have many complex loopholes and fine print that may trap an unwary investor. Real crowdfunding, however, is simple, transparent, and accessible to everyone. The project owner explains what they need crowdfunds for, and what they will give in reward – whether this is the first copy of their new single, a personalised thank you, or tickets to their show. If the rewards and the project are appealing enough for someone to want to give their financial support, they can then promise as much or as little as they like. At BloomVC.com we harness the collaborative power of the crowd. We connect an online community that generates financial support based on nothing more than curiosity and generosity.

Rewards-based crowdfunding is real crowdfunding, and it is the future of finance. Its popularity is testimony to the ingenuity and generousity of funders and project owners alike, as well as to its ability to produce viable, successful businesses. We are confident that it is the only source of genuinely innovative enterprise finance, and we welcome the FCA’s decision to distinguish it from other models. Real crowdfunding is a flourishing alternative movement, which can only continue to thrive.



Charity Crowdfunding

Posted: Tue, 08 October 2013 by

Charity Crowdfunding

According to official statistics, people across the UK are giving significantly less to charity. The Charities Aid Foundation has announced that the total amount of money fell by almost 20% in 2012.

But it’s not all bad news! We see inspiring charity projects and incredibly generous funders every day on BloomVC.com. Here’s some stats to lift the doom and gloom:

25% of all BloomVC.com projects are charitable or not-for-profit ventures

50% of all money promised on BloomVC.com goes to charity projects

Generous BloomVC.com funders have already promised over £136,000 for charity

The latest charity project to be successfully funded received £1,280 from a single donor - this is more than the average person donates in a year!

We all know the amazing things that crowdfunding can do for entrepreneurs, start-ups and creative projects – but crowdfunding also has unique potential for positive charitable and social ventures. Tougher economic circumstances have spawned many innovative online solutions, and charities should embrace crowdfunding in order to boost failing donations.

With a philosophy of funding anything, anywhere, we know that crowdfunding for charity works.

(Image courtesy of www.theguardian.com)

Bloom Digs... Community

Posted: Fri, 04 October 2013 by Suzanne

Bloom Digs - Community

This week on Bloom Digs we will be looking at Community. Crowdfunding has become such a huge part of raising funds for many different types of community projects, and now more and more councils are getting involved in using realcrowdfunding too.

 

The Blog we dig this week is Eden Projects Community Blogs. Eden offers advice, free taining weekends, welcome people with inspirational project ideas to come together and much more. There is something for everyone who is interested in building a great community project, so pop over and have a browse, you won't be disappointed!

 

The Event we dig this week is the Community Matters Conference and AGM 2013, Saturday 19th October, London. The conference theme this year is 'Funding' and will focus on how to source, generate and tender for it.

Topics include: Successful fundraising, Becoming 'business like' and Getting paid to deliver services.

It definitely sounds like a great event to be attending, and there's still time to apply for a place, so get booking!!

 

The Influencer we dig this week is British actor, writer and comedian Stephen Fry (@stephenfry). Stephen Fry is highly influential throughout social media and has backed several projects, one project in particular was for the Glyncoch Community Centre, after hearing about the campaign he tweeted about the project and the funding came flooding in from companies and individuals from all over. What a great thing to happen. Well Done!

 

 

We are always keen to get some feedback at BloomVC, please feel free to leave a comment by contacting us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @bloomvc or add us into your circles at Google+

Nation of Entrepreneurs

Posted: Wed, 02 October 2013 by Jamie

Amanda Boyle, founder and CEO of Bloomvc.com, believes crowdfunding is the only viable option for creating a nation of entrepreneurs:

Crowdfunding confronts the problems faced by those struggling entrepreneurs up and down the country fizzing with potential and ideas. Energy rates are not a priority for someone juggling jobs whilst trying to raise the money to buy a piece of kit for their company, or the mother unsure whether anyone would want to buy the unique products she painstakingly makes. By placing an idea into the realm of the crowd, it is financial support, business advice and the inspiration of a passionate community that people will receive. And that is exactly what is required to turn someone into an entrepreneur.

As party conference season draws to a close, we’ve heard the usual rhetoric about helping businesses. Headline grabbing policies are thrown around in the run up to elections, then watered down for implementation.

What is abundantly clear is how urgently we need to change the conception of business. Tax cuts, business rates and energy prices are of real benefit to large. 95% of businesses in the UK are SMEs, yet time and time again politicians pander to the dominant 5% in their policies. If the economy has any hope of recovery, we must change this attitude and understand what needs to be done to help the growth of sustainable new business.

Fortunately, crowdfunding is an approach that doesn’t rely on political parties or financial institutions. The beauty of real crowdfunding is that anyone who commits to their business concept will be rewarded depending on nothing more than the strength of their vision.

The tools are here on BloomVC.com for anyone to pitch their business idea online. The journey from conception through to funding is a very real possibility with a strong idea and an understanding of how crowdfunding operates. The majority of people don’t know how to write up a business plan, but they can tell you about their ideas. Crowdfunding encourages people to spend their time turning their idea into a reality rather than remaining daunted by pages of bank documentation. With crowdfunding opening up new avenues to the realisation of successful ventures for all, for the first time it is truly possible to create a nation of entrepreneurs.

 

 

 

Bloom Digs... Education

Posted: Fri, 27 September 2013 by Cara

This week we are focusing on education, which is a massive sector and has major influence on the new generations of business leaders. Check out what we’re digging in this sector, and remember to check your inbox for a special education focused newsletter!

The blog we dig is Hack Education which ticks all the boxes for us – great content, presentation, and tone! Packed full of information and key trends are highlighted for easy access. A must read for anyone who wants to know more about education.

The event we dig is the Bett Show which is coming up on January 22nd – 25th 2014 in London, and will attract educators all over the world from primary through to higher education, and even workplace educators. Sounds like a great event - book your place today!

The influencer that we dig is Khan Academy (@khanacademy) – a very cool organisation with a mission to deliver free education! It’s not for profit, but they have a fantastic network of supporters who help them achieve their goals (remind you of anything?). Definitely one to watch!

Disagree with our choices? Think you know some better ones? Have you written something crowdfunding related in this category? Then let us know! You can email us eva@bloomvc.com, follow us on Twitter @bloomvc, like us on Facebook or add us into your circles in Google +

Bloom Digs... Environment

Posted: Fri, 20 September 2013 by Suzanne

Bloom Digs - Environment

This week on Bloom Digs we will be looking at Environment.

The blog we dig this week is The Environment and Social Media  by The Collaborative on Health and the Environment. It focuses on how social media reaches a broad audience and shows statistics in how each social media application works and backs up how advantageous social networking can be for environmental organsiations getting the word out there. 

 

The event we dig this week is Facilitation Training Day - London via European Environment Agency. This training day is aimed at all levels of experience, so will be a great opportunity to brush up on some existing skills or if your completely new to taking a leadership role, this event will most certainly provide you with all the tools you need to help you on your way. 

Friends of the Earth (@wwwfoecouk) are holding a 3 day event via Dialogue Matters. The course highlights the benefits and challenges of involving stakeholders in decisions about the environment, understand the principles and concepts of stakeholder participation and to learn practical facilitation skills and how to design a participation process. Another great event that we recommend checking out!

 

The influencer we dig this week is Guardian Environment (@guardianeco). Not only do they have a huge following, they have also written several blogs on crowdfunding and how crowdfunding platforms are contributing to funding environmental projects across the globe.  Wouldn't it be great if Guardian Environment blogged about your project?!

 

 

We are always keen to get some feedback at BloomVC, please feel free to leave a comment by contacting us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @bloomvc or add us into your circles at Google+

 


Managing Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Posted: Tue, 17 September 2013 by Cara

by Cara Pleym

We’re previously given advice about preparing for a crowdfunding campaign, however we want to highlight that running a campaign involves a lot of effort, and managing several different tasks at the same time can be difficult. We know that this can sometimes be stressful, and a lot to take on, so we’ve written a short guide to help.  Follow our tips to ensure your campaign runs more smoothly, and that you don’t end up forgetting about things.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Maintaining interest in your campaign will ideally involve regular promotion, both online and offline, social outreach, blogs, video updates, attending networking events and more! So Step 1 is to encourage as much interest as possible before you launch, so that a) you have less to do when you launch and b) you secure backers in the first few days which builds momentum and reassures strangers. Step 2 is planning for how much time you can dedicate to your crowdfunding campaign each day, and working out what you are going to do when. Remember to take into account that interest typically spikes at the start and end of your campaign, as there is a greater sense of urgency and excitement. Plan more promotion during the middle of your campaign to maintain interest!

Identify your strengths and weaknesses

We all tend to focus on our strengths, and ignore our weaknesses, but it’s very important that you identify any potential problems as early as possible. Not sure how to use Twitter or write a good blog or how to hook backers in? Ask for advice, and work on your weaker areas. When you’re planning your time, remember that if you’re not comfortable doing a task, it will probably take you longer. Please don’t shy away from something just because you’re not sure how – we’re here to help and the more variety you have in your promotion, the better your chances of appealing to different backers.

Ask for help

If you know that you’re going to be particularly busy during a certain day or week, try to get a family member or friend to help you out, so that your crowdfunding campaign doesn’t suffer. Take advantage of their skills too - if you know someone who can write a great blog, or is a social media whiz, ask if they’ll teach you! Every little bit helps you to manage your campaign. On a related note, please do ask your networks to promise money, and actively promote your project – it might feel uncomfortable but everyone needs a hand sometimes!

Be smart with your time

The more you do to promote your crowdfunding campaign the better, but it’s pretty pointless if it’s low quality. Quality not quantity, will lead to more backers so make sure you use your time effectively. For example, blogs and videos are great because it doesn’t take too long and you can reuse and reshare them. If you use HootSuite or Tweetdeck, you can spend an hour scheduling posts for the entire day. Also, try to spread your time out, we recommend at least an hour a day, but don’t invest time and effort in bursts, if you can’t follow up with regular promotion and updates.

Doing all of this won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it, and your campaign will run more efficiently. Hopefully, it will also encourage more backers and push you ever close to your target! Remember, if you have any questions, you can #askbloom on Twitter or email eva@bloomvc.com

Happy Crowdfunding!

(Image courtesy of myporter.com.au)

Bloom Digs... Enterprise

Posted: Thu, 12 September 2013 by Cara

This week we are focusing on enterprise and small business, which of course is a hot topic in the world of crowdfunding as more and more businesses turn to the crowd to get started. After all, you can engage directly with your customers, test your market and your price points, and fill your order book before you’ve even started!

The blog we dig is the Formations Company, who run a fantastic blog packed full of advice for entrepreneurs, plus some key case studies and articles about crowdfunding. In fact, you might even see a few of our crowdfunders featured too, along with their incredible stories. This is updated regularly so make sure you check back often for great new pieces.

The event we dig is Social Media Week which is coming up on the 23-27 September, although we are disappointed that Glasgow isn’t involved! Don’t let that stop you getting involved though, as there are some fantastic events in London, and we’re sure there will be lots of activity online and (of course!) on social media. Get involved!

The influencer that we dig is the Social Foundation (@TheTSF) which is a fantastic organisation who support innovation and entrepreneurship through their work on policy, research and education. They are also amazing supporters of crowdfunding, and they even organised the first national crowdfunding conference in the UK. Well worth a tweet, and keep your eyes peeled for updates from this fab organisaton.

Bloom Digs ..Games

Posted: Fri, 06 September 2013 by Jamie

Bloom Digs ...Games

 

This week on Bloom Digs we will be looking at the wonderful world of games! Crowdfunding and games go together like jelly and ice cream. Millions upon millions of pounds have been raised for video and board games through crowdfunding and there is no reason why yours couldn’t be the next big thing!

 

The blog we dig this week is IndieGames.com which is part of the larger and very popular Gamasutra network. Indie Games has some great advice for small time games developers, including this blog on 5 PR Tips Indies really need. It contains some great advice and stories from those who have already used the crowdfunding model. They have some particularly good advice for those who have chosen to start funding during the Alpha stage of development, from the creators of breakout hits such as Day-Z and Minecraft.

 

The event we dig this week is the Dundee based Dare to be Digital promoted by Abertay University. Dare to be Digital is a premier video games development competition and networking event. Attending the event comes with a whole host of benefits including enhancing your CV, getting mentions from the industry, the chance to build a network of industry contacts and much much more.

 

This years' event has finished but keep your eyes peeled for next year!

 

The influencer that we dig this week is Matt Hacket (@richtaur) who is the co-founder of Lost Decade Games. Matt has experience with his crowdfunding campaign for his game Crypt Run. He has written two blogs about the experience of his crowdfunding campaign. The first describes his experiences during the first week of the campaign. The second is an interesting look at what went right and what went wrong during the successfully funded campaign!

 

 

Disagree with our choices? Think you know some better ones? Have you written something crowdfunding related in this category? Then let us know! You can email us jamie@bloomvc.com, follow us on Twitter @bloomvc, like us on Facebook or add us into your circles in Google +

The Journey of Weathered Cyclist

Posted: Tue, 03 September 2013 by Ali

by Ali Campbell, founder of Weathered Cyclist

Weathered Cyclist is extremely dear to me. It is a very personal project. I know first hand the benefits of being able to get out and ride my bike. Obviously it's a physical thing. Equally important but more often forgotten, is that it is a mental thing. The simple act of riding a bike is therapeutic in so many ways.

I wanted to get Weathered Cyclist off the ground as a means to fund projects that help remove the barriers that make it more difficult for many people to enjoy the freedom that cycling offers.

Weathered Cyclist is a tartan. A tartan that I hope will be adopted as the cycling tartan. It is important that everything we create, where possible, comes from Scotland so when I received an invitation to an awareness event about Bloom VC, I signed up right away.

I had been looking into crowdfunding options to raise the capital to get the first run of tartan made. There are loads of options out there, each with their own quirks and intricacies. Bloom's presentation was really exciting. I could tell straight away that the people that were talking really believed in what they were saying; that they were passionate about crowdfunding and that they believed that Bloom is the best option available.

As expected, most of my promises have been from Scotland, but there have been promises from as far afield as the States, Canada and Tasmania, so it is extremely important that people can make promises from anywhere in the world.

I also knew that Bloom would work hard to make my project work. Almost every Tweet has been retweeted, Facebook posts have been shared, commented upon and liked... bear in mind that I have never told anyone from Bloom my Twitter or Facebook details! They have looked at my project page and been proactive at getting my details, following or liking and then doing something about it.

The crowdfunding thing is very exciting. You have to be prepared to put a shift in. Don't expect to build your project and it will just happen. It won't. Fortunately Bloom are on hand to help you with any concerns; to review your project to make it as effective as possible and to offer you any advice you feel you need along the way. However, the work comes down to you. Tell everyone you know about it. Tweet or post or update or whatever you need to do online to make it work. Don't worry about bombarding your friends... they will see that your project is important to you and they will forgive you for your passion. Trust me.

With only a few days left, the project is 100% funded, so my persistence has paid off - but I want to use those days to keep fund raising to help my charity become as sustainable and self-sufficient as possible.

I will be working my tartan socks off to make this project as big as it can be and I know that Bloom will be right there with me.

Announcing -

Posted: Thu, 29 August 2013 by Jamie

It's our mission to help crowdfunders find backers and backers to find crowdfunding projects to support. As part of that journey, we come across amazing resources that can help you on whichever side of the fence you may be perching!

So we've decided to launch Bloom Digs – a weekly blog focusing on a specific crowdfunding sector, highlighting and sharing the best blogs, events and introducing key influencers for you to follow and engage with.

Bloom Digs will be your go-to blog, the perfect opportunity for you to grow your crowdfunding campaign by targeting key people – bloggers and individuals - who can share and discuss your project with others.

But it's not just about what we think, it's got to be about you as well! Have you come across or do you write an amazing crowdfunding blog? Let us know and we will feature it when that sector comes up! Know of an event or do you have a large social media following? Let us know and we can feature you!

In our first Dig, we will be looking at Music so make sure you bookmark this page and stop by on Friday when the BD Blog goes live.

Crowdfunding Offer to Scotland's Food and Drink Industry

Posted: Thu, 29 August 2013 by Michelle

Scotland has an incredible global reputation for the best in food and drink - who hasn't heard of, and enjoyed, haggis and whisky?

But we have so much more to offer than that, fantastic artisan producers and some of the top chefs and restaurants in the world. Which is why celebrating and promoting the best of what we produce in Scotland's Food and Drink Fortnight is so important.

So we'd like to throw our support behind the event and make a very special offer to Scotland's food and drink producers in honour of this two week long event - if you launch your crowdfunding campaign between September 7 and 22 we'll refund Bloom's 5% commission when you reach your target.

Nice, huh? If you want to know more about crowdfunding in general or have specific questions about crowdfunding your food or drink business, then please do get in touch. Email michelle@bloomvc.com and she - and her team - will be on hand to help.

Bloom offers 1-1 support for all project owners, from pre-launch through creating and launching your campaign, to reaching for target. Download our e-Book from our home page www.bloomvc.com for some top tips and then simply Start a Project.

It's too good an offer to miss! Start today!

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight

(image courtesy of www.thesuffolkcoast.co.uk )

Crowdfunding: Take 2

Posted: Tue, 27 August 2013 by Cara

by Cara Pleym

One of the great things about crowdfunding is that you can come back more than once, regardless of whether you were successful or not the first time. We know that some people feel as though they can’t crowdfund again, either because they received funding and feel greedy asking for more, or because they were unsuccessful the first time, and aren’t sure that crowdfunding is for them.

Well, we think that you can crowdfund as many times as you like, as long as you have a genuine need and a clear impact each time. We’ve shared some of our top tips for returning crowdfunders, which should help anyone who’s thinking about another campaign.

Don’t be afraid

Whether or not you succeeded the first time, you’ll now have a much better understanding of how crowdfunding works and what types of promotion work best for you. You’ll probably have also developed your social media skills, networking and pitching abilities, plus improved your time and project management. All of this will make your second crowdfund that much easier! For those of you who were unsuccessful the first time, don’t give up – Bloom crowdfunder Hannah Stansfield failed in her first campaign, but she’s learned from the experience and has since successfully crowdfunded three times.

Return of the crowdfunder

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your previous crowdfund and pretending it didn't happen, the crowd will find out! Make it clear that you have crowdfunded before, and explain how you have progressed since. So if you did receive your funding, talk about what you did with the money and how your project has developed as a result. If you didn’t hit target, talk about the lessons that you learned and how you are going to make this crowdfund better. Although we can’t give a specific timeframe, it’s best to take at least a few weeks to allow progress and learning from experience to occur.

Start with your Bloom crowd

Regardless of the result, you should have built at least a small group of people who are interested and/or made a promise to your first campaign. Ask them why they did/didn’t like your project, and how you could make your rewards even better. Those who engaged with you initially will want to know more about where you are now, especially if you were successful and they know that their promise helped you get there! Don’t shy away from asking for help from your initial crowd, as they’re actually more likely to engage and support you again.

Demonstrate the impact

With a second crowdfunding campaign, it’s important to make the project distinct from the first one and clearly explain the impact of the project. How is this goal different? Refer to your original goal, and either discuss how this goal progresses from or how it is separate from your first crowdfund. As with any campaign, remember to provide a cost breakdown and emphasise that your target is the essential minimum spend.

Hopefully we’ve convinced you that you can crowdfund again, and our tips should help you if you do decide on another campaign. If you have any questions about this blog post, or about crowdfunding in general, please email eva@bloomvc.com or #askbloom on Twitter.

(Image courtesy of www.ageesteem.com)

Which project is the one for you?

Posted: Mon, 26 August 2013 by Cara

We have a wide range of projects, from enterprise to publishing to sport, and our projects are constantly changing as each is on a clock and new projects are being launched. So as a potential backer, how do you make the difficult decision of which project to back? Now we won’t talk about the projects themselves, because it’s up to the crowd to decide what they do or don’t like, but what we can do is give some advice on finding that perfect project or reward, and how to get the best value.

Follow these simple tips and find what you’re looking for faster!

Search by category

Do you have a particular interest in music or education? Use our category search to help you find projects that you are most interested in. Can’t find any projects in that category? Why not talk to your friends, and encourage them to start their own project in that area, or even crowdfund your own great idea?

Sign up to the newsletter

You might not have time to browse the site every single day, so we have a weekly newsletter which pulls together all the latest news, including new projects, reminders for projects ending soon, and even a specific section for that week’s top rewards! Sign up at www.bloomvc.com and never miss a project again.

Check out the rewards!

If you like a project, but aren’t sure about making a promise, make sure that you read through all the rewards. The higher your promise value, the more you’ll receive for your money. Tip: our average promise is £40-50 so do check out this reward level, it tends to be great value and many are exclusive/unique to the crowdfunding campaign.

Split up your promise

You might have decided on the amount you want to promise to a certain project, but don’t really fancy the corresponding reward. Well don’t worry! You can split up your promise, and take, for example, two £20 rewards if you’re promising £40. As long as the rewards value is lower than or equal to your promise value, you can choose what you like!

Talk to the project owner

Want to know more about the project? You can ask questions directly from the project page, or check out their social media channels and interact with them there. They’ll be more than happy to chat to you, and answer any questions that you might have.

So there are lots of suggestions to help you decide which project you want to back, but if you’re really stuck, why not promise to more than one? You’ll still receive great rewards, plus you’ll get double the bragging rights. Also remember that your promise will not come out of your bank account straight away, but will be taken if and when the project closes successfully.

Head over to the ‘Projects’ tab to start browsing. Happy funding!

(Image courtesy of www.personal.psu.edu)

Overcoming Youth Unemployment

Posted: Mon, 19 August 2013 by Cara

by Cara Pleym

Although there are signs that the economy is slowly but surely recovering, there are still far too many young people who are unemployed. School leavers, skilled workers and graduates alik are all finding it very difficult to find a job; they get stuck in a vicious cycle where they need more experience, but no one gives them the chance to gain that experience.

So how do we resolve this? Well, this is a huge problem which needs addressed from many different angles – but we think crowdfunding can be a big part of it.

First of all, young people are well suited to crowdfunding because they’re tech savvy, know how to work social media and have a large network of friends and family. Plus, they often have great ideas but don’t have the confidence to do anything about them on their own. Support from the crowd can surely help them build that confidence.

So crowdfunding may be more natural for young people, but how will it help them find a job? Well, running a crowdfunding campaign involves time management, communication planning and activities, developing pitching skills, public speaking and much more. Crowdfunding therefore can teach young people various essential skills they can put on their CV and they can use this experience to demonstrate their competence to employers.

Apart from skills development, there are also many benefits to becoming more active online and having a stronger visibility, as crowdfunding requires a high degree of online interaction. Not only will this be a plus in the eyes of employers, but crowdfunding might actually help connect people with potential jobs and opportunities. It’s also something different which will help young people stand out at a time when competition for jobs is fierce.

Let’s move away from traditional employment – crowdfunding can also highlight the potential for becoming self-employed and building new businesses. Pitching an idea online allows the crowd to respond, feedback and even pre-purchase products, which could be the beginning of a customer base.

This idea isn’t new - Anthony Gerrard founded ‘Bad Idea’, a business which helps young people aged 14-18 to realise their entrepreneurial potential, and as part of a competition asked the pilot group to run their own crowdfunding campaigns. Three of the twenty campaigns secured their funding, but the greatest benefits were gained from the process rather than the end result. It was amazing to see the fantastic ideas develop, and watch the young people grow in confidence – we were blown away by the standard of the final pitches!

While crowdfunding is not going to solve youth unemployment, it could certainly help move things in the right direction by allowing young people the opportunity to develop new skills, to pitch their ideas and even gain funding to take their projects forward.

(Image courtesy of savegoodness.com)

Grow your Social Network

Posted: Mon, 19 August 2013 by Jamie

How to get yourself heard on social media, by Bloom intern Jamie Moore

Here at Bloom we know that promoting your project on social media is a huge part of your campaign. Trying to get yourself heard amongst the crowd, however, can be a big challenge to those who are just starting to build their social networks. We have amassed some great hints and tips to help you get your voice heard loudly and clearly on Twitter and Facebook.

1. Build your network.

Whether you have just started building a community or already have an established community on your personal Twitter and Facebook, the first thing you need to do is to start building your crowdfunding network. Building your network is one of the most important things to do in a crowdfunding campaign. It is vital that you start this a long time before your campaign has started in order to increase your chances of success. Building your network will work in exactly the same way that you share your project. Start by finding friends and family on your social network, then move on to add their friends and family and add them into your project's social network. The final group you add is those who might have an interest your project and can spread it. These people are called influencers and they are people on social networks who have established networks and a large amount of likes and followers.

2. Find your influencers

Finding influencers is a necessary step in your social media strategy. For example, if you are doing a film project then seek out people who have already crowdfunded a film, indie directors or local actors/producers. Ask these influencers to share your project with their social networks but even more importantly, you can also try to get them involved with you discussing your project.

3. Use your hashtags!

Hashtags allow you to peer into conversations that you may have missed on your regular timeline. Look at the kind of hashtags that are appearing on your timeline and follow them to find new followers and new conversations. When you have identified commonly used or popular hashtags in your social network you should use Tweetdeck or a similar system to keep track of them. 

4. Start a conversation

It's not enough on social networks to simply share links or ask others to share. You have to start conversations, talk about the latest trends in your project category or pose questions to your followers about something new or controversial. Don’t forget if you're talking about someone famous or something that's trending to use the relevant @address and #hashtag which will open up your conversation to even more people. Once you have people talking then you can share your project.

5. Join a conversation

Don’t feel afraid to jump into a conversation that is already ongoing. Social networks are open forums and it is to be expected that people will jump in and out of conversations with their own opinions and viewpoints. If you see people talking about something that relates to your project don’t be afraid to join in! Don’t forget to then share your project and ask them what they think to make your project part of the conversation.

6. Dont be afraid to ask for backers

One of the main problems project owners experience is that they are afraid to ask people to back their project. If people take an interest in your project make sure to ask them to back it; by showing off your rewards and the benefits that your project will bring, people will back you. The worst that can happen is that they say no thank you.



Image Courtesy of Socialmediamagic.com

Crowdfunding for Social Causes

Posted: Fri, 16 August 2013 by Cara

Some think that you can’t use real crowdfunding (rewards based) for social causes because it’s more difficult to offer tangible rewards. It’s also mistakenly associated with simply being charity, and some people feel uncomfortable asking for money. Well, we’re here to tell you that you CAN crowdfund for social causes, and if you look at the history of crowdfunding projects, social causes actually tend to do very well.

Let’s look at some of the ways that social crowdfunding campaigns can work well.

People like helping

It’s true. We all get that warm fuzzy feeling when we help a friend or do a good deed for a stranger without expecting anything in return. So backers love social projects which will make a real impact in their community or on a social issue. Crowdfunding allows you to let people help by promising money, provide a deeper level of engagement plus offer some great rewards!

Rewards are easy

You don’t have a product - so what? Backers love the personal touches, such as being publicly named with a thank you on social media and on a website, or by receiving a personal thank you letter or video. Best of all, these rewards are normally very low cost, which means that you can keep more of your money for your social cause.

Immediate clear impact

For other campaigns, the pitches have to sell the project well and clearly explain the project impact and it’s sometimes difficult to convince backers. Social projects don’t have that issue. While it is still essential that you have a great pitch outlining the clear and compelling value, most social causes are already widely recognised as important and deserving of support.

Community focus

Chances are, your initial backers will come from the community you are trying to help, which is often more close knit and engaged than others. This strong community focus will help you get backers from day one, and will also appeal to strangers who can see the high level of interest and interaction in your project. (Tip: remember to keep all activity public, to help spread the word!).

Media attention

The media like crowdfunding campaigns because crowdfunding is a hot topic and, coupled with a social cause, you’ve got a golden hook for an article, blog, video – you name it! You can take advantage of this edge and promote your project via offline and traditional media routes, as well as social media channels.

Still not convinced? Well, we’ll give it one last shot. Hannah Stansfield has successfully crowdfunded three times on Bloom for her social causes, relating to animal welfare. We also had a fantastic project which raised £7500 to help build homes for orphans in Rwanda. The evidence speaks for itself…

(Image courtesy of www.travelagentcentral.com)

#SGHOUR Round Up

Posted: Thu, 08 August 2013 by Cara

 

If you weren’t following #SGHOUR on Twitter from 5-6pm yesterday, you missed some great crowdfunding chat! Our very own CEO Amanda Boyle was answering all sorts of crowdfunding questions, and there were some great conversations. For those of you who missed the action, or don’t have Twitter, we’ve pulled out the key Q&As from the live chat so that no one misses out on some crowdfunding gems.

 

How does crowdfunding work?

A: #CrowdFunding comes in three distinct types, equity, lending or rewards. Only the last one is a radical departure. Rewards #crowdfunding can be likened to pre-selling... No risk access to markets, customers who want you to thrive.

 

How does a startup make their crowdfunding campaign a success?

A: A sharp, focused pitch, which we help with, a clear 'ask' & compelling rewards.

Check out our blog for advice on telling your story.


Give an example of a successful campaign with an edge?

A: That's easy @Bonnie_Bling sent her products to @TheXFactor ... contestants wore them! @Bonnie_Bling uses coloquial terms for her ranges of pendants, brooches, etc.

Read our guest blog for the Formations Company, all about Bonnie Bling and their success story.


What demographic is the biggest user on Bloom?

A: No surprises, the biggest audience is women... 25-50; socially engaged, supportive of others.

 

Is there something important startups should NOT do before crowdfunding?

A: I'd say don't expect it to be easy money. People will support your effort but they won't do it for you. It's also best to focus on one campaign. Do not underestimate the power of the crowd to get behind you!

 

How much time do you need to spend on a crowdfunding campaign?

A: We recommend spending at least 1 hour a day on promotion.

 

What makes Bloom different?

Check out our blog post with our top reasons for crowdfunding with Bloom!

 

How does Bloom choose which projects to launch?

A: There are no geographical, currency or cultural barriers, just the Internet & everyone connected to it! In a wee plug for @bloomvc, we're the only site not to select or curate the projects published!!

 

How should you promote a crowdfunding campaign?

A: All the same rules apply as for any sort of business... promote at every opportunity, in every way possible!

 

Can regulations obstruct a project getting crowdfunded?

A: Depending on where you're based and what form of #crowdfunding. Not usually rewards though!

 

Do you allow companies to relist on Bloom?

A: Always! this is about the right cash at the right time. Business always needs more!

For example, our fab crowdfunder Hannah Stansfield wasn’t successful in her first campaign, but she learned from her experience and has since come back and funded three separate projects!


What’s the average campaign goal on Bloom?

A: Not a fan of averages, the range is £100-£15000 to date! It's all or nothing, so important to get right. Remember, we're all or nothing (some sites allow take what you get) so you need to hit target.

For more information about setting your crowdfunding target, see this blog post.


How was Bloom funded?

A: Easy! Bootstrapped by the directors. We closed a very small external round in April this year.

 

As you can see, we had some great questions but Amanda answered them all with ease – we are the crowdfunding experts after all! It was fantastic to see so many engaged with crowdfunding, and hopefully everyone involved now has a better understanding of how it works.

To top off the exciting session, Amanda also announced a special surprise! All projects launched on Bloom in the month of August, using #SGHOUR, will have their fees refunded – that means even more money for our fab project owners. We’re excited to see who is going to take advantage of our special offer, and in the meantime, remember we’re always open to questions – just #askbloom on Twitter or email eva@bloomvc.com

(Image courtesy of sixminutes.dlugan.com)

Achieving Your Stretch Target

Posted: Wed, 07 August 2013 by Cara

By Cara Pleym

Setting a target is a crucial element for any crowdfunding campaign, and we’ve given advice in a previous blog post about the factors to take into account. However, it’s also really important to reach for the stars and work out what your stretch target is.

What do we mean by this? Well, your target should be your absolute minimum essential spend so that a) you’re more likely to hit target and get your money and b) your goal doesn’t seem frivolous or greedy. However, you should also have a secondary goal, your little bit extra that could buy you better equipment, or allow you to produce a better film. We have some top tips for setting, and achieving this stretch target.

Clearly outline your stretch target

In your pitch, clearly explain your minimum essential spend and then go on to explain why you would love a little bit more. Make sure you set a number on this stretch goal and provide a compelling case for backers e.g. I need £1000 for a filling machine for my skincare products to save me time and money, but if I could raise £1300 I could also produce a new line of skincare for men and expand my business.

If you don’t tell people why you deserve extra, you won’t get it!

Spend time creating fantastic rewards

Now we know rewards can sometimes be difficult and you can view our blog post all about getting creative with rewards. There are a few key things you need to make sure of. Our average promise is around £40 so ideally you want a pretty good £30 reward level and then a really cool £50 reward level in order to encourage backers to make that jump. Until your project closes, you also won’t know whether you’ll have lots of backers donating small amounts or a few backers donating large amounts, so you need to make sure that you cater for all budgets! Make sure you have some really special, exclusive, top rewards in order to persuade those with the deepest pockets.

Work at it every day

Yup, every day! The most successful project owners are on social media every day, they are blogging and posting video diaries, attending networking events and getting the word out in their community. It’s hard work, but once you get that momentum building, it’s easier to maintain and push past your target.

Ask for the money

At all points of your campaign it’s important to actually ask for money, not just support. It might feel uncomfortable but remember those amazing rewards you spent so much time on? That’s what backers will receive, so it’s a transaction, not charity. And it's very important if you hit target early to make sure backers are reminded of the fab rewards on offer and how far extra promises will go. Keep it up right until your project closes!

Just a few tips for achieving your stretch target, but if you want to know more about this, or crowdfunding in general, just #askbloom on Twitter or email eva@bloomvc.com

(Image courtesy of blog.newsystemsthinking.com)

Pimp your crowdfunding project

Posted: Tue, 06 August 2013 by Jamie

Pimp your Project! Adding in Video and Pictures!

by Jamie Moore

Here at Bloom we know that adding media such as pictures and video can really make your project stand out. Adding in a picture or video to your project is a great way to highlight your project in a way that words may not be able to do justice. Your project is your passion and filming a short video can be a great way to show that passion off. It can also be used to add in information that may not have been suitable for your written pitch, such as your history with your project or technical information. In order to help you choose what kind of media you should upload we have come up with some dos and don'ts.

DO make it Informative: If your project has some technical aspect to it or some quirk that makes it unique you can use media to accurately show off what it is your project does or will do. For example, if your project is new software you can use video and pictures to show how it works. Uploading media also makes it easy to highlight innovation in your project as you can use it to show how what you are doing is new and fresh .

Do give potential backers a taster: Media allows you to give potential backers a taster of what your project is all about. You can use it to highlight an amazing reward or to give a show of what your project is about. If you’ve got a film project why not put up a trailer or film a production meeting. If your project is to help expand your product show, off your pre-existing product and ask satisfied previous customers to send you pictures of your product or service in action!

Do avoid stock photos and images: Your project is unique and the media you upload should reflect that! Its also important not to steal photos from other websites and try and pass them of as your own! The crowd will find out and they won't be happy!

Do keep it relevant: Make sure that all the media you upload is connected to your project. While it's good to show a picture of yourself make sure it's a nice one! Avoid the temptation to add in filler pictures if you don’t have anything to upload, if you are struggling drop the Bloom team an email or #askbloom on twitter for help!

Don’t put backers off: While not everyone can be an expert photographer or the next Steve Spielberg it is important that you try and present your project in the best light possible. If you're filming a video talking about your project make sure you speak in a clear voice, if somebody walks in mid-shoot then start over again and above all rehearse your pitch! The more confident and knowledgeable you sound the better. When taking pictures ensure there is good light, they are in focus and are relevant to your project.

Don't mislead backers: If you are using media to show off your rewards make sure that you don’t include anything that backers won't be getting. An example of this would be if your project was creating handbags and you put in pictures of handbags that you either didn’t make or that weren’t included in your rewards structure. Doing so would give backers a false impression and lead to disappointment in the long term. Don’t forget that backers are your first customers and first impressions count!

Don’t worry about the right equipment: You don’t need a fancy camera or camcorder to film or shoot your media. A standard digital camera or smart-phone will do! 

 

Image courtsesy of http://ezb.ijs.si/fedora/get/ezmono:okoi/VIEW/

How to Avoid Common Crowdfunding Pitfalls

Posted: Mon, 05 August 2013 by Cara

By Cara Pleym

Crowdfunding is an exciting way to raise funds, but it’s also a little different and there are some common mistakes that are often made. Not to fear, we’ve written this blog so that you can avoid these pitfalls before you’ve even started! Follow our tips below, and you can be confident that you’re off to a good start in your crowdfunding campaign.

Here are some of the most common mistakes;

Not preparing well enough

Now, we’ve given a lot of advice in our previous blogs about pre-launch preparation, but we want to highlight a specific point – get backers before you start! Speak to your friends and family, reach out to key influencers and your local community and start drumming up interest before you start. Too often, project owners try and do this at the same time as launching their project, which is really hard work! Maximise your chances of success by getting people to agree to make promises in the first few days, so that you can hit that magic 20% and go on to smash your target.

Not committing enough time

Crowdfunding is hard work. We’re not going to sugarcoat it – you’ll need to devote at least an hour every day to promote your project and keep up interest. Think of your campaign as a plant that needs regular water (promotion) to stay alive. Without this, your great idea could wither and you could be setting yourself up to fail. Water your plant, and let your idea Bloom! We’d hate to see you close unsuccessfully just because you were too busy.

Ignoring other channels of communication

Social media is crucial to any campaign but it’s not the only way to engage backers! Use the comments section of your campaign to provide updates, contact your local newspaper and radio, go to networking events, run a competition or fundraising night. Offline promotion is just as important as online, so don’t neglect either. In fact, the more channels you use, the bigger your audience and potential crowd i.e. more backers!

Not asking for help

Don’t just ask for support, ask for promises! We know it’s hard to ask for money, but surely people can spare a fiver to support your project? Always remember that it’s not a donation, because backers are receiving cool rewards for their money. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other project owners for advice, ask us for some promotion ideas, and ask backers for feedback! We’ve all had a helping hand, so please do make the most of the support that’s available.

Not keeping backers updated

Throughout your campaign (and after!) we encourage project owners to keep backers updated through social media, blogs, newsletters, video diaries etc, in order to maintain their interest and ask for their help to promote your project. This will not only keep backers engaged, but it will make them feel special and valued, which makes them more likely to talk about you and your project to others. Building strong relationships with your backers is key to ensuring a lasting community who can be valuable in the future as customers, users, partners, or even backers for future crowdfunding campaigns!

So that’s some of the most common mistakes, but they are all easily avoided. However, avoiding these pitfalls will require effort, planning and commitment so be prepared. The more you put into your campaign, the more you’ll get out. Just ask any of our successful crowdfunders!

Got any questions about this blog or just in general? #askbloom on Twitter or email eva@bloomvc.com

(image courtesy of www.empowernetwork.com )

Why Crowdfund with Bloom?

Posted: Wed, 31 July 2013 by Cara

As a business, we need to make sure that we are attracting customers, and also ensure that those customers have a great experience with us. We know there are lots of crowdfunding platforms out there, so we’re not just going to tell you to use Bloom, we’re going to convince you by giving you clear reasons why.

First of all, it’s important to note the difference between the three types of crowdfunding – equity, peer to peer, and real crowdfunding. Equity crowdfunding is where you sell shares or parts of shares to lots of small investors, who will expect a financial return. Peer to peer crowdfunding is simply a loan, which you need to pay back. 

Real crowdfunding, what we do, is where you offer rewards or perks in return for money, and you don’t need to pay the money back. Which type of crowdfunding is right for you depends on what stage you are at with your project, but we would recommend that you use rewards based crowdfunding for startups and early stage projects. Of course, you can also use real crowdfunding at a much later stage too!

OK, you know what crowdfunding is, understand the three types and have decided to go for real crowdfunding. So why crowdfund with Bloom?

Here are some top reasons;

We have a wealth of experience – our founders have started, lost, succeeded and failed with various businesses so they know what they’re talking about!

Bloom is the UK’s leading rewards based crowdfunding platform, as well as the only platform in Scotland. That means we are early adopters, and experts in our field.

You will be allocated a dedicated team member, who will work with you before, during and after launch of your project.

Your project will be promoted on a regular basis to the Bloom community, via social media channels, newsletters and networking.

We care about our projects, and we offer support in many different areas should our project owners need it. From social media tips to writing a press release to suggested contacts in a certain sector, you’ll receive a whole host of added value.

However, we are a little bit biased, so we’ve asked our crowdfunders to give you some of their reasons for using Bloom.

“I’d also like to give a good word for Bloom. They were really helpful, supportive (they were tweeting about me all the time, it seemed) and provided a very easy to use platform for it all to happen on. Thanks to them I’ve managed to get my business off the ground. I’m totally delighted “

-          Duncan Lockerbie, guest blog

“Crowdfunding is such a wonderful idea.  To donate a small amount is manageable for most people and to be able to choose rewards which suit your own budget and interest is fantastic. I found that Cara at Bloom has been there to help me at each step and has been so supportive”

-          Larain Briggs, guest blog

“p.s also a shout out to @bloomvc who are not just crowdfunding experts but pivotal in making dreams come true :-) I now have my own shop :-)”

-          @WelshWallace, tweet

That’s just some of our key reasons for crowdfunding with us, and there are many more besides, but if you want to ask us any questions then #askbloom on Twitter or email eva@bloomvc.com

We’re always happy to chat crowdfunding so do get in touch, and we’re looking forward to lots of fab new projects being started!

(Image courtesy of www.ltsnitelife.com)

Take Advantage of Crowdfunding Opportunities

Posted: Tue, 30 July 2013 by Cara

by Bloom intern Cara Pleym

A recent article in the Herald highlighted the astonishing results from research commissioned by the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce – Scottish firms could have raised £16 million through crowdfunding, but actually only raised £1 million! As the only Scottish crowdfunding platform, this is frustrating because we know we can help businesses with funding and so much more.

Why aren’t more people taking advantage? Well, we think that people don’t really understand all the opportunities that crowdfunding can bring. So we’ve written this blog to address some common misconceptions and issues, and encourage more of you to give it a go!

Crowdfunding is new and untested

False. Crowdfunding has been around for centuries – we just didn’t call it crowdfunding. Remember the Darien scheme in the 1600s that you were taught about in History? That’s the earliest example of crowdfunding. Trafalgar Square was ‘funded by public subscription’ – that’s crowdfunding too. Plus the success of crowdfunding in America has proven that this new funding model is revolutionising the finance industry. We just need Scotland to get on board and join the revolution!

Crowdfunding is too complicated

There are three different types of crowdfunding, which might be confusing people. There is crowdinvesting, where you sell shares or parts of shares to lots of small investors who require a financial return, there is crowdlending, simply a peer to peer loan which you need to pay back, and there’s real crowdfunding – which is what we do. This means you simply offer rewards or perks in return for money, and you don’t need to pay the money back. Deciding which type of crowdfunding is right for you is an important decision, but we would recommend using real crowdfunding if you’re in the early stages of your business or project, as there are no financial obligations involved.

Crowdfunding takes too much time and energy

This is an important point – a crowdfunding campaign does need a lot of attention to be successful, but it will be well worth it! Mhairi from Bonnie Bling, and Polly from Cake Cetera both devoted time every day to their crowdfunding campaign and were both successful. Where are they now? Well Mhairi has been able to go into her business full time, and has enjoyed massive successes with loads of media coverage and celebrities wearing her cool acrylic jewellery.  Polly went on to secure a national deal to deliver her gorgeous cupcake bouquets and has recently been awarded £50,000 to grow her business. So yes, be prepared for an intense campaign, but you’ll reap the rewards if you work hard.

I don’t want to ask for money

This is a cultural problem, and one we all share. We just don’t like asking for help. So what’s our advice? Learn to ask! Everyone has had a helping hand at some point, and they know how hard it can be starting out. Plus your backers aren’t donating, they are getting a cool reward in return for their money and the knowledge that they helped start a great project. Stop thinking of crowdfunding as charity, and start seeing it as a real opportunity to raise funds, build an engaged community and prove your idea.

We hope this blog has cleared up some of the issues around crowdfunding, and maybe even got you thinking about starting your own project. If you have any other questions feel free to #askbloom on Twitter or email eva@bloomvc.com

We’re here to help you every step of the way so get in touch, start a project and chase your dreams!

(Image courtesy of consultcormack.com)

Develop Your Business Skills through Crowdfunding

Posted: Fri, 26 July 2013 by Cara

We’ve previously highlighted the many benefits that crowdfunding can provide for your business, but now we want to focus on how crowdfunding can also develop you and your business skills. Not only will improved skills benefit your business, but it will also promote personal development and give you an edge in your next project! Take a look at some of the key business skills that crowfunding can help develop;

Pitching

We help project owners create a great pitch for their project which hooks backers in and clearly demonstrates the project impact. We also encourage including a short video, which will develop pitching skills. The video length is an important factor - if you can’t pitch your key business benefit in a minute, you don’t understand your business well enough (which is a valuable learning curve in itself). Promotion is also key to developing methods of communicating your message to different audiences, without bombarding people with the same information. Crowdfunding can help you learn how to do this effectively.

Social Media

Chances are you use social media already for your business, but are you using it effectively? We actively encourage our crowdfunders to use a wider range of platforms such as Kiltr and Pinterest, in order to develop a stronger following. With social media guru Michelle Rodger heading up the Bloom team, you’re also in a great position to ask questions and get advice from the experts. Learn how to engage your audience, pick up tips such as the most popular days and times, and above all, increase your brand awareness!

Networking

If you’re a small business owner, you might be nervous about talking to others about your business at such an early stage. Crowdfunding allows you to talk about something tangible, ask for specific advice, and ask for other entrepreneurs to support you. That gives you a much stronger introduction when networking, and you might find some backers, customers or even a business partner. You can also network with the strong Bloom community and take advantage of our contacts.

Project Management

Running a crowdfunding campaign requires a lot of effort and planning. Going through the process of building, launching and running your campaign will teach you a lot about the different skills needed at different points in a project. You can use our successful crowdfunders as examples, or better yet, get in touch with them for some advice. We’ll also guide you and prompt you, so that you a) have the best chance of crowdfunding success and b) you understand the project life cycle. Remember though, your project shouldn’t end when your campaign does – keep in touch with your crowdfunding community. We can help push your updates out so make sure to keep us in the loop too.

 

That’s just a few of the skills you can develop if you work hard on your campaign, and take our suggestions on board. The great thing is, even if you don’t make your target, you’ll have a much better idea of what your skills are, what you need to improve and how to build your business. Sold? Then start your crowdfunding project today.

(Image courtesy of www.kellerink.com)

Our Q&A with Freeagent

Posted: Thu, 25 July 2013 by Jamie

We were lucky to have a Facebook and Google + Q&A with Emily Coltman Chief Accountant to FreeAgent . The theme of the session was “How to manage your accounts during and after a crowdfunding campaign”

If you couldn’t make it or missed out then we have compiled all the question and answers here!

Q: "How do I know how much money to ask for?"

Emily: When you're planning to raise money, you need to have a very clear plan of how much you need. Add up all your costs - and I mean all of them. Include all those little bits of software you might be tempted to buy, travel costs to visit clients, postage, delivery, tax, the works. Don't underestimate how much you might spend, and don't expect to sell too much too soon. Err on the side of pessimism if you're not sure and don't forget you will also need to live! Budget for enough money for this but equally don't expect to match your salary straight away, if you're leaving a job to start a business.

Bloom:From our perspective it's also important to remember that you will need to include the 5% commission and also the PayPal fees into the total.  There's also the "time" cost - running a crowdfunding campaign is hard work and requires a lot of effort.

Q: “How much does it cost to run a crowdfunding campaign?"

Emily:There are lots of costs you need to factor in. The crowdfunding platform will charge commission (as BloomVC mentioned) if your project is successful. If you collect the money through PayPal or GoCardless or Stripe then these services will charge you a fee too. Allow for lots of time to spend talking with potential investors and answering their questions. You'll need to budget for the costs of making and posting your rewards to customers, as well as potentially the cost of making a video for your crowdfunding campaign. That's on top of all the other costs associated with running a business!

Bloom:We wrote a blog about setting a crowdfunding target - hope it helps

Q: "How do I account for tax on the money that I raise in a crowd funding campaign? Do I have to declare it?"

Emily:Don't make the mistake of assuming that the money raised through crowdfunding is tax-free. If you are adopting reward-based crowdfunding (i.e. you're giving a product to people who fund your project), then you are effectively making sales of those products and you'll have to pay income tax and class 4 National Insurance (if you're a sole trader) or corporation tax (if you're a limited company) on your profit - which will include money raised from the rewards. If you're using equity crowdfunding it's a little different and I'd advise speaking to your accountant in that scenario.

Q:"How do you record the money raised in your accounts?"

Emily:If you haven't already registered your business with HMRC when you start your campaign, then you need to - if you're going to be a sole trader then register here and for a limited company, register at Companies House and they will let HMRC know. Don't try and hide your business from HMRC - they have eyes everywhere!

Q: “If you're self-employed - or not employed - how do you let them know? Do you have to declare on a tax return? "

Emily: If you are not already self-employed then you have to register your business with HMRC as per my last answer. You would then have to declare your profit on your tax return, in the self-employment section - but remember you pay tax and National Insurance on your profit, which is income less day-to-day running costs, not on income only. Be careful because you may also have to register for VAT once your sales go over £79,000 a year, and if you're selling overseas you may even have to register for local VAT in those countries. If your business is a limited company, you still have to do a tax return and put on it any salary or dividends you receive from the company. The company also has to file accounts and an Annual Return (a document saying who the directors and shareholders are) with Companies House every year, and the company must also file its own tax return. There's a lot of paperwork involved in running a business!

Q: Are there accountants out there who specialise in helping people who run crowdfunding campaigns?

Emily: Crowdfunding is quite a new way of finding finance, and to be honest I don't know of any accountants who specialise in running crowdfunding campaigns - there may be a gap in the market if any accountants are watching this! What I'd make sure is that your accountant does their research thoroughly so that they can warn you of any potential pitfalls, and goes through your plan with you in detail.  If you don't understand something your accountant says, ask them for an explanation! Accountants should always be able to talk plain English!

Q: How important is it to have a robust financial plan, and how do you go about monitoring your progress against target? What financial goals should you set?

Emily: I would always recommend doing a business plan and a financial forecast for all businesses, however you're crowdfunding - whether that's rewards or equity. If you don't plan your finances, you don't know when you might run out of cash, and running out of cash is the number one cause of small businesses having to close. Having a robust financial plan is crucial - fail to plan = plan to fail! Make it a monthly job to check how much cash you have in the bank against how much you planned to have at that time

Q: How do you place a fair value on a reward?

Emily: Ultimately, any product or service for sale is priced fairly if the price is a figure you're happy to charge and also a figure your customer is happy to pay.  Think why your customers would want the reward you're offering, and what they would pay to get that reward elsewhere - if they can!

Bloom: We always advise our project owners to be really creative with their rewards and, where possible, to offer rewards that people couldn't get unless they backed the project. Rewards need to be fair and backers need to feel they're getting value for money

Q: Could you share with us your top tips for keeping on top of your finances during a crowdfunding campaign?

Emily: I would say that both during, before and after your campaign, you should make sure you are always on top of your finances, that you know what money you have received and spent - and how much you expect to receive and spend!  Send invoices promptly because without invoices customers can't pay you.  Track your costs as soon as you incur them - use a mobile app like ReceiptBank to track out-of-pocket expenses on the go and send these to your accounts programme (hopefully FreeAgent!)

 

Thank you so much to Emily whose advice has been excellent. If have any further questions about crowdfunding and finance, please get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook or email: eva@bloomvc.com

 

Interview with successful crowdfunder Erica von Stein

Posted: Wed, 24 July 2013 by Jamie

By Bloom intern Jamie Moore

We get to do loads of exciting things here at Bloom and visiting finished projects is one of them. I got to play film journalist for a day and visit successful project owner Erica Von Stein. Erica was kind enough to show me around her successfully crowdfunded film set and I was there to watch a pivotal scene get filmed (don’t worry no spoilers!). Afterwards Erica let me ask her a few questions about her film and about her crowdfunding experience.

Q. Tell us a little about your film

The film was originally titled "The Eyes and Ears of Van Gogh" which I later changed to "Little Vincent".  I wrote the script a few months back after looking at some of Van Gogh's paintings and asking the question: what would have happened to him if he didn't kill himself? I wondered what direction his life would have went in if he hadn't suffered from mental illness. Would he be the same? Was his suffering necessary for his success? etc. I wrote this piece based on Van Gogh, it's a very emotionally charged contemporary film which intricately explores mental illness and art. Suicide and mental illness is something I feel very strongly about so I wanted to create a film which would provide people with a bit of hope.

Q. Where did the idea to crowdfund come from?

The projects I have made in the past have all been on a no budget basis, so I am very good at creating something with minimal resources - however in this case there were things I just had to pay for. The locations, make up art, food for my cast and crew and there was no way I could have managed it all myself without crowdfunding. I have always known about crowdfunding but never used it until I had a project I believed in enough to make other people believe in it too. If you have strong support behind you I would definitely recommend it.

Q. What do you think made your project successful?

My project was successful because of the amount of time and support everyone put in. I am very lucky to have had so many people invest their energy into the project  and they have been there every step of the way. Equally, I think if you are passionate about something your passion will rub off onto others and they will believe in you too. Believing in yourself is the key.

Q. What tips would you give to others who are looking to crowdfund?

Make a very strong promotional video to begin with. Go on camera yourself and speak from the heart and let the beauty of your project shine right through. Dedicate yourself to the project for its entire duration. I crowdfunded for over a month and spent hours online every day promoting it. Write to local newspapers and magazines, they love to hear local success stories and are always willing to help. Understand that no goal is unrealistic. I crowdfunded £3000, which is 300 donations of £10 - sounds like a lot but the average person has over 300 followers on Facebook/twitter ... it's achievable! Arrange other funding events outwith social media; I held a talent evening to raise funds for the project for people who couldn't afford to donate a large amount, they paid the £5 for their ticket and every sale went into the pot which was a massive help.

Q. How important do you think social media was in crowdfunding?

Social media was crucial. Without Facebook my pledges would likely still be sitting at zero! And of course YouTube is excellent for hosting the promotional videos.

You can see Erica’s successful project here http://bloomvc.com/project/The-Eyes-and-Ears-of-Van-Gogh-short-film

Reaching the Magic 20%

Posted: Mon, 22 July 2013 by Cara

Bloom intern Cara Pleym explains "The Magic 20%"

First of all, what do we mean by the magic 20%? Well, statistics show that if you launch with or hit 20% or more of your crowdfunding target in the first few days, you’re more than 90% more likely to be successfully funded. Pretty amazing, right?

Now this piece of information is pretty useless if you don’t know how to reach this magic number, so we’ve listed the key activities you need to be doing before and during launch in order to achieve this goal.

1. Invest time and effort in social networks

If you don’t at least have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, set one up and spend time building your following. Start by following interesting people, commenting on and sharing material, asking questions and most of all, doing all of this on a regular basis.

If you’re already on Facebook and Twitter, think about other platforms which could be useful – do you use Pinterest, Reddit, Kiltr or LinkedIn? Find related interests groups which you can target for your crowdfunding campaign.

While you’re building your networks, start building up excitement for your crowdfunding campaign by drip feeding details. Why not also ask for advice, for example, you could ask what rewards people would like and how much they would be willing to pay.

2. Get backers prior to launch

Reach out to your family and friends, and ask them to promise even a fiver each in the first day. Try and get as many people as people to put in small amounts, because lots of backers will reassure strangers coming to your project. Plus every pound will push you closer to that all important 20%!

3. Ask for the money

Tell people you need their help to hit 20% by the end of the day, and ask for promises. People are likely to do what you tell them to! Remember to highlight specific rewards, and keep an eye out for any issues or questions people might have. Interact with the Bloom community online, and look for project owners who ran similar themed projects. They could be a great source of information!

4. Monitor engagement

Did that tweet get 5 retweets, when another seemed to be ignored? Try to figure out whether a certain time of day is busier, or if a certain type of message works better. However, don’t simply repeat content or your audience will get bored!

If you’re putting in the effort and don’t seem to be getting anywhere, don’t get downhearted – get creative. Use humour in your messages, contact local media channels, write a blog, film a video diary, dress up and go round your local area handing out flyers! If you’re memorable, there’s a much better chance people will back you.

We hope you now have a better idea of how to hit 20% quickly, but also how much hard work a crowdfunding campaign is. There’s no point sticking a project up if you can’t commit to the promotion, so make sure you allocate enough time. Remember, the Bloom team is always on hand to help so #askbloom any questions on Twitter, or email: eva@bloomvc.com

Crowdfunding for Startups

Posted: Wed, 17 July 2013 by Cara

One of the best things about crowdfunding is that anyone can access funding, but there are also loads of other hidden benefits. If you are looking for money for a startup or for early stage funding for a business, there are many reasons why you should give crowdfunding a go. We’ve listed some of the most important benefits for startups.

Funding

OK, so this one is pretty obvious but it’s also really important because it’s likely that if you have a business idea or a new business, you might struggle to access traditional funding routes. This could be for a number of reasons but in most cases banks and investors will need more evidence - business plans, cash flow forecasts, trading history - before they will give you any money. Don’t be fooled into thinking that means that you can only crowdfund a few hundred pounds. Some of our most successful projects are businesses that raised between £10-20k!

Build a customer base

When you’re just starting out you probably don’t have much proof of what customers actually want and market research can be expensive. Crowdfunding allows you to connect directly with potential customers, prove market demand and test price points. You can even pre-sell your product before you’ve actually started production, which is not only fantastic for your cash flow but is also pretty powerful evidence for future investors.

Positive PR

Crowdfunding is pretty hot right now as it’s revolutionising the way people access funding, so it’s the perfect time for you to use your crowdfunding campaign as a selling point and approach the media with your story. You would be surprised by the response, and if you need any help Bloom can give you some contacts. We will also help advise on press releases. Media attention is a big boost for any business, but especially for a new business which is struggling to get the word out.

In-kind Support

Often our project owners are offered in-kind support, which means they receive services for free, up to a certain value limit. So you might not make your target, but you could still have valuable support from interested parties who can’t physically give you money. This is also a fantastic way of making contacts who could even be potential business partners, customers or suppliers!

Follow Up

The first important follow up is the fact that you will build an engaged community who want to know about your business, which is a rich source of information that you can (and should!) use long after your campaign ends. Few businesses start with such valuable connections. The other follow up is that you could be contacted by someone who has seen your crowdfunding campaign – this could be anything from a journalist wanting to write a news story to a private investor who wants to invest in your business (which has actually happened!).

So in one swoop, you’ve built a customer base, filled your order book, attracted media attention and proved that there is market demand for your product. Oh, and you’ve probably also got an instant cash injection that you don’t need to pay back. All we can say is you’d be crazy not to give crowdfunding a go!

Image courtesy of freetechnologytutorials.co.uk

Our Google+ Hangout

Posted: Tue, 16 July 2013 by Jamie

by Bloom intern Jamie Moore

We loved our Google + Hangout with Ingenious Britain and hope you did too! If you couldn’t make it you can catch the whole discussion here on Youtube.

Michelle was answering both questions from Ingenious Britain and from those looking to crowdfund in the future. Below is a just a portion of the Q&A. Check out the video for the full discussion.

Q. What is your definition of crowdfunding?

A. Crowdfunding in a nutshell is simply asking lots of people for small amounts of money in return for a reward or gift. Crowdfunding has been around for centuries but the explosion in social media has allowed it to grow to be where it is today.

Q. What are the benefits of real crowdfunding?

A. The benefits to real crowdfunding are that:

-  Crowdfunders are closer to the community they create than a business is to the bank. You don’t need put a valuation on your business and you're not giving away any equity in your business. Conventional wisdom would say that as a start up, you hang on to that equity for as long as you possibly can while building value into your business.

- You are building a community of ambassadors and future customers. In return for funding, the backers receive a reward be it treats, perks or even experiences.

- You are potentially more investor ready as crowdfunding can help you prove a concept, demonstrate a market appetite and you are able to pre sell your product as a reward. In essence you are filling an order book before you start. You're raising awareness of your brand and building a database of potential customers.

Q. Could real crowdfunding be used to help the more established business that is looking to expand?

A. The answer is yes, of course they can! Whether they are looking at launching a new product or creating a prototype, then creating a discrete project around that initiative is a really easy thing to do - as long as they have compelling rewards to offer in return.

Q. What tips would you give to those looking to crowdfund?

A. It is of vital importance that you be on all the social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkdin, Pinterest and Google +. You should start to engage and build a community before you launch your crowdfunding campaign. There are three support groups you should target when crowdfunding:

- Your primary support group is your friends and family. You should aim to have at least 20% of your target from this group promised as soon as your project goes live. This is important as it shows there is support for and a momentum to your project.

- Your secondary audience is the friends, family and colleagues of that first support group. Ask your primary supporters to share your project with people they know .

- Your tertiary support group is the complete unknowns who will stumble upon your campaign either through the Bloom website or on social media, which is why it is so important to have a strong and engaging presence on these networks.

It is also important that you plan your communication activities with these the groups in mind before your crowdfunding campaign even begins.

Q. Is it important to have a business plan when crowdfunding?

A. It certainly is not, in fact it is more important in real crowdfunding that you tell your story in a passionate way that encourages people to support you and make them want to be part of your journey.

Q. What are the non-financial benefits of crowdfunding?

A. That you can test your price point, if people are buying a reward then they would be willing to pay that price. You can also raise your PR profile by using the crowdfunding campaign. You can pre-sell your product or service (as a reward), prove a concept, demonstrate market appetite and build a healthy database of engaged ambassadors, people that are so keen to buy your product or service they are paying you to start your business.

Q. What factors make a crowdfunding campaign successful?

A. The three critical success factors of real crowdfunding are:

1. Build a community in advance of launching your project and make sure that they understand your ask, that you’ve asked them to give you money and asked them to share your project. Make sure you explain that it's an all or nothing model and it is important they understand that.

2. Have a really good pitch - tell a great story and explain to people the how and why of your project, why it matters and how they can be a part of your journey. At Bloom we work hard with project owners to ensure they tell their story in the best possible way.

3. Rewards - you might have a great product but without great rewards you won't get the backers. Get creative and design a range of rewards that will appeal to the widest possible audience.

We hope you got the answers you were looking for from this blog and video, but please do get in touch if you have any more questions. Contact eva@bloomvc.com

How to use Reddit

Posted: Tue, 09 July 2013 by Jamie

Reddit and Crowdfunding

Reddit is a social networking and news site that allows people to gather in communities to share and discuss the things they love. You can use Reddit for your crowdfunding project as it allows you to quickly find an audience that has an interest in what you’re doing. If you were crowdfunding a new type of bicycle for example you could check out the communities for cycling and for bike building and post your project on there.

Sparking conversation is a sure-fire way to get people interested, and Reddit can also be used for discussion and  about your project, getting people to ask questions about it and. Reddit has so many diverse communities that you will be sure to find one with people interested in your project. There are of course communities where you can chat all about the world of crowdfunding:

r/crowdfunding – for general chat about the world of crowdfunding( not for projects!)

r/entrepreneur – for talking about the world of business start-ups

r/assistance- for charitable crowdfunding projects only

r/crowdfundingprojects – post your project here to look for backers!

Don’t forget the geographical specific communities! If your project is based in Edinburgh post it on the Scotland and the Edinburgh page.

 Here is a step by step guide to get you started if you have never used Reddit before!

 Step 1: Create an account

Start off by creating an account! Click here to set up your account

Step 2 : Choose your community

Now we move on to the fun part! Finding your community( commonly known as subreddits)

At the very top page you will see a list of subreddits that you have been automatically subscribed too. Don’t worry we are going to change these to something more suitable for you. In the top left corner you will see a button My Subreddits. Scroll down to the bottom and click the my subscriptions button. 

Then at the top of the page you will see the box that asks the question

 What are you interested in?

Whatever your project is about try out various keywords and see what is suggested. Often one subreddit will have links to similar communities so have an explore!

Step 3 : Post your project

Now its time to get your project up on your chosen community!

On the chosen subreddit you will see one one or two buttons either Submit a new post or Submit a new link. If you want to post straight to the Bloom site click on the Submit a new link button, if you want to start up a conversation choose the Submit a new post button.

Whatever your choice you will be asked to insert a title and for links the URL of your link.

Once that’s done click the submit button and your post/link will be on the subreddit for all to see!

Happy #SMDay! Crowdfunding has Social Media at heart...

Posted: Sun, 30 June 2013 by Natalie

For Social Media Day we looked at how social media has made crowdfunding what it is today and how we can share what we know to help crowdfunders everywhere, so here gos!

 

How does it work? Crowd funding relies on Social Media to bring more people into your network or community how successful you are depends on how you engage and build your community.

Social Media is the most powerful tool each project owner has allowing their reach over land and sea not quite into space yet! We recommend that each project owner builds a following on Facebook and Twitter before they launch a project this is very important for every project and is equally important after your project has ended. If people don’t know about what you are doing, how can you expect them to support you project and #makeapromise? And it’s free to use…. Makes sense doesn’t it?

Social Media is always growing and changing it is sometimes hard to keep up with what to use and how to use it, not to worry we have all been there and we would love to share with your our expert tips to help you!

First things first-

1. Start a conversation – It’s that easy to build a following look other people, groups, businesses and start talking to them, even have a look at what is trending or popular! I sometimes do a quick key word search and often find lots of new people to chat to and something to chat about. If you engage and show interest in what everyone else is doing, and they’re much more likely to do the same!

2. It’s a conversation remember It’s so easy to talk about what you’re doing because it’s what you know but it’s not always very interesting for everyone else, and you’ll probably run out of things to say too! You can still share your experience and view but maybe think of sharing relevant content, engage your community by asking questions and listening to what others have to say.

3.  Keep going – Yes you may have posted something yesterday and had a great conversation with someone you didn’t even know the day before but what about today? Don’t leave your profiles for long period with no updates, as your followers will miss you and may even stop paying attention to you when you next update or worse lose interest completely. Keep up regular updates, and mix up the content, keep it fresh.

4. Let everyone else see – It’s so easy to have that conversation privately but why not let everyone else hear that fantastic conversation, it reflects how engaged you are and also that other people are too! Thank your backers, answer questions and talk about events and successes that you are doing out with your project, publicly so that everyone can see the interaction and interest, it also gives everyone else the chance to comment!

5. Take note of what you are doing – Did that last tweet get 5 replies? Or has that post been liked 10 times? Remember to keep a note of which tweets/posts are gaining you interactions likes/comments/retweets. Also could it be something to do with the time of day? Is the morning more active than the evening? What response are you getting from videos, photos even links? Is it more? You can learn so much by looking at all the information that you have and successfully use this information for future updates!


Well that’s just 5 tips for starters but there is always more we could tell you why not take a look at our previous blogs for more Social Media and crow funding tips and keep an eye out for us on Twitter and Facebook.

We spoke a lot about Twitter and Facebook, but there are soo many other fantastic Social Media platforms out there the principles are all the same, just different buttons and icons. Remember the key is to ENGAGE!

You can always #AskBloom !


(Image courtesy of Mashable.com)

How to Hangout with Bloom

Posted: Tue, 25 June 2013 by Jamie

We're going to be hanging out on Google+ quite a lot and we don't want you to miss out, so here's a simple guide on how to get started and join in.

How to set up a google + and use the hangout feature

Google + is a social networking site much like Facebook which allows you to sort your friends and colleagues into social circles. The feature of Google + we at Bloom are most excited about is the Hangout feature. Hangout allows users to video chat with each other to discuss , ask questions and learn from each other. In preparation for our future Hangouts, here is what you need to know to get set up if you haven't used Google + or the Hangout feature before.

 Step1: Set up your profile

If you already have a Gmail account you can sign in using your Gmail name and password. Otherwise click here and enter the information on the page.

Step 2 : Find Bloom on Google +

Once you have your profile set up you can add Bloom to your social circle by searching for Bloom VC in the search bar at the top of the page. Once you’ve found us, click the follow button and choose which circle to add us to.

Step 3 : Let's Hangout!

Once you have downloaded the Hangout client you will be asked to connect your web-cam and microphone so that we can talk! Don't worry if you don’t have a microphone or web-cam, or if you don’t want to use them you can click the off and mute buttons on the top right corner of the hangout screen. We won't be able to see you but you will be able to see us and you can still talk via the text box on the right of the screen.

That’s all there is to it!

Our first Hangout is being hosted by the excellent Ingenious Britain on Wednesday, June 26 2013 at 11am so make sure you add them into your circles. The Hangout can be found by clicking here. If you are having trouble or have any comments, don't forget you can use the #askbloom hashtag on Twitter or message us on Facebook for help.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Crowdfunding: For Richer, for Poorer?

Posted: Fri, 21 June 2013 by Cara

Intern Cara Pleym debates whether the wealthy, such as actors James Franco and Zach Braff, are right or wrong to use crowdfunding.

There has been a lot of controversy over the recent news story that actor James Franco is crowdfunding to fund his film trilogy. His story isn’t the first either - Scrubs actor Zach Braff crowdfunded his movie, and the project for the Veronica Mars movie was one of the most successful crowdfunding projects ever.

On one hand, some argue that crowdfunding means equal access to crowdfunding regardless of their wealth, whereas others believe that if you have money, you shouldn’t be asking for more! It’s a thorny issue, but we want to explore some of the questions that this news story has raised.

At Bloom, we believe that we shouldn’t apply selection criteria because we’re not here to judge. Instead, we help you create a project that is high quality, and then let the crowd decide who they do or don’t want to back. Therefore, we wouldn’t look at personal wealth as excluding someone from crowdfunding, because we also believe that crowdfunding is not just about the money.

The heart of crowdfunding is the community, and this is particularly true for celebrities who have massive fan bases. Crowdfunding could allow such celebrities to engage more closely with their fans, and give them the opportunity to be involved. Fans can get a sense of ownership of the end result, because they know they have helped make the project a reality, whether they put in £1 or £1000.

However, we also recognise that it can also be seen to be morally wrong, taking money from those who have less. We appreciate this, but the reality of the situation is that by crowdfunding, these famous figures are holding themselves responsible to a crowd of thousands. Fraud is a very rare occurrence in crowdfunding for this very reason – the crowd will chase you if you don’t live up to expectations!

Right or wrong, we still think everyone should be given the chance to crowdfund. After all, the power is well and truly in the hands of the crowd, who will decide whether or not they can get behind any particular project. We all have the choice of whether and whom to give money to.

So all in all, our opinion is that crowdfunding is and should be open to all, but that it’s your choice whether you want to get involved.

Do you agree? We would love to hear your thoughts – comment on Facebook or tweet us!

(image courtesy of www.people.com)

Finding Your Unique Selling Point (USP)

Posted: Thu, 20 June 2013 by Cara

At Bloom, we give everyone an equal opportunity to access funds and we don’t apply selection criteria. We do have taste and decency standards, but if you can show your project to your kids and your granny, then you should be fine!

Whilst the crowd can be unpredictable and will choose which projects they want to back, your chances of success are much higher if you have a unique opportunity that has a clear and compelling value. Have a look at some of the key questions that your crowdfunding project should answer.

What is my unique selling point (USP)?

Be honest, and think about what makes you different. How are you going to deliver value in a new way? It could be obvious – a new technology, or a project that few people are doing – or it could be a little more elusive e.g. do you have a new method of doing something or will you apply higher standards that will make you stand out? Once you identify this, make it explicit in your pitch. If you don’t have a USP, maybe you need to tweak your idea to maximise the value.

What are other people doing?

Regardless of whether you have a business, community or charity project, it’s good to know what other people are doing. If someone already has similar products, or is doing something similar in your community, then you will have a more difficult job convincing backers to promise money. Plus if you can show in your pitch that you’ve looked at this issue, you will be more credible!

Is the appeal too narrow?

So you have a great USP, but it’s only going to appeal to a specific audience. You need to make sure that you aren’t excluding anyone so keep your pitch simple and easy to understand so that a wide audience can clearly perceive the value. Also make sure you have a good range of rewards that appeal to the masses, rather than just a targeted few so that your project is accessible to a wider crowd.

Have you looked at other crowdfunding projects?

Considering crowdfunding more specifically, you should be doing some research into other similar projects on Bloom and other rewards based crowdfunding sites. Why? Well there are a few reasons - you want to stand out from the crowd and you can find out what works well and what doesn’t.

So that’s a few key questions that your crowdfunding preparation should address to increase chances of success. Now you might be thinking, it’s all very well and good to consider my USP from my own perspective, but how do I know if anyone actually agrees with me? That’s the beauty of crowdfunding! You can test your USP and gain valuable feedback from potential customers/users, which could help you to refine your idea. A win-win situation!

(Image courtesy of www.differentiateyourbusiness.co.uk)

"What Happened Next Was Amazing!"

Posted: Wed, 19 June 2013 by

Guest blog from our incredibly successful crowdfunder Welsh Wallace

I had not heard the term “crowdfunding” until a few months ago when I was approached by Michelle from Bloom VC. Being an avid tweeter I was having a moan how my disabilities from injuries I had sustained a couple of years ago was blocking my attempts to get on training programs as people only saw my disabilities and not what I was capable of. I am fully blind, one working-armed welsh lass, normally hooked up to oxygen and unable to stand for more than a few minutes. But even though my body may seem ready for the scrap heap I knew within myself I was capable of doing so much more than sitting at home collecting benefits.

You see I have a talent for sculpting with clay through touch. If I am honest, I am not that bad at it either. Before I would just be making the odd piece as presents for Jeff Wayne or Marti Pellow but so many people on Twitter kept asking me if they could buy my work or commission me to make a special piece. After having nearly every door closed firmly in my place I spoke at length to Michelle who gave me the support and confidence to put together a project proposal to raise enough money to create my own business selling my clay work. Working out the basic lowest expense scared me. £2500-£3000 was the absolute basic total to get off the ground and to me seemed an unachievable amount.

Once approved the project went live. What happened next was amazing. I had set the 60 day option to reach my target because I did not expect allot of interest if I am honest but so many amazing people on twitter reached my target within 2 weeks and beyond the 100% target. It gives you a sense of determination you didn’t have before because with so many people believing in you, you become more driven to succeed to not let them down. Waiting for the project to close was probably the hardest wait. While I waited I cracked on designing the shop brand and sourcing materials and suppliers, obtaining forms, to register the business etc and designing clay work pieces so a lot could be done before hand.

Once the money was received I then cracked on. Not a penny was wasted. Every penny I had saved for a rainy day was also spent. But to be filled with renewed confidence in you, and drive and motivation felt amazing. People who did not know me except from on twitter, through to people who did know me in real life, gave me so much support, either through promises or shouting from the rooftops to their friends about what I was trying to achieve. Unable to sleep as my mind kept working on designs, creating the website, making clay work and promises did not feel like work. And the support from Bloom did not stop once the project finished. If I needed advice, they were there. If I needed support, they were there and still are.

Also from the crowdfunding I did not have the stress of a loan hanging over me. So everything I make can be ploughed straight back into the shop to create a larger range. It genuinely feels like I am making presents for friends than items in a shop, it is that enjoyable. The promises I offered were from the range of designs I was making for the shop. Various costs but I charged the same amount that I will be in the shop as I felt it fairer to use the profits rather than expect the money for nothing. The Heritage Boxes went down a storm and I cannot wait to get feedback once they are delivered next week. My shop goes live in 2 weeks time and I have never felt happier.

Everyone wrote me off except Bloom and the people on Twitter. Now my Housing Association has given me special permission to work from home as they know how hard I have worked to get this far.

I have been given a future that I now have control over. I have my self respect back and that is priceless but completely owed to crowd-funding.

I hope to return the favour in the future by making promises to others and help them achieve their goals and dreams. Crowdfunding helped me achieve mine – they can help you achieve yours.

How to Write a Press Release for Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Posted: Tue, 18 June 2013 by Jamie

by Bloom intern Jamie Moore

A press release is simply a written statement to the media. It is used by a range of businesses, organisations and individuals to announce the beginning of a campaign, to highlight an important event or to attract attention. It's particularly important to help you spread the word about your crowdfunding project to the widest possible audience. This blog is going to show you how to write a press release in four easy steps.

 1. Write your headline

Headlines should brief and to the point; think of it as a super compact version of what you want to say. It should be a single sentence that is designed to grab the readers' attention. Ensure your headline is written in a larger font size than the rest of the article and highlighted in bold. The simplest way to create a headline is to extract the key words from your article and construct them into a logical statement. Using key words early makes it simpler for the journalist to figure out what the story is about without having to delve deep into the article. It may be easier for you to tweak your headline after you have finished writing the main body of the release.

2. Write the main body of the release

The aim here is to write as if you were the journalist yourself. Most journalists are very busy and wont have time to do in-depth research into your announcement, so it's important that you provide them with comprehensive, accurate information and links to relevant research.

 The first sentence of the press release should compliment the headline by giving in more detail what the story is about.  For example, the headline “Crowdfunding Hailed as Huge Success” could be followed up with an intro such as: “Crowdfunding campaigns have been found to be a huge success, according to new research by Bloom VC”. This both expands the headline and provides more information for the reader which can then be expanded on. The first paragraph should be 2-4 sentences long and should sum up the entire press release.

 3. Make use of the “6 Ws”

Make sure you answer the following questions when writing the main body of the press release ,in order to make sure that you are telling a complete and compelling story.

 Who is this about?

What is the actual news?

When did this news occur?

Where is this taking place?

Why is this news?

How is this happening?

Once you have established this you can then go on to fill the story out with information on people, products etc. Remember that the more newsworthy you make your press release the greater the chance you have of getting it picked up by a journalist. While your business is newsworthy to you and people you know, you must always ask yourself: “Would this interest the regular person on the street?”. Don’t worry about using large words or being too formal, journalists are writing for the masses so keep it friendly and light.

Your instinct maybe to use this opportunity to sell sell sell, but that’s not what the journalist will be looking for. While writing your press release always keep in mind that it's not a sales pitch but a story.

Don’t forget to include your company, your project and your name, so the journalist knows who they are writing about!

If you have any pictures to illustrate your article include them too, it can help paint a picture in the journalist's mind and may even be included in the paper for even more publicity.

4. Include contact information and attach your press release.

You never know when your press release will inspire a journalist to seek out the whole story. You must include contact details so that if they want to find out more information they can! Add in links to all relevant social media and include both a Tweet and Facebook status update about your news story that the journalist can use.

Make sure you include the text of the press release in the email, and also add the release and all other relevant material as an attachment.

Above all, don't panic and always remember the six dos and don’ts of writing a press release

Do make sure to put the point of your press release at the beginning.

Do ensure that you have proper spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Do make sure that you're saying something newsworthy.

 

Don't waffle on! Keep it to the point!

Don’t exaggerate or lie, you’ll be caught and you wont get another story published.

Don't make the journalist have to do any work, keep your facts and figures in plain sight.

 

Images courtesy of www.mywants.com and www.salon.com

How to Use Crowdfunding to Prove Your Market

Posted: Mon, 17 June 2013 by Cara

It’s true that the aim of crowdfunding is to connect great ideas with cash, but there are many other hidden benefits. One of the most important benefits for any project, but businesses in particular, is that crowdfunding is a simple way to prove your market exists. After all, you’re showing your idea to the world and asking people to back it, which will give you an invaluable source of feedback and interaction with your idea.

As any entrepreneur will tell you, start-ups are risky and it’s crucial for you to test your market because the truth is, you probably don’t know as much about your potential customers as you think you do! If you run a crowdfunding campaign, you can test the waters and find out what people do and don’t like. We’ve highlighted some of the ways in which crowdfunding can help you prove your market.

Social proof

This is a psychological concept which basically means that if you see lots of people that are interested in something, you think that you should be interested too. With regards to crowdfunding, backers become drawn to your project if they see lots of activity on social media, or hear lots of people (backers, family, friends, even strangers) talking about your idea and sharing your project regularly. Getting this social proof means it will be easier to attract more backers or customers as the word spreads.

Pre-selling

That’s right, because Bloom is a rewards-based crowdfunding model, you can offer your product or service as a reward! This means you can start filling in your order book, gaining customers and selling your product before you’ve even started making it. That’s a powerful tool which gives you the money upfront to start your business or project.

Testing prices

For a Bloom campaign you should offer at least 5-7 rewards, each with a corresponding value. This allows you to test the prices of your products, as you can track how many backers bought a particular reward. It’s a great way of confirming whether the price is too high, too low or just right. You can also ask your backers and community outright why they did or didn’t select a particular reward.

Tangible results

At the end of your crowdfunding campaign you will have tangible results that will hopefully include the funding you need, but could also be in the form of a business partner, feedback from potential customers, or in-kind support. Then, if you are looking to get a bank loan or investment, you can use these results to prove that people are interested in your idea. If you are successful, you can even tell the bank or investor that people liked your idea so much that they were willing to pay you to start-up! Pretty powerful stuff.

Well that’s a quick overview of just some of the benefits that crowdfunding can deliver, in terms of proving your market. The beauty of it is, you can still reap most of these benefits regardless of the outcome of your project! So, why not give crowdfunding a go and start a project today?

Author: Cara Pleym

(Image courtesy of www.kwlouisvilleeast.com)

How to Upload a Project

Posted: Sun, 16 June 2013 by Cara

Thinking about starting your own Bloom project? Fab! It’s a simple and intuitive process, but we’ve written a how to guide with some extra tips.

Step 1: Get Started

Go to www.bloomvc.com and click ‘Start a Project’ tab.

We’ve also highlighted the box which asks for your email address – providing us with this will unlock access to a free ebook which gives lots of useful tips and advice for preparing, launching and running your crowdfunding campaign. We recommend that you download this and read it before you get started on your project.

Step 2: Basic Info

Fill in some basic project information to get your project started. All we ask for at this point is a title, a short description and your PayPal email address. See some useful tips below.

Title: This summarises your dream or goal in 50 characters max. Try not to be descriptive, but create an engaging hook.  

Short description:  This is a brief description of your project, where you tell us what the aim is in 100 characters max. You can write more, but this will not display correctly on your project panel.

PayPal email: Simply type the email address that is linked to your PayPal account. If you are unsure of how to set up a PayPal, or want to know more about why you need to have a PayPal account, please read our PayPal blog. 

 

Step 3: Project Dashboard


Dashboard Section 1

Category – select  1 category that fits your project aim

Duration – choose the length of time your project will be live, from a choice of 10, 30, 45 or 60 days

Full project descriptionthis is your pitch, which should cover;

1. who you are
2. what you want to do
3. how much you want to raise, including a cost  breakdown
4. why your project will make an impact.

TIP: For more advice on writing your long description, please see our blog ‘How to Tell Your Story’. 


Targetenter the amount you wish to raise, and use the drop down menu to select the currency.

TIP: This is not as simple as it appears, please read our blog post with specific tips for choosing your target.

Social media -  tick all the platforms that you use, and enter your details. Please go straight to the social media page and copy and paste the URL to avoid mistakes.

TIP: Read our blog ‘How to use social media for crowdfunding’  for some useful advice.

Website URL if you have a website, simply copy and paste the URL here.

 

Dashboard Section 2

Add relevant images and video using the buttons outlined below.

 

Dashboard Section 3

Enter a range of 5-7 reward levels, starting low at £1-10 and progressing to top rewards which could be £50 or £500 depending on your target and the rewards you can offer.

Value – the reward level i.e. the minimum spend to receive that reward.

Image – (optional) photos of the rewards, or related images.

Title – distinguishes rewards, can be descriptive or more creative.

Description –lists the product(s)/service(s) the backer will receive.

Stock – maximum number available of that reward.

 

Done! It's a lot of work, but the preparation is crucial for a successful campaign, to deliver an exciting and engaging project that people will want to back. Once you've entered as much information as you can, click 'Submit' and you'll be assigned a Bloom team member who will give feedback within 48 hours.

Remember, we're here to help so do get in touch with any questions: eva@bloomvc.com

How to Tell Your Story

Posted: Wed, 12 June 2013 by Cara

The key to crowdfunding is a great pitch that will hook backers, and make them believe both in you and your project. We know that not everyone has a way with words, so we’re here to help! We can help you write your pitch, and to start you off we have some tips for how to tell your story in a way which will maximise your chances of success.

1. Get to the point quickly

Your story should be simple, if it’s too long-winded people won’t bother reading it and they’ll miss the point. Use a snappy short description to sum up your goal, get to the point in the first few sentences and then go on to give more (relevant!) information about your background and your project.

2. Use media effectively

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is even better! Use media to tell your story in a simple yet effective way and illustrate the points you are trying to make. Remember you can also add images and video throughout your crowdfunding campaign to update the content, show progress – maybe even a video diary! The Vine app is perfect for this.

3. Don’t overthink it

Crowdfunding is not like the bank or an investor, we don’t need or want the business jargon or sales forecasts. We want to know about you, what the project means to you and why it will make an impact. If you can make a personal connection, backers are much more likely to engage with your project.

4. Engage on social media

Don’t just promote your project – ask questions, share content and tell people how you are progressing. This doesn’t just mean saying how many backers you had on a particular day, but also talking about what you are doing offline and how people have been responding. Keeping your story going is crucial to retaining interest and hitting your target.

5. Keep in touch

Your story doesn’t end when your project does, so keep in touch with the Bloom community and let us know how you are getting on. Why not send a regular newsletter to your backers or invite them to sign up to your website? Crowdfunding builds an engaged community so make sure you nurture it so that you can reap the rewards later.

That’s just a few tips but hopefully it gives you a better idea of how to tell your crowdfunding story and keep it going beyond your project closing. If you want any more advice or want to ask any questions, please do get in touch at eva@bloomv.com

Commission Free for 10 Days

Posted: Mon, 10 June 2013 by Michelle

It's the 10th of June today and we're really quite excited.

So what's special about that, you might ask? Well today we're launching our special 10 x 10 commission free offer to our crowdfunders to celebrate the launch of our 10 day crowdfunding option.

All 10 day crowdfunding projects launched in the next 10 days will be refunded the 5% Bloom commission, so if you need money in a hurry to get your startup off the ground, or to support a community group, charity or arts type project, then now's the time to do it.

We'll help you get your 10-day project launch-ready and as long as it's live on Bloom by June 20 2013 you won't have to pay us a penny.

Want to know more? Simply email eva@bloomvc.com with your questions.

What are you waiting for?

(NB PayPal fees still apply).

(image courtesy of noisydecentgraphics.typepad.com)

Bloom's First Crowdfunding Masterclass

Posted: Fri, 07 June 2013 by Cara

Update from Bloom intern Cara Pleym

We had an amazing day on Friday 7th June, which was our very first crowdfunding masterclass, hosted in collaboration with Interface at 29 Studios. The aim of the day was to give potential project owners the information they need to know about crowdfunding, plus an opportunity to engage with us and ask questions. We had a fantastic audience who weren't afraid to ask a few tough questions, which helped everyone understand crowdfunding a little better.

Kicking things off was Interface, a fab company connecting businesses with academic partners, which opens up many opportunities, especially for small businesses. Alan Feighery, the Operations Manager at Interface, talked us through the business and gave us some brilliant examples of their clients's stories. Even better, they have 90 case studies available on their website which you can check out for more information.

Next up was Bloom CEO Amanda Boyle, who explained the three types of crowdfunding - crowdinvesting, crowdlending and real crowdfunding (which is the Bloom model). She used examples of Bloom success stories to demonstrate how powerful crowdfunding can be - we even had an impromptu speech from intern Cara about her experience of backing Polly from Cake Cetera. 

After a quick tea break, we were treated to a talk from intern Natalie about her crowdfunding campaign 'Pants to Poverty' which highlighted some great tips for our potential crowdfunders and also sparked a lively discussion about rewards. We had lots of questions which is great because it shows everyone listened to whay we had to say and wanted to know more! We even got chatting to a few audience members after the crowdfunding masterclass, to give 1-1 consultations about potential projects.

Overall it was a great day, which was helped by the fab venue at 29 Studios and the lovely staff who kept us fed and watered. The crowd seemed to learn a lot both from ourselves and from Interface, and we learned a lot too! Hopefully we've sent some people away inspired to start a new project, so fingers crossed for some exciting new projects coming our way soon.

For more details on this event (and future events!) follow #moneyforstartups on Twitter and keep an eye out for some videos and images being shared in the near future.

NEW Sharing Function for Promises

Posted: Thu, 06 June 2013 by Cara

If you make a promise to a project, chances are that you want to tell everyone about it and publicly show your support for that project (plus brag a little about your cool reward!). Well, we have now made that even easier for you with a brand new tool to share the fact you’ve made a promise, directly from the Bloom site. We have outlined the process of making a promise below, and used screenshots to show you how you can use this fab new feature.

1. Make a promise and choose your reward

Just enter the amount that you want to promise, and use the arrows to select the reward that you want. Remember you can choose several rewards, as long as the total equals your promise value, so for example, you can choose a £15 reward and a £20 reward if you are promising £35.

2. Approve the PayPal pre-authorisation

You will be asked to log in to your Bloom account if you're not already logged in, and then you need to put in your PayPal password. Next you will see the screen below.

This is the review of your promise details where you can check that everything is OK before you approve your promise.

 3. Brag about your promise

That's all you need to do to make a promise, and you should now see a message confirming that your promise was successful, like the screenshot below.

Now, just click the 'share this project' to use the Facebook sharing function.

The following screen should appear.

Just add your comment, press share and you're done!  This means you can show all your friends that you have made a promise, plus it's a fantastic way to help spread the word about the project(s) you care about.

We hope you all like this new function - it's another great incentive to make a promise so why not browse our projects and see if there is something you like?

Keeping in touch with your crowdfunding community

Posted: Tue, 04 June 2013 by Michelle

Encouraging backers to choose a reward and make a promise to your project is step one, without your backers you won't reach target.

But keeping in touch with them and asking them to help you by sharing your project with their friends and family is step two. Building a supportive community outwith your immediate circle is key, it's the best way to ensure you reach your target.

So how do you do that? A simple email newsletter is a great starting point.

On your project dashboard you will see the email addresses of your backers, it doesn't take much time - and doesn't cost anything - to create  MailChimp newsletter (https://login.mailchimp.com) to keep them up to date with your progress and encourage them to help you towards your target - after all, it's in their best interest since they won't receive their rewards unless your crowdfunding campaign is successful.

Take a look at this newsletter, circulated by Steve Johnson whose project The Students of Springfield Street is currently crowdfunding on Bloom.

It breaks down into 3 key sections, the first is simply to say thank you.

The second part is an update on progress towards target, and some news about the crowdfunding campaign.

Followed finally with a concise explanation of how backers can be even more involved. It includes a specific call to action - to share the project - a reminder of the deadline, and link to make a promise.

It's quick and easy to keep your backers enthused about your project and motivated to share it with their family and friends, and it's one of the most important elements of a successful crowdfunding campaign.

How Much Money Should I Ask For?

Posted: Tue, 04 June 2013 by Cara

This is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of planning your crowdfunding campaign, but it’s one of the most important. Why? Well if you don’t hit your target, you don’t get any money so you need to think carefully. We’ve outlined a few key points to keep in mind.

1. The size of your community

So you have a great idea, and you just know that people will want to back you in return for the cool rewards that you’re going to offer. But how big is your community? How many people do you know? Some project owners make the mistake of thinking traffic will flood to their project automatically. Unfortunately that’s not the case.

You need to relate your target to how many contacts you have and whether they can sustain your target. Also think about how much money your contacts would be likely to put in eg. family and friends might only put in a tenner, but your business contacts might put in a few hundred for a sponsorship reward.

2. What’s the bare minimum?

Now we’ve all heard about the wild successes of some American crowdfunding platforms but let’s be honest, crowdfunding in the UK is still relatively new and people might be a bit more cynical and reserved so you need to convince them that the money you need is essential – not just a frivolous spend. Break it down to the minimum you need, and then also explain why you would love to raise more and what the excess would be used for.

Be honest and backers are more likely to respond – it’s a good idea to include a breakdown of how the funding will be spent if it’s for more than one thing.

3. What costs are involved?

Linking to the point above, your bare minimum should also include any costs involved. Do you need to pay for materials to produce or transport your rewards? That needs to be included or you’ll end up spending precious money that you need!

Remember, Bloom also takes a 5% commission but only if and when you are successful. PayPal also charges a small fee for processing your backer’s promises (which is around 3%) so make sure you work that in too.

4. Dream big but start small

We hope that all our project owners have big dreams for the future, and maybe we can help them achieve those dreams. However, backers are going to be skeptical if you ask for a large amount straight off the bat. Start with step one – what do you need to do first and how much is it going to cost you? Remember you can always come back to crowdfund step two or three, or when you’re a bit futher down the line. If you’re just starting out, set a realistic target and build credibility before you ask for the jackpot.

Our key message is: asking for more money doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it. Keep your goals SMART – Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-bound.

(Image courtesy of dreamchoosers.com)

Introducing Our New Intern Jamie Moore

Posted: Mon, 03 June 2013 by Jamie

Hi!

My name is Jamie and I am one of Bloom's new interns!

I am a Third Year Risk Management student at Glasgow Caledonian University. I believe that crowdfunding has the potential to revolutionise the way that organisations raise funds without having to rely on banks or other lenders, which is why I am excited to get a chance to see this in action here at Bloom! Right now very few people in Risk Management are talking about the potential of crowdfunding! This is something I aim to change in my time at Bloom!

I also get the chance to use my Risk Management skills in the areas on social network management which is fast becoming the number one way in which businesses communicate not only to customers but to suppliers and the media too. The ability to communicate with this network effectively is something I have seen Bloom do time and time again and I hope to learn just what the secret is!

I also have an HND in Events Management so I have first hand experience on just how tough it can be to get a project going. I hope to use my experience in starting projects to help others!

I have a varied working history that includes Restaurant Management, PR + Marketing, Video Game shop supervisor and Sandwich Maker.

When I'm not studying or working, I enjoy video games, reading, politics and deep philosophical discussions on Back to the Future :)

 

My Crowdfunding Success Story

Posted: Mon, 03 June 2013 by Duncan

Duncan Lockerbie is a successful crowdfunder, have reached target for his start-up business Tapsalteerie – A Scots language poetry publisher. Here he shares his story about how and why he used crowdfunding, and what it means for the future of his business.

I’d had the idea to start my own publishing company for a couple of years, but I was never quite sure exactly how to get the project off the ground. I knew I needed money first of all. I also knew the usual ways that businesses get start-up funding weren’t really open to me. Who would want to fund a poetry publisher? More to the point, who would want to fund a publisher specialising in a language other than English? Poetry publishing isn’t exactly a money-spinning activity at the best of times, even more so in the relatively obscure world of Scots language writing.

I had got to hear of crowdfunding through a number of different sources. If you spend any time at all on the internet (and I certainly do that) it’s pretty hard not to hear about it. I even went to a crowdfunding workshop in Aberdeen. The more I thought about it, the more that crowdfunding seemed like the best way to go. It would help me raise the money I needed, it would raise some publicity for Tapsalteerie before I even started the company, and I felt I had a project that people would want to donate to.

So I duly had a go. I set my funding target low, the absolute minimum I required, so as to have the best chance possible of actually reaching the target. I made a video – at the crowdfunding workshop we were told in no uncertain terms that a video is a necessity – despite my total lack of experience of being in front of a camera. I wrote a piece about my project, came up with an affordable reward structure and stuck it all up online. Then I tweeted and facebooked the hell out of it, passing it round all my friends, contacts in the world of Scots writing and whoever else I could possibly think of.

Miraculously, somehow, it worked. Within three weeks I had passed my target. I was stammygastered. I had honestly thought I would struggle to reach the target in two months, which was the closing date I had set to begin with. People who I hadn’t seen in years donated; it was really nice to reconnect with them.  There was also support from unexpected sources – a well-known Scottish author being amongst them.

So how did I manage to get on so well? After having thought about it a bit, I’ve come up with a few explanations. Importantly, you should never underestimate the goodwill of friends and family. That sent me a long way to my target. It has to be said though that I would never have received such a large amount of goodwill if I didn’t have such a strong project behind me.

There were three aspects of the project that I think appealed to people. Firstly, I was setting up a business. I made it clear that after this initial fund-raising it was going to be a self-sustaining, self-financing business. All I needed was a start. Secondly, my business had some cultural and social value. Not only was I starting a new poetry publisher, but I was starting one that would aim to support and develop the Scots language, which has been gradually disappearing over the last three hundred years. There was also the art connection - I aim to work with young artists on each publication, especially those recently out of art school and looking to make a name for themselves. Thirdly, the money raised would be used specifically to print and publish our first poetry pamphlet. This is a tangible result that people could see and own. It would also be our poet’s first ever publication, helping him make a start on his publishing career.

These three aspects all came together to make the project something that people felt was worth getting behind.

So now the crowdfunding has been successful I can get on with the task of actually running a publishing company – obviously the main reason for doing it in the first place. It might seem unnecessary to have to say that, but when you’re involved in the campaign it sort of takes over and what you’re going to do afterwards almost gets forgotten.

As I didn’t have to put up the funds for the first publication, everything earned through sales can go straight back into the business. This means I should have enough to fund at least one, maybe two further pamphlets. I’ve already got them planned out, though the company itself is still at a delicate stage. If I choose the next projects wisely they’ll sell well, which puts me on a very sound financial footing for the future. If I don’t choose well they might lose money, and pretty quickly I’ll be back to square one. More established publishers can afford to absorb losses if one of their publications doesn’t do as well as hoped. This isn’t the case with me, but I’m pretty convinced that the poet I’ve got involved with for the next pamphlet is good enough to find a strong readership for his work, just as I was convinced that crowdfunding was worth a go.

The eventual plan is to build up from doing poetry pamphlets to producing full-length poetry books, as well as fiction and other forms of writing, in all three languages of Scotland – English, Gaelic and Scots. Crowdfunding was a wonderful experience; it’s given me the confidence to think that I can achieve what I set out to do, it’s shown that people are behind my project and willing to help out, and it gave me a way of raising money when other avenues were an impossibility.

I would really encourage anybody to give crowdfunding a go. You won’t lose anything trying, and you might be surprised, like me, by how well you get on. You don’t need any specialist equipment apart from a computer, the internet and a little bit of gumption. I filmed my video using my girlfriend’s iPad mini, balanced precariously on a dodgy wooden stepladder (we didn’t have anything else suitable for making it stand up at the right height for filming) with a large concrete brick for support. I downloaded some freeware video editing software and I was away.

I’d also like to give a good word for Bloom. They were really helpful, supportive (they were tweeting about me all the time, it seemed) and provided a very easy to use platform for it all to happen on. Thanks to them I’ve managed to get my business off the ground. I’m totally delighted.

http://www.tapsalteerie.co.uk/

How to Share a Project

Posted: Sat, 25 May 2013 by Cara

We’re thrilled that you want to get involved in the crowdfunding revolution by sharing some of our fab projects! Sharing a project couldn’t be easier, but to be super helpful, we’ve listed a few ways that you can help spread the word and support someone’s dream.

Use the social share buttons

We have made it really easy for you to share a project directly from the project page. Just use the buttons underneath the project images (see the screenshot below).

 

The great thing is, if you use these social share buttons, it will keep track of how many people have shared the project. This will show potential backers that lots of people like the project, even if they can’t all make a promise.

If you’re a social media whiz, you might want even more social share options – we have it covered! If you share from the project panel (see the screenshot below), you have many more options to choose from.

 

Connect with the project owner

Another good way to help share a project is to interact directly with the project owners themselves – which also gives you the chance to ask questions and give feedback. The social media channels that the project owner uses are shown at the bottom of the project, below the pitch (see the screenshot below).

Just click the buttons to be taken straight to the project owner’s page, and get chatting!

 

Tell your friends and family

This is one of the simplest, and perhaps most effective ways of sharing a project – just telling people about it. People are much more likely to go check out the project if you personally tell them how fab it is, which means more awareness for the project and hopefully more promises!

Leave a comment

Make use of the comments tab on the project (see the screenshot below) to publicly share your thoughts with anyone looking at the project. It’s a great way to engage with the project owner and other backers, without even leaving the page!

 

Make a promise!

The best way to engage with a project and help spread the word is to make a promise! Anyone viewing the project can see your name underneath the backers tab (see the screenshot below), which gives reassurance to other backers.

 

Even better, you can start bragging to your friends about how you’ve helped get a project off the ground and make them jealous by telling them all about your amazing reward! Just a few pounds makes a difference, so please do show your support for projects you like – we make sure there are rewards available for every budget.

So there are loads of ways that you can get involved, and they are all very simple and easy to do! Hopefully our tips will help you get closer to the projects you love, and help support them even if you can’t make a promise.

Understanding the PayPal Process

Posted: Tue, 21 May 2013 by Cara

At Bloom, we use PayPal to process payments, which means that you must have a PayPal account in order to make a promise to a project. We know that some people aren't sure about PayPal, so we've written this blog to explain why we use it and how the process works. 

First off, why do we only use PayPal?

Well it's a great method as it's easy to use and very secure! It's also being used on most websites now for processing payments, so for the majority of Bloom backers, it's easier to continue using PayPal. However, some people don't have a PayPal account, and would prefer to pay by credit or debit card. We would love to be able to offer our backers this service, but unfortunately the banks won't allow us to. Don't worry though, PayPal really is very simple.

Avoiding common problems

When you sign up to PayPal, you will register an email address to your account, which will be set by you. This could be a business or personal email address, whichever you prefer. For example, see the screenshot below which shows how your details will look on your Bloom profile.

 

 

When you enter your details in your Bloom account, make sure there are no extra spaces, numbers, letters or punctuation that is not part of your email address. In the same way as when you send an email, if you don't type the exact email address in, it won't be recognised.

Also, please make sure that you have your credit or debit card linked to your PayPal account. To check this, log in to PayPal and click on 'My account' and then on the 'My money' tab (see the screenshot below).

 

Remember, if you are making a promise, you must have funds available or the promise will fail and you will not receive your reward. Before you make a promise, it's also a good idea to check that the card(s) that are linked are up to date (i.e. it's not details of an expired card or a card you don't use anymore).

PayPal Pre-Authorisation

When you make a promise to a Bloom project, you're doing exactly that - promising you will give £X if and when the project closes. You can break your promise before the project closes (although we hope you don't!) but until the project closes succesfully, the money will remain in your bank account. This process is called pre-authorisation and clever PayPal will never take the money at all if the project fails.

As you might notice when you make a promise, this pre-authorisation process is authorising two payments (see the screenshot below).

Don't freak out! This does not mean PayPal will take the money twice. All it means is that 5% of your promise will come straight to us, as our commission, and the rest will go straight to the project owner. The best thing about this? You know that we only ever receive our commission, and your promise will go directly to the project that you have backed.

Also, as the screenshot above shows, you are authorising Bloom to take 'future payments' - this just means the two payments for your promise. It does not mean we can take money at any point, it just refers to the fact that the money will not come out of your account until the project closes (which is at some point in the future).

Welll hopefully we have cleared up a few things, and that you are all happy with using PayPal. If you still aren't convinced, but want to make a promise to a project, you can always donate offline, and ask the project owner to make the promise on your behalf.

Contact us if you have any questions at: eva@bloomvc.com

10 day crowdfunding option - unique to Bloom

Posted: Tue, 14 May 2013 by Michelle

10, 9, 8 ... the countdown has begun.

 

You can now raise your crowdfunding cash in just 10 days.

Previously 30 days was the shortest timeframe in which you could run a crowdfunding campaign, but we're aware that sometimes you need money much quicker than that so we've introduced the first ever 10 day option.

It means a lot of hard work crammed into just 10 days, but you know it will be worth it.

So if you have an idea and an urgent need to raise the funds to make it a reality, then you know what to do - simply click Start a Project and go for it.

If you want to know more, drop us an email - eva@bloomvc.com

(images courtesy of thevinylvillain.blogspot.com )

Behind the Scenes - Filming One Year Later

Posted: Fri, 10 May 2013 by Fraser

Guest blog by Fraser Coull, who successfully crowdfunded his film One Year Later. A behind the scenes look at how he brought the film to life.

ONE YEAR LATER: IN THE CAN AND ONTO THE EDIT!

Well, there we go, another short film in the can. First of all, a GIGANTIC thank you goes to the fantastic crew who I have worked with since "Bloodline" last year, and our newest recruits, Sean Gill, Sarah Mooney, Ailsa Macaffery and Katy Taylor. Along with Claire Mcguire who, is a fantastic producer, there is no way on earth we would have shot an 18 minute short film in the space of two days. While there were some stressful moments (I'll go into that shortly) the shoot was fun, professional and slick. From our production assistants to our camera team, thank you. It's been a couple of weeks since we wrapped and I've since seen the entire film from start to finish thanks to our brilliant editor, and executive producer, Anne Nicholson, and everything works.

You can watch the behind the scenes movie here - One Year Later

Yes, this is over-indulgence pat on the back nonsense, but it's important. The crew worked their asses off since I wrote the script in January, making sure we had every location, prop, costume, look of each shot, the sound for each scene, the costumes for all the characters and hair and makeup for everybody. So much work went into it and I'm very grateful and all of it comes across on screen. The team were so confident at their jobs it allowed me to relax a little and direct the actors. Not that they needed a lot of directing. The guys nailed it!

Rhys, April and Mark were exceptional on the weekend. They had to sell a year long relationship and a life-long brotherly relationship in just two days and they did it really well. Everybody was spot on with their deliveries, their thoughts on the characters and how to deliver each line. They weren't afraid to suggest ideas and try things in a few different ways to see what worked best, and it was a very gratifying situation. Supporting roles went to Simon Weir as a sympathetic doctor, Tam Toye as a mystical, inappropriate French waiter and Paul Murray as an opportunistic security guard. As they say there are no small parts, just small people, and thankfully these guys were total pros and brought an extra little bit of magic to the film, thank you.

Despite having filmed a web series, several shorts before hand, a full-length feature film and a pilot for a supernatural TV series, "One Year Later" was no doubt my most ambitious project.

Thanks to the wonderful invention of crowdfunding you no longer have to rely on a government body, a film funding scheme or a lottery win to make your project. If you're clever enough and you can offer people something unique and let them be a part of your film, you can raise the money you need to shoot your gig. Now, I'm not going into depths with money and funding on a public post, if you want to ask me about it privately, or at a networking night, I'm more than happy to do that. However this is the first time I've been in a position were I've felt confident to raise the money we needed to pay the cast and crew. I took to Bloom VC, a Scottish run crowdfunding company, and with their help we set up the campaign for One Year Later. 90 days later and we had raised £2060, *just* enough to pay the majority of the cast and crew for a 2 day shoot. With the help of private funding and my own money, we'll be able to get the cast and crew paid. It was a scary, intense, sometimes exhausting process, but we got there and we were able to shoot our film.

Thank you to EVERYBODY who pledged to our project, your perks will be sent out at the end of June once the film is completed. Thank you to everybody who re-tweeted or facebook'd the link to the campaign. It is so very much appreciated.

Location, Location, Location!.... thanks to Claire, our never-stopping, always thinking, crafty producer, and her assistant producer, Sarah Mooney, we managed to get our locations for the film. Now, One Year Later is a present-day, non-science fiction story. It's boy meets girl, boy tries to propose to girl with the help of his may-or-may not be a ghost of an older brother. Even with the simple set up, you still need to find the right locations. Now, I won't lie, I got a tad over ambitious with the script. My college lecturer, Stuart McCorkindale, once said to me, "Fraser, write the film you want to make, not the film you can afford to make." and I think that stuck with me as when I was writing One Year Later, I found myself typing "EXT - The Tall Ship - Night" - the Tall Ship is situated down by the Riverside Museum in the West End of Glasgow and it's gorgeous. I thought it would be brilliant if David tried to propose to Katy on the boat. I never in a million years thought we'd get it. I thought, at a push, we could film OUTSIDE the boat, with David on one knee and the boat in the background.

But we got it! I remember Claire emailing me to say "Good news, we've got the ship!" and I literally jumped up and yelled "Woo hoo!". The challenge of locations, from a cafe where Katy and David first meet, right up to David and Steven's flat, proved a challenge right up to shooting but Claire and Sarah did a fantastic job and thank you so much to the Tall Ship, Roma Mia, Cafe Source, St. Andrews in the Square and of course our assistant director, Scott Forrest, for allowing us to crash his flat yet again.

Katy Taylor, a costume designer who has previously worked on Game of Thrones and The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek, joined our production and, along with her assistant Sophie, did a fantastic job. Her mood boards were spot on and her ideas were mind-blowing. Subtle little touches of colour themes, the reason why certain characters wore certain clothes, it was just so clever. Things that I never even thought of, she just brought it to life. Again you write things into scripts and you don't think about it, such as wedding dresses. I didn't realise just how hard that would be to come by on our budget, but Katy pulled it out of the bag and I am grateful for the work she did for the film. The girl will go far and deserves to do so. You'll see what I mean when you see the film.

Rachael Darroch filmed the making of, interviewing cast and crew, finding out what their job is and how they approached it and I've seen a snippet of it, really insightful stuff and maybe will give you an idea of just how much hard work goes into making a film, whether it's a 5 minute short, a 2 hour blockbuster or an on-going TV series. TV magic is brilliant but my hat goes off to everybody who wants to work in this industry and what they have to do to make it happen. I've got the easy part - I write a story and tell people what to do.

The challenges during filming were keeping everybody together as we went - ensuring that we filmed everything we had to, with the time we had at each location, keeping to schedule - I think we went 25 minutes over on the last day (but I think the wrap party made up for that!) and I had a great AD in the form of Scott Forrest, who dealt with transportation, the call sheets, made sure everybody knew where they were going and who with. Also making sure that Julie, our award winning DOP, got all of the shots that she had planned months before. I trust Julie, she knows what she is doing and again watching the film back the other day shows that she's got it spot on.

You can't control the weather and we felt the brunt of it on the weekend. One minute it was boiling and the sun was shining - not great when you're shooting day for night and trying to convince your audience that you shot the film at night - or then it was freezing cold and the clouds are blocking the light of your actor's face during a pivotal scene that involves needing to see said face to have the emotional payoff you're seeking. But again it's just patience, waiting for the right amount of light, or when we were on the tall ship, the church bell across the river to stop chiming, and then small children running around the boat ringing the bells during an emotional scene. Patience. If you've not got it, develop it quickly.

There's not much else I can say really. It's the most personal script I've ever done, most of me is in there, hopefully people will laugh at the funny bits and get emotional at the sad bits. Most importantly I hope people leave the screenings and feel something positive.

Our first deadline is the 24th of May for the Deep Fried Film Festival and the Loch Ness Film Festival. The edit is pretty much locked down, the visual effects and titles are being worked on, the sound is being tidied and next week our composer Samantha Pake starts her job and by the end of May we'll have a supernatural rom-com, then it's off to festivals throughout the year and we'll see how it goes.

Best job in the world.

(Cast and Crew of One Year Later filming in Roma Mia in Glasgow - photo by Dougie Coull)

You can read more about Fraser Coull and One Year Later in this STV Local article about his crowdfunding campaign http://local.stv.tv/glasgow/magazine/218211-fraser-coull-to-crowdfund-2000-for-one-year-later-starring-april-pearson/

And view the behind the scenes video below.

TV Opportunity for SMEs

Posted: Mon, 06 May 2013 by

Twenty Twenty Television, an award-winning independent production company, has been commissioned to develop a major factual business series for Channel 4, which will explore the importance of foreign exports for boosting the UK economy.

They are searching for small and medium sized businesses 'setting-up-shop' in new and emerging foreign markets, as they try to boost their business through exports. One of Britain’s top business leaders will help these ventures as they try to define their foreign business operations, source local partners, manage financial resources as well as navigate bureaucracy and unexpected cultural challenges up to the point at which they start trading. 

While the UK exports a wide range of goods and services across a multitude of industries, they are particularly interested in SMEs that may be launching retail products or tangible goods that require a physical presence in a foreign market.

They are also especially keen to find any businesses pioneering their products in new, uncertain markets in some of the more precarious foreign territories. If you are an SME looking to export into new foreign markets and interested in potentially being involved or finding out more information please email joe.johnson@twentytwenty.tv.

How to Make a Promise

Posted: Sat, 04 May 2013 by Cara

We’re thrilled that you’ve made the decision to back a project, and to make sure your promise goes through without any problems, we’ve written a quick and simple guide.

Before you start, you will need a PayPal account and a computer (or a mobile device that connects to the Internet). Remember, making a promise is simply that - a promise. We will only take the money if and when the project is successful and, if not, the money will never leave your account.

Most people use PayPal nowadays because it’s easy and secure, which is why we use it to process payments. You must have a PayPal account to make a promise, but don’t worry if you haven’t got one yet, just follow this link to get set up: http://www.paypal-marketing.co.uk/whypaypal/

There are a few key points about PayPal which we want to highlight;

When you make a promise, you are pre-authorising PayPal to take the amount promised on the date that the project closes successfully. If the project fails, the money is not taken.

This pre-authorisation involves two payments, 5% of your promise will come to Bloom as our commission (which is pre-agreed with the project owner) and the remainder of your promise goes straight into the project owner's bank account. Why is this useful? Well it means that you can be reassured that your money is going exactly where it should be.

Remember that you must have the funds in your account on the date the project closes, or your promise won't be taken and you won't receive your reward.

It's also important to make sure that you have the correct debit/credit card linked to your PayPal account in order for the promise to be taken. If you've received a new card, or you are using a different bank account, please update these details on your PayPal account.

Ready to start? Have your PayPal email address at the ready, and go to www.bloomvc.com/projects

Now follow these quick steps:

1) Click on your chosen project

2) Click 'Make promise' on the right hand side

3) Log in or register with Bloom (it’s quick and easy to register, and you’ll be prompted through the process)

4) Enter the amount you wish to promise at the top

5) Choose your reward by using the arrows to the right of the selected reward (remember you can choose any mixture of rewards, as long as they equal the amount you are promising)

6) Click 'Promise Now' at the bottom of the page

7) Enter your PayPal password, and confirm

8) You will see a message saying your promise has been successful

Done! It’s as simple as that. If you do have any problems at all, tweet us @bloomvc or email one of the Bloom team:

michelle@bloomvc.com

cara@bloomvc.com

natalie@bloomvc.com

Remember to share the project with your family and friends - it's another great way to support a project plus it increases the likelihood that the project will be successful, and you'll receive your reward. A win-win situation!

Lessons Learned from One Fund Boston: How to Crowdfund on Social Media to Raise Money

Posted: Fri, 03 May 2013 by

A guest blog from the team at Software Advice

In the aftermath of the tragic events that took place at this year's Boston Marathon, people across the country began searching for a way to give back to those directly affected by the bombings. In response to this, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino created the nonprofit The One Fund Boston.

The organization's quickly built website was simple yet included all the necessary factors: a paragraph describing the nonprofit's purpose, a "Donate Now" button linked to a PayPal account and buttons to share the website on Facebook and Twitter.

To get its name and its mission in the public eye, The One Fund Boston turned to social media and crowdfunding. In less than one week, the organization had raised more than $20 million.

 

 

"Screen shot from the original The One Fund Boston website."

How can other nonprofits achieve similar success to The One Fund Boston campaign?  Here are a few tips to set you in the right direction.

1. Act Quickly
Events like the Boston Marathon bombings and Hurricane Katrina are what nonprofit strategists call a "focusing event." If your organization is going to contribute to a focusing event, you must act quickly.

As Stephanie Kapera, a contributing blogger to Software Advice, explains, "The window for action is small, however: online donations following a disaster quickly spike and drop within the timeframe of just a week. The more time that goes by, the less proactive and passionate people tend to be about giving, and so the first few days following major disasters and tragedies are crucial for setting up a platform for people to contribute to."

2. Leverage Online Influencers
Once your crowdfunding campaign is live through a company like Bloom, pinpoint influencers on social media with large followings. A quick tweet or message asking them to share your campaign will generally yield the result you're looking for.

3.  Use a Multi-Channel Approach
To reach the most people, make sure you take advantage of all social media outlets you have at your disposal. Tweet about your campaign, post it on Facebook, pin it to a board on Pinterest, and encourage others to share it with their followers.

4.  Use Hashtags
Hashtags act as bookmarks, leading people directly to a collection of specific topics, and can help raise awareness for your campaign. They also can be used to raise money, as was the case with Samsung and the “Team Up For Autism” campaign.

5.  Get Visual
Studies show that 83 percent of human learning occurs visually, making visual content strategies essential. People are four times more likely to share an image over plain text, and that image is 43 more likely to persuade a person to action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to read the full article.

Why should I make a promise?

Posted: Mon, 29 April 2013 by Cara

Our blog already has lots of advice for project owners, so we decided to write one especially for potential backers. We know there’s high interest in our projects, with hundreds and, in many cases, thousands of views per project, but sometimes this doesn’t translate into promises. We want to highlight the key reasons why you should click that button and make a promise.

1) Rewards

We work hard with our project owners to bring you cool exclusive rewards, at a range of levels to suit your budget. These often involve unique products, special discounts and personal touches which you can only get through the crowdfunding campaigns. What if you’re thinking of promising £40 but don’t fancy the £40 reward? No problem, simply pick and choose rewards as long as they make up the right total e.g. why not grab two £20 rewards or a £25 and a £15 reward?

2) Making a Difference

It’s easy to forget how important your promise actually is – trust us, that project owner will constantly be checking progress and is sincerely grateful for every penny promised. Even if they don’t hit target, your promise lets them know that they have support and will help build their confidence. It sounds cheesy, but you really can be a part of making dreams come true. Take Polly from Cake Cetera for instance - just £1300 stood between her and a national business deal and thanks to her Bloom backers, she can now deliver her beautiful cupcake bouquets to 18000 florists nationwide instead of just in Glasgow.

3) Interaction

The great thing about making a promise to a project, or even just supporting it by sharing it with your networks, is that you get a unique opportunity to engage with the person/business/cause that you care about. You can give feedback, ask questions, and be much more involved with how your money will be used. You never know, that contact might even be useful in future for a job opportunity or as a potential partner!

4) Promise Now, Pay Later

Yep, that’s right, when you make a promise the money doesn’t leave your account there and then. Your promise will only come out of your account if and when the project is successful. That means you can make a promise for a project closing after pay day, and not have to worry about the money coming out straight away. You’ll also receive an email from us when your chosen project is successful, to let you know the good news and remind you that your promise will be taken.

5) Crowdfunding is Cool

Let’s admit it, it’s pretty cool to be able to brag to your friends and say that you helped grow a business, or saved suffering animals or helped fund a student project. It’s even cooler when you see where that project is months or years down the line, and you know that you helped make it happen. Quite often in fact, our backers don’t even take a reward – they simply help for the sake of being kind and giving someone a break.

So hopefully we’ve convinced you all to start making promises? Fantastic! We look forward to seeing who the crowd will back next.

My Crowdfunding Experience

Posted: Wed, 24 April 2013 by Larain

Starting this project has helped me to focus on something that is positive and gives me a sense of achievement, belonging and usefulness. When I started looking for funding for my art exhibition, I hadn't realised how difficult it would be to raise funds for something that I feel would greatly benefit the community. I was coming to the end of my tether trying to find enough funding, when my partner found the Bloom crowdfunding site for me. Crowdfunding is such a wonderful idea.  To donate a small amount is manageable for most people and to be able to choose rewards which suit your own budget and interest is fantastic. It seems to me that crowdfunding also has a lot to offer to help with the economy in these difficult times.  I wasn't sure if I would be able to achieve my goals, but with such great ideas and support I find it possible to reach far beyond what my expectations had become.

I have been working so hard and am happy to donate as much of my time as possible and I so hope this will prove to be a success.  None of this has been about making money for myself at all, but it is necessary to find a way of finding enough to pay for the essentials such as boards, and leaflets etc. I found that Cara at Bloom has been there to help me at each step and has been so supportive.  At times I feel disheartened that I won't reach my target, but I’m determined to make this a success and I’m hopeful that I’ll raise the full amount.

I want to contribute in some way to society and so I'm trying to use the knowledge and skills that I have gained through my life and hope this will inspire others to do the same.  Art is essential for society - without it life would be drab and unbearable, but it does need to be shared to really have some meaning.  That is not so easy to do without some funding.  For an artist to exhibit, they have to pay, but in order to generate any income, they need to exhibit. I want to address this problem, as well as help young people through art.  The education system doesn't cater for all young people.  Having been a teacher for some years I especially feel it's important to address the needs of young people particularly those who are or were struggling at school.  The consequences of not doing this are very serious indeed and I believe society is already having issues because of the failings of the current education system.  I don't know all the answers but if I can help just one young person improve their prospects and turn their life around, then it's all worth it.  

Before I can achieve this I need to raise some money which I hope to do through this exhibition.  I am very committed to it and I want to help artists, young people and in the future raise awareness for people with mental health issues. Helping me fund my art exhibition will improve the opportunities available for talented artists, and hopefully allow them to make some money from their passion. Beyond that, I want to continue with my aim of improving society in my own small way, through teaching young people art.

I hope that you will join me on my journey, a Cinematic Celebration through Art.

Thank you.

Not such a BAD IDEA after all!

Posted: Sun, 21 April 2013 by Natalie

Buzzing with excitement, Bloom intern Natalie Morrison spills the gossip about the Bad Idea Awards Final

Saturday was the final of the Bad Idea competition and what a night it was! We got a chance to catch up with the students that took part and hear what their families thought about their business ideas; it was clear everyone knew the Bad Idea competition was a great opportunity for young people to try a revolutionary new way of thinking and take the first steps on their entrepreneurial journey.

Judges Michelle Rodger (Bloom), Nick Cohen (PCR) and Diane McWade had the difficult task of choosing a winner after listening to inspiring pitches from the five finalists; James- Building better care homes, Haydn- Fezzie Boots, Amy - Duo water bottle, Holly - Safety Buggy and Fraser - Chanking Coolers. The enthusiastic young business minds took centre stage and really wowed the judges with their product diagrams, extensive market research and even sales planning. I’m glad I wasn’t a judge!

While the judges left to try to somehow choose a winner, fellow Bloom intern Cara and I rushed down to chat to the finalists; there was a real mix of excitement, relief after the pitches and the worry about when the judges would be coming back! It was all getting a bit much, and that was just me and Cara - I think we were as nervous as everyone else.

Finally the judges returned to deliver their results, drum roll please… 3rd place went to James with Building better care homes, 2nd place was awarded to Holly with her Duo water bottle and 1st place went to Haydn with Fezzie Boots.

Congratulations to all the finalists and well done to everyone who took the opportunity to apply for the Bad Idea Competition. We know all the students will have learned a lot from the workshops, not least of all that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. And it doesn’t stop there Bad Idea’s Anthony Gerrard announced that there will be aftercare for anyone who wants to continue with their idea or wants to know what to do next.

It was a truly exceptional experience for all who got the chance to be involved such young minds with such great talent, we know they are all ones to watch out for in the future.

You can see all the young entrepreneurs and their crowdfunding campaigns here

Essential Pre-Launch Tips for Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Posted: Thu, 11 April 2013 by

We get asked all the time about how to start a crowdfunding project. Questions such as:

How long does it take to create a campaign?

Do I need to have a video?

How big does my social network have to be in order to be successful?

So we decided to create a special pre-launch checklist of all the things that need to be in place before we can make your project live. We cover how to decide how much money you should raise, as well as telling your story and building your community in advance of launch.

We turned it into an e-book. A FREE e-book.

You can download it here:

bloomvc.com

And don't forget, if you want to talk to us or need our help to get your project up and running you only have to ask - eva@bloomvc.com

It's All About the Rewards

Posted: Wed, 10 April 2013 by Cara

Everyone has had a great idea at some point but for most of us, that’s as far as it goes. Why? We don’t have access to the resources we need, so we dismiss it as impossible. Crowdfunding has opened the door to a universal form of funding, which anyone can access. Some people make the connection and think ‘Aha! I could crowdfund my great idea’ but then get stuck on the rewards and give up.

Why is it so difficult? Most of the time, it’s harder to think of ideas for rewards because you don’t have a product to sell, or it’s too expensive to send your reward to backers further afield. It’s one of the first questions we get asked, so we’ve decided to help answer those questions with this blog. Read on for tips on how to get creative with your rewards, and take inspiration from examples of projects who offered cool and quirky rewards.

Getting Creative

There is nothing we’ve seen so far that can’t be crowdfunded – you just have to get creative with rewards. Even if you do have products that you can offer, you should still offer some unconventional rewards to ensure you have a good range that appeal to different backers. Remember, the reward can seal the deal for a potential backer!

Our top tips;

1. Have a great reward around £40 - £40 is the average promise on Bloom, so you want to make sure that this reward level really stands out. A good idea is to have a £30 and then a £50 reward level, to encourage someone thinking of promising £40 to go that little bit further. This worked well for Ecosse Candle, who had a fab £50 reward with limited edition candles, a discount code and a mention on their website.

2. Use what you know – do you have any special skills such as baking, singing, web design etc that you could offer as a unique reward? Remember that your rewards don’t have to be related to your project – a potential backer may like your project but doesn’t want or need your product/service. Take You Must Love Working Here, a comedy club exhibition that offered to put your face on a cake for £25!

3. Take advantage of your friends – use your contacts to offer an experience or product which is different to the rest of your rewards, offering another option and adding exclusivity. If your project has attracted celebrity attention, or you have a connection to a celebrity, why not offer lunch with them or a VIP invite as a cool reward? Short film project One Year Later attracted media attention by promoting the fact that they had secured Skins star April Pearson to feature in their film!

4. Make it exclusive – rewards work really well when there are a few that are unique and exclusive, that gives the backer a feeling of being ‘special’. For example, offering VIP treatment/tickets, naming them as a founder on your website, or making a one-off product/experience tailored to the backer. Welsh Wallace Art is currently offering a handcrafted sculpture of your initials as the top reward – made especially for top backers.

5. Mix up the lower rewards – a typical reward is to offer a social media shout-out for £5 or £10, but this option isn’t used most of the time. It’s a small amount, so you don’t need to offer a lot, just make it different. Why not record a thank you video, or send a personal email or e-card? It’s slightly more work, but it’ll be worth it if you get more backers. Take Dead Sleekit, who are currently offering updates on their progress and a mention on their website for just £5!

Blog by Bloom intern Cara Pleym.

The Seven Day itch- Parallax Faction by Anna Marie Campbell

Posted: Mon, 08 April 2013 by Anna

The Seven Day Itch – Anna Marie Campbell (Ani) - Parallax Faction-The Album

Following 53 days of crowd funding via bloomvc, I must admit that I have picked up so much information and practical experience, in relation to social media, however, although these are valuable tools this was not my reason for launching this project.

I have set out to raise £2,500 to fulfil a life long ambition for myself, and the rest of the band, to release an album: on vinyl, on cd, and via digital download. Bloomvc have provided us with an ideal platform to enable us to make this dream come true.

With only seven days to go we have managed to raise £950, which is fantastic. Family, friends and complete strangers have made promises to the band. This not only gives encouragement to make the album but we want to ensure that those who made their promises, will receive their rewards. We are so grateful to everyone who is promising to make this happen.

In addition, to those promising the band we have received an offer, to have the album mastered for free from a local small business and we have been given artwork from a local artist (Thank you, Janice) that will feature on the album.

The generosity and faith of individuals via the Bloomvc project, has also filled the band will a renewed energy. Iain has been mixing the tracks to get them ready for mastering, David has been sending demos to radio stations and music festivals and Danni (the youngest member of the band) has added some fantastic guitar licks to our recordings and live performances. The band is also currently planning for a range of gigs to raise the band’s profile and promote the album. We have also added a drummer, Chris, to the mix for our live performances and we are currently rehearsing for a “sold out” gig on Thursday. All of this positive energy, has had a little creative surge, for me too and I am currently producing an EP of new work “gossip ganda” that will be available as an additional download, alongside the album.

“The Seven Day itch” is, that following this surge of renewed energy we may not meet our target, or be in a position to reward those who have shown faith in the project, and in the music that we are producing. This is why we couldn’t help but be disappointed if we fell at the last hurdle.

So, only through you, our potential backer, can we make this work and raise the additional £1,550 requred for the album launch. A little promise will go a long way. Our reward packages range from £5 - £500. You can be a listener, or an Executive Producer, but no matter what rewards you chose, be a backer! Thank you, for your consideration and support. Your generosity is not unrecognised and you will be justly rewarded.

Help us release the album, Parallax Faction - "Supersonic Weird 80's pub music" as voted for, by our followers. 

My Internship Experience

Posted: Tue, 02 April 2013 by Natalie

Hi I'm Natalie and I've been at Bloom VC on a work placement from The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy. Wow, what an amazing experience I've had, I was let loose on the site and all social media... I even managed to not break anything...I think!

I can't quite believe how much I have learned and how much I have loved it. Bloom is right in the center of the crowdfunding revolution and I'm so glad to be a part of it. Amanda, Michelle and Cara have all shared their words of wisdom and helped me learn about how I can help the next generation of start-ups!


The advice didn't end there, my personal development has been unbelievable, I have been introduced to so many people that have even helped with my PJEA course work. I didn't even have to make tea! 

Bloom really is 100mph 24hours a day and the experience has really opened up my eyes - if you work hard, you'll have a lot on but it's worth it! I can really appreciate how hard the Bloom team work and how they have so much fun doing it -  it really is so rewarding to help make a project live then watch in the last few minutes as it reaches its target!


It was sometimes a bit overwhelming at times as it was all completely new to me, but the team were always on hand to help me to organize and refocus and chill out! At first I didn't want to touch anything in case I broke it but after a few words from Michelle, who told me anything could be fixed, I started to try everything and anything, all the time knowing that help was but an email, Skype or text away!


It's still all pretty new...but I know how to do a lot after 4 weeks and I'm so glad that I was asked to stay!

Keep your eyes peeled for me on twitter: @retro_chick80s
And you can send me an email: natalie@bloomvc.com

Why Should I Crowdfund?

Posted: Mon, 18 March 2013 by Cara

Crowdfunding is a new revolutionary form of funding, and is really very simple – tell people about your great idea and ask them to back you in return for a reward. So all you need to do is sell yourself and your idea, and offer cool, unique rewards. There’s no criteria to meet, it’s open to anyone and gives everyone the same chance to shine.  Your idea could be for a business, a social cause or a community project and the crowd will decide if they like it enough to give you the cash to do it!

Still unsure? There’s loads of reasons why crowdfunding could be perfect for you but we’ve listed our 10 top reasons below.

10 Reasons to Crowdfund

  1. You’re enthusiastic and passionate – this might not work for banks, but it’s brilliant for crowdfunding
  2. You want to raise awareness of your idea/cause – crowdfunding is a fantastic platform for building an engaged community who will spread the word
  3. You want to test your idea –you can  talk to potential customers and see if they like your concept
  4. You need cash quickly – you can run your project on Bloom for 30, 45 or 60 days so if you’re successful, you’ll get the money at the end of your campaign
  5. You aren’t eligible for other types of funding – we don’t apply selection criteria, so anyone can do it
  6. You like to experiment – crowdfunding is a cool new form of funding, why not give it a go just for the experience?
  7. You need a few rounds – you can break your target down, and come back as many times as you like
  8. You’re worried about failure – at Bloom, we offer one-to-one support, and if your project fails, we can work out why and you can try again
  9. You’re not ready for investment – there are no barriers or criteria, so it doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out
  10. You have a bad financial/credit history – no need for business plans or financial statements!

So we’ve given you the lowdown on crowdfunding, and hopefully now your question isn’t ‘why should I crowdfund?’ but ‘why not?’ We would love to hear from you, so please do get in touch at michelle@bloomvc.com or cara@bloomvc.com

(Image courtesy of www.nathanmagnuson.com)

Crowdfunding for charity? A blog for International Women's Day

Posted: Fri, 08 March 2013 by Hannah

Can you crowdfund for charity?

 

 Yes and it works! Just ask Hannah Stansfield.

Why not hear all about Hannah's charity projects in Bloom’s Q & A with this sucessful charity crowdfunder.

Q: How did crowdfunding work from the point of view of a charity

 A: “Crowdfunding was a great tool to fund raise for ‘The Egypt Horse Project’ and ‘Janet's Wadi’  as you can easily track how much you've already raised, how many people you reach and how much money there is left to raise. It's also a great visual aid for supporters as they can actively view updates on the project and see how their funds are contributing to reach the target. It gives a great sense of family, when everyone comes together as the crowd to support a project and it’s a great way of researching to see what people think of your idea. Projects such as the ‘Saddle Pad Project’ and ‘Feeding Dahab's Dogs’ have really connected emotionally with many hearts and left people feeling compelled to support and make a donation or ‘promise.

"Crowdfunding is a great tool to help charities get a lump of cash in a relatively short space of time - on our own it may take several months to locate funding for one project, however,with the networking ability and versatil ity of a crowdfunding project you can reach a lot more people than you could possibly hope to just through your website or even on social media.”

Q: What did you try previously to raise funds?

A: “In the past we've run donation drives through the Facebook page and website, which when people understand what the project's aims are they work reasonably well - when you throw a more complex topic at people through social networking the aims and targets can easily get lost, and you end up spending more time answering the same questions posted by lots of different supporters than being able to concentrate on what's important. We had also tried a PayPal widget that actually looks quite similar to Bloom's project widget, however it did not attract much attention - possibly because it had little or no connection to anything else and was really just there for the sake of it!

"As of yet, we don't have much of a physical presence in the UK - I can't yet drive, so attending local fayres and fetes can be extremely difficult -  so it has been important for us to build support for the charity through the internet. It's scary to think that just a decade or so ago we would not have had all of these tools to help us this way and it's likely the charity would not have been able to set up so quickly and effectively.

Q: How did crowdfunding compare to the other types of fundraising that you had previously tried?

A: “Crowdfunding has been good in terms of reaching people we would not ordinarily be able to approach, as well as giving us an easier way of tracking funds coming in. Very often we have funds appearing in our bank account or PayPal account with no description as to what it should be spent on, but because we receive the money from a crowdfunding project almost simultaneously it is very easy to see what they are for. Although there are fees involved with using a crowdfunder, this isn't something that should put you off - all you need to do is add the fee amount on top of your project target, so that in effect the project pays for itself.

Q: If you did not crowdfund how would you have raised funds?

A: “I think we really would have struggled to raise the funds in such a short space of time and for the most part I think we would have had to rely on our 'regular' donators to give a little each month towards specific projects. The issue with this is that it is down to personal taste - if a long term supporter does not like a project we are working on, then they are unlikely to donate towards it and so there is the issue that we must somehow find new supporters who like the idea of our each project and are in a position to donate. It can sometimes be extremely difficult to find people who meet these criteria, and so crowdfunding has given us a way to introduce ourselves to a new section of people who are interested in our project and are in a position to donate.”

 Q: What has been your experience of crowdfunding?

A: ”I have so far - touch wood! - had a good experience crowdfunding. My crowdfunding platform of choice - Bloom - has been very helpful with setting up all of the projects and seeing them through to the end. The staff are lovely and very easy to talk to, they freely give advice to help make your project a success. Some projects have been unsuccessful, but more than anything I put that down to my own fault - either the project doesn't appeal to enough people or for whatever reason I can't share it with enough of the right people to make it viable. Being young it has certainly been a learning curve for me - figuring out what works and what doesn't, which rewards for promises are popular etc - but I think it all has broadened my experience and fund raising skills (which can't be a bad thing when you're operating a charity!).

Q: Women are said to be more focused, natural relationship builders and are generally more engaged, do you think this is true and have your natural skills and qualities helped you with your crowdfunding project?

A: ”
Personally, I would have to disagree, not because I think women/men are better in one sense or another, but knowing myself unless I am entirely passionate about a topic or project I am unlikely to be focussed on it! My best advice for other women wanting to crowdfund is make sure it is something you are wholeheartedly interested and invested in. 60 days of trying to promote a project you're not entirely set on gets a little degrading and disheartening if it isn't successful. When you have an idea or project you really love, you want it to succeed and you will push through come hail or high water, to see it to the end – this passion will not only reflect how many people you reach with information on your project, but the tone of your posting will certainly be different!

"Naturally, I am rubbish at asking people for money - I dislike being a burden and don't want to pester people, so for me the project has to be truly important to get me enthusiastic about it. For instance ‘The Saddle Pad Project’ was something that I felt people would be willing to give up their coffee for a week to promise towards, because the animals and owners affected are truly more helpless than we are in developed countries. The same went for ‘Feeding Dahab's Dogs’ – Janet's Wadi is a charity in Dahab run by an English lady, who is entirely selfless in her efforts to save street dogs and get them out of danger. If it can make people stop and re-evaluate the way they are living in comparison, you're on to a winner. More than anything, I believe crowdfunding has helped me to develop more skills or uncover skills I hadn't yet realised.”

Q: Would you crowdfund again?

A: “Between myself and the other operators of The Egypt Horse Project’ we are actually putting together an exciting new project following on from the ‘Saddle Pad Project’. It's an exciting time and I am glad to say yes, we will be crowdfunding again and possibly for the foreseeable future!”

Thanks Hannah, for sharing your insight to crowdfunding from a charity point of view!

Hannah’s next crowdfunding campaign launches today, and we are looking forward to another success! Check it out here, and why not make a promise ...


International Women's Day - Being a Role Model for My Daughter

Posted: Fri, 08 March 2013 by Anna

Ani Campbell – Parallax Faction – Crowdfunding - International Women’s Day

 Me and My Girl

When I was a younger woman (in my early twenties) I was in a band and I used to hide behind my microphone. The microphone was a shield to hide the fact that I didn’t feel particularly pretty, I felt that because I didn’t look like a pop/rock star that I would never have made it. I did feel rather exposed and knew that people would judge my voice, as well as my looks, which made me terrified to drop a note. So, in all honesty, the audience were likely looking at a young woman who resembled a petrified ironing board. Lack of confidence was a real issue for me.

When I became a mum in my late twenties and looked at my daughter, I can honestly say that her tiny face was a real wake up call.  I was also overcome with a sense of rather frightening responsibility. I remember saying to my husband. “How can I tell her to fulfil her dreams when I am stuck in a dead-end job and not fulfilling any of my own?” He couldn’t have agreed more. So I made a mental list of what I wanted to do with my life and have never looked back. Releasing an album one day was on that list.

I know that this is about women but I should also point out that the support and encouragement from my husband, should not be underestimated and the strength of the equality in our relationship was a huge factor. My husband worked equally hard, bringing up our daughter, sharing in the housework. We both believe in equality and we both inspire each other to fulfil our dreams. Isn’t that what equality is all about?

Parallax Faction –The album Why now? Why the hell not?

I am over 40, but should this prevent you from fulfilling a dream? Absolutely not. My moto is “If you stop dreaming you stop living.” I will encourage my daughter to do the same and my age is not a barrier. My more mature approach to the album release means I just think “I have nothing to lose”.

Crowdfunding via Bloom has presented the band with an opportunity that was never there before. The advances of technology have made it possible to record at home, however, the increasing culture of “pay to play” makes it really difficult for musicians to earn from their talents to fund the production and release of an album. So, unless you are lucky enough to be spotted by a record company your options can be rather limited. The concept of crowdfunding should not be underestimated. Musicians, or indeed, anyone who has an idea or a little dream, should seriously consider Bloom.

I have a “give it a go” attitude and the response from backers of the album project has been so encouraging that we are now seeing the album launch as a real possibility. I am truly delighted at the progression of the project so far. The generosity of some people can astound me. The current recession has hit people really hard (including us) so to find backers in this climate has been very inspiring, to say the least. It also adds confidence that the music that we are producing is of a quality that people want to back us. I have never been particularly motivated by money but people motivate me, so the backers have given me so much energy to continue on this quest.  In addition, we were offered free mastering by a local sound engineer who runs a small online business and have even been approached by a potential manager of the band. These were spinoffs from the project that I never expected.

I am very hopeful that we will reach our target via our Bloom crowdfunding project, we still have a fair bit to raise. Therefore, it is not time to get complacent and the work to encourage further backers to invest in us must continue. It isn’t the case that you pop up a project and you will get cash from strangers. You have to work at it. Raise awareness of what you are doing and get up to speed on social media fast. If you don’t know much about social media, find someone who does or learn.

Every penny we get will be invested in the album and the album launch. The more that we raise, the better the launch. It is that simple. The possibility of the launch of the album has also encouraged the band to look at performing at music festivals. To have one summer touring, in this environment, would truly be the experience of a lifetime. Isn’t this the stuff that dreams are made of? For me, yes, yes, and yes.

My daughter will have her own dreams. As a mum I hope that I will give my girl a little inspiration, nurture her to become a confident young woman and hold to on to her dreams with both hands. Her birth inspired me to learn, to grow, and to live life with hope, ambition and a belief that it is better to try to fulfil your dreams than to just accept what life has given you. You can reach for the stars but you don’t have to step on heads to get there. 

International Women's Day

Posted: Fri, 08 March 2013 by Jessica

Hi I'm Jessica and I have just had my first experience of crowd funding and i sucessfully reached my target!

I am currently putting on an exhibition 'You Must Love Working Here' which will be the first exhibition held as part of the Glasgow International Comedy festival. Instead of casting a light on comedians, this project turns the spotlight on the people who work offstage in comedy clubs, behind the bar and keeping hecklers in check.

The comedy festival was able to support the exhibition by including it in the programme and advertising it where possible, and The Bungo are supporting it by providing their walls and hosting the exhibition; but there were no funds available to cover the expenses. I discussed the funding options with Andrew Learmonth who I am collaborating with. He produced a radio package about the project for the BBC Comedy Cafe and is promoting it in the press. I considered Creative Scotland and other funding bodies, but as everything was in place for the exhibition to happen it felt quite risky to make an application for funding and then just wait with my fingers crossed, hoping to be awarded the funds.

I had been keen to try crowd funding after going to the social media week in Glasgow last September. I'd listened to a talk from Michelle Rodger co-founder of Bloom VC and Mhairi Mackenzie who successfully used crowd funding to purchase a laser cutter for her expanding business. Click here to watch SMW video

These talks were really insightful and inspiring. Andrew and I were able to pool our resources to put together a good selection of rewards, so I decided to give it a go.We covered all the bases, with rewards from £3 all the way up to £500 in case some generous soul wanted to fund the whole thing.

I have never been terribly good at self-promotion, but it was a sink or swim moment, I could put the initial work into the project and then let it fizzle out, or I could force myself to tweet like crazy and find new ways to push the rewards and get some energy and support behind what I had started. It is hard asking people for money, especially when it's not for a charitable cause but something closer to you.

Research has shown that women on the whole are not as good at ascertaining their worth as men, they tend to sell themselves short and are less likely to ask an employer for a raise. Historically they have also found it harder to gain access to traditional funding for business and other ventures. Social change is redressing that balance. Crowd funding, which relies on social input, not only allows you to gain funding for your idea, but it helps you to engage with people and gain more confidence in both yourself and your idea as you do it.

I don't know if it is the more feminine facets of my personality that helped me to succeed, but I did feel more engaged with my potential audience and I was more successful than I have been going down traditional funding avenues. Crowd funding gives you a clear goal, and allows you to be very organised. You know when you will receive the money and you can budget in advance, and for any changes along the way. It is a very open and risk-free way of testing your ideas and hopefully helping them to flourish.

I did also also apply for funding halfway through this project as a plan B, but I am so far yet to hear back. Either way though my exhibition will be up in Glasgow this March, and if I gain the other funding it will go to Edinburgh for The Fringe as well.

A big thank you to Jessica for sharing her experience of crow funding and please keep an eye out for the 'You must love working here' exhibition!

International Women's Day - Successful Crowdfunder Polly Quigley Shares Her Story

Posted: Fri, 08 March 2013 by Cake

My name is Polly and my company is called Cake-Cetera.

I was inspired to set up the business after losing my mum to cancer last year. While mum was in hospital I was shocked to find flowers were banned from hospital wards. Visitors were asked to take them home as they are swimming with bacteria. I found that most people brought in cake instead and so Cake-Cetera was born.

I have designed a cupcake bouquet which consists of 13 cupcakes and 6 chocolate leaves. This can be ordered online for £30. Currently I hand deliver in my wee van in Glasgow but have been bombarded from interest down south.

I created a crowdfund via Bloom which helped fund the design of a packaging solution which would allow me to send my cupcake bouquets via courier around the UK. Through the crowdfund I raised £1300 through the generosity of friends, customers and complete strangers. This let me pay for a plastic mould to be formed to protect the cakes during transport.

After lots of prototypes, tests and disasters at last I now have an effective box which will be available in approx 6 weeks. This will allow me to send nationally via my website as well as supply to online retailers and roll out the service to 18,000 florists in the UK.

Funding the design of the packaging was holding me back yet the crowdfund allowed me to fastrack this and I'm so grateful to the 23 backers who supported and believed in me.

I look forward to sending them a cupcake bouquet in my fancy box and keeping them updated regularly with my progress.

Females Lead the Way

Posted: Fri, 08 March 2013 by Cara

As a serial backer even before I began working for Bloom VC, I’ve seen a lot of projects but had to choose which I wanted to back as I didn’t have much spare cash. Projects which received my promises were engaging and created a personal connection, but up until recently, I hadn’t realised that the majority of these were female owned projects.

The more I think about it, the more I agree that the female owner influenced my decision to make a promise, because I felt that the women were more open, honest and willing to interact. Generally, women develop more intimate and close relationships, especially with other women, and I think this creates a natural advantage, because they are more comfortable with the personal engagement that drives a successful project.

Now I’m not trying to say women are better than men at crowdfunding, and I do believe anyone can be successful if they put in the effort. However, perhaps women are naturally better suited to running a crowdfunding campaign in comparison to seeking more traditional forms of finance. Rather than struggling with barriers to traditional funding (real or imagined), crowdfunding could be the first port of call for women who need funding for their ideas.

Our most successful projects have been run by women, and we want to see more of them! The great thing about crowdfunding is anyone can try it, and it goes some way to overcoming issues for females obtaining finance. With so much of the business world still dominated by men, it’s nice to see a platform where women can shine and become the role models for others to follow.

So girls, lead the way! We’re looking forward to you all submitting your wonderful ideas, who will be our next female success story?

Crowdfunding breaks down financial barriers for businesswomen

Posted: Thu, 07 March 2013 by Michelle

Women are more successful at crowdfunding startup and growth capital than they are at securing traditional forms of financial support.

We can also reveal that women are better than men at raising the money they need from the crowd.

According to our statistics 40% of female-led projects are successful compared to 34% of male generated projects.

Bloom founder and CEO Amanda Boyle explained: “It’s widely recognised that women are not as successful as men at securing financial support from traditional sources for their businesses. But crowdfunding has changed that for the better – and forever.

“Crowdfunding is democratising finance and making it possible for anyone, anywhere in the world, to start a business or fund a community or social project. Women, who are naturally better communicators – and supporters – are finding this new model suits them perfectly.

These statistics from our community are exciting – and they bode well for the future of female entrepreneurs, whether business or social.”

We have also discovered that women are more likely to back a project than a man, and that there are more “serial” female backers than male.

“This is particularly interesting when you consider that there is a dearth of female investors in the UK,” said Amanda. “Only round 5% of angel investors in the UK are female, but it’s clear to us that women do like to back businesses and community projects when given the chance to do so.”

We’re really proud of our female crowdfunders – here are just a few of  our success stories, which highlight the impact crowdfunding is having:

 

Polly Quigley – Polly crowdfunded £1300 to create a packaging prototype that would allow her to distribute her cupcake bouquets nationally. She now has an effective box that will be available in approximately 6 weeks. This will allow her to send nationally via her website as well as supply to online retailers and roll out the service to 18,000 florists in the UK. She also has a distribution deal with Interflora.

http://bloomvc.com/project/Send-a-cupcake-bouquet-worldwide

 

 

 

Mhairi Mackenzie – Mhairi makes acrylic jewellery but needed £7.5k to buy her own laser cutter in order to increase production and grow her business. Since her successful crowdfund she has moved the manufacturing of the business back to her hometown on the Isle of Bute in Scotland. She now works full time on the business, has employed two staff and has a team of 5 piece workers all based on the island. She's receiving lots of exciting requests from magazines and celebrities (her custom pieces are worn by celebrities such as Llana del Rey and Olly Murs - Usain Bolt was photographed wearing her custom knuckledusters) and is now able to turn them around on time to meet next day deadlines. She has featured on BBC Breakfast and has even attracted a private investor.

http://bloomvc.com/project/Big-up-our-Bling

 

 

Elke Barber – Elke is a young mum whose husband died suddenly and she struggled to explain death to her 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter. Discovering a lack of resources available to help her, she decided to write a book based on her son’s questions. But having saved £8k to publish the book she was diagnosed with breast cancer and her savings were needed for day-to-day living expenses.  “Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?” was hugely successful on Bloom. Elke asked for £8k and raised more than £11k during the project with thousands more flooding in after the project closed.

http://bloomvc.com/project/Is-Daddy-Coming-Back-in-a-Minute

Introducing Our IWD No Commission Offer

Posted: Fri, 01 March 2013 by Cara

International Women’s Day is fast approaching – on Friday 8th March most of the world will be celebrating strong females and, of course, we’ll be joining in!

Historically women have found it difficult to access traditional funding for their businesses, and nowadays everyone is struggling to raise the funding they need for charities, social enterprises or community groups. But crowdfunding is changing the game; our statistics show that women are more successful than men at crowdfunding and we want to help them start or grow the business of their dreams.

So we are delighted to announce a no commission offer for any female projects launched on the 8th March, in honour of this important date. This means that we won’t take our usual 5% commission which means extra cash for the girls! (although PayPal fees will still apply).

If you have an idea you want to crowdfund, then simply click here and if your project is submitted, amended (if necessary) and approved by 5pm on Thursday, March 7 2013 we'll make it LIVE on IWD 2013.

Please also check out our IWD page for updates on our campaign.

Introducing our new intern

Posted: Mon, 25 February 2013 by Natalie

Hi my name is Natalie and I have been lucky enough to be accepted to do my work placement here at Bloom.

I first heard about Bloom when Michelle came to PJEA at Stow College to tell us all about crowdfunding, the first thing that struck me was how easy it was to launch a project at Bloom. After learning that on Bloom anyone could launch any project from Social Enterprise to Business Start-up, I knew I wanted to be a part of the crowdfunding revolution!

I am currently working towards gaining my BTEC Level 3 in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship this year, so not only am I well on my way to receiving my qualification but my own personal development throughout the last 6months has been unbelievable!

My attitude throughout the course is to see everything as an opportunity and take every opportunity that I can.

In my spare time I love to snowboard, I’m just really happy when I manage not to fall down! I also enjoy baking cakes and eating cakes; since my love of cakes has grown I have started to attend the gym again.   

Within my time at Bloom I hope to expand on my skills (not cake eating). I know that Bloom manages to plan an effective diary and work hard at time management, this is an area I know I will learn a lot in as well as networking, the team at Bloom work incredibly hard through social media to spread the crowdfunding word.

 Keep an eye out for me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Kiltr! 

How do I plan a crowdfunding campaign?

Posted: Thu, 21 February 2013 by Cara

So you’ve heard about this new type of funding, and think it could work for your idea, but you’re not sure how to go about it? Don’t worry! As always, the Bloom team are on hand to help. We’ve launched a wide range of projects, from hundreds to thousands of pounds, from films to animal rescue to football teams. What we’ve learned is that a successful crowdfunding campaign is built on several key areas, and we’ve got some great tips on how to plan your crowdfunding campaign around these.

1. Clear and compelling pitch

You need to write a pitch which engages potential backers, and sells yourself and your idea. This needs to clearly explain what you want to achieve, and why it’s so important – why should a stranger back your project? You need to get to the point quickly, and then go on to provide detail so that if someone only reads the first few lines, they understand the aim of your project.

Keep in mind the global audience you are addressing, and write in simple language that anyone could understand. Try to engage on a personal level, as sometimes backers will promise money simply because they are interested in that particular area, or are impressed by the project owner themselves.

2. Unique and value-added rewards

When planning your rewards, you should aim for 5-7 levels ranging from very low (£1, £5) to high (perhaps 30-40% of your target). The reward should reflect the amount of money being promised, and therefore the higher tier rewards should be more exclusive, and at least one should be unique to your crowdfunding campaign.

You can add value to any reward by offering exclusive discounts, early access, public recognition as a backer etc, which enhance the attractiveness of the rewards, without increasing costs. Please consider costs of making/delivering rewards, and how many of each you can realistically offer.

3. Social media engagement

Prior to, during and after launch, it is vital to keep your community engaged with updates about your project. You should plan for at least an hour a day to be spent on social media alone to effectively promote your project, and build your community.

Try to plan content as well, and think about what else you could do to increase activity e.g. sharing pictures, a regular newsletter, blogs, a press release etc. For more tips on how to use social media, click here.

4. Commitment post-launch

This overlaps with the previous point, but we’ve highlighted it again as it’s perhaps the main one that lets most projects down. When planning a crowdfunding campaign, many people think only of the work involved to launch the project, but the real hard work is post-launch. You need to be pro-active about sharing your project, and commit to working on it both online and offline, until your project closes.

We don’t expect your project to take over your life, but you need to work at it steadily so plan the time and effort you can spend throughout the project lifetime, not just at the start. If you plan your campaign well, you will be much more likely to close successfully and reap other benefits such as an engaged community, proof of market demand, customer feedback and improved skills.

(Image courtesy of developmentcrossroads.com)

Who can get the most out of crowdfunding?

Posted: Tue, 12 February 2013 by Cara

"Aha!" says Bloom intern Cara Pleym. "The answer reveals one of the most brilliant features of crowdfunding – anyone and everyone!"

The reason that everyone can benefit is that everyone can access crowdfunding – there’s no need for business plans or a good financial history. Not only that, but here at Bloom we don’t apply selection criteria as we want to give all ideas the same chance of success. All you need is a great idea and the willingness to work hard at it.

However, we have highlighted a few key groups below that could highly benefit from crowdfunding.

New businesses

Trying to set up a business can be difficult without funds and awareness. Running a crowdfunding campaign can fix both problems, and also establish credibility, showing determination and proving that there is demand for your idea. Not only that but you can even pre-sell your product or service and fill your order book before you start trading!

Growing businesses

As expansion becomes a priority businesses often look to investors, but in the current climate it’s extremely difficult to secure funding. Successful crowdfunding can involve pre-selling products, proving customer demand and increasing publicity – all of which strengthens your position for investment. You could trigger matched funding, or even be approached by an interested private investor (like Mhairia Mackenzine of Bonnie Bling – http://www.bloomvc.com/blog-post/bonnie-bling-crowdfunding-success-story)

Students

Students are often sources of great ideas, which never lead to action due to lack of cash, or fear of failure. With most students already deep in debt, crowdfunding is a simple method of raising finance while allowing students to develop skills and experience in communication, social media, project management and much more. The benefit is two fold, students can fund their ideas and perhaps their own businesses, and also enhance their CV at the same time, increasing the chances of getting a job after graduation.

Social causes

Don’t be put off if you don’t have a business idea, crowdfunding can work just as well for social ventures, community projects and even charities. Giving to a social cause through crowdfunding allows backers to be publicly recognised, and gives you the opportunity to raise awareness of your goals. Projects always perform better when they engage people emotionally, and a social or community project is perfect for attracting backers who want the feel good factor of helping a cause.

All in all, crowdfunding is a fantastic new funding option that allows everyone the same chance to achieve success. Instead of a few bankers deciding the future of your idea, we hand the power over to the crowd, and you never know what they’ll go for! So if you have a dream you want to make a reality, get in touch and we’ll help!

(image courtesy of allthingsd.com)

Crowdfunding Tips for App Developers

Posted: Wed, 06 February 2013 by

Guest blogger Vishal Gumber, founder of Appsquare, an Australian app development company, shares his tips for app developers planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign.


If you are planning to receive financial support through crowdfunding for developing an app, be sure that you know the tricks of the trade beforehand. In today’s world, crowdfunding platforms have become the epicenter of novel ideas, intelligent entrepreneurs and much competition.

To survive you have to be forearmed with information and strategies to help you and your venture stand out. Wondering how to do so? Here are the 5 key things you need to know:

1. How it Works

Crowdfunding platforms are forums where ‘backers’ come in contact with app developers looking for financial help.  However, before you decide to put up your project for funding, you must first identify who your key backers would be. This way you will be able to create a pitch and rewards that will appeal to their interests.

Take Bodbot, for example. It is the fastest crowdfunded fitness app and they got backers by promising access to their fitness app for life at a low fee.

2. How to Set Funding Goals

Most crowdfunding platforms have an all-or-nothing policy. This means that funds will be taken from the backers only when the funding goals are realized before the campaign ends.

If the goals are not realized, the backers keep their money while the project owner has to try and find another means to raise the money. Therefore, setting up funding goals is tricky business – they must be realistic so they can be realized but not so low that they would be ignored by big backers. You may find the following tips useful for setting up your funding goals:

1)    Your crowdfunding goal will most likely be influenced by the prices quoted to you by programmers, developers and designers. If you can get one of these groups to back you or provide part funding, you’ll have a lower amount to raise.

2)    Factor in the cost of rewards before you set a funding goal.  For example, if you would be giving away your app at a discounted price to backers, you need add the cost of the discount to your expenses.

3)    Base your funding goal on achievable milestones that can be quantified in financial terms.

 3. How to Prepare Yourself

 If you want to get someone to put money on your app, you have to be 200% convincing. In order to do that, it’s important you are articulate and clear in your communication and that you say the right thing at the right time. More importantly, you should be able to convince your backerss that your app solves real problems and demonstrates how.

Key strategies;

a)      Draft a clear communication plan outlining what you will be saying to your backers at each stage.

b)     Create all communication material including videos, graphs, charts and presentations outlining your app’s USP in advance.

c)      Create a clear plan about what methods you would be using to communicate with your backers and what services you will be using. If you plan to do video calls, for instance, decide if you will use Facetime, Skype, or Google Hangout.

d)      Play Devil’s Advocate with yourself, and prepare a list of the questions that could make you feel uncomfortable and unsure. Prepare rock solid answers and arguments.

4. How to Find Backers Quickly

1)    Create a buzz about your app by connecting with potential backers through social media platforms.  Linkedin can be a great medium for this. You can start participating in group chats and discussion at least a month before floating your app idea. Once you become a regular contributor in groups related to your app’s niche, you have a good chance of attracting attention to your funding campaign and idea. And don't forget about other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook.

2)    Identify people in your personal network, who are either well-connected socially, or maybe interested in your app. Request help with finding backers. You could promise them rewards in return.

3)    Write debate inducing or thought provoking posts related to your app idea as guest blogs on high authority blog sites and make sure you reply to all comments. It will help you build an involved community of like-minded people and fans.

For example, let’s say you plan to create an app that would help bloggers and social media marketers get content creation ideas by letting them keep track of the most interesting developments in their niche. You could write an informative guest post on a subject like, ‘Why Some Facebook Pages Do Not Get Any Likes’ (citing poor content as one of the key reasons). How will this help?

a)     It can help you be seen as an authority figure in the content marketing niche (your target audience).

b)    The post can help you connect with your niche audience through blog comments.

c)     Sharing the published post in your social media networks can further add to your personal brand value.

d)    The owner of the blog would also share your guest post with his/her subscribers, thus helping you reach out to a bigger market.

4)    Clean up your social media profiles and make sure you don’t have any controversial or risqué pictures/posts anywhere. Potential backers will be checking up your profiles and you must put your best foot forward.

5)    Look up case studies of apps that were developed through crowdfunding. Identify key aspects of their funding strategy that you can adopt.

5. How to Interact with Backers

From reading this you've probably already gathered that interacting with backers is not an easy task. They are inquisitive and probing, and you will have to ensure that their queries are satisfied.

So, work on your patience levels and make sure you are prepared to answer every conceivable question with calm confidence.

About The Author: Vishal is the founder of Appsquare, an Australian app development firm that creates innovative apps, provides part funding for selected app ideas and also helps app developers get funding through its network of Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors.

(Image Source: Sattva/Freedigitalphotos.net)

My Internship Experience

Posted: Tue, 05 February 2013 by Cara

I’m Cara, one of the interns at Bloom VC, and I’ve just moved into my paid position after a positive internship review. I’m thrilled to be continuing as I’ve had an amazing 12 weeks, and I want to share my experience, especially for those of you who are considering applying for the internship opportunity! I’ll talk through some of the highs and lows for me, and hopefully give an insight into the role of a Bloom intern.

Well, where to start? It’s been an incredible rollercoaster that’s left me wondering where the last 12 weeks went! I originally came across Bloom as a backer, and loved the simple idea of crowdfunding, and the personal touch that came across in all the projects. When an internship opportunity came up, I knew I had to go for it! Not just because I wanted that golden word ‘internship’ on my CV, but I was really excited about the idea of working for Bloom. Helping dreams come true? Sounds like my perfect job.

Now before you start rolling your eyes, it wasn’t a walk in the park! Actually starting my internship plunged me into a daunting world of new systems and processes, and tasks that I wasn’t sure I could do. You will get support when you need it, but don’t expect to have your hand held. I suppose I did at the start, and quickly realised that I needed to start getting on with things and stop asking for permission.

The smallest things made me incredibly nervous - a last minute panic that the newsletter had spelling mistakes, or calling my first project owner to discuss how to progress their project.  I was invited to meetings about potential projects and expected to contribute, I was individually assigned projects that I had to get ready for launch, and I was left feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Those feelings soon disappeared as I grew in confidence and became much better at my tasks. I began to appreciate that I wasn’t spoon fed as I developed the skills and knowledge much quicker – because I had to! It all paid off as I was able to see projects progress from creation all the way through to successful funding, and it’s an amazing feeling!

I have made fantastic contacts through Bloom, and though the work can be frustrating at times, I love working with projects and helping them realise their goals. The key thing about being an intern with Bloom is that you are valued as part of the team, not ignored as someone who makes the coffee. So you can expect responsibility, and high standards, but that’s just the real world for you and there are so many benefits you can gain – experience, contacts, skills, personal achievement, a job you enjoy!

That’s just a taste of what I’ve experienced, but I’m more than happy to talk to anyone interested in becoming an intern, so you know what to expect if you are successful.

Contact me:

Email: cara@bloomvc.com

Skype: carapleym

Twitter: @carapleym

You've reached your crowdfunding target - now what?

Posted: Fri, 01 February 2013 by Cara

Bloom intern Cara Pleym explains "what next? ... "

Congratulations on reaching your target!

This is an exciting moment, when all your hard work and dedication has finally paid off. In fact, you’ve probably been working so hard on reaching your target that you’re unsure of what to do next. You’ve reached an important milestone, but there’s work to be done yet!

First of all, you may have reached your target with time to spare, which means you still have time to get extra funding. Don’t be afraid to ask for more promises, if you’ve reached target you clearly have high interest and a little bit of encouragement could mean more cash for you. Be clear about what the extra funding could achieve, perhaps buying a better quality item or making a bigger batch of products? The sky is the limit, or at least it is until your project closes!

When your project closes successfully, you can breathe a huge sigh of relief and start celebrating – remember to include your backers and thank them all! Best of all, the money is immediately transferred into your PayPal account so you can start funding your goal.

What’s really important now is getting those rewards delivered to your backers and keeping them updated on your progress.

It may take a long time for the rewards to actually be created in order to deliver them, but as long as you are letting everyone know what’s happening, they’ll be supportive!

It’s a good idea to send out a regular newsletter or email to all your backers, especially if it’s going to take a while to organise rewards. Once you’ve sent the rewards, make sure you double check that all your backers have received them and no one has been left out.

Apart from the rewards, you’ll be busy getting started with actually realising your goal but don’t forget about your Bloom community.

You have built personal relationships with your backers and supporters - an invaluable resource which could be utilised for many opportunities further down the road (perhaps even a second crowdfunding campaign). You could find mentors, partners, employees, customers, suppliers amidst your community at some point, who would already be engaged with your business or project. With that in mind, it’s worth your while keeping in touch and letting everyone know how you’re getting on.

How do I start my crowdfunding project?

Posted: Thu, 24 January 2013 by Cara

Bloom intern Cara Pleym gets you started ...

All you need to get started is your great idea for a business, social, or community project, and a computer. You can then register your project on our site using this link: http://www.bloomvc.com/start-a-project

You will need to register an account and fill in basic profile details, including your PayPal email. It’s crucial that you have a PayPal account as we use it to process payments, so make sure you register with PayPal if you haven’t done so already. It’s free, and is quick and simple to setup, just follow this link and click sign up: https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/home

Before you start working on your project, please think about possible factors which could delay launch and remedy them if possible e.g. do you need to buy premises first, or acquire planning permission? We’re more than happy to delay launch until you’re ready, but it’s useful to know the timeline before getting started.

Next, you will be introduced to your project dashboard, which allows you to add information, edit your project, and add videos and images. The key areas of your project which you need to start filling in are;

  • Target – how much money do you need to raise? Remember to think about the 5% Bloom commission, PayPal charges and costs associated with rewards
  • Short description – this should be around 100 characters, and summarise your dream/goal
  • Long description – this is where you pitch yourself and your idea and explain why you need funding
  • Rewards – you need to decide what you can offer as rewards, in return for promises made. Ideally there should be 5-7 levels ranging from very low (£5-10) to high (which could be £100 or £1000 or more depending on your target)
  • Media – you should add pictures and video to illustrate your story and enrich your pitch

 

We recommend you include as much information as possible, then when you’re ready to receive feedback from a Bloom team member, simply click ‘Submit’ at the bottom of your project dashboard.

You will be partnered with a team member who will work closely with you to refine your project and guide you through project launch right up to your project closing. Of course, if you have questions or problems at any stage, get in touch! Use this contact link: http://www.bloomvc.com/contact or if you have already been allocated a Bloom team member, get in touch directly via email, phone or Skype.

We hope you have a good idea of what’s involved in getting started, and encourage you to register your ideas – we haven’t found anything yet which can’t be crowdfunded!

(image courtesty of betterlifewebevents.tv)

How to use social media for crowdfunding

Posted: Thu, 24 January 2013 by Cara

Social Media is crucial for your crowdfunding campaign; here, Bloom intern Cara Pleym shares her top tips.

Crowdfunding success depends on the community you bring with your project and how much you engage with them. That’s why the use of social media, and building a following on Facebook and Twitter before you launch, is incredibly important for your project. In fact, effective use of social media is crucial for any business/community.

The problem is some people don’t know how to use social media, or use it in the wrong way. Don’t panic! The Bloom team is experienced in social media strategy and will help you promote your project. However, this works best if you are also engaging with your community.

We’ve set out some useful tips for how to use social media:-

1. Get chatting – building a following always takes time, but you need to start the process by following other people, groups, businesses and talking to them. Show interest in what everyone else is doing, and they’re much more likely to do the same!

2. It’s not all about you – it’s easy to fall into the trap of only talking about your business/project, but it’s pretty boring for everyone else, and you’ll soon run out of things to say. Share relevant content, and engage your community by asking them questions and listening to what they have to say.

3.  Keep it up – don’t leave your profiles for long period with no updates, as your followers will disconnect and lose interest. Keep up regular updates, and mix up the content.

4. Go public – too often people have conversations privately and no one else can see what’s going on. Thank your backers, answer questions and talk about offline progress publicly so that everyone can see the interaction and interest, which also allows others to jump in.

5. Measure interest – keep an eye on the interaction on your posts/tweets e.g. likes/comments/retweets, and be smart about what and when you update. Is a certain day or time more active? Do pictures or links encourage more interest?

There’s loads more we could tell you about social media - and we will - but for starters if you follow these 5 key tips, you’ll engage more with your following and attract more backers to your project!

(image courtesy of TheDrum.co.uk)

My Project is Live - What Next?

Posted: Tue, 15 January 2013 by Cara

Tips from Bloom intern Cara Pleym on how to maximise your chances of crowdfunding success

So you’ve worked hard with the Bloom team to create a great pitch and your project is live on the site. Now you can just relax, right? I’m afraid not, your project launch marks the beginning of the real hard work – you have to promote your project, engage with your community, get people to promise money and keep interest up over your project lifetime. Don’t panic – we’ve outlined the key things you need to do to make your project a success!

1. Commit enough time to your project

This is absolutely crucial to the success of your project and you need to commit time every day to work on your project – whether that’s spending time on social media, asking your contacts to support you, or getting out there and telling everyone about your project in person. We recommend about 30 minutes a day (more if you can manage it) to keep your community engaged.

2. Tell people what you are doing

Regular updates of your project progress is really important so remember to tell people how hard you’re working, even if it’s not paying off! Did you phone everyone in your contacts to ask for a promise? Did you go to a networking event and promote your project? Well tell us all about it, you could use Twitter, Facebook, a blog, or even a fortnightly newsletter to your backers and interested parties.

3. Ask for the money

It’s all well and good asking for support but at the end of the day you need promises to reach your target and get the cash you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for the money, it shows determination and ambition, and most people will give it to you! Always keep your end goal in mind.

4. Keep motivated

Projects typically have high interest at launch which steadily drops away during the middle of your campaign, don't worry and don’t give up! Remember this is normal and redouble your efforts to get people interested and excited – if they know how much it means to you, they are more likely to make that promise.

5. Keep your eyes on the prize!

All this is hard work, and we’re open about that from the start. You might be surprised by the level of effort and commitment your project will take, which is why you need to focus on what you can achieve by the end of it. Not just the funding you need, but raising awareness, building an engaged community, proving your concept and perhaps even pre-selling your product. Just look at some of our amazing success stories, and how far they have come – that could be you!

 

Hollywood Meets Holyrood in £2m Fundraising Campaign

Posted: Mon, 14 January 2013 by Michelle

We are so excited for Phil Worms, whose Helensburgh Heroes crowdfunding campaign was successfully funded on Bloom.

Phil crowdfunded the cash to buy two rare and historically valuable John Logie Baird artefacts but his latest fundraising bid is much, much larger.

He has secured support from Hollywood and Holyrood (the Scottish Parliament) to launch a £2million fundraising campaign to establish a digital skills academy, the ‘Heroes Centre’, in Helensburgh, birthplace of John Logie Baird the founder of television.

Hollywood actor Lex Shrapnel, who starred in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), the recent BBC television series Hunted and whose grandmother the Hollywood legend Deborah Kerr was born in Helensburgh, has become an official ambassador for the campaign to create the Heroes Centre, while the Scottish Government has welcomed the initiative saying it would give “the next generation of Scots a creative environment to acquire new media skills and expertise.”

Phil said: “It’s widely recognised that we need a new generation of digital content creators, and yet a major issue facing Scotland is the dramatic decline in the numbers of young people taking IT related subjects in further education.

“We are absolutely delighted to have such high profile ambassadors on board and with the Scottish government also keen to see this happen, what we need now is for Scottish businesses to get behind the idea by pledging their financial support so we can raise the two million pounds we need to turn the Heroes Centre into a reality.” 

The Heroes Centre idea has been developed as a result of extensive consultations with the local community, education establishments and leading IT companies, all of whom have expressed a strong interest in utilising it when it is built.

The plan is to create a digital complex and specialised IT educational facility by converting a derelict Victorian warehouse in George Street, Helensburgh. The Heroes Centre will teach people at all stages of their lives the media and production skills they need to contribute and thrive in the digital workplace, while businesses will be able to access facilities for web promotion and marketing.  It will also have a cinema and a three storey ‘wall of fame’ showcasing memorabilia from the array of inspirational men and women or ‘Heroes’ who have come from the town.

Rewards are Key to Crowdfunding Success

Posted: Fri, 11 January 2013 by

by Nikki Wallace

Choosing rewards can often be the most difficult part of creating a project. However, they are an essential part as they will ultimately make or break your project! 

Rewards are what backers receive in exchange for their promise.  It is a way to say thank you to the crowd for their kind and generous promises, build support for future projects and can also act as marketing and promotion tool.

When thinking about your rewards it is important to ask yourself ‘What would I want in return for my hard earned cash’?  You would want something exciting, clever and creative; to feel that by backing a project you will gain something unique, something you would never have received if you hadn’t been part of the crowdfunding campaign.

There is a whole host of compelling rewards to offer, for example a simple thank you on Facebook, Twitter or on a personal website, t-shirts, discounts, your name in the credits of a film, pre-sale copies of CDs, unique photos, a special edition of the product or tickets to the event.

Projects can struggle to find support if the rewards aren’t considered carefully so here are some top tips to help make your project successful:

  1. Having a variety of rewards is key, ranging from £1, £5, £10 upwards. Remember every little helps!
  2. Make sure the rewards link to the project, backers are interested in your project not in random products.
  3. Make sure the reward fits the value; this should consider more than just the price. Backers want to feel special, that they are getting a limited edition, priority or discounted product.
  4. Adding a humorous or personal touch can go a long way, it will help you connect with backers.
  5. Spending time building your network both online and off before your project goes live. This may be searching for interest groups, locals in your community, friends and family or even a celebrity /expert endorsement.

 The opportunities are endless. Remember rewards can be low cost and even built into your target so put your creative cap on and capture the crowd!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the Team - Ross Anderson

Posted: Wed, 09 January 2013 by

Hello everybody, my name is Ross Anderson and I’m very excited to be the newest member of the Bloom team.

I originally came across Bloom thanks to my father who has worked with Amanda and Michelle before.

I have a great interest in crowdfunding and particularly like Bloom's close personal connections between the project owners, the backers and Bloom itself. I look forward to becoming part of this great community.

I have spent most of my life in Auchterarder where I went to school at Morrison’s Academy. Currently I am based in Dundee where I am in my second year at Abertay studying Games Design and Production Management.

During my free time I like to play games as well as hang out with my friends.

I spent three months teaching in Muguluka Primary school in Uganda at the beginning of 2011. This was a life changing experience for me and since then I have been eager to get involved with charities as much as I can.

What Excites Me About Crowdfunding

Posted: Sun, 06 January 2013 by Cara

Bloom intern Cara Pleym tells us what excites her about crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding allows everyone to have an equal chance of raising the money they need, by giving the crowd the power to decide who they want to fund. No more business plans or financial statements – all you need to have is a great idea and sell it to the crowd!

If you’ve tried the banks and can’t get funding, crowdfunding could be the solution you are looking for. We don’t need to know your financial history, and you don’t need to pay back your funding. We can help you come up with cool unique rewards, and your backers will give you money in return for their chosen reward – it’s really that simple!

Even better, running your campaign gives you the chance to prove people like your idea, and you could pre-sell your products as rewards – which is proof you can take to the bank if you need additional funding.

With the explosive growth of social media, there are opportunities to engage and connect with a wide audience for a positive cause, building a strong community that will stay with you long after your project closes. Using social media gives your backers the chance to give you their feedback and helps create a loyal customer base which is invaluable for any business.

Don’t be put off if you don’t have a business idea, it can be for a community or social project, and we give every idea the same chance to succeed – after all, who knows what the crowd will go for? We’ve already had loads of different projects from funding a book, films, a laser machine, horse saddles and inventors prototypes, and we’re always looking for new exciting projects so don’t be afraid to jump in!

The generosity of strangers is truly humbling, and most of the backers on our site who promise a higher amount don’t even choose a reward, they just want to help someone out! We all relate better when people are being open and honest, so we make sure that comes across in the projects. It may seem strange, but we’ve even had skint students promising money just because they have connected on a personal level with one of the projects.

We love that we are helping people’s dreams come true – Mhairi from Bonnie Bling has been able to go full time in her thriving business and Polly from Cake Cetera has secured a national deal with Interflora to sell her gorgeous cupcake bouquets.

What’s your dream? Why not give crowdfunding a go and see if we can help make your dream a reality?

(Image courtesy of http://www.crowdsourcing.org)

 

2013 - The Year of the Crowdfunder

Posted: Tue, 01 January 2013 by Michelle

2013 - this is our year!

This is the year for crowdfunders  - backers and project owners - to seize the moment and crowdfund your dreams.

Whether you have an idea for a business or a student, community or charity project, just go for it. You have nothing to lose.

Crowdfunding is opening up a unique source of finance to all, without the need for business plans or bank loans, consultants or committees. You, yes you, can bring your idea to life and embrace the support of the crowd.

We've all said at some point in our lives: "I've got this crazy idea to build a ..." or "I could do better than that" or "This community needs a ...". Usually followed by "But I've got no money to do it."

Well now you have no excuse. We’re building a top team to take your hand and guide you through the entire crowdfunding process, from helping you to craft the perfect pitch, to creating must-have rewards and building a supportive community.

Your project can be small, a few hundred pounds, or it can be large, thousands of pounds. It can be run over 30, 45 or 60 days. It can be for anything (legal, obviously) that you want.

And it’s simple. Simple but truly exciting. The crowdfunding rollercoaster will take you places you never thought of, it will inspire and humble you, show you the generosity of strangers and demonstrate just how much you can achieve with a good idea and some hard work.

We’d love to help you, all you need to do is Start a Project and we’ll be right beside you on that rollercoaster all the way, throwing our arms up in the air and screaming just as loudly as you.

Join us! Be part of 2013’s crowdfunding revolution. And make your dreams come true.

NB When we said you have nothing to lose, we really meant it. All projects launched in January will be commission free. What's stopping you?

Crowdfunding as a PR Tool

Posted: Thu, 13 December 2012 by Michelle

So, you’ve probably heard a bit about crowdfunding, how it’s disrupting traditional financial models and revolutionising the funding landscape?

Well that’s not all. We can let you into a secret – it’s about a lot more than just the money.

You see there are a number of hitherto hidden benefits, known only to the crowdfunders themselves, those who have enjoyed the added extras that come with running a crowdfunding campaign.

Top of the list?  Yup, you guessed it. It is PR.

To run a successful crowdfunding campaign you need a mini communications plan; it’s all about reaching out to the widest possible audience, including the media – online and offline, broadcast and print – and using social networking channels to share and connect. Essentially, doing all the PR activities you do for your clients on a daily basis.

I’m going to share an example with you. There’s an amazing jewellery designer, award winning and loved by pop stars and celebs alike. She’s manufacturing in Scotland and making both regional (STV Local) and national (BBC Breakfast) headlines.

But it wasn’t always like that for Mhairi Mackenzie, who originally outsourced her manufacturing to a supplier in England and made her contemporary and often whacky pieces in the spare time she had when she wasn’t doing the day job that paid the bills.

Mhairi’s custom pieces of jewellery, designed using Scots slang words, were seen on X Factor contestants and MTV presenters. But she was ambitious, and decided that for Bonnie Bling to grow she had to take control of her own manufacturing and to do that she needed to buy her own laser cutting machine. But that would cost £7.5k she didn’t have and that the banks wouldn’t lend her.

 

The solution? Crowdfunding. Mhairi ran a 60 day crowdfunding campaign; she worked tirelessly, reaching out to her own network of fans, potential fans online, the famous people who wore her jewellery, the media and the crowdfunding community.

The result? £8k in the bag and a raft of media coverage like she’d never experienced before. The media coverage brought her more customers, more celebs wearing her pieces and a private investor who loved her work.

The opportunity? Is there for startups, existing businesses, charities, social enterprises, community groups, and individuals who have a dream they’d like to make a reality.

But it's also there for savvy PR experts who can tap into the phenomenon that is crowdfunding and use it to boost coverage – and the greater value that comes from that coverage – for their clients.

It’s hard to get quality coverage for businesses, especially when those businesses are struggling to join the social networking dots and make the most of the online experience to reach out to customers, both existing and potential, and the news-hungry media looking for a new and different angle.

Crowdfunding is another piece of ammunition to bolster your arsenal of communications weaponry.  Check it out!

 

This post originally appeared as a guest blog on the CIPR blog http://ciprscotland.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/can-product-pr-benefit-through-crowdfunding/

Beware the Crowdfunding Trap

Posted: Mon, 03 December 2012 by Michelle

You might think your crowdfunding project is jaw-droppingly exciting, a sure fire success, and the answer to all your dreams – it’s your project, of course you love it.

But you need to remember that old adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. In this case, you’re beholding, and the beauty will most probably be biased.

So try to take a look at it through the eyes of a backer and consider this; how well do you tell your story of what it is you’re doing? Will people “get” why it matters? How well do you describe the journey you want your backers to join you on? Will they understand what you’re asking of them? Are your rewards exciting? Are they unique?

And then ask yourself; so what? If it weren’t your idea or your cause, would you back it? Would you tell your friends? Would you shout from the rooftops that everyone should be making a promise to this amazing project?

Be honest. Be harshly critical. And be prepared to scratch what you’ve got and start again.

Here’s a checklist against which to benchmark your project:

Your goal – is it clear and obtainable within a proper timeframe?

Your project tagline – is your tagline 120 characters or fewer and URL/SEO friendly?

Your description – does the short description grab attention and compel viewers to click through to your project? Does the long description tell a fascinating story and keep interest right to the end?

Your rewards – are they desirable? Are they varied enough, both in value and content? And is there a unique aspect, something only backers of your project can have?

Your target – how much do you need? Have you explained what you will spend it on and how you will spend any money over and above your target?

Your team – can you deliver? Are you happy that you/your team (obviously featured in your long description) can meet your goals, deliver the rewards you have promised, and go on to deliver on your business objectives?

Your call to action – do you have one? Have you made sure it’s clear, simple and provided all the necessary links to make it easy for backers?

And finally, an incredibly important question …

Does it make you proud?

Is it compelling, will it make a difference, will your backers want to join you on your journey?

If your answer is a resounding YES to ALL of these criteria, then we think you’re good to go. Otherwise, give us a shout – we’re here to help.

(images courtesy of http://www.responsys.com and http://extension.entm.purdue.edu)

Crowdfunding campaign stalled? 10 Tips to get it to target!

Posted: Fri, 30 November 2012 by

 

So you’re mid-way through your campaign and it’s stalled. Donations have dried up, backers aren’t sharing your project link any more, you’re getting a bit impatient and worried that you’re not going to reach your target.

Don’t be disheartened! This is no time to give up, in fact, it’s the time to dig in and push towards your target. You’re halfway there and there are backers waiting patiently for you to succeed so they can receive their rewards.

There are a number of things you can do to refresh a plateaued project.

Here are a few of our suggestions;

New video – could you record a fresh, exciting new video (on a smartphone is fine) to update your backers and encourage them to share your project so you reach your target and they get the rewards they so desperately want?

Social networks - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Kiltr / LinkedIn – have you lapsed your activity? There are opportunities every single day to engage and re-engage with your followers, fans and backers, to reach out to journos and bloggers. What about running a wee competition on your FB page or a poll on LinkedIn? 

Research – do some more research. Try and find new/alternative influencers in your field, join conversations and start new ones. Ask questions, build the engagement, then ask them to check out your project.

Web site – have you embedded your project onto your home page? It’s simple to do (just use the embed code at the bottom of your project) and will drive traffic from your site directly to your project where they’re just a click or two away from backing you. Do you have any supporters/sponsors/great friends who’d be happy to embed your project onto their website or blog as well?  Remember to ask.

Comments – are you using the comments section on your project to update your backers and viewers of your project? If you have any influential/famous backers then ask them to post a comment here saying why they’re backing you and encouraging others to do the same (and obviously make sure you share the content across all your other networks too).

Email – you have the functionality to contact all your backers from your project dashboard, why not send them a message, updating on your progress and asking them to do what they can to help.

Market comparison – what else is out there? There are a lot of crowdfunding platforms, why not search for similar projects and see what can you learn from them. Even if it’s “what not to do” then it’s still helpful.

Media – do you have a new news story to share? Maybe you have a celebrity backer, or raised a significant amount in a very short time frame, or have a quirky and unique reward that needs a bit of profile.

Are you remembering to ask for ££s – it’s easy to forget and simply ask for “support”. An RT on Twitter or a share on Facebook is great, and it all counts, but it’s not adding those all-important pounds to your project.

And finally ...

Remember to ask us – you’re not doing this on your own. We’re working just as hard to share your project, engage with our community and encourage support. We’re here to help - just ask!

(image courtesy of Nesta.org.uk)

Crowdfunding for Charities

Posted: Thu, 01 November 2012 by Michelle

Fundraising is tough at the best of times, but it’s increasingly difficult to raise money during a recession.

Which is why crowdfunding is shifting the paradigm, away from the usual sources of finance.

We all know it’s no longer enough to shake a tin and count on the patrons that have supported us in the past. We need to move away from this traditional route to fundraising to a more innovative, creative, wider reaching and longer-term approach to raising money.

Crowdfunding enables you to get creative to stand out from the crowd, extend your reach, encourage a new conversation with your supporters.

So, what is crowdfunding?

 Crowdfunding is simply a new way of using technology to help people with an idea raise money to bring it to life, whether that’s a business idea, a startup, a community project, a charity or a social enterprise.

 Did any of you do a sponsored event when you were at school – take the form home and ask your parents who asked their friends? You collected the money and took it back to school.

That was crowdfunding.

 Do you remember your history studies? The Darien scheme back in the late 1690s, when a quarter of the money circulating in Scotland was pooled in what became an unsuccessful attempt to make Scotland a world trading nation by establishing a colony called New Caledonia in Panama.

That was crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is a global phenomenon that provides an alternative route to donations – from an extended audience – it’s all about community and that truly lends itself to charities.

It’s the explosion in the use of social networking sites that has brought crowdfunding to the fore; as users of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn grow, so do the opportunities to reach out for support.

Crowdfunding is simply an extension of what people have been doing for centuries – patronage, supporting family and friends and the local community.

Millions of pounds, dollars and euros are donated every day to support exciting, innovative and life-changing ventures around the world. The impact on businesses, individuals, communities – and the economy – is significant.

But it’s not just about business and entrepreneurs, crowdfunding works for communities, social enterprises, charities, youth groups, schools and more.

Charitable crowdfunding – it’s not just about the money

 Money is obviously important, but it needn’t be the only driving factor behind a crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding delivers more than just money.

Donor fatigue is a real issue, local communities will have regular supporters of charitable activities in the area, but it’s important to widen the donor pool.

Crowdfunding enables you to reach out to the diaspora, people who have moved away from the area but who maybe still have family there, or memories that keep them tied and supportive.

It means you can engage with young people more easily – Gen Y are not only engaged in social, they live it, breath it, dream it.

And then there’s the Corporate Social Responsibility opportunity for you to engage with large corporates to help them with their CSR – if you can come up with ideas or projects that could be crowdfunded, you could get their employees involved in the campaign, then ultimately ask the corporate to match the money raised. You get double the impact and a terrific community legacy.

Crowdfunding can often trigger matched funding, so it’s important to explore these options.

And even if your crowdfunding campaign is unsuccessful, you will have an up to date database of new backers to reach out to, and a significantly raised profile beyond your immediate location.

The legacy is a much more engaged community of supporters, and for those who haven’t engaged with social media effectively in the past, this is a great starting point.

So how does it work?

Bring your community and build interest in advance of your campaign. Do your research, find out where your target market is consuming their data, spending their time, and go there, start to engage before you launch your project.

Create your project – it’s simply an online pitch, so tell your story, engage people, choose the amount of money you want to raise and a time limit – 30, 45 or 60 days. Upload images and video to illustrate your story.

Create rewards – a series of compelling, unique, exciting rewards will make it a much quicker and easier decision for strangers to your project to back you. So be creative, ask your patrons and backers to donate things, use any celebrity connections you have. They’re bound to be on social media and will happily publicise anything they’re involved in. You’re reaching their followers each time they tweet, ultimately extending your own reach.

Then the hard work starts, reaching out to your community and asking them to support you. It takes time and it takes effort. Create a mini campaign plan and work hard. It’s not a one-off activity, this is all part of building your supporting community for the future.

At the end of the day you get out what you put in, there’s potential to raise much more than you initially ask for, and you can post as many different projects as you like.

(images courtesy of siteorigin.com and harrods.com)

Radio Interview with Bloom's Successful Crowdfunders

Posted: Sun, 21 October 2012 by

We were invited on to Douglas Fraser's BBC Radio Scotland business programme this week to talk about crowdfunding as an alternative source of finance for businesses.

And what better way to demonstrate how it works so well than to feature two of our successful crowdfunders - Mhairi Mackenzie of Bonnie Bling and Polly Quigley of Cakecetera. Both businesswoman have embarked on an amazing business adventure since they crowdfunded on Bloom, with opportunities opening up everywhere for Mhairi and an excitng few months ahead for Polly, who's now manufacturing her packaging in China with a view to supplying a major retailer next year.

Feel free to listen to the whole of Douglas's programme, but the juicy bits (ie "us") start about 12 minutes in.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01nfzzv/Business_Scotland_20_10_2012/

I'm a Serial Backer - Here's Why!

Posted: Tue, 16 October 2012 by Cara

Guest blog by serial backer Cara Pleym

I’m  a young skint student with a passion for entrepreneurship. I stumbled across Bloom VC, and I was immediately drawn to the name because it was unique and interesting.

The concept of crowd funding was something I was vaguely aware of, but knew little about. I started looking at the ‘About’ section and was pleased to see a direct, honest explanation of what Bloom was about and what they were trying to do. It was so refreshing; very different to the never ending mission statements, and dry company facts which I am accustomed to.

Excited by the idea that anyone could help a business start-up or build a community project, I started looking at the projects available.

 The first project which pulled me in was Polly’s, the founder of Cake Cetera, because she was only asking for a small amount of money and some of it was already promised, so clearly there was interest. The personal story and ambition sold me; how could I not support someone who was trying so hard and had created a positive future from a very negative event?

It’s strange now to think that while I might count pennies for a sandwich at lunch, I was more than happy to promise £50 to a business I had only just heard about. However Polly was very grateful and engaged with me throughout the project and kept me updated after her project closed successfully. I found this continued interaction was the real reason why I went on to support further projects – these were real businesses with real people trying to make their vision a reality, and I was a part of it.

I then browsed the site regularly, hoping to find that same connection with another project. I did, but not straight away. I had seen a project which was only looking for £450 for a camera; however I have no interest in photography so I passed it by. The tag ‘design’ kept nagging at me though, and out of pure curiosity I decided to take a proper look at the project. Oddly enough, it wasn’t what the project was trying to do, but who was trying to do it, that convinced me I should promise my money. I immediately connected with the project owner for being a student, who was also involved in not one but two business ventures, and I admired her honesty in what she wanted to achieve, and that she didn’t have her whole business mapped out yet.

Bloom VC continues to showcase projects that I am interested in, and despite my lack of funds (partly due to my promises!) I still support them by telling people about them in person and on Facebook and Twitter.

The reason I do this is because I feel I am part of a community now, and whether or not I can personally make a promise, I sincerely want them to succeed. However I will promise money when I have a spare quid, because every little is helping someone achieve their goal.

And the rewards? Merely an afterthought to my decision.

That's a Wrap

Posted: Mon, 08 October 2012 by Michelle

We're thrilled to be able to tell you that Mark Wright's Dark Form Productions has wrapped the movie and he is ready to enter Innocent Violation into film festivals across the world.

When Mark launched his project he needed £590. Having successfully crowdfunded 17% above his target, Mark, his film crew and the actors were able to complete their work. If you backed him, you'll have had regular updates on filming and will be receiving your copy of the film soon. For everyone else, here's Mark's success story.

"Well, it’s finally finished.  Innocent Violation, the film we at Dark Form Productions have been working on for seven months, is now complete.  I directed and produced it from a script by Craig McEwan, who also stars in the lead role.  The actors were wonderful and were dedicated, enthusiastic and patient, as were the people in the background such as Barry Gunning, Director of Photography par excellence and a mine of information on filming. 

Barry also helped edit the film with me and I am indebted to him for all the time, effort and expertise he gave.  Richard Lundy deserves a mention as does Lisa Gray, as without their help, the actual filming would have taken much longer and posed more difficulty.  Simon Forrester as the runner, a role that is often overlooked in filming, was also invaluable. 

I was particularly impressed by Paul Maclaren of The Lost Highway who writes and performs the music for all our productions.  His ability to match the atmosphere of a scene to appropriate music has been instrumental in creating the right ambience for our film.

We had a punishing schedule and at times, due to time constraints and the fact that the shoot location changed a week before the shoot, it seemed a moot point whether the finished product would ever come to fruition.  With such a fabulous cast and crew however, we managed to see the project through from inception to completion. 

Of course, as with any project there were ups and downs, but the former outweighed the latter heavily and I can honestly say that not only is this what I want to be doing for the rest of my life, but also to work with such a great bunch of people was both a pleasure and a privilege.

None of the above would be possible of course without the help of Bloom VC.  The many donations Dark Form Productions received from a wide variety of people was amazing and we are very humbled to have been the recipients of such generosity from our backers. 

Thank you again for  helping us to make a little celluloid magic.  We hope you enjoy the film and tune in for our next venture."

 

Crowdfunding Lessons from Successful Crowdfunders

Posted: Sun, 30 September 2012 by Michelle

We get asked all the time "what makes a successful crowdfunding campaign?", so what better way to answer the question than to show you a video and let you hear from someone who has actually been through the process.

Originally livestreamed during Social  Media Week Glasgow, Michelle Rodger from Bloom and founder of Bonnie Bling, Mhairi Mackenzie, took to the stage to explain the key elements of a crowdfunding campaign and to share both what to do, and what not to do, to stand a chance of being successful.

The presentation was recorded and we've linked the video of the event for you here - https://new.livestream.com/accounts/1460155/events/1579078

In the first half of the presentation Michelle talks about how to plan, launch and run a campaign and the second half features Mhairi sharing her own experiences of crowdfunding before both reveal  top tips in the Q&A session at the end.

Gaun Yersel’ Hen! (Go for it, girl!)

Posted: Thu, 20 September 2012 by Michelle

Since Mhairi Mackenzie’s crowdfunding campaign closed successfully in June, her business, Bonnie Bling, has gone from strength to strength; increasing production, introducing new ranges, moving premises, recruiting staff and bringing on board a private investor.

It’s been a whirlwind of activity since she decided to ask the crowd for £7.5k to buy a laser cutter, to enable her to manufacture in Scotland and also to be able to respond to demand more quickly.

60 days and a lot of hard work – tweeting, Facebooking, writing press releases, speaking to colleagues and friends – later, Mhairi had crowdfunded £8,130. It was more than she’d asked for and it meant she could buy an even better machine than the one she originally had her eye on.

But it also meant other changes for the business. Originally Bonnie Bling – which designed and created quirky jewellery using slang and regional dialect words - was a part-time venture for Mhairi but she had her eye on bigger things, not least of all collaborations with some major UK companies and plans to roll out the range to different locations, including London, Wales, Yorkshire, the Highlands, and even New Zealand, Australia, America and beyond.

At the time Mhairi said: “I want to keep our business as a UK one, I don't want to have to outsource our manufacturing to another country. I want to create and keep jobs right here in Scotland and the UK, purchasing a desktop laser machine is the first step in enabling this to happen.

“With the collaborations and enquiries coming thick and fast we have the potential to create around 3-5 full time jobs within a year, with our manufacturing capacity increased this could double in year two. It is a very exciting prospect and one that I hope you'll decide to support.”

Well that has all now come true. Bonnie Bling HQ is now located in Mhairi’s hometown of Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. New premises are behind the scenes at Bute’s cool  collective of local products, Brandish Bute (so manufacturing is remaining in Scotland).

 

And she has secured a private investor, in addition to the crowdfunding campaign, which has enabled Mhairi to work on the business full time and employe three part time staff (meeting the employment goals for herself and for others).

It’s been an incredibly busy time for Mhairi, and now she’s working on exciting new collections and collaborations in the run up to Christmas as well as working on an ASOS outlet.

She hasn’t forgotton those who gave her business the opportunity to become independent. She’s finalising plans for the Laser Party, promised to her crowdfunding backers, complete with new designs, a neon frenzy of entertainment and a fashion showcase featuring pieces from the new Autumn Winter collection.

If you want to listen to Mhairi talk about her crowdfunding success story, you can join us at Social Media Week Glasgow. Register here for the event on Thursday, September 27 2012  #SMWCrowdfunding

Congratulations to our Award Winner

Posted: Mon, 17 September 2012 by

Massive congratulations to Victoria Arnold of Homestayfriend who won the ASB Best Young Business Award, sponsored by Bloom.

Victoria is a dynamic young entrepreneur whose award-winning business offers a unique short-stay accommodation service for students and leisure or business travellers in the UK. Victoria has sourced host properties and host families from around the UK where you can stay as a guest in someone’s home - either short stay or longer-term - and have a truly cultural, welcoming and comfortable experience.

Amanda Boyle, one of the judges of the Association of Scottish Businesswomen's Awards, congratulated Victoria on her win and said:"The standard of the entries was incredibly high, but we felt Victoria's business stood out with its international focus and growth potential.

"I'm delighted to be supporting the ASB, the calibre of business talent in this organisation is impressive and deserves to be recognised."

The Awards ceremony was held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, an amazing venue. Speaker for the evening was the inspirational Christine Ourmieres, CEO of CityJet, and other award winners were:

Scottish Woman of Achievement Award - Professor Anne Glover.

Employee of the Year Gemma Ogilvie of Cosmetology (Scotland) Ltd  http://instagram.com/p/PmB0dch3ua/ (photo by Wendy Maltman)

Business Charity Partnership Award - Sense Scotland and Mail Marketing

Outstanding Contribution to Business - Irene Hogg, Loanhead Community Learning Centre

Most Enterprising Business - Laura Jevons, Claremont Office Interiors

You can read more about the winners here http://asb-scotland.org/winners-2012.cfm

Picture of Victoria Arnold - via Gillian Dick, Find Me Glasgow

An Olympic Lesson for Crowdfunding

Posted: Tue, 11 September 2012 by

Weren’t the Olympics Games Makers amazing? Volunteering for weeks, smiling all day every day, directing the crowds, posing for photos, sharing the fun and generally making sure everyone was happy.

There’s a lesson to be learned here!

We think crowdfunders all need their own Games Makers to help spread the word about their project - Project Makers.

Crowdfunding is hard work and running a campaign needs more than one person. Just as the Olympics looked to the crowd to help them deliver the Games, crowdfunders need to look to their own crowd to back them in the early stages.

You will need help to build your community of backers, to create a buzz around your project, to carry out all the tweeting and Facebooking, emailing and Linking-In. You need to share the project links with your own friends and family and social connections, engage their support and get them behind you.

So before you launch your project and go live on Bloom, have a think about who your “Project Makers” could be and ask them to help you. Give them a reason to support you and encourage them to step up and help out.

The power of the crowd – whether as Games Makers at the Olympics or Project Makers for your crowdfunding campaign – is what will make the difference between success and failure.

Crowdfunding Inquisition at Google Campus

Posted: Fri, 07 September 2012 by

What a great event!

Amanda joined representatives from Seedrs, Bank to the Future and CrowdCube at Google Campus to answer questions about crowdfunding. As the only non-equity, reward-based crowdfunding platform at the event, the response to our model was incredible.

There were some great questions asked during the "Inquisition", but the conversations afterwards were even more fascinating. Lots of opportunities to be followed up.

Here's a link to the event, there's lots to be learned about the various models of crowdfunding that will help you decide which platform is most appropriate for your project.

And as ever, if you have any questions, do get in touch - we're always happy to talk about crowdfunding.

Watch the video here

The Power of the Crowd

Posted: Wed, 05 September 2012 by Michelle

What we love about the crowd is that it's always there for you, every step of the way; market research, collaboration, connecting, tweeting, backing, donating and sharing their own skills and expertise with unbound generosity.

And here's a perfect example; Andrew Huggan successfully crowdfunded his debut album on Bloom He's been busy writing, mixing and recording his songs, but he's also working on creating some special artwork for the CD sleeve and has realised he needs to ask the crowd for help again.

Andrew says: "It's all go. The album is continuing to progress, slowly, but the good news is two songs are now ready for mixing, with a third soon to be ready. I anticipated this project being a big undertaking, but it's proving a greater challenge than first thought ... not that that is a bad thing. It's amazing how creativity flows when you get your teeth into something.

"As well as all the recording, writing, arranging and editing I have been doing, my thoughts have also turned to the artwork side of things. I've been thinking more and more about the design of the actual CD cover and booklet and have a strong idea set in my mind of how I want it to look - this is where I need your help."

Andrew explains:"Within the booklet, I plan to have a page dedicated to each song, containing a wee bit about it, the lyrics and also a photograph that relates to the song.  Kirsten and I will be trying our hands at some photography in a few weeks, taking pictures for the album, but there are some photos I would like that I sadly do not have the skill or knowledge to take!  if you are a keen photographer and would like the opportunity to have some of your work immortalised in my album artwork, please do get in touch."

Here are the images he needs:
For "Johnny O' Braidislee" - a picture of a deer/some deer in the woods. The woods are important due to the nature of the song.
For "On Eagles' Wings" -  a picture of a bird of prey in flight.
For "The Selkies' Song" - a picture of seals lazing around.

If Andrew uses your photograph, he will need permission to use it in the album and also on his website for the song pages. He also promises an extra, exclusive reward to say thank you. 

If you can help, please send your photo to info@andrewhuggan.com

All About Crowdfunding - an interview with Bloom

Posted: Tue, 28 August 2012 by

If you're thinking about crowdfunding but aren't sure where to start, or you're ready to launch a project but looking for some last minute tips before you go live, then this video is for you.

Interviewed by Nathan Hague of AustraliaWow, we explain the whys and hows of crowdfunding and how it can work for startups, businesses, community projects, charities, social enterprises and, of course, Nathan's clients (fitness instructors from across the globe).

Clarifying the warnings about crowdfunding

Posted: Wed, 22 August 2012 by

Last week the FSA issued a report warning of the dangers of crowdfunding, and advising that it is only for sophisticated investors.

What they failed to point out is that this only applies to the equity model of crowdfunding, where backers buy shares, or parts of shares, in the project owner's company.

The reward model of crowdfunding - the Bloom model - involves no investment, no selling of shares, and the project owner retains 100% of their business.

If you want to use the equity model to raise funds for your business, then we recommend you use our friends at Seedrs, who are the only FSA regulated equity crowdfunding platform in the UK.

But if you don't want to give up your equity, then use Bloom or one of the other reward based crowdfunding platforms.

Do give us a call if you want to know more.

3 Top Tips for Crowdfunding Successfully

Posted: Tue, 14 August 2012 by

Tip 1

Build your community in advance of your campaign launch
 
Crowdfunding is not a Kevin Costner "Field of Dreams" scenario. Just because you build a crowdfunding campaign does not mean that people will flood to back you. You need to work hard building your social networks online; start to engage on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, reach out to influencers and start to build a relationship in advance of tweeting them and asking them to give you a tenner. Identify likeminded groups and individuals that share your interests and are likely to support your activity and begin a conversation.

And don't forget offline either. Make sure your friends and family are primed to back you as soon as your project goes live - seeing a groundswell of support from people that know you will give strangers some comfort and make the decision to back you a bit easier. And remember, there are still many people who either aren't using social networks regularly or haven't even joined them, so make sure you target offline publications as well as online publications, remember the humble email database, and consider attending events or exhibitions where you can share your story.  It's hard work, and you need to continue the engagement right through your crowdfunding campaign.

But it's not a one-off exercise, the community you build during your campaign will remain with you as you launch and grow your business. Remember, these people are so keen to see you launch your business that they are prepared to pay you to do it - don't forget them once your campaign reaches target and your business is live. They are now your customers and brand ambassadors - love them!
 
Tip 2

Be compelling
 
Everyone has a story to tell, a dream ambition, but what will boost your chances of a successful crowdfunding campaign is how you tell that story. You need to be compelling, you need to share what it is you want to do, why it matters so much, and how people can be a part of that journey with you.

Be honest, be passionate and enthusiastic, use emotions and experiences to make your pitch the standout pitch, the one people are so keen to be a part of that they not only give you money but tell all their friends and family about you.

Use quality images and video to help illustrate your dream. It doesn't have to be a professionally shot and edited video, and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money, something shot on your smartphone will be ideal as long as it is short, to the point, engaging, humorous, empathetic, passionate and enthusiastic.
 
Tip 3

Offer unique rewards
 
Fabulous rewards are key. Getting the rewards right is make or break for your project; you might have the best pitch, the most compelling video, the most exciting product to launch, but if you don't get the rewards right people won't back you. 

Get creative with your rewards, get inside the head of your backer - your customer - what would they want. and what would they pay for it? You need to offer a range of rewards that appeal to the widest possible audience, and you need to offer at least one unique reward, something that people couldn't ever have unless they backed your campaign. You need to create "must-have" rewards, so that people will share your project and encourage everyone they know to choose a reward also.

Touching Hearts

Posted: Thu, 21 June 2012 by Michelle

A successful crowdfunding campaign grabs attention. It might be because the project is jaw-droppingly exciting, or because the rewards are unique, or because the video is viral genius.

Or it might be like Elke Barber's project, and be successful because the story touches hearts.

Elke's son Alex was just 3 when his dad died, and the heartbreaking task of telling him his daddy wasn't coming back prompted the duo to write a book, specially for very young children, to help them understand the death of a parent.

That in itself is touching, it resonates with many parents in a similar position and with those who can't imagine ever having to tell their child a parent has died. But Elke was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, she had to stop work and the money she had saved to publish the book is being spent on day to day living expenses.

Turning to the crowd for help, she told her story with heartbreaking honesty and the response has been staggering. She has had more than 21,000 views of her project, 295 people from all over the world have backed her, she has raised more than the target £8k and still has 35 days left to continue raising money. She has 600 supporters on Facebook and many more on Twitter. She's been on STV and in the Edinburgh Evening News. Despite her illness, she has reached out her network and asked for their help.

In short, she is running the perfect crowdfunding campaign.

You don't have to have a tragic story to be successful at crowdfunding, but you do have to tell a compelling story and work every day to reach out to your audience of supporters.

It can be time consuming, but it's not difficult, and it is absolutely essential.

STV story

Blinging Success for Mhairi

Posted: Thu, 21 June 2012 by Michelle

Contemporary Scottish jewellery designer Mhairi Mackenzie will continue to manufacture in Scotland, after she successfully crowdfunded £7.5k to buy a special laser cutting machine.

Demand for her unique Bonnie Bling jewellery, featuring Scots slang words, grew rapidly after been seen on celebrities such as XFactor's Amelia Lily, MTV's Laura Whitmore and singer Lana Del Rey, and Mhairi needed the equipment to enable her to meet the demand and expand the business.

But access to finance was tough for the entrepreneur, who also runs a separate web design business.

“There certainly aren't as many funding opportunities around at the moment as there were when I started my first business eight years ago,” said Mhairi. “I guess part of that is being over 25 and part being due to the economic climate.

“I decided to use crowdfunding as I felt that it was right for Bonnie Bling. We've always had a close relationship with our customers and this seemed a personal way for them to become part of our business story. “

So Mhairi chose to launch her crowdfunding bid on Bloom. She offered pieces of jewellery, T-shirts, and discount opportunities as rewards for backers, and even offered to make a custom set of jewellery for the backers with the deepest pockets.

“It was so exciting watching us get near to, and then hit, the target. All of our supporters were tweeting, texting and Facebooking all at once, cheering us on and spreading the word,” said Mhairi.

“I’m blown away by the high level of support we've found, everyone has been amazingly generous and I can’t wait to throw us all a party to celebrate.”

Mhairi’s successful project is the ninth for Bloom – including two projects that have reached target but have yet to reach their closing date.

CEO Amanda Boyle said: “At last crowdfunding is coming of age in Scotland. In America crowdfunding is widely accepted, but the UK was slower to catch on.

“Now we are providing an acceptable, alternative source of finance to startups, businesses, students, charities, communities and social enterprises.”

Our 2nd Successfully Funded Film

Posted: Sun, 17 June 2012 by

We’re thrilled to announce our second successfully funded film project. Congratulations to Mark Wright of Dark Form Productions – this is what he had to say about his crowdfunding experience.

“Trying to find funding for anything in today's market is difficult, but funding for short films can be near impossible! I had tried the standard ways, like approaching businesses in return for profits etc, but found it difficult to get a buy-in for it.

“My proposed film was planned on a very small budget but even given that, it seemed unlikely that Dark Form Productions might be able to raise the requisite funding. However, Bloom provided the necessary tools to ask for funding using their innovative website.  

“I was amazed at the number of hits my proposed project got and in the end, not only was my project fully funded but 117% was raised, making the project viable and easier to produce, particularly with the amount over what we had hoped for which will result in fewer constraints on the budget.

“There was great support from Bloom VC as how to market the production, and what packages (rewards) that I should offer.  It was also very helpful to have the project proof-read for potential pitfalls and to ensure all the links were correct, plus ensuring that the packages offered just the correct amount of rewards for money promised.  

“I was amazed at the amount of support I received – I did of course receive wonderful support from family and friends – but a big portion of the funding came from people I had never even heard of before!

“It has been an enjoyable and great learning experience, and I would recommend this process with Bloom to anyone looking to fund a project.  Now I can push forward with the short film, and I also have a pool of backers that I can hopefully call upon again with future projects.  

“I am indebted to Bloom for their professionalism and helpful attitude to crowd funding.”

Thanks to all who backed Mark and his project!

How to Prepare for Crowdfunding

Posted: Tue, 15 May 2012 by

We hope you enjoy this guest blog from Carolyn Knight, of Odoro

So, you have what seems to be a great idea. You’ve started fleshing out your business plan, and a few of your trusted colleagues are on board to help you get your project started, if you can get the right amount of funding. You believe you’re ready to start looking into your crowdfunding options, but you may have never done this before.

What if potential financial supporters aren’t interested? There are a lot of people who are willing to back ideas with potential, but how do you communicate the potential of your idea, especially in the online space? How do you convince people and organizations to back you?

The key to improving your chances of receiving crowdfunding is to make sure your project and you are ready. There’s no need to rush the process if you don’t have all your ducks in a row. Here are some of the things you’ll probably want to do before you launch a campaign to get your idea crowdfunded:

1. Figure out how much funding you need

It’ll seem as though you didn’t do the necessary research if you launch a crowdfunding campaign and your online profile reads: “I’ve come up with this brilliant business idea. I need as much money as you’re willing to give me.”

Potential financial supporters want to know specifics. Even if you have the most innovative business idea in the world, no one will want to hand money over to you unless you can tell them how much money you need for your project and how you plan to use that money.

2. Build your credibility

You have to seem credible and competent to potential financial supporters. So, write down all of your relevant business accomplishments and create a written, online pitch that includes a summary of all of your relevant accomplishments. Have a friend or colleague read over your written pitch to check for grammatical errors and make sure you don’t cross over into the territory of arrogance. You want potential funders to think you're the bee’s knees, but you don’t want them to think you have a grandiose sense of self-worth. Make sure you don’t cross the line. 

3. Back yourself up with the right skills and the right assistance.

If you don’t have a background in computer science, you may have some trouble convincing potential funders that you’ll be able to monetize a cloud-based storage service. In this scenario, you’d need to prove to funders that you have the right team of programmers at your side to help you create the cloud service in question. It’s essential that you let funders know you have the brainpower, manpower, and willpower to accomplish your goals. So, make sure you are loud and proud about who’s working on your team and about all of the relevant experience you have.

Getting crowdfunding is one of the most challenging things you’ll have to do as you try to launch a new business idea. Make sure you’re prepared for the challenge!

 

Author’s Bio: Carolyn is a guest blogger on the subjects of small business funding, ecommerce best practices, and order management software as it relates to the use of BigCommerce, 3dcart, and Shopify.

Getting Involved in Crowdfunding, Bonnie Bling Stylie

Posted: Wed, 02 May 2012 by Tim

Fabulous guest blog from Tim Hunter-Davies


I was recently made aware of a new crowd funding website called Bloom VC, and more specifically a project from a small business called Bonnie Bling.

6 Reasons Why I’m supporting the Bonnnie Bling crowd funding project


Bonnie Bling is a range of Scottish slang word jewellery made from acrylic plastic. Each piece is designed and made by the girls from their studio in the Hidden Lane, Glasgow. The main range includes necklaces, earrings, badges and cufflinks featuring common Scottish slang words or phrases. This is currently stocked in around 20 outlets across Scotland

They want to make all their own products here in Scotland and need their own laser cutting machine to make it happen.

Whether its a gem-encrusted Prada Jacket, shiny Versace or Dolce & GabbanaBling is all the rage!

What is crowd funding?
Crowd funding describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. See Wikipedia for more..

So, here are my 6 reasons for getting involved in crowd funding Bonnie Bling:

1. Supporting Small business

I remember what it’s been like in the past to have an idea but not be able to fund it to fruition. Nows the time to help make it happen for others…

2. They’ve got Good Numbers

Before I parted with my cash I got in touch with them and asked a few business questions – half expecting a flaky answer, and thus removing myself from funding. Instead I got an immediate honest reply with all the figures I asked about.

In summary, they sold 6,000 units last year with 20% of orders coming through their website. They’ve had a cracking start to the year and with all the publicity they’ve had I’d expect them to achieve their forecast.

So, at the end of the day, I’m not expecting them to waste the investment.

3. They’re making news

Lana Del Ray, X Factor’s Amelia Lily, MTV’s Laura Whitmore, Tallia Storm, Mary Portas – they’ve all been photographed wearing Bonnie Bling.

Pretty impressive for a small business just breaking through.

4. A Business that is Design Led

The project is design led, it’s fashion, it’s about tapping into the popular sub-culture of today’s youth. Ok, it’s the complete opposite of some of our clients, but that’s not the point.

It’s design led by enthusiastic people. Enough said.

5. I’m supporting Scottish Business


Move over negative news – it’s time for a bit of booom in your step and encourage people out there making a damn good go of it. 

6. You get rewards

Other than feeling good about a philanthropic act, with a Bonnie Bling crowd funding promise you get rewards – some of them perfect for birthday and christmas presents. Although I may just get a blinged-up “HD” knuckle duster made for an upcoming party!

Go forth and get involved!

So, now I urge you to get involved – even if it’s just for £5, £10 or £20.

After all, wouldn’t it be great to see one of Bonnie Bling’s products on a celebrity on tv or in a magazine and be able to say “I helped fund that company”?!

Go to http://bloomvc.com/project/Big-up-our-Bling for more information.

 

Tim lives and works on Skye and runs  Skyewebsites and Hunter Davies

Board Appointment for Boyle

Posted: Fri, 20 April 2012 by

Thrilled to announce our founder and CEO Amanda Boyle has been appointed to the Board of the Entrepreneurial Exchange, Scotland’s leading organisation for entrepreneurs.

Amanda took her place alongside new Chairman Chris van der Kuyl, CEO of BrightSolid, at the Exchange’s Annual Conference in Gleneagles on Thursday.

She said: ”The Exchange has been part of my business life for more years than I'd like to admit and, more personally, I've made some genuine and loyal friends as a result.  Practically, Exchange members have provided a sounding board to some of my best decisions and my worst moments in business; the sort of situations family and friends simply don't get.  I've also recruited fantastic non execs and advisors for various Boards.   

“I can genuinely say I would not have achieved as much as I have, nor even had the ambition that I have, without the support, encouragement and mentoring of Exchange members.”

Amanda promises fresh thinking, challenging conventions and positive results in her new role.

Good luck, Amanda.

Bloom and the ECA

Posted: Mon, 16 April 2012 by Michelle

Currently, there are more than 1,400 crowdfunding platforms operating worldwide.  But apart from the FSA, which is looking carefully at how to regulate the equity-based crowdfunding model in the UK, there is no regulation of the hundreds of crowdfunding platforms being launched across the UK and Europe.

Hence the launch of The European Crowdfunding Association (ECA), a not-for-profit industry body comprised of leading platforms, funds and individuals active in the crowdfunding space in Europe.

The association was conceived in early 2012 by a group of entrepreneurs and investors, including Bloom, to provide a unified voice promoting crowdfunding as a source of capital to support the development and growth of for-profit businesses, social enterprises and other projects.

Chris Puttick, co-chair of the ECA says: "Crowdfunding can be a powerful tool for getting start-ups and other projects funded and Bloom’s successfully funded project Wake Up Call is a great example of what can be achieved. The industry is still in its infancy and new approaches and applications are continually being developed."

Co-chair of ECA Mike Fauconnier-Bank continues: "The ECA recognises the importance of educating the crowd, regulators and businesses seeking funds about the exciting opportunities and potential risks of crowdfunding. In doing so we strive to promote a broader public engagement with entrepreneurship in general."

Amanda Boyle, CEO and founder of Bloom and Jeff Lynn, CEO and co-founder of Seedrs (an equity crowdfunding platform soft-launched last month), are co-founders of the association, and both see the benefits for individuals raising money and for those donating it. 

Jeff says: “The main benefit is to help both investors and entrepreneurs understand how it works, which platforms are operating legally and which are not, and how best to use crowdfunding to allocate or raise capital."

Amanda says Bloom is immensely proud to be a part of the ECA at such a formative stage. “It’s hugely important to us that crowdfunding gets the support and recognition it needs to become an accepted alternative source of finance, and we’re delighted to be working with such an experienced and passionate group of people to make this happen.”

Beta Testing Over for Bloom

Posted: Tue, 13 March 2012 by

Crowdfunding platform Bloom VC comes out of beta today with a successfully funded project under its belt and 30 more in the pipeline.

Bloom VC (Venture Catalyst) launched in November and the platform has been tested by users – both project owners and donors – since then.

Now that the fine-tuning is complete and the first milestone reached, founder and CEO Amanda Boyle has made the decision to close the beta test and start work on enhancing the features of the platform.

“We’ve had great input from our users and it’s helped us to create a platform that’s intuitive to navigate and well-integrated with the social networks essential to help spread the word and ask for support for projects, said Boyle.

“The next phase of development is all about developing a deeper support mechanism for users, an even more effective analytics dashboard and enhancing the experience for our donor community.”

Designed and built by the award-winning team at Everyone, the platform is hosted by Bloom’s technology partner, vps.net, whose CEO Phil Male is on the Bloom board.

Male commented: “We are extremely proud to be the technology partner for Bloom. Working closely with innovative and exciting new ventures is what we do day in day out, what better way is there for us to explore new ways of developing fresh ideas than to support Bloom?”

Student Kev Pickering became the first in Scotland to successfully crowdfund a project, his new movie, Wake Up Call. He reached his target in just four days, but went on to raise 46% more than his target by the end of the 30-day crowdfunding campaign.

Pickering said: “Bloom has been brilliant for me. Raising money for a student film is not easy and asking friends and family for money is never easy either, so being able to point friends and family to a page where they can easily read about the project and see what their money will be used for was really helpful.

“The staff at Bloom is extremely helpful and very accessible. Bloom has really been beneficial to me and my project "Wake Up Call" and I will definitely crowdfund with them for the next film.”

Bloom has more than 30 exciting new projects in the pipeline, ranging from technology to games, apps, cosmetics, music and another two movies.

 

Check out the team that helped us reach this milestone:

Technology partner – www.vps.net

Web developer - www.weareeveryone.com - Winner of New Business of the Year at the Scottish Business Awards, February 2012

 

 

Guest Blog; Dream Idea UK - A new resource for entrepreneurs

Posted: Tue, 28 February 2012 by

Millions of viewers have tuned in to watch innovators and inventors being thoroughly grilled, and sometimes assisted, in the hit TV programme Dragons’ Den. Now new website, Dream Idea, seeks to bring a similar concept to the world of social media networking: Facebook meets Dragons’ Den.

This new online community aims to bring together experts, entrepreneurs and investors in order to collaborate and develop robust and successful business ideas. While pitching a new idea is often a very nerve-wracking experience (particularly when faced with ‘dragons’!), Dream Idea provides a platform aiming to remove some of that pressure – a place to ‘meet’ potential investors and get to know them before actually meeting them. It also allows members to gain contacts and build relationships with fellow entrepreneurs and future partners.

The founders of the site John Rebholz and Stephen Smith, entrepreneurs themselves, both have a first-hand understanding of the importance of opportunity and hope to help young and new entrepreneurs with successful networking and making the right connections”.

Budding entrepreneurs are invited to set up profiles detailing their business idea and proposal in the hopes of attracting investors and experts to advise them. There is also the opportunity to privately register ideas in return for a Certificate of Ownership for those who are not quite ready to share details but wish to take a first step toward making a dream idea a reality! All ideas are protected by a secure, member’s only, online environment with user-defined privacy settings where Non-Disclosure Agreements are set in place as a requirement of membership.

The site features real investors looking to make smart investments and secure brand new opportunities in grass-roots companies. Numerous business experts of various sectors are also on board acting as mentors to offer advice and a helping hand to new businesses. The crowdfunding hub on the website also means you have the chance to capitalise on your own ideas as well as investing in others’!

The aim of Dream Idea is to present a one-stop online shop for entrepreneurs in the early stages of starting a business – from the glimmer of an idea to a trading business needing a push in the right direction.

Celebrating Our First Funded Project

Posted: Thu, 23 February 2012 by Michelle

Wow, fully funded in just four days.

Congratulations to successful project owner Kev Pickering, whose movie Wake Up Call not only reached, but actually surpassed its funding target.

At the end of his crowdfunding campaign, Kev had raised £586, that’s 46% more than his target.

What made him so successful so quickly? Kev told a good story, showed a great video, and he reached out to his friends and family first to ask for their support. Add to that a series of fab rewards – I mean, who wouldn’t want to go to a movie premiere or have their name on the credits as Executive Producer? – and this project was one destined to win from outset.

Kev is a student at Edinburgh College of Arts and this is a sequel to his very first short film, “Wake Me Up, 2002”.

"Wake Up Call" is a character driven short crime film, based in the Edinburgh underworld. It follows the characters of Mr Fraser, an ageing gangster and Duncan, an up and coming criminal, and what happens when their paths cross. It is an observation of modern violent culture and the mindless brutality that surrounds it.

As a student at Edinburgh College of Arts money is tight and this, Kev’s most ambitious project to date, needed the right funding to reach the widest audience possible. Kev explains in his pitch why this is so important to him, and he details what he plans to spend the money on; case expenses, make up/effects, costumers, catering, music rights, transport, locations, equipment hire and festival entry fees.

We wish Kev the best of luck with his new movie, and hope to see him back here again crowdfunding for his next venture.

The Hidden Benefits of Crowdfunding

Posted: Mon, 20 February 2012 by Michelle

The beauty of crowdfunding is that it delivers far more than just hard cash.

Obviously the money you raise is important, why else would you launch a crowdfunding campaign?

But crowdfunding is about much more than just the funds you raise, and we’re going to reveal the hidden benefits.

If you work your campaign effectively, you could benefit in a number of other ways, all vital to help you grow your business or indeed support your community or social enterprise in the future.

Firstly, you’re able to do market research about your product or service. By asking people to give money in return for your reward, you can establish whether or not there is a market appetite. If people are willing to give you money so you can create a product they want, then you’re on to a winner. You’re able to demonstrate proof of concept when you reach out to raise additional funding later on.

You also build an engaged community of customers, people not only willing to pay you to start your business but happy to tell their friends about you also. Building testimonials from this super-supportive crowd when your project is successful means you start your business with some really positive and powerful case studies to underpin your marketing efforts.

Often the reward is the produce or service the money will be used to develop, so in effect you are pre-selling, generating a healthy order book to launch your business. Not many businesses can boast that they started out with a full order book.

The fact that crowdfunding is based on the use of social media (often free but always inexpensive compared to traditional PR) means word of mouth PR and the buzz around what you’re doing might also provide some newsworthy media coverage for your business or social enterprise.

All of these benefits stack up into a significant opportunity for when you take your business to the next stage and need to raise additional funding, maybe from banks, Angel investors or VCs. You are in a much stronger position to negotiate, having already provided the answers to many of the questions they will ask.

But remember, your crowdfunding campaign is not just a one off activity. Once your project succeeds (and even if it doesn’t) what you’ve started leads straight into the next stage of your business or social enterprise. You continue to engage with your customers, build on the support they’ve given you to aspire to more and there’s no reason why you can’t crowdfund again.

In fact, once you’ve experienced the “hidden benefits” we’ll be surprised if you don’t.

Rewards v Equity

Posted: Sun, 19 February 2012 by Michelle

Bloom is a reward model. If you put your project on our site you don't have to give up any equity or ownership of your business, nor do you have to pay any of the money back. 

Simple you'd think, but there's some pointless and ill-informed scaremongering going on. From webinars proclaiming crowdfunding is a bad idea to simple confusion over what is/isn't/could/couldn't be legal. While it's important to engage in discussions and debate about the value, opportunities and potential pitfalls of crowdfunding, it's only fair that these should be based on fact. So, time to set the record straight ... 

There are clear distinctions between the three differing crowdfunding models:

Peer to peer, or debt-based - a simple loan that must be paid back. Loans are straightforward, it's a simple transaction, you just have to make sure you can repay it.

Equity-based - you sell shares or, more often, parts of shares in return for investment. Individuals who give money to your project are investors and own equity in your company. The perceived wisdom is, with an early stage business, the less equity you give away the better.

Reward-based - which is the Bloom model. In this case, the backer makes a promise to pay you money (if you reach your target) and receives a reward in return. Often but not always, the reward is the product or service the money is being used to develop and deliver, so in effect, pre-selling.

Bloom is a reward model. If you put your project on our site, you don't have to give up any equity or ownership of your business, nor do you have to pay any of the money back.

Bloom is all about encouraging and motivating project owners to successfully reach their targets, it's about encouraging and motivating backers to make promises that contribute to a greater goal.

With Bloom, you don't give up equity or repay the money, just deliver the reward and you retain complete ownership of your business.

Promises and rewards, what could be simpler?

How much time should I spend on my project?

Posted: Fri, 17 February 2012 by Michelle

How long is a piece of string?

It's difficult to give specific time guidelines, but we'd say as much as you possibly can; we recommend at least an hour a day before, during and after you launch your project.

Before you make your project live it is important to spend time creating the very best pitch you can; create a video people will want to watch and share (it doesn't have to be professional, just engaging) and craft your story so people reading will not only understand what this is and why it is so important to you, but how they can support you on your journey and share your success. You also need to be building up your networks, both online and offline, reaching out to people on Twitter and Facebook, working your LinkedIn connections, and raising awareness about what's "coming soon".

Once your project is live, you need to be working on your project every day, thanking your backers, reaching out to others, updating your project regularly, emailing your database, posting on your project wall, tweeting links to your project, sending out press releases and offering to write guest blogs on relevant sites. It's also important not to forget there are other people crowdfunding on Bloom too, so it's great to support them where you can.

Once you've reached your target, you can't just forget the backers who made it happen for you. You've built a vibrant community, these are your future customers, your brand ambassadors, the foundation upon which you're going to build a successful, sustainable, scaleable business, so make sure you engage with them regularly. Thank them immediately, ensure they get their rewwards as soon as you can physically achieve that, and then keep in touch. Even if you didn't reached your target, your backers believed in you and will hopefully stay around to support your future plans.

It sounds a lot. It is a lot. But remember, the more you put in the more you get out. It's worth every second.

Crowdfunding for Students

Posted: Thu, 19 January 2012 by Michelle

It's tough enough being a student with a great business idea. But when you're a student with a great business idea and a pile of student debt, accessing finance to launch your startup is going to prove a challenge.

Even without the current economic climate, someone with student debt and no previous business experience is unlikely to come out of that conversation with a cheque book, a loan and an overdraft facility. The bank of mum and dad is usually open for business, but what if you need a couple of thousand pounds, rather than just a couple of hundred?

Crowdfunding is the perfect opportunity for young graduates who want launch a business after leaving full-time education, or indeed for enterprising students who want to generate an income while they're studying.

It's perfect for two reasons, firstly the fact that crowdfunding works so well with social media means it's ideal for Generation Y who have grown up with friends/fans/followers on a variety of social networking platforms.

And secondly because the promises of money are not investments or loans. The student or graduate is not expected to give up equity in their fledgling business nor add to their already growing debt by paying anything back, instead they maintain complete control over their work or business. This is hugely important if the business is potentially high-growth and might be seeking angel or VC investment further down the line.

Fiona Godsman is chief executive of Scottish Institue for Enterprise, and she is excited by the opportunities that crowdfunding opens up for students.

She said: "At SIE we help students to become entrepreneurs. We identify young people with innovative early stage ideas and provide them with practical advice and support to help turn their ideas into viable business propositions.

"But it's hard for these young entrepreneurs without track records to get financial support, which is why crowdfunding is such a fantastic innovation.  

"Not only does it provide them with much needed seed funding, but by doing so, it demonstrates that the business community has faith in their ideas, which gives them the confidence to succeed."

Use social, get social, be social

Posted: Mon, 16 January 2012 by Michelle

One of the key success factors of crowdfunding is the ability to use social media to the greatest effect. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and others all give you the opportunity to reach a wide network of people who may help to fund your project.

Consider this: the average student has more than 250 friends on Facebook; the average Twitter user has more than 100 followers; the average business man or woman has more than 300 connections on LinkedIn. And each of those connections may have the same or more. And so on. If you could persuade even half of your online connections to give you £10 each then you’re well on your way before you even ask your friends and family.

So it’s important not to wait until your crowdfunding project is live before you start tweeting and posting and linking-in. This needs to be part of your strategy before you begin; you should be reaching out and engaging with all your connections, offline as well as online, while you’re creating your project. Tell them what you’re doing, and ask for their support. And when your project goes live, you need to keep in touch with them, both directly – via social channels or in person – and indirectly, with updates and posts on your project page.

We reckon you need to spend at least an hour a day (not necessarily all at once) engaging with people to ask them to make a promise to your project and giving them compelling reasons why.

The more effort you put in, the more likely you are to reach your target.

The 3Cs of Crowdfunding

Posted: Mon, 16 January 2012 by Michelle

Create: You’ve got an idea. It might be for a startup, a student business, a new product, a community or social venture, but you have an idea. You created that idea. To turn it into reality you need to create a compelling campaign, to tell your story in such an engaging way the people not only want to help you, but they will ask their friends and family to help you too. 

Be creative with your project, create a must-see video (it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money), something that people will watch and share, and create a series of must-have rewards, from a spectacular public thank you to an all-singing all-dancing first off the line product that they helped fund.

Look at every aspect of your crowdfunding campaign and ask yourself if it’s the most creative, most exciting, most rewarding, most inspirational, most desirable, most memorable you can possibly make it. If the answer’s no, then try again.

Connect: Crowdfunding is all about linking people with ideas to people with money and expertise to help them make it happen. It’s about using social networks with global reach to deliver local impact. Use your networks, work them carefully, it’s what networking and connecting is all about.

Increase your network before you start crowdfunding and start to talk to them about what you’re doing, why, and how they can help. Search social networking sites for the most relevant groups and discussions and join in. Then, when your project goes live they are already up to speed with what you’re doing and what you need them to do for you.

Keep connecting during your project campaign, you need to post regularly to all the sites you’re linked to, you need to be publicly thanking your supporters on Twitter, FB, LinkedIn and you need to be keeping everyone up to date with your progress.

Make good connections during your crowdfunding campaign and you can be sure that you’ll finish the campaign with an engaged audience that wants to continue to support you, a customer-base that wants you succeed, and proof of the market appetite for your idea.

Collaborate: You can use your crowdfunding campaign to seek advice and support – as well as money – harnessing the wisdom of the crowd. All those people you need to help you are out there, ready and willing to help. You just need to know how to find them, how to engage with them, how to reward them, and how to thank them.

Start to look at your own network and see who could be helpful, look at their network and see if they know anyone that would be useful to you and your project, and start to build relationships. Post questions on Twitter, into LinkedIn groups, on FB pages of individuals and organisations with a sjmilar interest. People love to help, but they won’t know you need it unless you ask. Find out which companies, organisations, academic or charitable institutions are expert in your field, and talk to them.

Ask for advice, ask about their experiences, and then, when you’ve successfully completed your project make sure you jump back into the crowdfunding world and offer your advice and experience to others.

(Image courtesy of  luigi diamanti: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=879)

3 Steps to Crowdfunding

Posted: Mon, 16 January 2012 by Michelle

Crowdfunding on Bloom is as easy as 1,2 3.

We've laid out the 3 all-important steps but remember, each step takes time and effort. You need to spend time planning your project before you post it, reaching out to your networks before you launch, and then repeat steps 2 and 3, keeping in touch with everyone with regular updates, throughout the duration of your campaign.

Good luck!.

Want to know more about Bloom? Watch our new video

Posted: Thu, 12 January 2012 by Michelle

Crowdfunding with Bloom?  It's really simple. You can launch a project or support a project from anywhere in the world. Come and be a part of our growing community.

Bloom - the Venture Catalysts!

A New Year Message from Bloom founder Amanda Boyle

Posted: Tue, 03 January 2012 by Amanda

What are you looking forward to in the new year?

Thinking about 2012 made me realise how much I relish the challenges and opportunities ahead.  The short answer is building a world-class, kick-ass business... but that's a pretty short contribution, so here's the unabridged version.


I can't remember ever being so enthusiastic and excited about a New Year.  Listening to the news - unemployment, debt, business failures - some might think it more appropriate to curl under the duvet and wait for the worst to pass. But, spend a few minutes on Twitter or LinkedIn or any of the established socially networked sites this holiday season, and the message is loud and clear, people are optimistic, positive and enthusiastic about the future. And no one is more so than me!


It's almost two years since I stumbled across the embryonic, online phenomenon that is crowdfunding.  What got me interested was what always hooks me... there's a problem looking for a solution and an appetite for disruption of the status quo. So I got to work finding out more, analysing the data and reviewing the legislation.
For anyone unfamiliar with the model, crowdfunding enables people to raise the funding for their start-up venture, community project or social enterprise from their friends, family, and social networks.  Just as we've been doing since the dawn of time, only now using the Internet to reach farther, spread the word and without sacrificing ownership.


There are already some terrific sites, delivering millions of dollars, pounds and Euro to get things started.  Who hasn't heard of Kickstarter or Indiegogo or Sellaband, leading the way for newbies like Bloom - Venture Catalyst or PeopleFund or WeDidThis. Today, there are 1574 sites and counting across the world, it feels like the beginning of a revolution.


I thought I'd achieved just about everything I wanted to, had no ambitions to repeat anything, and was waiting for something exciting to come along. It's taken 12 months of focus, determination and persuasion to get this far; not forgetting a fantastic team and an incredibly patient, supportive board, who are as deeply committed as I am to growing the entrepreneurial eco-system.

The biggest milestone to date has been developing and publishing the website, the next goal is to build the community that will generate £1million for startups, projects and causes.  If that's not worth looking forward to, I don't know what is.

Wishing you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Insights and Tips

Posted: Tue, 13 December 2011 by Michelle

Did you know that campaign success rates double with the first contribution, quadruple once the 10% mark has been reached and are more than five times as likely to succeed when 25% of the target amount has been reached?

Crowdfunding might be new to the social space, but those who've been in the game for a couple of years now are starting to share some of their insights into what makes a successful campaign, based on their early experiences. Indiegogo shared the above stat, and they have also revealed the following insights:

  • 70% of campaigns that meet their funding goal have between three and eight rewards.
  • Project updates every 1-5 days double the contribution rate.
  • More contributions have been made to $25 rewards than any other, and the largest amount of money has been raised through $100 rewards.

So how do you make the most out of these insights? Here are our top tips:

1. Reach out to your friends and family as soon as you launch your project. They are most likely to support you and help you reach the early milestones towards success. Others are more likely to follow suit if they are confident that your nearest and dearest are supportive of what you are doing.

2. Choose your rewards - and their values - very carefully. Bear in mind the crucial numbers highlighted above and make sure you have created rewards that are not only compelling, but are pitched at the right value for your target audience.

3. And remember to update your project regularly, refresh your images, swap your featured videos, post updates on your project and talk to the people who are commenting and supporting you. Share all these updates via your social networks, and by regular email updates to those who are active online.

So now what?

Posted: Tue, 06 December 2011 by Michelle

You've created your project, it's now live on the Bloom platform and you're waiting for lots of lovely donors to choose their rewards and promise you some money. How do you get the word out that you're here, that you're ready for business and you're looking for help?

Here are some tips that will help you on your way:

1. Facebook - update your FB status with the link to Bloom so all of your friends can see your link in their News Feeds. Post your link on their walls and ask them to support you by donating and also by sharing the link amongst their friends. Ask them to post an update all about how they have supported you, why your project is important, and with a request to others to do the same. Remember to publicly thank those that help.

2. Video- consider making a funny video, something that will make people laugh and want to share the link - and obviously you need to use it as the feature video on your project and you can also upload to YouTube and ask people there to share it. Make sure the video ends with a "call to action", ask them to look at your project, choose a reward, share the link to the project with their contacts.

3. Twitter - you could tweet out details of individual rewards, share your goals and ambitions, publicly thank those who donate, and tell people why they should support you. Ask your followers to RT your link. And remember to keep your tweet to less than 120 characters so others can RT and add their comments.

4.Blog - if you have a blog, then start writing about what you are doing, why you need support, the difference it will make to you and to the people your project will benefit. Share photos and videos on the blog too. And link it to your project and your Facebook page.

5. Work colleagues and offline networks - Not everybody is online or active in a social network, so make sure you communicate with your other networks as well. Send out an email with a link to the project and ask for support, ask them to send the email to anyone they know that would like to help also. When talking to people make sure you tell them about your project and tell them to visit the Bloom site to support your project. And remember to include your project in all the usual offline PR and media activities you carry out.

6. Press releases - crowdfunding is still relatively new and so your local newspapers may well be interested in what you're doing. If you send them a short press release, give them a quick phone call, tell them what you're doing, why and what makes it newsworthy, they may well write a story and include the link to what you're doing.

7. Internet - make sure you search online for anyone talking about crowdfunding, or about something relevant to your project. Think about the people you would normally sell to or talk to, visit their sites, look for their blogs, seek them out on Facebook and Twitter and find a way to engage with them.

8. On the Bloom site - you can refresh and add new videos and images or you can rotate the collateral you have by selecting a new featured video or image every couple of days. Use the comments and updates sections to talk to people who are donating.

9. And don't forget to ask your friends and family.

Good luck. And remember, we're here to help.

Bloom on the BBC

Posted: Wed, 23 November 2011 by

Wow, we've certainly stirred up some interest with our launch last week, we've been quoted everywhere from the BBC to The Times in India.

Just in case you missed it, here's the link to the BBC article.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-15795509

NESTA support for Bloom

Posted: Fri, 18 November 2011 by

So excited to announce we have secured a financial partnership with NESTA, the UK’s foremost expert on innovation.

Robert Crawford, Director of Innovation, Investment and Growth at NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) said they are delighted to support us and look forward to learning from the our crowdfunding model.

Founder and CEO Amanda Boyle said: ”There’s a real need to support students and graduates, in science, tech and the arts, many of whom have fantastic ideas. And we now have more than a million young people who can’t find a job, so are looking at starting their own business instead.

“Through Bloom they not only raise the money they need to start up, but they are also proving the concept, building a customer base, often pre-selling their product or service, and actively creating a community of fans who want to engage with them.

“And all without having to give up equity in their business. It puts them in a very strong position to scale their business and start their journey on the road to angel or VC investment.”

Amanda emphasised that Bloom is not about replacing banks or the traditional funding organisations, but is simply filling a crucial funding gap at the very early stages, and offering ongoing mentoring and support to help ambitious individuals and groups turn their ideas into reality. In effect, creating a pipeline of opportunities for the angel and VC community.

Bloom, currently in beta testing, has already attracted projects from all over the world. The platform launched with a number of exciting projects seeking funding including an educational anti-sectarian film, dairy-free foods for babies and toddlers, and a music discovery and promotions website. 

Over the next week the site will also feature an eco-friendly business which aims to recycle used coffee granules into plant food, a universal e-ticket solution, virtual technology for the camera, an organisation that wants to turn one of the dirtiest beaches in the UK into a clean, tourist destination, and the world’s first “Imax for the home” immersive dome display.

Mr Crawford said: “There are a number of great business ideas out there that aren’t able to attract traditional types of investment and support to become a reality and thrive. 

“By using the Web to jumpstart new ideas and find new sources of funding, we believe we can do more to ensure more of these concepts see the light of day and are given the opportunity to drive the economy forward in future.

“We very much look forward to working with Bloom and to learn from the model they are developing.”

We are also delighted to announce we have secured vps.net as a technology partner, and our platform has been developed using the very latest global cloud technology, kindly donated by vps.net.

Phil Male, CEO of vps.net, commented: “We are extremely proud to be the technology partner for Bloom. Working closely with innovative and exciting new ventures is what we do day in day out, what better way is there for us to explore new ways of developing fresh ideas than to support Bloom?”

Softly softly catchy monkey

Posted: Sun, 30 October 2011 by Michelle

Well, the soft launch has happened, our first projects are profiled on the platform, and we're spending our time smoothing out the little glitches.

At the moment, you can watch our project videos and choose the rewards you want, hopefully later this week you should also be able to make a promise.

And you can upload your projects too. They won't go live until Global Entrepreneurship Week - our formal launch - but you can perfect your pitch, make a stonking great video, create some really exciting rewards and preview how it will look on Bloom.

What we'd like to do now is to thank everyone who has helped us get this far - we are by no means all the way there yet, plenty more hard work still to come, but we're grateful for all the support.

Stick with us, Bloom is going on an incredibly journey and we want you by our side all the way.

How big does your social network need to be to hit your target?

Posted: Sun, 30 October 2011 by

Want to know how how big your social network has to be to reach your funding target?

Musician Alan Bern needed to raise $10,000 to fly his 14-strong band to Copenhagen - it took him 43 days, and these are his statistic:

Alan did 3 postings, with audio and video, spaced in approx. 3 weeks. He reached out to his first circle of friends and fans via e-mail (450), facebook (1075) the band’s fanpage on Facebook (531) and another music fanpage (500). Each posting caused a wave of backers totaling in 138 backers accounting for 10,971 dollars.

More than three quarters of his backers invested 50 dollars or less for which they received rewards like signed CDs and DVDs. These smaller backers, Alan explained, were very keen on this reward scheme. The bigger backers didn’t care about the rewards. They just cared about supporting the initiative. In total Alan reached out to around 2500 contacts.

According to blogger Pim Betist, who shared Alan Bern's story, there must be some overlap between the different media he used (e-mail, facebook, etc) but it gives us a ball park figure to work with. 138 people actually went ahead and backed the project. This represents just 5% of Alan’s network and the actual figure is less than that, because not all backers came from Alan’s network. The first wave of backers did, but the second and third were friends of friends.

You can read Pim's blog before which gives more details, but you can see the value of building and engaging with your social network if you want to be successfu.

http://www.pimbetist.com/#479/wordpress

Hello...and welcome to Bloom.

Posted: Mon, 12 September 2011 by

We're so excited to see you here, whether you are starting a project, looking for a project to support, or simply dropping by for a look. Feel free to poke around, we're sure you'll find something interesting you might like to donate to, or a reward that takes your fancy.

It might even simply give you the inspiration and encouragement you need to take that first step to making your big idea a reality. Enjoy.