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 - email@example.com
(images courtesy of thevinylvillain.blogspot.com )
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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 - email@example.com
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.
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 – 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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
- You’re enthusiastic and passionate – this might not work for banks, but it’s brilliant for crowdfunding
- You want to raise awareness of your idea/cause – crowdfunding is a fantastic platform for building an engaged community who will spread the word
- You want to test your idea –you can talk to potential customers and see if they like your concept
- 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
- You aren’t eligible for other types of funding – we don’t apply selection criteria, so anyone can do it
- You like to experiment – crowdfunding is a cool new form of funding, why not give it a go just for the experience?
- You need a few rounds – you can break your target down, and come back as many times as you like
- 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
- You’re not ready for investment – there are no barriers or criteria, so it doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out
- 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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
(Image courtesy of www.nathanmagnuson.com)
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.
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!
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.
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 ...
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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)
"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.
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!
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 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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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)
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)
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!
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.
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:
- Having a variety of rewards is key, ranging from £1, £5, £10 upwards. Remember every little helps!
- Make sure the rewards link to the project, backers are interested in your project not in random products.
- 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.
- Adding a humorous or personal touch can go a long way, it will help you connect with backers.
- 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!
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.
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 - 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?
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/
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)
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)
Welcome to our first intern blog!We are Cara and Nikki, the fabulous new intern team at Bloom. We are really excited to be part of Bloom, get the inside scoop on us below!
Hello everyone, I’m Cara!
I’m so excited to be working for Bloom as I originally came across Bloom as a backer and personally supported a few projects.
I loved the business model, the personal connections between Bloom, project owners and backers, and the lasting community that has been created. As a third year student at Strathclyde, I focus on enterprise and I’m passionate about supporting new ventures and the chance to apply what I’ve learned is a natural fit for me.
I can’t wait to work on our new projects – now I can honestly say that I love what I do!
I am also involved with an extracurricular enterprise programme at university where my team and I help create fun and interactive events for students, to teach them about enterprise and give them the chance to network with entrepreneurs and business professionals. I love the challenge of organising events and giving students new opportunities.
When I get a moment to myself, I either have my nose in a book or watching the latest film at the cinema. I’ve also recently joined a local gym and I really enjoy keeping active, it’s a great stress buster!
My name is Nikki, I am very thrilled to be one of the new members of the Bloom team.
I heard about Bloom through all their social media and one of their contacts at RBS.
Bloom’s strong business values were a huge attraction to me, I love that everyone gets an equal chance and it’s all or nothing so we all have to work together to push projects forward.
I'm from Edinburgh and currently in my final year studying business and accounting at Edinburgh University. I have done a huge variety of business classes from entrepreneurship and innovation, organisational studies to economics. My keen interest is marketing and I'm focusing on my dissertation on charities marketing at the moment. (only about 13,000 words to go!)
I love to do tons of things in my spare time. I enjoy going to concerts and festivals, baking, going out with friends and of course after all those cakes have to keep fit and do some swimming!
I also help with two local charities 'It's good to give' and F.A.C.E. These are both amazing causes and do brilliant work for young people (and I get to go and visit Santa every year in Lapland!)
We are both eager to get stuck in and learn as much as possible over the coming weeks.
We can't wait to start helping you all get your projects funded! You will see our posts around Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Kilter so please keep checking them out to hear the latest news from Bloom.
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)
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 to Interflora next year.
Feel free to listen to the whole of Douglas's programme, but the juicy bits (ie "us") start about 12 minutes in.
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.
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."
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 email@example.com
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.
Fabulous guest blog from Tim Hunter-Davies
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.