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Crowdfunding is the future...

The Journey of Weathered Cyclist

Posted: Tue, 03 September 2013 by Michelle

by Ali Campbell, founder of Weathered Cyclist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Q&A with Freeagent

Posted: Thu, 25 July 2013 by Michelle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Interview with successful crowdfunder Erica von Stein

Posted: Wed, 24 July 2013 by Michelle

By Bloom intern Jamie Moore

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

Q. Tell us a little about your film

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

Q. Where did the idea to crowdfund come from?

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

Q. What do you think made your project successful?

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Crowdfunding Success Story

Posted: Mon, 03 June 2013 by Michelle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behind the Scenes - Filming One Year Later

Posted: Fri, 10 May 2013 by Michelle

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.

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

Posted: Fri, 03 May 2013 by Michelle

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.

My Crowdfunding Experience

Posted: Wed, 24 April 2013 by Michelle

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Crowdfunding Tips for App Developers

Posted: Wed, 06 February 2013 by Michelle

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


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

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

1. How it Works

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

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

2. How to Set Funding Goals

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

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

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

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

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

 3. How to Prepare Yourself

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

Key strategies;

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

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

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

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

4. How to Find Backers Quickly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. How to Interact with Backers

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

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

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

(Image Source: Sattva/Freedigitalphotos.net)

I'm a Serial Backer - Here's Why!

Posted: Tue, 16 October 2012 by Michelle

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.

How to Prepare for Crowdfunding

Posted: Tue, 15 May 2012 by Michelle

We hope you enjoy this guest blog from Carolyn Knight, of Odoro

So, you have what seems to be a great idea. You’ve started fleshing out your business plan, and a few of your trusted colleagues are on board to help you get your project started, if you can get the right amount of funding. You believe you’re ready to start looking into your crowdfunding options, but you may have never done this before.

What if potential financial supporters aren’t interested? There are a lot of people who are willing to back ideas with potential, but how do you communicate the potential of your idea, especially in the online space? How do you convince people and organizations to back you?

The key to improving your chances of receiving crowdfunding is to make sure your project and you are ready. There’s no need to rush the process if you don’t have all your ducks in a row. Here are some of the things you’ll probably want to do before you launch a campaign to get your idea crowdfunded:

1. Figure out how much funding you need

It’ll seem as though you didn’t do the necessary research if you launch a crowdfunding campaign and your online profile reads: “I’ve come up with this brilliant business idea. I need as much money as you’re willing to give me.”

Potential financial supporters want to know specifics. Even if you have the most innovative business idea in the world, no one will want to hand money over to you unless you can tell them how much money you need for your project and how you plan to use that money.

2. Build your credibility

You have to seem credible and competent to potential financial supporters. So, write down all of your relevant business accomplishments and create a written, online pitch that includes a summary of all of your relevant accomplishments. Have a friend or colleague read over your written pitch to check for grammatical errors and make sure you don’t cross over into the territory of arrogance. You want potential funders to think you're the bee’s knees, but you don’t want them to think you have a grandiose sense of self-worth. Make sure you don’t cross the line. 

3. Back yourself up with the right skills and the right assistance.

If you don’t have a background in computer science, you may have some trouble convincing potential funders that you’ll be able to monetize a cloud-based storage service. In this scenario, you’d need to prove to funders that you have the right team of programmers at your side to help you create the cloud service in question. It’s essential that you let funders know you have the brainpower, manpower, and willpower to accomplish your goals. So, make sure you are loud and proud about who’s working on your team and about all of the relevant experience you have.

Getting crowdfunding is one of the most challenging things you’ll have to do as you try to launch a new business idea. Make sure you’re prepared for the challenge!

 

Author’s Bio: Carolyn is a guest blogger on the subjects of small business funding, ecommerce best practices, and order management software as it relates to the use of BigCommerce, 3dcart, and Shopify.

Getting Involved in Crowdfunding, Bonnie Bling Stylie

Posted: Wed, 02 May 2012 by Michelle

Fabulous guest blog from Tim Hunter-Davies


I was recently made aware of a new crowd funding website called Bloom VC, and more specifically a project from a small business called Bonnie Bling.

6 Reasons Why I’m supporting the Bonnnie Bling crowd funding project


Bonnie Bling is a range of Scottish slang word jewellery made from acrylic plastic. Each piece is designed and made by the girls from their studio in the Hidden Lane, Glasgow. The main range includes necklaces, earrings, badges and cufflinks featuring common Scottish slang words or phrases. This is currently stocked in around 20 outlets across Scotland

They want to make all their own products here in Scotland and need their own laser cutting machine to make it happen.

Whether its a gem-encrusted Prada Jacket, shiny Versace or Dolce & GabbanaBling is all the rage!

What is crowd funding?
Crowd funding describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. See Wikipedia for more..

So, here are my 6 reasons for getting involved in crowd funding Bonnie Bling:

1. Supporting Small business

I remember what it’s been like in the past to have an idea but not be able to fund it to fruition. Nows the time to help make it happen for others…

2. They’ve got Good Numbers

Before I parted with my cash I got in touch with them and asked a few business questions – half expecting a flaky answer, and thus removing myself from funding. Instead I got an immediate honest reply with all the figures I asked about.

In summary, they sold 6,000 units last year with 20% of orders coming through their website. They’ve had a cracking start to the year and with all the publicity they’ve had I’d expect them to achieve their forecast.

So, at the end of the day, I’m not expecting them to waste the investment.

3. They’re making news

Lana Del Ray, X Factor’s Amelia Lily, MTV’s Laura Whitmore, Tallia Storm, Mary Portas – they’ve all been photographed wearing Bonnie Bling.

Pretty impressive for a small business just breaking through.

4. A Business that is Design Led

The project is design led, it’s fashion, it’s about tapping into the popular sub-culture of today’s youth. Ok, it’s the complete opposite of some of our clients, but that’s not the point.

It’s design led by enthusiastic people. Enough said.

5. I’m supporting Scottish Business


Move over negative news – it’s time for a bit of booom in your step and encourage people out there making a damn good go of it. 

6. You get rewards

Other than feeling good about a philanthropic act, with a Bonnie Bling crowd funding promise you get rewards – some of them perfect for birthday and christmas presents. Although I may just get a blinged-up “HD” knuckle duster made for an upcoming party!

Go forth and get involved!

So, now I urge you to get involved – even if it’s just for £5, £10 or £20.

After all, wouldn’t it be great to see one of Bonnie Bling’s products on a celebrity on tv or in a magazine and be able to say “I helped fund that company”?!

Go to http://bloomvc.com/project/Big-up-our-Bling for more information.

 

Tim lives and works on Skye and runs  Skyewebsites and Hunter Davies

Guest Blog; Dream Idea UK - A new resource for entrepreneurs

Posted: Tue, 28 February 2012 by Michelle

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.