Ultimate Guide To Crowdfunding Success

Posted by Harshad

Ultimate Guide To Crowdfunding Success

Ultimate Guide To Crowdfunding Success

Posted: 20 Jan 2014 07:01 AM PST

Crowdfunding platforms have raised $2.7 billion and funded more than 1 million campaigns in 2012 alone; for 2013, this may breach $5.1 billion. Crowdfunding is becoming the foremost choice for grassroot founders like you to find funding for your dream projects.

(Image Source: Rafal Baran)

Before jumping in though, how about we go through the bascis of crowdfunding. Since there are so many aspects to consider if crowdfunding is right for you, today we will explore both the advantages and disadvantages of crowdfunding, and share with you tips and discoveries to become the next successful crowdfunding rockstar.

The Cool Side Of Crowdfunding

Here are 4 ways that crowdfunding is the coolest way you can get funding (and more) for your project.

1. You Get Funds Without Too many Sacrifices

If you remove crowdfunding from your funding options, what remains will be bank loans and angel investments. Both options demand you sacrifice something, either an interest rate that costs an arm and a leg, or your company’s equity (not one product, but the entire company) in return for financial "assistance". Both channels are carefully designed to profit from you in the long term, and they are the reason why crowdfunding exists and flourishes.

direct investment
(Image Source: Shyam B)

Crowdfunding completely eliminates the "middleman". It puts your idea in front of thousands of potential investors instead of just one investor. Then you try to convince them to part with their money to help make your product a reality. In return they get what you offer upfront, nothing more. I call that unconditional love.

2. You Receive Tremendous Marketing Effect

Marketing is crucial for every product. The problem is most startups simply do not possess funds to spend on marketing at all. In common practice, marketing is executed to attract potential buyers, but in crowdfunding, the potential buyer is the marketing crew.

All you need to do is to spend your initial funds to produce the most polished prototype, then display it proudly to your potential supporters in the crowdfunding platform. Your supporters, those who have put money into your product will help you to spread your voice and passion in their own social networks. It’s only a matter of time before your product spreads like wild fire.

For the easily excitable online news media, the word ‘crowdfunding’ itself is enough to make them pay attention to your product pitch, and they will feature it if the product is polished enough.

3. You Validate Your Product’s Success

If you’re considering the crowdfunding path, chances are your project requires years to complete, and in the process will slowly devour your time and fund (and house) along the way. It’s a game of all or nothing, and you (understandably) don’t want to lose. Crowdfunding puts your idea in front of everyone, and lets your future customers decide if your idea is really worth all the sacrifices, yours and theirs.

crowd cheering
(Image Source: Rafal Baran)

Best of all, most potential backers tend to be less judgmental. They will evaluate your ideas, then provide friendly suggestions to improve the product to the way they hope it would be. Always keep in mind – backers don’t want to profit from you, they want to succeed with you.

4. You Gain An Optimistic Customer Base

When you are executing a crowdfunding campaign, there are actually 2 most important assets you are raising – the fund and the customer base. Unlike non-converted backers, the customer base is a group of your zealous followers, who love your work from their heart, and are even willing to pay or contribute to your future projects.

The magic of crowdfunding is that you gain the customer base even before you have even a product to sell. This awesome phenomenon does not happen with traditional investment scheme, where customers will only be involved with the product, post-release, not pre-production.

Even if you failed to fund your current project, your customer base will be ready to back up your next product like in the Gas Powered Games’ Wildman project.

The Downside of Crowdfunding

Things that are free, still come with a price. Crowdfunding, as cool as it may be, is a double-edged sword. It is not as forgiving especially when you fail to fulfill what was promised.

1. If You Fail, You Are Doomed

Crowdfunding is a holistic way to gather funds quickly, but it does not defy the nature that startups are and always will be a high-risk business. What you planned may not happen as is, particularly when it comes to cost and time.

(Image Source: Fotolia)

Take the case of Jim Clark as example, he raised $34,490 from the original $25,000 goal, but later he realized the team had to raise $100,000 to pay for everything promised. Ed Carter, the creator of Glory to Rome project which raised $73,102 over $21,000 goal, had to sell his house in the end to ship the products. Both were late in their initial delivery time.

If in the manufacturing process you realize that the product will not profit in the future, know that it’s too late to call quits. By hook or by crook, you are to complete the project, despite knowing it is going to take a lot out of you than expected. Startup dreams can sometimes turn into nightmares, unexpectedly.

2. You Get Social Panic

While having free marketing is tremendously helpful, crowdfunding does not mean you are free from any social engagement. Since you are funding your project from backers, it is an obligation for you to update the project status and answer doubts raised by backers. This is a tedious process that could consume most of your development time.

In other words, with angel investment you only talk to a handful of investors, but with crowdfunding you could be talking to hundreds and even thousands of investors constantly.

Don’t think that if you cannot live up to your promise, you can choose to remain silent. Alex Peake, the creator of the $170,000 Code Hero project, was working day and night on the project, but he did not keep in contact with his backers for around 5 months. Eventually some of them got enraged and frustrated; others started requesting refunds, and threatening lawsuits against him.

3. Your Reputation is Crippled

It’s not only the backers who are betting their savings, but you as the project creator, are putting your personal reputation or public image, on the line. By leading a project into chaos, you are announcing to both the online and offline world that you are a poor director, and this history will follow you for life.

(Image Source: Fotolia)

Seth Quest, the creator of Hanfree iPad Accessory project, said in the Inc’s interview that he moved to Brooklyn after his campaign failed, and he experienced a hard time finding a job in his main field. "Your backers can give you massive support, but they can also tear you down if you fail," he reflected.

4. Your Idea Is Free To Be Copied

By exposing your idea on a crowdfunding platform, you are welcoming (and perhaps challenging) anyone else to copy the idea, and perhaps even enhance it. The more unique your idea is, the more worthy it is to be copied by a corporation. It will be exhaustive to fight them with your financial resources, and your project execution probably won’t top a business behemoth’s.

The end users? Sorry to say they care little about originality, more on what is worth their money. Windows vs Apple and iOS vs Androids are just some of the examples of what embody this idea.

The only way to fight back is to fully follow the teaching, "prevention is better than cure". Either register a patent for your product, or develop a mature prototype so you own a timely advantage over those lazy copycats.

Tips to Nail a Successful Campaign

Success is all about doing the right thing at the right time, so we will discuss different elements and situations you need to consider when it comes to nailing a successful campaign. Plus, we’ll look into how to not screw things up, after you successfully raised the fund.

1. Choose Right Platform For Your Campaign

Kickstarter is not the absolute option for your project. At the time of writing, there are already more than 30 crowdfunding platforms available, with different types of fees, funding models and terms. You will need to do some research to find the right platform for your campaign.

crowdfunding platforms
(Image Source: Crowdsourcing.org)

Moreover, every crowdfunding platform has its own project preferences. For instance, according to Mashable, though Kickstarter has the most funded tech gadgets in the entire crowdfunding landscape, the platform itself is driven towards art projects. Just look at their Staff Picks. So if you are kickstarting a film project, you are more likely to succeed than if you were running an iOS application.

If you are planning a crowdfunding campaign for your tech gadget, both Kickstarter and Indiegogo are good for you, since they are popular with gadget lovers. You can embrace Crowdrise for public causes and charity projects, and GoFundMe for personal campaigns.

2. Plan Your Campaign In Extreme Detail

A plan is not just a long list that predicts what could happen; it has to predict what must happen. It is a the blueprint that will decide your success and possibly your future. Any mess up will cost you dearly. Thus, it’s best to make your plan as detailed as possible.

Listing execution details and challenges can help greatly, and they could also boost your backers’ confidence. Backers have learned a lot from crowdfunding past projects, in that they are less naive, and more careful of their pledges now. Hence, you need to work doubly hard and even consider building a prototype that works before running a crowdfunding exercise.

This could better persuade your backers and better forecast your manufacturing costs at the same time. As for budgets, never squeeze down the cost. A rule of thumb is to sum together your living costs (if you’re going full-indie), costs for manufacturing, development, delivery, and the platform’s commission fee, then multiply that cost by 2 or 3 times. Remember that it is far better to let the funding fail than to face debt issues, especially with angry backers who want refunds.

Then again, if you are all-in for your project regardless of whether you get funded or not, just launch a $1 goal campaign like Happion Lab’s Energy Hook, and have fun with it.

3. Setup the Most Attractive Rewards

Lots of people, including me, don’t read all project details at first. We just want to know what your product can do, and what we can get in return. It’s contradicts the funding nature, but hey, it’s always about what backers can get. Based on this logic, you need to setup more affordable rewards than expensive ones.

(Image Source: Tendril Design + Animation Inc.)

Remember that you should offer the best reward on the most popular tier of pledge. Indiegogo released a statistic showing most backers prefer $11-25 pledge, with $26-50 as the runner-up. Kickstarter strengthened the statistic result by stating that $25 is the most popular pledge amount, and $10 or less is "always a good idea".

As for the reward content, Kickstarter pretty much nailed it with the question, "just ask yourself, would you back your project?" You are safe as long as you design your rewards based on this question, and the rest depends on your creativity and sales pitch.

4. Market before Anything Starts

Developers don’t do marketing, at least that’s the cliche of things. Developers prefer to forge ahead and produce an epic product that will "sell itself". While that’s true to some extent, every product needs an initial, aggressive marketing push, starting from the product creator himself.

Many successful crowdfunding projects run a marketing event before they launch the campaign. The crowdfunding campaign is more like the period when you are reaping, not when you were sowing the plants. Need more tips? Try having an Internet star; that will skyrocket your marketing effect. Endorsements from a celebrity in your field will greatly enhance your chances.

5. Successful funding is just a start

I would not call a crowdfunding campaign a success until it has fulfilled its final promise: the product delivery. Incidentally, that’s the phase where all downfalls start to develop.

delivery timetable
(Image Source: CNNMoney)

CNN reports that 84% of the most-funded projects on Kickstarter missed its delivery date. There are plenty of reasons but chances are you will mostly be part of that 84% as well. So the key point is not how you can deliver on time, but how you manage the delay.

Thankfully a delay is a widely accepted phenomenon within the backer community, and you only need to follow a rule to not make them rebel: don’t promise a second deadline unless you are really, really (really) close to it. A precise report detailing undergoing processes with photos as proof is comfort enough.

Additionally, engagement with backers is an extremely stressful ordeal, so it’s ideal for you to invite a person to be your voice, a community manager. He or she will cary the burden of keeping backers on track, and preventing you from going into an anti-social mode when you’re experiencing overwhelming pressure from the developmental state.

6. If You Really Failed, Quit It Properly

If you have failed to produce or ship a product even with the funds you have collected, please and seriously, quit properly. It’s for the good of your reputation, and any future campaigns you may run.

For Rick Dakan, founder of the game, Haunts: The Manse Macabre, he quit the right way. He explained all the technical problems with utmost honesty, discussed his remaining options, announced his future plans, and finally published the outcome of the project. His backers applauded his efforts in latest update.

Why? Because he respected his backers. He treated them as part of the project, and he believed that he owed them an explanation, and that’s all that matters to them.

In the End, You Earn Something

Every project creator needs to think beyond just raising fund. Crowdfunding is the perfect lesson to anyone who wants to see their dream come true. Master everything you need to kick-start a profitable company in the long term. That’s also why most successfully crowdfunded companies achieve their venture capital fund on the second round.

So don’t feel bad if you failed, it’s not the end of the world, as long as you quit it appropriately and responsibly. The lesson will eventually serve as a catalyst to building your future funding success. It’s not the end as long as you keep trying.


Man To Machine: How To Reboot Your Humanity

Posted: 20 Jan 2014 05:01 AM PST

Editor’s note: This is a contributed post by Dr. Luis Almeida, an Associate Professor of Communications Media at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). He can be reached via email.

Computer technology is everywhere, in multiple formats, under different patents, most calling for the same outcome behavior – use. Unfortunately, computer use can’t be sustained for too much longer without a severe impact. Computers are supposed to make our lives better but sometimes, its side effects cause more damage than good.

In this article, I’m going to talk about how we are turning into machines without realizing it, the impact this has on our global society, and a potential solution to break out of this. My goal is to help you to take charge of unnecessary machine-like demands that modern computer technology has been imposing on us.

Hi, I’m Luis. First off, I don’t hate technology. In fact, I make a living teaching it to my students. I am a Professor of Communications Media at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and I study the impacts of technology in learning.

Recently, I gave a TEDx Talk titled, “Breaking Free From Technology” at TEDxPhoenixville in the United States. In it, I presented research results on the impacts of technology on human behavior along with a provocative thought that when you use computers excessively, you won’t be free of side effects.

By the way, I am also predicting a global anxiety epidemic by the year 2024, plus an increased obesity problem due to the extensive use of computerized devices, despite our attempts to eat healthier.

Not safe from turning into computers

The human brain wasn’t made to process large amounts of information continuously without rest. Our brains have limited capacities, will get tired, and break down overtime if we continue to abuse them. It isn’t rocket science or science fiction, it is plain common sense. The idea that we can emulate the machine, without experiencing side effects, is dangerous.

In reality, societies are already emulating the pace of living of the machine and setting societal norms based on computer behavior. We are using smartphones and iPads at the dinner table, tweeting about an emergency first before calling for help, and working not from 9-to-5 but from 9-to-forever.

We are constantly being bombarded by email alerts, facebook notifications, tweets, texts, etc and working during vacations and almost always well into the night. And we let that happen to us.

man And Computer Are Different

If you haven’t noticed, the human brain wasn’t made to work on a constant flow of information overload. It is a major error to comparatively measure the speed and processing power of modern computers with our working brains, especially as a means to dictate work productivity levels and expectations.

Man and machine, they are very different. When our computers don’t perform to our expectations, we put in more RAM or simply get a faster computer. But when we’re talking about humans, we can’t be working 60 hours a week, even though this is the accepted reality of our times today.

Being connected is actually forcing us to work more longer and faster than before. Thus we force our brains to work constantly like a computer. Ironically, computers must function logically to work. Humans often behave illogically but amazingly, we "work" even under these circumstances.

What’s In Store For Us?

Our relationship with computers will take us through three phases:

Process Of Transformation

We are living now in the middle of what I call the process of transformation. It is a period where humans are starting to become robotic in behavior due to high frequency and extended exposure of computer use – the higher the frequency and exposure, the quicker the transformation.

In this phase, humans are more humans than machine (in behavior). 

Computer Robot Syndrome

After the transformation process, the global community will exhibit computer robot syndrome. It will also be a temporary phase, but different from the process of transformation, humans will behave more like machines, resulting in high levels of logic, immediacy, and quick behavioral responses.

During this phase, creativity will take a major dip.

Total Burn Out

In about a decade, computer use will accentuate to a level that the human brain won’t be able to catch up, resulting in a total global burn out era. I call this phase, the human reversal phase. As soon as our society experiences a mass epidemic of anxiety, millions are going to burn out and realize that computers are not an extension of man, but a tool that reminds us how human we are.

In the end, machines will end up reinforcing our humanity – making us realize our limitations, and how human we are. It is in this phase that humans will behave more like humans as we understand and question machine behavior.

The bad news is that until the human reversal phase arrives, we are temporarily going to behave like a machine and see no wrong with it, working ourselves to death, and accepting it as a fact of life.

Final Words

Thanks to God, I experienced my technology burn out. As a consequence, I have personally experienced the human reversal phase. I am not a machine and no computerized device is an extension of me. I am now 25 pounds lighter, still work long hours but will take breaks in between, honor my wife and can even find time to go to Church on Sundays, and exercise.

You don’t want to be an extension of anything, especially of a machine, trust me. Taking a step back from using the computer is like taking an aspirin when having a fever. It helps but it doesn’t solve the problem. It only fixes the consequences.

It is only after a total technology burn out from mental exhaustion and fatigue that folks will stop their computer-like neurotic behaviors. Brace yourselves, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.


Intelligent Design: 15 Foldable Gadgets And Concepts You Should See

Posted: 20 Jan 2014 02:01 AM PST

Everyone seems to have a smartphone or tablet on their hands these days. And why not? It keeps us connected, you can take pictures with it, watch videos on it. It is like the perfect companion, and it fits right in our pockets. Or at least it used to.

Smartphones are getting bigger and tablets have well, stopped shrinking. They’re all taking up space in our bags and workstations. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could fold them to save some space for other things? Today I'd like to bring to your attention a list of 15 unbelievable foldable devices which you have probably never seen before. Could this be the next thing after flexible phones?

For now, most of these are concepts, but just imagine what the future of gadgetry will be like when they make space-saving design a requisite.

Flexbook by Hao Chun Huang. The unique design of the device combines the best of both worlds: netbook productivity in tablet size. It's compact for storage and great for travel. The foldable screen and keyboard to give its users extra portability and protection.

Folding Pen Mouse by Yoon Son. It is both a mouse and a stylus. The mouse consists of two swivel-mounted halves, so it can be folded. When you fold it, the magnetic lock triggers and the mouse turns into a stylus.

Viva Foldable Smartphone Speakers by Jang Se-Chan. Inspired by origami this awesome cube-shaped speakers can be folded flat and can be connected to iPhone via the dock and to Android phones via Bluetooth.

Kyocera’s EOS Phone. Now this is a smartphone you can store away easily. This phone has a flexible EOS screen that allows you to fold it up to wallet size. The problem of combining portable phone size and a huge screen in one device is finally solved.

Cush Laptop Sleeve by Angelo Cacchione. The Cush Laptop Sleeve is a cool laptop protector case and a desktop pad at the same time. Thanks to its structure this protector will neatly envelope your computer. The front cover panel can be curled under itself to create a raised roll for wrist support.

Pocketable Bluetooth Keyboard for Phones & Tablets by myType™ Keyboard. Bluetooth-enabled and can be folded into your pocket, this expandable keyboard is extremely durable, and available in various colors: green, white, blue, pink, and black.

TidyTilt Magnetic Foldable iPhone Case by TT Design Labs. This amazing iPhone case cover functions as an adjustable kickstand, a magnetic mount, and earbud or cable winder. Flaps keep your contents safe, and you can even just stick this case onto a magnetic bar.

Foldable Speaker by designaffairs. This vividly colorful speaker can be folded in a flat slim bar and opened when necessary. When the device is in use, it looks like a hollow triangular shape. Bright and portable, you’ll surely stand out of the music-loving crowd.

Impossible for BAPE Polaroid Camera Set-9. This is not a cigarette box. It holds the BAPE Polaroid Camera Set-9. Despite its vintage look, it comes with pretty modern features, plus an orange bag with a cute pattern.

Accordion-like Folding Speakers. Take a look at these accordion-like folding speakers that are easy to transport and handle. It's ideal for travelers, as you can always find room in your luggage for this tiny gadget when it's folded.

Foldable FLeX 4.2 Media Center. This media center can be folded and moved easily without relocating any cables. You can turn it into a portable cube or a spread out rectangle depending on your needs and furnishings.

Roll-up Foldable Induction Cooktop by Goci. This roll-up portable cooktop is the best solution for limited kitchen space. The heating component can be folded while the electronic parts are kept in a case much like that of a hard drive.

Roll Up Electronic Piano by Lujex. If you love playing music, no matter where you go, you can take this handy electronic keyboard with you and have a party! This musical gadget is highly easy to transport in the form of a mini cylinder.

Feno Foldable Notebook by Niels van Hoof. This laptop has a normal full size screen, despite the fact that in folded form it looks like it can only fit a keyboard. It has a unique look as its native keyboard is half the size of regular keyboards.

Portable Solar Battery Charger Panels. Your mobile gadgets can never last long enough? Get power from the sun with these foldable solar panels. Moreover, they can charge two tablets at the same time. The best solution for traveling couples.


LayoutIt! – Build HTML Bootstrap Layouts With Ease

Posted: 19 Jan 2014 11:01 PM PST

If you want to build a responsive website then Bootstrap will be a handy tool for you. This latest framework innovation has brought web developers a new approach of creating easier, faster and better responsive websites and apps in general.

But it’s pretty hard and not to mention time-consuming to build a layout from scratch. To make this process easier and faster, in this post we will be looking at LayoutIt! which helps you easily design HTML layouts based on Bootstrap.

LayoutIt! is a web-based tool to layout a web page design with drag-and-drop. LayoutIt! supports the latest Bootstrap version and if you don’t want to start completely from scratch, it has 3 basic templates you can use. The design then, is ready to be used in your project complete with built-in Bootstrap code. So far, it’s still in beta mode, but so far, it works well without a hitch.

Getting Started

To get started with LayouIt! you need to head over to the Edit page. As you can see in the following screenshot, there are various tools and options to check out. Near the top, you can see the 3 modes you can build under: Edit mode, Developer mode and Preview mode.

Below the top bar you can see the elements on the left sidebar and the Container on the right. The Container is your canvas on which you can build and customize your elements. Once you are done building just Download the code, Share or Save it.


There are 4 types of elements: Grid System, Base CSS, Javascript and additional Components. Just drag and drop your required element to the Container and customize it accordingly.

To start off, pick a Grid System or several to create the layout you want to see on your website. The grid basically give you rows and columns for you to work on.

Once you have the grid you can add some basic CSS elements with Base CSS, such as title, paragraph, blockquote, table, button, image and so on. You can find other additional preferences in each element, such as alignment for paragraphs, emphasis, or making it as the lead.

To add common attributes, Components provide you with several basic elements of website, such as button, header, text, breadcrumb, pagination and so on. And finally, to enhance your website, just drop in some Javascript elements: modal, navbar, tabs, alerts, collapse or carousel.

Usage Guide

To see how LayoutIt! works in action, we are going to try to build Hongkiat.com’s homepage layout. Here’s a breakdown of the layout.

First, we need to work on the grid layout.

The layout needs four main rows: a single-column for the header and navbar; two-column for text content, image and pagination; a single-column for the sidebar; four columns for the footer, and one column for footnote. The following screenshot is how the layout looks like on a skeleton grid.

Now to add the other elements:

  1. We add a Header from "Components" and a Navbar from "Javascript".
  2. To put the image beside the text content, another 8 4 grid should be inserted inside the first 8 grid (see shot above).
    • Add Text from "Components" and add Image from "Base CSS".
    • Under Text and Image, insert Pagination from "Components"
    • For the sidebar, let’s just add a label text using Title from "Base CSS".
  3. For the footer, we can Title and Paragraph from "Base CSS".
  4. For the footnote, we just add Paragraph from "Base CSS".

And we’re done. This is what the layout will look like. Tip: To enable text editing, right click on the text.

For those who are newly acquainted with Bootstrap and want to build Bootstrap-supported layouts, LayoutIt! is a fun tool to play around with. Give it a go and let us know what you think of it.



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