Crowdbaron, a Hong Kong-based startup wants to make investing in real estate as simple as booking a hotel online.
According to Dwight Peters, founder of crowdsourcing site – CrowdCases, ” The cool thing about CrowdCases is that we have the freedom to move in real time. There are so many causes that need awareness. We take into consideration any national awareness days and try to tap into that attention flow. We are working to get it to the point were our crowd determines the cause of the week via polling. For now, we just pay attention to what’s going on around us and try to move quickly.”
IVAN, uses crowdsourcing to collect reports of incidents such as illegal-dumping, foul-smelling air, and more. People can report a problem in minutes via computer or mobile device, in English or Spanish, by typing in a description and clicking a category.Complaints can be submitted-anonymously, and details about each report can be viewed by clicking on the dots on the map.
“We’re able to share information back and forth with government, communities,”said Luis Olmedo, executive director of the environmental health advocacy group Comite Civico Del Valle.“I think that’s the future:mapping and allowing the community to be the eyes and ears.”
Japanese crowsourcing marketplace Lancers announced that it has raised 300 million yen ($ 2.9 million) from Globis Capital Partners (GCP) and GMO Venture Partners (GMO-VP). Coinciding with this funding, GCP partner Shinichi Takamiya has joined Lancers’ the board of directors. The startup is also planning to launch a new system in the future, where they will conduct interviews to find potential leaders among freelancers at many locations across the country. They will be approved as ‘qualified freelancers’ and lead projects with other workers located at various locations.
SOURCE LINK: http://www.startup-dating.com/2013/05/lancers-fundraises-from-gcp-and-gmo-vp
What would the new K-Tel “22 Original Hits” collection be for Crowdfunding? Chances are, it would include must-have (and top-funded) presale products like a fly-killing salt gun, a 3D doodling pen, a networked video doorbell, a robotic insect toy, spring-cushion shoes, migraine-relieving eyeglasses, a gourmet cooker that clips onto any pot, stickers that prevent you from losing things, and little clips that mean you’ll never have to tie your shoelaces again.
As a lifelong admirer of such clever things, I love how crowdfunding has unleashed a wave of ingenuity in consumer products. The immediacy of their appeal reminds me of some products advertised on TV, like the Robo Stir or Rollie EggMaster. As with crowdfunding, these Direct Response (DR) products are sold directly to consumers from the entities that make them. That’s why I consider online “pretail” crowdfunding, in which backers fund production runs of products as a way of hopefully buying them in advance, as a new, indie, riskier form of DR. The crowdfunding portals have discovered that campaigns fare much better if they include a video, but the DR people have known this all along.
Dan Williams serves on the board of directors and chairs the Internet and Emerging Media Council of the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA), the main trade organization for the DR industry. ERA member companies spend about 3 billion dollars per year on advertising, mostly television, including both spots (“short-form”) and infomercials (“long-form”). I recently spoke with Dan about crowdfunding and DR. Here’s part one of a three-part conversation:
Direct Response and Crowdfunding
Paul Spinrad, Crowdsourcing.org: What are some examples of ERA member companies or their products?
Dan Williams, Electronic Retailing Association: Some of the larger companies include Guthy-Renker, who make Proactiv and Meaningful Beauty skin care products; Beach Body, known for the P90X workout kit; Euro-Pro, who make Shark vacuums and Ninja blenders, and Telebrands, who make the Flip Jack pancake pan and RoboStir pot stirrer. Electronic Retailer magazine publishes lists in every month for the top 25 spenders in both long form and short form categories, and you can go to the website of each of those advertisers to see the video and ecommerce experience that the users are having.
Is anyone in the industry using crowdfunding, for example to test interest in prototype products?
I don’t know of anyone in the Direct Response space doing this yet. But for indie inventors and product developers who are using crowdfunding themselves, I think there’s an opportunity at ERA conferences. That’s where people with ideas and new products can pitch direct response marketing companies and agencies who can help them on the manufacturing and media sides.
With crowdfunding, I’ve noticed that the campaigns that raise the most funds are often clever gadgets or other things that demo well, and you can buy them in advance. It’s the hardware. You see a video and you say, that’s something I want– it would be great for my kitchen, or great for my house. And you buy it direct from whoever makes it. So I think crowdfunding for products like that resembles traditional electronic retailing.
Yes, but I think there’s a bit of a gap. On the crowdfunding side, it’s mainly inventors. But if you want your new product to succeed at a large scale, you also need people with other expertise: how to get the item manufactured and packaged right, how to market it, how to buy media, ship it on time, offer customer service if someone calls. Inventors typically don’t want to worry about those things. But all of these suppliers and experts who are part of the ERA membership or the direct response community in general– that’s what they do. So I think there’s a great opportunity on both sides.
Yeah, I agree! One thing I’ve seen on the crowdfunding side is that there seems to be a whole ecosystem of companies growing up to support crowdfunders in parallel ways. For example, a company called Dragon Innovations helped the Pebble watch developers get their product manufactured after they were swamped with orders. Companies like Crowdhut, Wrappled, Swish, and Crowd Supply are also helping crowdfunders develop new products or sell them once they’re funded. And I can’t help but think that the wheel is being reinvented here, know what I mean?
You guys are a mature industry. You already have all of the pieces in place for direct retailing; you have it down. Meanwhile, crowdfunding has been great on the new idea and innovations side, and maybe all of these companies that are looking to support crowdfunded consumer products can learn from you. So I think we’ve got to get our folks together.
Yes, for a lot of our companies, it’s formulaic– it’s like “here’s something new, let’s stick it in the machine and see if it works.” Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. Most of them are good on the ideas and great on the execution. You can have lots of money and implode, right? A good idea and money don’t necessarily mean success. But a bad idea and good execution often can be very successful. We see that often– you’ll see a television ad and think, “who would buy that?” Six months later, you see the same commercial and you know that people are buying it.
I think the missing piece that the Direct Response community has is the expertise in bringing a product to market and having the channel expertise to do it right. Some people are really good at health and beauty, others are good at housewares, or at fitness. And sometimes companies that are very successful in one vertical don’t do well when they go to another vertical, because it’s a different methodology. There’s an art and science to it, it’s not just whether you’ve raised some money.
Stay tuned for the final two parts of our conversation later this week…
Addendum: Since this interview took place, the schedule for the 2013 ERA D2C conference in Las Vegas has come out, and it turns out that there will be a 15-minute presentation on crowdfunding there: “How to Successfully Raise Money Through Crowd-Funding,” by Chas Salmore, on September 25 at 10:45am.
Crowdfunding platforms are evolving from relatively simple funding intermediaries to businesses that offer value-added services in addition to gathering money.
We’ve covered a few such budding platforms in the past: CrowdHut, for example, which helps with marketing and acts as a post-campaign e-commerce platform. CrowdSupply, on the other hand, aids entrepreneurs with product fulfillment.
In June, we’ll see another such platform, called TrepLabs, open to the public. TrepLabs is a project initiated by the mobile app search engine Mimvi and Entrepreneur Magazine; recently, it was announced that white label provider Launcht would oversee the crowdfunding aspect of the platform.
Rather than being a standalone crowdfunding solution, TrepLabs is more of a mobile app incubator, with a crowdfunding portion. (The video below provides a good overview of the services the platform will offer.) Startups will have to apply to the program, and, if selected, will work with TrepLabs for two years.
The idea for TrepLabs came about when its founders realized that one of the big under-the-radar problems in the mobile space was “independent app developers getting priced out of the market they created,” Mimvi’s CRO Eric Rice told Crowdsourcing.org.
“The numbers are very skewed, the industry is dominated on the top level,” Rice elaborated. “The top five or two and a half percent of developers bring in 60 to 70 percent of the revenue.”
TrepLabs’ mission is to help the little guys succeed. In order to be admitted into the program, app developers must go through a vetting process. Rice said the team is looking for developers that can code on their own (so they don’t have to spend time and money outsourcing the actual development of the app) have great ideas, and can work efficiently. Rice said roughly ten percent of developers that have contacted them have fit the criteria.
“Then, we put together a profile, look at it, and vote on who the top four or five are this month,” Rice explained. “For the next 30 to 45 days, we essentially repackage the company and incubate them. We’ll develop a revenue model that fits the audience, so it’s not just paid download. We’ll seek corporate sponsorship, we may take the code and license it, we may outright sell an app. Then, we’ll slowly begin to align their marketing campaign for their TrepLabs launch.”
Rice said apps will get heavy exposure before launching the crowdfunding campaign — that’s where the partnership with Entrepreneur Magazine comes in handy. Campaigns will carry unique perks that are more substantive than just t-shirts (though those will also be in the mix), which should entice backers to pledge relatively large amounts of money, Rice noted.
The vast majority of apps on TrepLabs will be finished or nearly complete, so there’s virtually no risk of an app getting funded and backers not receiving their reward. Rice said TrepLabs decided to partner with Launcht for the crowdfunding portion both because of the platform’s functionality, and also because of founder Freeman White’s involvement in crowdfunding regulations. (Perhaps there’s an equity crowdfunding component on the horizon?)
TrepLabs itself won’t take an equity stake in the apps it works with; rather, it will share in the future revenue, which aligns the incubator’s incentives squarely with the app’s.
Ultimately, the goal is to give developers the highest chance of succeeding in a competitive field.
“We like to think of the app business in general as Las Vegas,” Rice said. “The developer sits down at the table, puts down his money, and from there, there’s a huge, monster casino that wins all of the time. The only way the little guy can win is by improving his odds, and getting better. So, for the two years that we work with these guys, our mission is to ensure that these entrepreneurs’ odds are improved in every single move that they make.”
Shekra stands for “Sharek Fekra” and is a specialized crowd funding platform in Egypt dedicated to bridging the gap between entrepreneurs and a wide spectrum of investors.
Shekra is a crowd funding solution supporting startups education, legalities, funding, mentoring, and monitoring processes.
Shekra has a special focus on upgrading the success rate of startups in the region to cope with global standards.
Journalism, as an industry, has gone through difficult times since publications moved online.
Ad revenues are down and local newspapers are closing, leaving many reporters unemployed. Crowdfunding has been brought up as a potential solution, and individual campaigns have shown that the new way of fundraising can, indeed, support journalism.
Consider, for example, Planet Money’s recent Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $ 600,000 from over 20,000 backers. Or, the Dutch news startup ‘De Correspondent’ that raised $ 1.3 million before publishing a single article. On a smaller scale, Homicide Watch D.C., raised over $ 45,000 for a crime reporting lab.
But we have yet to see a crowdfunding platform for journalism take off in a big way. That’s not to say these platforms don’t exist: one of current players in the space, Emphas.is, focuses on the photojournalism niche and has funded over 45 such projects. But it’s one of very few successful platforms. Spot.us, a pioneer in the crowdfunded journalism field, started off with much promise, but hasn’t funded a story since November 2012.
There’s a lot of untapped potential here, and Vourno, a new platform that launched today, is taking a crack at filling the crowdfunded journalism gap.
The idea for the platform came to the founders two years ago, when they saw the increasingly polarized nature of news. Founder Joseph Verdirame and his team decided to create an alternate way for funding journalism that would lead to more balanced reporting.
“We wanted to allow the public to determine what they want to fund,” he said.
The platform gets its name from the combination ‘video’ and ‘journalism,’ but is not focused only on video reports. The content, Verdirame told Crowdsourcing.org, should have a video component to them, but can be primarily text or photo-based.
Journalists will have a month to raise money through the platform, and must meet their funding goal to receive the cash. Verdirame says the platform will give 91 percent of the funds raised to the reporters (called ‘vournos’), with the rest going toward credit card processing fees and the Vourno team.
Backers (‘pubs’) won’t receive tangible rewards for their donations, like on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, because the funding goals will be much lower ($ 5000 to $ 10,000), and because a journalist won’t have the time to design, manufacture, and ship out the doodads while working on a story. The backers’ reward, instead, is being able to shape the news. In addition to funding the stories they want to see covered, pubs will also be able to pitch ideas to reporters.
“What we’re doing is giving journalists who don’t have the ability to pitch to the New York Times, or Al Jazeera, or major networks – we’re giving them the opportunity to raise money and showcase their work on our network,” Verdirame said.
Vourno is launching as a funding and distribution platform, but Verdirame is thinking much bigger in the long run, hoping to turn the portal into an outright news hub. The goal is to show original reports and implement a revenue share model for the funders.
Stories, Verdirame says, will stay on Vourno for a week before their creators will be able to push them out to other outlets. Part of the revenue they earn off the ads will go to the crowd, creating a clear incentive for backers to participate.
That’s still off in the future, thought, and the platform is initially hoping to attract potential journalists and test out the concept before rolling out all the features its creators envision.
“To start, vournos are able to create a story, receive funding, gain independence, build a following, increase credibility, and maximize their exposure,” Verdirame summarized.
One concern in crowfunding journalism is the risk of fraud, as reporters are not supported by a large organization that can vouch for them. Verdirame says his platform will be largely self-policing, with the crowd weeding out potential fraudsters, much like on other platforms. Vourno will also have a rating system to help highlight the most talented stories and reporters. One big incentive for journalists to not run with the money is the fact that reputation is key in the industry – a reporter who is flagged as a fraudster will find it hard to find work in other organizations.
Verdirame acknowledges that breaking into the crowdfunding journalism field may a challenge, with no clear best practices set up and with relatively few success stories to date.
“It’s going to be a challenge to start, but we think there’s an opportunity,” Verdirame said. “We’ve differentiated ourselves by having a distribution platform, by having a rating and ranking system, and by keeping it truly independent where any story can be created.”
With few players making waves in the field, Vourno has little competition to worry about, and a whole industry to fund. We’ll be sure to follow the platform as it develops over the next few months.
Listen to our bite-sized podcast of the week’s top crowdsourcing and crowdfunding headlines, in which we cover all the most important developments in the industries and the broader world of the crowd, and all in less than 10 minutes.
For the full half-hour version of the podcast, which includes the headlines and more in-depth discussion of the reaction to our top stories — Mark Cuban‘s new crowdsourcing project and the fun of Freakstarter — visit the main episode page here for full audio and video versions. For just the top headlines, play or download this short version below:
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Stories covered in the Crowded Room this week:
- Zach Braff controversy deepens
- Crowdcube crowdfunds itself
- WiSeed’s self-run raise
- Ventus crowdsourced CO2 emissions map
- Wikipedia live edits map
- Mark Cuban takes to crowdsourcing the Mavericks’ uniforms
- South Korea looking to legalize crowdfunding
- Pebble raises $ 15 million
- Geniuscrowds closes
- “51″ crowdfunding campaign