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Anyone can cash in on internet crowds

Anyone can cash in on internet crowds

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Published by Crowdsourcing.org

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Jun 06, 2012
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Anyone can cash in on internet crowds
PUBLISHED : 04 Jun 2012 13:03:00 | Caitlin FitzsimmonsMelbourne’s Kylie Gusset holds the Australian record for the most funds raised by an individual using crowd sourcingafter she corraled $38,893 to buy a tonne of premium wool directly from a farmer in Tasmania.
Arsineh Houspian
On the same day Facebook floated on the Nasdaq stock exchange valued at $US104 billion, another technologystart-up smashed a record for a very different funding model.Pebble Technology, based in Palo Alto, California, raised $US10.27 million via crowd-funding website Kickstarter for itsPebble watch, which works with iPhones or Android phones.Crowd-funding websites allow entrepreneurs to get their ideas in front of a large audience and may enable them toraise small amounts of money from some of those individuals.In the case of Pebble Technology, it was able to go one step further, the 68,929 individuals who backed the projectactually bought a watch turning them into customers instead of just investors.The $10 million is the biggest amount raised so far by crowd-funding websites such as Kickstarter, Pozible, IndieGoGoand StartSomeGood.Australian-based Pozible is picking up more business and, while the US is ahead of the curve, Australia is set for an“explosion” in crowd-funding, a co-founder of the website, Rick Chen, says.So far the record on Pozible is held by news website New Matilda, which raised $175,838 for the relaunch of itswebsite, while Melbourne-based Kylie Gusset holds the record for the most funds raised by an individual.Gusset, a sole trader specialising in hand-dyed yarns and fibres, raised $38,893 last year to buy a tonne of premiumwool directly from a farmer in Tasmania and organise small-scale, local processing.A tonne of wool was the smallest amount the processors would accept and she needed at least $33,000 to cover hercosts.“There is very little yarn that is being processed in Australia,” Gusset says. “I wanted to educate end users, which isprimarily the hand knitting market, and encourage the production of slow textiles in the same way that we’ve seen slowfood happen in Australia.“As a result of the project, I’m now with the School of Social Entrepreneurs in order to build a viable business.”The founder of Perth-based Littlesweet Baking, Megan Henry, who raised $12,150 on Pozible at the start of this year,describes the project as a “great experience”.The money is to pay for the design of new packaging and a corporate identity so that Henry can realise her dream ofcreating products such as premium cake mixes to sell in retail stores.“There were so many more benefits to me other than just raising the capital,” Henry says. “It took on a life of its ownwith people sharing the project with me. Also, new customers found me through the project. I’ve had a 200 per centsales increase since then and I went from being reasonably busy baking for markets to running a full-time business andemploying a part-time worker.”Henry set a Pozible record for the fastest successful project by blasting past her initial fundraising target of $5000 in just nine hours. By the end of 30 days she had raised more than double that.Henry credits her success to the fact that she already had a product with great word-of-mouth buzz and she wasoffering tangible rewards, in the form of boxes of brownies and vouchers.She promoted the project on her company’s Facebook page, where she had about 1200 fans at the time, mostly peoplewho had direct experience of Littlesweet Baking.
Anyone can cash in on internet crowdshttp://brw.com.au/p/sections/emerging_companies/anyone_can_cash_in...1 of 36/6/2012 1:23 PM
In fact, Henry’s project hit upon what Pozible’s Chen describes as the two secrets of successful crowd-funding – a goodreward structure and an active presence on social media.“Rewards are really, really important, especially if you want to target people who are not friends or family but strangersinterested in buying your product,” Chen says. “Before the campaign starts, you need to think about how you can getthe word out there to target people who might be interested in what you are doing.”About 45 per cent of projects started on Pozible succeed and statistics are similar on other sites. Like Kickstarter,funding is all or nothing, so you can raise more than your minimum. However, if you don’t reach the baseline, you getnothing.What sounds like a disadvantage, is in fact it is a plus for many entrepreneurs. The fact that creators are not expectedto deliver projects with only partial funding means you can test your concept on the market without risk.Although based in Australia, Pozible takes projects and donations from all around the world and in multiple currenciesvia PayPal. StartSomeGood and IndieGoGo are both based in the US but open to Australians. However, Kickstarter – probably the best known crowd-funding site thanks to the success of high-profile projects such as the Pebble watch – isdifficult for Australians to access because it requires a US bank account.A co-founder of Melbourne-based Annex Products, Rob Ward, says he and his business partner jumped through hoopsto get their project on to Kickstarter and it was worth the effort.The company has successfully raised capital via Kickstarter twice – $US41,209 in January this year for a Quad Lockcase that lets you mount your iPhone to your bike, car or wall and $US28,303 for an Opena case that doubles as aniPhone shell and a bottle opener.Ward knew that a large part of his target audience was in the United States and that he also had a greater chance ofreceiving press coverage on US tech blogs for a Kickstarter project.“I find that Aussies and Europeans are happy to back American sites but Americans are not as happy to backAustralian sites, even if using PayPal,” Ward says. “We were thinking global the whole time.”However, the choice of platform matters less than people think, an Australian co-founder of StartSomeGood, TomDawkins, says.“There’s almost no such thing as a Kickstarter community. People come to support a specific project and 80 per cent ofpledges are one-off donations,” Dawkins says. “There’s not a crowd out there waiting to fund your project. You have tobring people to it.”He says you can have the same success using any of the crowd-funding sites but he advises project creators to have astory to tell and “think about the frame you want to put around it”.Kickstarter and Pozible are for creative projects – a broad definition that also encompasses design, technology andfood – while StartSomeGood is for social entrepreneurship and IndieGoGo is more of general-purpose platform.Another factor is the structure. While, Kickstarter and Pozible share the all-or-nothing model, other sites take a differentapproach. With IndieGoGo, you keep any funds raised but the website takes a bigger cut if you don’t reach your target,while StartSomeGood allows for tiered funding goals.Dawkins says one of the biggest misconceptions people have about crowd funding is that they assume that it isunsuitable for business. In fact, the opposite is true. “People are completely comfortable with it being for-profit at anearly stage,” he says.
Traps for new players
| Caitlin FitzsimmonsCrowd funding is not quite money for nothing but considering you get to test your ideas directly on the market withoutgoing into debt or giving up ownership, it is pretty close to it. Yet less than half of all projects succeed, so here is how toincrease your odds.DO have a project with a defined ending and a story to tell. One of the advantages of crowd funding is that it forces youto think things through.DON’T fret about which platform to use – there are differences but it is ultimately just a set of tools.
Anyone can cash in on internet crowdshttp://brw.com.au/p/sections/emerging_companies/anyone_can_cash_in...2 of 36/6/2012 1:23 PM

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