Now the most obvious blog for K would be about a rather famous crowdfunding platform that has in the last year extended into the UK. But no, I was determined to find our own K. So I came up with Killer Ideas. I’ll talk about platforms another time – wait for P!
Killer Ideas are what makes a crowdfund. They are the hook that makes people’s ears prick up, and then entices them to put their hands in their pocket. SoLoCo works on the principle that a crowdfund has pillars that you can base your campaign on as follows:
“hook, social media engagement, network, geography, capacity, reputation and branding”
Of these, the critical pillar is the hook – and if your product or service doesn’t have a hook you need a killer idea within your campaign to make one.
When we crowdfunded with Nucoco we wanted to raise funds to help a chocolate company afford its branding and packaging. At first glance you may feel this would be easy ‘everybody likes chocolate’. But do they like it enough to donate more than the sum of a chocolate bar? The product was delicious, but what would make them stand out from other hand-made chocolate houses? So, we had to create a hook. Our ‘killer idea’ was to sell handmade chocolate and cake bricks that at the end of the campaign would form an edible installation. So we went all Willy Wonka – even to the point of hiding a ‘golden ticket’ worth £1000 in one of the bricks.
If you’re product or service doesn’t make waves, think of your killer idea first and how to build that into your campaign. Remember the social media world is a noisy place. Killer ideas can help you to rise above it and be noticed.
The Glasgow Chambers of Commerce recognised the emerging trend of businesses turning to the crowd for funding and wanted to know what the scene was like in Scotland.
At the end of June 2013 the GCC received the hotly awaited report by Twintangibles detailing the crowdfunding market in Scotland.
What was a little surprising was the massive under-utilisation of Crowdfunding in Scotland. In the UK, crowdfunding was worth £200m and so if you were to take 8% of that- as Scotland is 8% of the UK population- you would expect to see about £16m being raised. However there is less than £1m being funded this way. In looking for reasons of this Twintangibles left this open to speculation.
Why aren’t there more platforms and money being raised in Scotland?
Well Scotland is starting its own platform crowd. We have the recently released SquareKnot that is a really flexible platform allowing businesses to choose between a combination of equity,reward based and peer to peer crowdfunding. Then there is reward platform Bloom VC which launched back in 2011 just after our own platform launch (please click here to read further). Next month will see the launch of ShareIn, an equity-based platform based in Edinburgh focusing on tech and bio-tech.
If we look across the water to the more high profile campaigns by Obama, Veronica Mars, Zach Braffs and Smosh they have allowed crowdfunding to become more commonplace in America. Whereas in Scotland the highest profile campaign we have is BrewDog and their excellent Equity for Punks campaign -although strictly speaking that was a public IPO.
It will be interesting to watch out for further research in this area as it could be a number of things- Are Scots just wary? Do we have smaller disposable incomes in the first place? Have they not come across a campaign that moved them? Is it a cultural thing that we’re a bit more reluctant to donate to business?
There are many possible reasons it could be but crowdfunding seems here to stay and as many organisations that hand out grants are looking for innovative ways to fund raise and banks can see it as proving a product or venture has real consumer potential, small businesses need to start getting in touch with the motivations of their customers or else they will be missing out on some serious cash.
Our friends who make fabulously nutritious pizzas have asked for our help with an idea of theirs. They desperately need a new van to keep up with demand at events for their pizza’s and to be able to go to new events. They thought crowdfunding would be a great way to help them reach their goals, so we have helped them prepare everything that they will need prior to their launch last week.
Whilst they have featured in the TV series The Entrepreneurs, that showed the ups and downs of getting their product to the wider market, and won many awards such as The Scottish EDGE, Best New Product and have also been acknowledged as a business with the highest impact, yet they still face tough challenges. As their blog shows they have had a particularly bumpy ride with their past sampling vans.
Like any crowdfund, there are several challenges faced and the key here is ensuring the tone of voice is appropriate. This is a highly visible start-up and they have their products in several supermarkets. However, they are still a start-up, and finding smaller amounts of funds for new projects is a massive challenge. Remember Nucoco? We crowdfunded £12,000 for their branding and packaging for the same reasons.
SoLoCo have helped with their campaign strategy, rewards and social media strategy up until the launch. Eat Balanced have taken it on from there, and I think they have hit exactly the right tone of voice, producing fun imagery to show what the funds can buy. It won’t be easy, but it is one to watch. I wish them well!
If you would like to support them and get your name on their new van – or spend a day with the Eat Balanced team and Professor Lean tasting pizzas, click here.
What’s under your feet? Could you be living above an undiscovered Roman settlement?
Archaeology Scotland are celebrating an important time in their calendar- Scottish Archaeology Month- and to kick it off they are planing a dig of national significance. The residents of Fairmilehead are being asked to explore a square metre of their gardens to dig for evidence of Roman habitation. Due to conflicting historical maps a group of archaeologists believe that a temporary Roman Settlement could have set up camp in this area. These findings would fill in the missing piece of a trail of roman settlements found across lowland Scotland.
The dig is mostly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund but for Archaeology Scotland to really do everything they want for the weekend they need to raise an additional £1500. SoLoCo is helping by giving them the tools and knowledge they will need to engage with their existing membership as well as by reaching out to new members to explore community archaeology; skilling up people interested in the past with the know-how to find hidden treasures in their own back garden, without needing a huge team of archaeologists behind them.
Contributors to the Roman Quest weekend will be taught how to dig and identify remains, they will also be invited to the end of weekend party and will get the chance to see what has been discovered and what those findings mean. And for those who fund £150 they can participate in a private dig with a Roman historian at their side.
The more households who can participate, the more information they can gather for the archaeologists and historians. If you live in that area, or know someone who does and want to join in then please contact Dianne Laing at Archaeology Scotland.
If you would like to contribute to the fund and join the after dig party, just click here!
Last month saw FirstPort’s Founders Fund successfully complete a crowdfund raising £4235, which was £1235 over their target. So, how did they do it?
SoLoCo helped them to work out their messaging, campaign strategy, social media strategy and appropriate platform to raise funds for the ‘Barry Ayre Award’, an award won by social enterprise City of Play.
The £3,000 target was to celebrate the achievements of the outgoing Chair and Founder of First Port, Barry Ayre as well as those of social entrepreneurs who FirstPort have supported over the years.
So this is what we did.
Helped to Create a Network Asset Map of all the social enterprises supported by FirstPort as well as other social enterprise network organisations in Scotland.
Identified the appropriate messaging based on the SoLoCo crowdfunding pillars: reputation, branding, social media engagement, networks, geography and hook.
Identified relevant rewards
Identified the appropriate platform – in this case buzzbnk.
Challenges and our solution.
Having identified the networks and how to communicate with them, we wanted to work on a strategy that counteracted the ‘big dip’, the time half way through a crowdfund where activity tends to ease off. The aim is to find something that will re-energise the campaign; you want to attract new audiences without boring those who funded you in the early stages and you really want to keep the momentum going.
Because the crowdfund was for an award, we announced the shortlist two weeks before the end, and those who donated could also vote for who they wanted to win, which meant that the friends and families of the shortlisted entrepreneurs wanted to join in and share the crowdfund too.
Really work on your network Asset Map. Are there people who you know you can call on to donate on Day 1. There is nothing worse than seeing a crowdfund with no money in it’s first week.
Work out what your hook is – why will people want to stick their hands in their pocket for you?
Make sure your rewards are relevant to your campaign. T-shirts and wristbands may be easy to organise, but is it really something that your target market wants?
What can you do half way through the crowdfund to revitalise the campaign, bring in a new audience? (if you’re bored, so are your followers!)
Ask around from other people who’ve crowdfunded – what is the customer service, technology been like to use?
If you have an idea and would like some help to crowdfund it contact us here
If your stuck on which crowdfunding platform to choose, the UK Crowdfunding Association (UKCFA) was established in 2012 and has a voluntary code of practice so you can be assured that your money is safe. They go beyond the rules imposed on them by the financial authorities and it gives you more piece of mind as it’s designed to protect those participating in crowdfunding. Members even allow you to have a cooling off period if you decide your donation was misspent.
There are 12 founding members but Trillion Fund have some great youtube videos explaining who they are and the different types of investment available for crowdfunds- the difference between donation, loan and equity. Here is a wonderful video on what crowdfunding is.
Each founding member has a slightly different target market so they can harmoniously work together in this national association;
– Is focused on renewable energy projects.
Bank to the Future
– Raise finance not just by donation/reward/P2P/Equity but a combination of these methods.
-Specialises in social venture crowdfunds.
– Innovative crowdfund platform that began from a story about an egg.
– Is an equity only platform.
– Utilises a reward based crowdfund platform to also call for peoples time and skills.
– Equity based platform for social and environmental businesses.
– A not-for-profit investment platform.
– Specifically for game developers.
– Best for start-ups.
– Connects individuals to existing companies for investment.
– For educational fundraising.
-Renewable energy focused in supplying low carbon energy projects.
We have gone slightly off piste with this post but it was so good that it got to skip the queue! I came across this Ted Talk and it reminded that this is what happens when you are engaging with people on a crowd fund. They believe what you believe and that’s why they want to be a part of it. Make the time to watch it, it’ll be worth it.
The Conversation Prism is an evolving piece of research by Brian Solis.
It tracks different social media sites and is a super cool infographic that highlights that there is more than Twitter and Facebook out there to reach enthusiasts- even though we talk about them a lot. This is it’s fourth incarnation and shows that there are 26 different social networking services and shows the major companies in those categories. It is useful when you don’t really know where to start and are working out which sites you want to have a presence on.
This is a beautiful piece of information and showcases that you can not possibly gain a presence on every social network and identifying where your audience spends their time is crucial to saving you time and money.
We have been set a challenge in the name of engagement. An Icelandic holiday company, Icelandic Farm Holidays, approached us and asked to find 100 British people who have been to Iceland in the last 18 months, who stayed outside the capital Reykjavik. The aim is get feedback from tourists about their travels to Iceland, so they can market and engage more effectively directly to those who would relish the idea of exploring rural Iceland. And the challenge felt like a fun one, so we took it on.
So, how do you find 100 adventurous Brits who have visited and stayed in the far reaches of Iceland?
This has had us thinking, a lot. Using the methodology that we’ve developed for crowdfunding to create our social media campaign we realised that there was one big gap. Where we would usually use a network asset map to establish connections from the crowdfund owners, we are trying to find people that our client doesn’t know and hasn’t yet met. By cracking this, we will be able to help crowdfunds to extend their reach quicker outwith their friends and family.
We want to be as transparent and authentic as possible as our client is offering truly authentic Icelandic experiences throughout rural areas with real Icelandic people. Getting back on their feet after the financial crisis has been tough for Iceland, and tourism is one industry that can really help.
There is a plethora of forms of online communication. We have Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and Reddit- and then we have the more traditional forms such as email and telephone. Each tool reaches out to a different type of person in a different way. And we have to think about tone of voice, content and ultimately ‘conversion’ – in this case completing a survey, the ‘reward’ being a chance to win 4 nights for 2 accommodation in a rural location.
So the search is on. Oh, and if you know of anybody who has been to Iceland in the last 18 months and stayed outwith Reykjavik send them to this link!
However well your crowdfund does, the whole process from start to finish is a journey. A journey that is so fast and pressurised it is like going through a wormhole, compressing everything into an 8 week period; your marketing vision, your relationship with your customers and your handle on social media!
In order to ensure your journey develops more wormhole rather than blackhole it is key that you take note of several things:
Planning. Your plan will change, but work out what each member of the team will do for every day of the crowdfund. Who will you contact, and how. What visuals will you produce? Who will do the thank yous? Make sure you understand your core message, but change how you say it so it doesn’t get boring! At the end of your crowdfund you can look back and see how much of your original plan changed!
Your donors are your customers. They are gold-dust. They will get to know you very well over the period of the crowdfund, and you will certainly get to know what they like and what they don’t like, be prepared to listen. Some companies spend a lot of money on this kind of information – you, instead, are spending an intensive period of time, and lots of sweat.
Use your crowdfund to co-create. Let your donors help develop your product or service. If you’ve got them hooked they’ll have plenty of ideas from their perspective and will be more loyal in the longer term.
The end of the crowdfund is really only the beginning. Before your launch, few people will have heard of you or what you are trying to do. Now you are in the public eye – you’ve made promises and now it’s time to keep them. Make sure if you’ve got rewards, send them with thank you’s, send them on time, and send them to the right address!
Make sure you take a break at the end. It is such an intensive period of time, emotions are frayed and you may even ask ‘was it worth it’. It really will have been, but to get onto the next phase you really need to be fresh, not run ragged and have no energy.
Watch our film interview with Medicine’s Dark Secrets here just after they finished their crowdfund on Indiegogo. Learn from them how they managed their journey, and what tips they have for others deciding to crowdfund.