Crowdfunding for Independence

It’s an interesting time to be living in Scotland.  Politics is the talk at the dinner table, in the pub, even at work – and everybody is getting involved, children and adults. And interestingly, so far about 70% of the people I talk to about it are positive about prospective independence for lots of different reasons and at this stage would vote yes.

I find this fascinating, because out of the 37 papers in the UK not one is pro-independence. That means that all these people are finding out information, debate and resolve from other sources.  And then I noticed this.  Wings over Scotland, a pro-independence newspaper crowdfunded over £30,000 on Indiegogo in 2013.  With still 16 hours to go for their second annual fundraiser they sit at £89,370 exceeding their target by £36,370.

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A recent poll by STV has found that WOS is the single most-relied-on named source for independence facts in Scotland.  Their monthly readership has gone up by 783%.  Since then, a poster campaign to promote Wings over Scotland has been pulled by SPT from the Glasgow underground, possibly the best publicity the newspaper could have hoped for.  The news has gone viral in the last week.

So, whatever your thoughts about independence, what crowdfunding has done is enabled WOS to find and engage a readership that is now double the online monthly readership of the Scotsman. This model could be the way forward to fund the media in future; those who value it will pay for its services and continue to support it. In terms of WOS, what will be interesting is to see what happens after the referendum – and will people feel the need to campaign anymore, whatever the outcome.  This is one to watch.

 

Bucking Barbie

Screenshot 2014-03-17 09.26.20For years little girls have been playing with Barbie, a pinched, leggy blonde who has had such an influence on our culture that there are now teens and adults, emulating the look of Barbie. Just watch a couple of episodes of ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’ and you’ll see what I mean.

However, Pittsburgh artist Nickolay Lamm has just designed a doll based on the ‘average teen size’.  The 25 year old decided to see if his idea would work by setting up this crowdfund to raise $95,000 to fund the manufacture. Crowdfunding is a fantastic opportunity to test the market with a prototype, to see if your idea gets a thumbs up.  And this one certainly has – with 19 days left, Lammily has raised $441,148 – which is 465% funded.  He’d reached is initial goal within the first 24 hours.

In stark contrast to Barbie, Lammily wears hardly any makeup, denim shorts, blue dip-dye shirt and white trainers. She is of ‘average proportions’, based on 3D modelling of the size of the average teen throughout the US.  I myself was tweeted at with the link to this, and as a mother, was immediately inspired to give it to my 10 year old daughter – not because she plays with dolls anymore, but because it’s a great symbol of how I think this doll can stand for normality.

What this campaign has highlighted is people getting behind a movement, spreading a message, as much as it is funding the manufacture of a doll and I for one have joined it.  However, I’m not sure if the next generations will be emulating Lammily as they have done for Barbie – but who knows what might come next.  One to watch.

Why Crowdfunding Can Help Mankind

One of the things I love about crowdfunding is that it can circumnavigate the risk averse and, as a result it can achieve greatness and can help to change the world. This week saw another Crowdcube crowdfund smash its target by £30,000 to raise £150,000 to make landmine disposal technology. The founders had originally tried going down the traditional investment route, but had constantly hit their heads against brick walls as the VC’s were either very cynical or risk-averse about investing in what the founders saw as life-saving and life-changing technology. For co-founder Arpana Gandh, it was important that they support charity workers, NGO’s and commercial organisations to make their jobs easier and safer through more effective and lower cost technology.

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This is why crowdfunding can work so well – a group of people see an idea they love, and want to help to make it work – they’re not as concerned as a VC about getting a return, they just want to see it happen.  As a result social and life-changing technology is more likely to be funded through this route without the immediate pressure of having to make a multi-fold return in the next 3 years. The irony is however,  that now it has been funded, it probably will make a mulit-fold return anyway as there are, unfortunately, so many countries in need.

So, a big congratulations to both Disarmco, Crowdcube and all of their investors, the world will hopefully be a little bit of a better place as a result.