Source: Lonesome George Is Dead At 100
On April 5, President Obama will sign the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. Among other things, the new law will allow privately held startups with a fundraising goal of $1 million or less to sell unregistered stock to the public through approved crowdfunding sites. And that means startups seeking money from the public will now be able to offer investors a cash return, not just a promotional gimme, a token service or a hearty “Thanks a lot!” in exchange for their largesse.
How can companies giving away T-shirts compete with that? With a perfect pitch and cool perks. Like a phone call from a celebrity – it worked for George “Dr. Funkenstein” Clinton!
The JOBS Act makes selling stock easier, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s a smart move for every startup. Fortunately, selling stock still isn’t necessarily required to land large sums of cash. Double Fine Productions, a San Francisco gamemaker, raised a record $3.3 million for a new game and documentary through crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Contributors were given a copy of the game, the film and other gifts. People who gave over $10,000 got to have lunch with the game’s designer.
Double Fine founder Tim Schafer told the San Francisco Chronicle that he’d think about selling shares down the road but notes that giving up equity in return for just $1 million doesn’t make sense for Double Fine. “We raised three times that giving away lunches and T-shirts.”
But the law will doubtless bring an increase in the number of businesses looking to sell stock online. And that means stiffer competition for any company hoping to raise money online the old-fashioned way, by offering contributors cool perks. So how can your startup stand out at a crowded crowdfunding site?
We asked Slava Rubin, CEO and cofounder of four-year-old IndieGoGo, the largest crowdfunding site by number of campaigns:
Perfect your pitch. Your pitch should be engaging – and nothing engages like video. Rubin says it’s essential to any funding campaign. Companies with a video pitch raise 114% more money than those without. “It can be video of anything but you want it to be personal and engaging. Not just you selling aggressively or begging for money. That absolutely does not work.”
Set a hard deadline. Short campaigns work better than long ones. Rubin says successful campaigns typically reach their funding target around day 36 of a 47-day campaign. “Be aggressive with your deadline and keep the ball rolling. If a deadline is too long there’s a lull that’s detrimental to your campaign.”
Start fast. Nobody funds a company if nobody else is funding it, which means your campaign will stand a better chance if you get early contributions from friends and family. “We know you need to get 30 to 40 percent of your funding from your inner circle,” Rubin says. “That includes friends, family and all your social network connections.” Once you get that, strangers are more willing to jump on board. “Also, it helps you get on our homepage and in our blog or newsletter, which raises your exposure even more.” Rubin says campaigns get, on average, 20% of funding from complete strangers, 30 percent from friends and family and 40 to 50% from their first-degree network.
Stay busy. You can’t simply post your fundraising campaign and walk away. You must update regularly to keep the narrative fresh. Rubin says fundraisers who update every five days or less raise four times more money than those who update every 20 days or more. “And ‘update’ means saying something like, ‘We have a new perk today. Or, ‘Thank you John, Jan and Billy for contributing.’ Or, ‘Hey, we just found a new designer for our new product.’ You also really have to leverage you social media networks on email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.”
Offer cool perks. Rubin says 90% of the IndieGoGo campaigns that hit their target offer gifts and perks – and the more creative they are, the better. “We’ve seen everything from a personal phone call from funk legend George Clinton, who was raising money on the site to refurbish his recording studio, to a personal thank you etched on an antique Seltzer bottle, from a Seattle-based startup that delivers seltzer water in antique bottles.”
Better perks for bigger donors. Rubin recommends offering different perks for different levels of contribution. Say, one for donations of $25 or less, one for donations up to $100 and one for donations over $100 “You also want an aspirational perk for really high contributions of like $5,000 or $15,000. We actually see these four-digit contributions a number of times a day and for aspirational perks we’ve seen like a private show of a band at your house or a private dinner catered for you.”
Find strength in numbers. Rubin says startups with four or more people on the team raise 70% more money than those with just one person.
Set a realistic goal. Not realistic as in low. Realistic as in reasonable. Rubin says funders viewing your pitch must see that it’s doable. “It means people can feel they can trust what you’re setting out to do can be accomplished. So don’t raise $3 million for a short film and don’t raise $20 to build a new mall.”
It’s your best friend from 5th grade’s birthday, and you almost missed it because you were stalking your 7th grade best friend on Facebook. The time is now 9pm, in your time zone. In a moment of freedom, you return to Facebook.com and notice the tiny birthday notifications in the upper-righthand corner. Is it too late to wish your 5th grade best friend a happy Facebook birthday? You race over to his page and try to say something witty. “Happy birthday bro-dude!” you write, crouched over your keyboard. You were on Facebook this morning but were way too busy trying to just catch up on the newsfeed-filtered news of the day and forgot to pay attention to birthdays. And now, you just feel sad.
In our information-overload culture that lives as excited, exclamation-point riddled posts on Facebook and dies as wish-I-hadn’t-said-that status updates that you later delete when, hopefully, no one is watching (but who knows who is watching, really), it is easy to miss the moments that actually matter, truly mean something.
So now to the point of my story: There’s an app for that, and it attempts to address some of the “too-many-friends” syndrome that some Facebook users know quite well.
Launched yesterday, TapJoy‘s Karma for iPhone app connects with your Facebook account and attempts to identify and highlight your most meaningful connections and their important moments. These milestones/moments include birthdays, new jobs, important events (moving day, birthday, art shows on my Karma app screen), other celebrations (engagements) and “tough days” (a friend’s dog died, a cat died, a fellow journalist died). The app implies that important events call for spontaneous gifts.
“We wanted to be able to connect to friends in those moments,” CEO Ben Linden tells Co.Design. “So this is an in-the-moment gift service.” To that point, he adds: “We grew tired of missing important moments like a baby or a graduation,”
For people who mix various communities on Facebook, this means that there’s an impulsive moment available anytime, anywhere, to buy gifts for your Facebook friends. There is a nice variety of potential gifts to give, including Vosges chocolate, whisky stones, a morse code necklace or handmade gourmet candies. If you don’t like the gift, you can exchange it for something else in the Karma app store.
Gift-Giving As A Quick Fix
Today, the beloved Leap Day, happens to be my Facebook friend David Ford‘s birthday. David is a Kansas City-based artist who I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago. I explored the inner workings of his mind through a studio visit. (I also reviewed one of his shows for the magazine Art Papers.) In his work, David discusses his love/hate kinda relationship with this country, evidenced through the passionate, at times fervent brush strokes that slide across his paintings. His work juxtaposes classic American symbols with faux luxury moments to paint a provocative, oft-times paradoxical view of the American cultural landscape.
Your Face Here, 2008 (courtesy of DavidFordArt.com)
Karma app suggests Whisky Stones (™) as one of the gifts I could send to David on his Leap Day birthday. To do this, all I have to do is click through and select the gift and David as the recipient. Karma sends a text, email or Facebook message to him so that he will get it and open the (virtual) gift immediately. Then I have to ask David where he wants the (real) gift shipped. Instantaneous delivery! Karma achieved, momentarily!
But there is one caveat: The act of gift-giving through this means provides a temporary fix, not long-lasting satisfaction. The Karma app creators understand.
“We found ourselves relegated to a Facebook post or making a note to buy them a card at CVS and then we’d forget,” Linden said in an interview. “We’d feel really terrible about that.”
What this app also does is contribute to the strange cultural phenomenon of over-friending, which has essentially cluttered news feeds and caused bizarre overlap amongst Facebook users’ normally neatly segmented lives. It’s like the Seinfeld “Independent George/Worlds Collide” episode. It’s yet another reason Facebook birthdays are so weird. Not even Facebook lists can help truly manage the menagerie of friends one has. At the end of the day, sometimes defriending is the best option.
So what of the Karma app for iPhone? Yes, I implore you to try it, see how it feels. Tell me a story about it in the comments section. Like Facebook, it’s pretty good at identifying users you interact with often and are thus deemed important to you. Of course, it cannot read into the intricacies of human relationships. That’s something you’ll have to do offline.
A few weeks ago, RWW Channels Editor David Strom posted Why BYOD Isn’t a Trend. He skewers the notion that BYOD is new, notes that IT leaders have dealt with user-purchased tech for generations, and declares the “consumerization of IT” a new name for an old trend.
Strom’s take away: BYOD has been around since the ’80s, and the only change is that it is now writ large, thanks to low-cost smartphones, tablets, and Internet-enabled access to corporate data. But he asks the wrong question and misses a much more important point, about how rapid the influx of tablets is changing enterprise IT. Don’t ask if BYOD is a trend. Ask what IT leaders are doing about BYOD.
Study after study shows that IT organizations are not ready and not reacting to this exponential growth. Many have done little more than providing basic connectivity for their tablet users.
And that means more than just devices themselves. It means SaaS; the cloud; mobility; social networking; new app delivery and support models; and all the inherent opportunities, rewards, and risks (security, privacy, and so on) that come with these. IT organizations that adopt a posture of simply accepting devices into the workplace, and fail to proactively evolve processes and platforms to optimize productivity and minimize risk, are ceding competitive advantage.
If we look back to the ’80s, when PCs first appeared, there were far fewer people bringing their own technology to work. Users didn’t expect their employers or vendors to support their new gadget. They typically worked disconnected and alone. The impact of the new device was largely limited to that person’s work life. And the focus of those bringing technology to work was often the technology itself. Today’s tablets are also more powerful and pervasive.
Increasingly, requests for IT support of new technologies are more often stated in terms of business value today. It is no longer the case that users want their preferred technology to be supported because they like it better. There is typically a compelling business case accompanying the request, something people controlling budgets understand. They are seeking to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, increase market share in their core business, reduce expenses, and achieve other tangible business objectives.
In the 1980′s, when IT said “no,” the answer was “no.” You couldn’t exactly sneak a PC into the office, as you can a tablet or smartphone. And connecting to the network and corporate data assets was impossible without IT support. Today, it’s easy.
Now “No” is not an option. That is a new trend. But how IT says “yes” is the crucial decision factor; and the policy, platforms, and practices IT puts into place are the critical success factors. When faced with the ask, we need to work with our business partners (again, consumers, partners, as well as employees) to understand their needs, and help them develop solutions that increase business value and productivity, while protecting corporate assets. The proliferation of devices in the enterprise might make it appear that we are making progress, but there remains much to be done.
So, yes, Mr. Strom, BYOD is not a new trend. And you’re right for pointing out that many in the industry are touting the wrong thing. What is new is the scope of BYOD and everything it brings with it–including the need for some IT leaders to treat the new consumer technologies as more than just candy for employees. Those who recognize the business value they can extract from this consumer movement will be those who leave the competition behind.
Source: The Coming Opportunity of BYOD