Tag Archives: kickstarter

IMG_2917

"Landfill Harmonic" Exceeds Fundraising Goal

Landfill Harmonic, a documentary produced by Scottsdale’s Alejandra Amarilla Nash that tells the moving story of The Recycled Orchestra exceeded its fundraising goal of $175,000 by nearly 23%. The Kickstarter campaign, which began March 29, raised a total of $214,129, to fund the completion of the film.

Backed by nearly 5,000 people and organizations, Landfill Harmonic surpassed its goal a week prior to its May 15 deadline. “I’m beyond thankful to everyone that has supported this project,” said founder and executive producer, Alejandra Amarilla Nash. “Because of those who donated the orchestra can now use their talents to inspire others on a bigger scale.”

Earlier this week Amarilla Nash and national 60 Minutes news team returned from a 10-day filming tour with the The Recycled Orchestra in Paraguay. The orchestra consists of a group of children from a shantytown called Cateura, in Paraguay, who play musical instruments made from trash. The Landfill Harmonic film crew remained in Paraguay to wrap-up filming. During the trip both teams got a closer look at the landfill in Cateura and had an opportunity to interview orchestra members.

“The strength and seeing the kids’ progression was amazing,” said Amarilla Nash. “I can’t wait to share with others their stories of resilience and triumph.”

The Landfill Harmonic project began in 2009 and has been led by a Phoenix-based team, which includes Amarilla Nash, producer Juliana Peñaranda-Loftus and executive producing partner Rodolfo Madero.

“Our primary goal now is to complete the film at the end of this year and share this movement with the world,” said Amarilla Nash. “We are one step closer to bringing music to underserved children and youth.”

To learn more about the film or how you can be a part of The Recycled Orchestra”movement, visit http://www.landfillharmonicmovie.com/.

coffee beans

Phoenix Coffee Company going to ‘Shark Tank’

Local entrepreneurs Connor Riley and Samantha Meis, the cofounders of MistoBox, are taking the plunge into the “tank” to pitch their business idea on ABC’s hit reality television series Shark Tank on Friday May 3rd at 7 p.m.

On the show Riley and Meis will be introduced to a panel of five wealthy millionaire and billionaire investors (“sharks”) where they will pitch MistoBox, a company aimed at revolutionizing the way people buy and discover coffee. Riley and Meis were selected among 36,000 applicants to pitch their innovative business idea in hopes of getting their venture funded.

“Getting to pitch to the investors on Shark Tank was a once in a lifetime experience. It was so exciting and terrifying all at the same time!” said Meis.

MistoBox, based out of Downtown Phoenix’s revitalized warehouse district, sends subscribers four exceptional coffees each month from artisan roasters across the country.  In order to narrow it down, each month a panel of MistoBox coffee experts taste more than 50 coffees submitted by different coffee roasters to decide which make the cut and are delivered to subscribers’ doorsteps. Subscribers can then brew each of the selected coffees and pick a favorite. When they find one they love, they can head back to MistoBox’s online shop to get up to two full bags of their favorite with free shipping.  It’s just enough coffee to tide subscribers over until their next MistoBox is delivered, and they discover their next favorite!

Local favorite Cartel Coffee, based out of Tempe, was featured just last month. “This was by far one of our most popular coffees featured ever, and it’s local which is great! We love supporting local companies,” said Meis.

You could say Riley, a Phoenix native, and Meis are two adventurers with an entrepreneurial spirit. The pair met while studying abroad in Spain where they fulfilled their need for adventure by running with the bulls together.

A year after returning back to the University of Arizona in Tucson, they were paired up in the Entrepreneurship Program at the Eller College of Management where they were given a class assignment to come up with an innovative business idea. They absolutely loved coffee and wanted to figure out a way to get delicious coffees – from the best roasters – into more people’s homes. MistoBox was born on their college graduation day in 2012 and began with funding from a successful Kickstarter project, an online platform for raising funds and gaining investors for a startup company. Since, the two have moved the company to Phoenix and are expanding their network of coffee-crazed subscribers every day!

“It is incredible the response we’re getting,” said Riley. “In the fast-paced lives we all live, it’s convenient and exciting for people to get these great coffees without having to take the extra time find them.”

Will the sharks “bite” on MistoBox? Tune in to ABC on Friday, May 3rd at 7 p.m. to find out.

coffee beans

Phoenix Coffee Company going to 'Shark Tank'

Local entrepreneurs Connor Riley and Samantha Meis, the cofounders of MistoBox, are taking the plunge into the “tank” to pitch their business idea on ABC’s hit reality television series Shark Tank on Friday May 3rd at 7 p.m.

On the show Riley and Meis will be introduced to a panel of five wealthy millionaire and billionaire investors (“sharks”) where they will pitch MistoBox, a company aimed at revolutionizing the way people buy and discover coffee. Riley and Meis were selected among 36,000 applicants to pitch their innovative business idea in hopes of getting their venture funded.

“Getting to pitch to the investors on Shark Tank was a once in a lifetime experience. It was so exciting and terrifying all at the same time!” said Meis.

MistoBox, based out of Downtown Phoenix’s revitalized warehouse district, sends subscribers four exceptional coffees each month from artisan roasters across the country.  In order to narrow it down, each month a panel of MistoBox coffee experts taste more than 50 coffees submitted by different coffee roasters to decide which make the cut and are delivered to subscribers’ doorsteps. Subscribers can then brew each of the selected coffees and pick a favorite. When they find one they love, they can head back to MistoBox’s online shop to get up to two full bags of their favorite with free shipping.  It’s just enough coffee to tide subscribers over until their next MistoBox is delivered, and they discover their next favorite!

Local favorite Cartel Coffee, based out of Tempe, was featured just last month. “This was by far one of our most popular coffees featured ever, and it’s local which is great! We love supporting local companies,” said Meis.

You could say Riley, a Phoenix native, and Meis are two adventurers with an entrepreneurial spirit. The pair met while studying abroad in Spain where they fulfilled their need for adventure by running with the bulls together.

A year after returning back to the University of Arizona in Tucson, they were paired up in the Entrepreneurship Program at the Eller College of Management where they were given a class assignment to come up with an innovative business idea. They absolutely loved coffee and wanted to figure out a way to get delicious coffees – from the best roasters – into more people’s homes. MistoBox was born on their college graduation day in 2012 and began with funding from a successful Kickstarter project, an online platform for raising funds and gaining investors for a startup company. Since, the two have moved the company to Phoenix and are expanding their network of coffee-crazed subscribers every day!

“It is incredible the response we’re getting,” said Riley. “In the fast-paced lives we all live, it’s convenient and exciting for people to get these great coffees without having to take the extra time find them.”

Will the sharks “bite” on MistoBox? Tune in to ABC on Friday, May 3rd at 7 p.m. to find out.

83252679

Kickstarter projects generate millions of dollars

A funny thing happens on Kickstarter, the website where people ask for money to finance their projects. Sometimes, they get more money than they ask for.

Sometimes, they get millions more.

In April, three-person startup Pebble Technology sought to raise $100,000 to make 1,000 wristwatches that can be programmed with different clock faces. Donors on Kickstarter showered them with more than 100 times that amount: $10.3 million. It would have gone higher had Pebble not put a cap on contributions and ended the fundraising early.

“We had tried raising money through the normal routes, and it didn’t really work,” said Eric Migicovsky, the 25-year-old founder of Pebble.

Kickstarter is the largest of dozens of sites devoted to crowdfunding, in which donors contribute small sums of money to get a project off the ground.

Inventors, artists and entrepreneurs post their projects on a Kickstarter page, usually with a video presentation. They set a fixed duration for their fundraising, from one to 60 days, and a dollar goal for contributions. Anyone can contribute. If the goal isn’t reached by the deadline, the money goes back to the contributors and the project is cancelled.

Usually, the contributors get something beyond the satisfaction of knowing they helped turn a dream into reality — like a ticket to a theater production, or in the case of Pebble, a programmable watch.

Designer Casey Hopkins asked for $75,000 to make a luxury iPhone dock out of solid aluminum. He got $1.4 million. When that happened, in February, his was the first Kickstarter project to surpass $1 million. There have been six more since then. Artist Rich Burlew asked for $57,750 to put his comic books back in print, and ended up with $1.3 million.

Since launching in 2009, Kickstarter has raised $250 million for projects. Starting a project is free, but Kickstarter takes 5 percent of contributions if a project is funded, and Amazon.com Inc. takes another 3 to 5 percent for processing the payments.

Crowdfunding started as a way to fund band tours and albums. Kickstarter wasn’t the first site of its kind. It is, however, the most successful. Co-founder Perry Chen has said that the site was born out of his frustration at being unable to organize a concert. But it’s becoming a potent launchpad for tangible products as well, upending in some cases the usual way things get made.

There’s a time-worn route for entrepreneurs: They come up with an idea, find funding, make a product, sell it, then pay back the funders — with interest or an equity stake in the fledgling company. Under that model, funders are usually looking for a big payoff on their early investment.

Finding funding is, of course, where many projects hit the rocks. Those who put up money for a project have to be convinced that it will yield something others want — and that’s not easy to figure out.

For contributors to take part in a Kickstarter project, all they have to do is ask themselves: Do I want that?

In that sense, Kickstarter is a great way to sell things that don’t yet exist. In effect, Pebble sold 85,000 watches, and artist Rich Burlew sold 94,000 books. Now, they just have to make these things.

Migicovsky, the Pebble founder, is based in Silicon Valley, where venture capital runs in rivers. He got some funding from “angel investors” — wealthy individuals — early on and produced a small run of watches last year. But to realize his vision of a programmable watch that only needs to be charged once a week, he needed more money. The venture capitalists, who generally invest bigger sums than angels, didn’t bite. They’re used to backing Web and software projects but are apprehensive about hardware, he says.

So Migicovsky went to Kickstarter, figuring he’d raise enough money for a production run of 1,000 watches. But the project got attention from technology blogs, and the orders started pouring in. Over 37 days, he sold one watch every 38 seconds. Frantically trying to satisfy the orders, he hired six people in two weeks, tripling Pebble’s staff.

The watches will be ready this fall — without the help of venture capital.

“You want to spend your time talking to customers. You don’t really want to spend your time talking to venture capitalists. Because at the end of the day, they’re just guys with money,” Migicovsky says.

The success of Pebble and others is clearly attracting more ambitious projects. A Los Angeles-based startup, Ouya, is collecting money to create a game console. It set a $950,000 minimum — reflecting the complexity of competing against the PlayStation, Xbox and Wii — and hit $8.6 million in pledges.

David Tisch, the founder of “startup accelerator” firm TechStars, says posting a product on Kickstarter is a great way to gauge demand. If it turns out to be strong, that can make it easier to attract investment that can turn the project into an ongoing business.

“For the first time, there’s a way to get customer feedback with money attached to it,” he said.

While entrepreneurs revel in the attention they get from donors on the website, Kickstarter’s founders are uncomfortable with the site’s role as a fundraising tool for products. The company wouldn’t comment for this story, and it doesn’t release financial data to the public because it’s a private company.

In past interviews, co-founder Yancey Strickler has suggested that Kickstarter wasn’t intended to be an engine of commerce or a route to riches.

“There is this greater idea of helping people out and that art still has value in the world,” he told board-game blog Purple Pawn earlier this year. “We generally don’t like Kickstarter to be used to, say, start a business.”

Of course, several Kickstarter projects have turned into businesses, like ElevationLab, the Portland Ore.-based startup that makes the Elevation iPhone docking station and Touchfire, a company in Redmond, Wash., that created a keyboard for the iPad.

The majority of Kickstarter projects are still non-commercial ventures like photo books and amateur musicals. At this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, 33 films, or 10 percent of the lineup, were funded through Kickstarter.

Kickstarter’s focus on artistic and creative pursuits to the exclusion of others might make it vulnerable to competition. Sam Gordon, who funded his “Brydge” keyboard for the iPad through the site, says Kickstarter needs to clearly define its guidelines for product development.

“If they don’t, then there’s room for other sites,” Gordon said.

Business and technology consultant Scott Steinberg, who has written a guide to crowdfunding, says it’s inevitable that commercialism would seep into it as the phenomenon grows.

“Crowdfunding is almost in the pre-K phase, and it’s about to grow up very fast here, and become more complex,” he says. “Inevitably, more businesses and profit-minded organizations are going to gravitate there.”

For the time being, Steinberg thinks crowdfunding will be dominated by products whose appeal is easily communicated visually, like the Pebble watch, or products aimed at fans of existing creators or products, like Burlew’s “Order of the Stick” comic.

Burlew says he believes it was crucial to have a core base of fans. His “Dungeons & Dragons”-themed Web comic has been running for eight years, and has supported Burlew and his family for most of that run.

“Have an established audience before you launch your Kickstarter drive. Don’t rely on word-of-mouth or sheer luck for people to find your project,” Burlew advises.

Once fans got it started, Burlew’s Kickstarter project turned into a self-propelled marketing tool. As contributions rose, the project drew attention from comics and publishing blogs, driving more contributions in a “snowballing” effect, Burlew says.

Added to that was the sense of urgency the project instilled, he says.

“I had a lot of readers who either never thought about buying books, or thought about it as something they’d like to do in the nebulous future,” Burlew said in an email interview from his home in Philadelphia. “The Kickstarter drive gave them a strong incentive to buy the books right now, so I was able to convert more readers into sales than usual.”

Burlew, who says he’s “generally a suspicious person,” was wary of getting prematurely excited about the size of his Kickstarter fund.

“I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It hasn’t yet,” he says.

Creative Financing: Options for Funding Business

Creative Financing: Innovative Options For Funding Business

Whether you are just formulating a business plan for launch or you already have a company that is in need of a cash infusion, bank loans are often unattainable if you don’t meet the proper requirements. Fortunately, there are a variety of creative ways to fund the growth.

If your banker turns you down, instead of becoming discouraged, consider one of these 10 alternative financing options:

Barter

Before there was currency, there was only bartering. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that 25 percent of the world’s trade is still done this way. Bartering can save money, move unused inventory and find new customers. Think about how you can trade or exchange your products or services. Bartering directly with another business can be done through a barter exchange like IMS Barter.

Business incubators

If your business is new and technology-based, then it may be a good candidate for seed money or a mentorship program that will help connect to capital. Organizations like Excelerate Labs and TechStars have a great track record of success. While there is a lot of competition to become part of an incubator, it is good to focus on a handful of organizations which match up best with your goals.

Business plan competitions or other contests

When all else fails, try to win the money! There are a number of regional and national competitions giving away substantial amounts of money. These include the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Challenge, the GE Ecomagination Challenge and the Amazon Web Services Start-Up Challenge. This is one of the toughest ways to raise money, but if you have a very competent team, a great idea and a stand-out presentation, go for it.

Crowdfunding

A sister method to peer-to-peer, you can now get people to invest in your cause in exchange for something other than money. This is a different source of funding because the money is not repaid. The incentives for donors range from receiving your first products to having a product named after them. Popular sites that facilitate crowdfunding include IndieGoGo.com and Kickstarter.com. Crowdfunding is very emotional and involves gathering cash from many people. The success in raising cash is based on the appeal of your idea, but if you don’t raise your goal amount, in some instances, you don’t receive any money from the people that pledged to invest.

Government grants

There is money to be found in government grants, but these programs require research at local, state and federal levels. Agencies such as USDA, the Department of Commerce, and the Treasury Department offer some attractive programs, but they are very specific and technical in nature, and each comes with reporting strings attached.

Factoring

Receiving an immediate cash advance against invoices or accounts receivable from asset-based lenders called factors can be an optimal solution for securing cash needed to grow. The factor advances most of the invoice amount, usually 70-90 percent, after reviewing the credit-worthiness of the billed customer. When the bill is paid, the factor remits the balance, minus a transaction or factoring fee. Factoring can be a good source of capital for high growth or start-up companies, but not a method of financing for a company that is shrinking or losing money.

Microfinancing

While this is relatively new in the United States, small loans up to $10,000 are gaining popularity. The loans are based on your experience, passion, market opportunity and sales. Organizations offering microfinancing include Accion USA, Grameen Bank and Kiva. If you have an appealing idea and only need a small about of money, it can be a good alternative.

Peer-to-peer lending (P2P)

It is now possible to go online and get funding from people you do not know on sites such as Prosper.com and LendingClub.com. P2P loan amounts will depend on credit score, the economy, the length of the loan and the business’ story. The downside here is P2P loans are not easy to secure, and the interest rates can be very high.

Retirement accounts

Before borrowing money from an IRA or 401(k), first find out if you can get a 60-day interest-free loan from your retirement account. The benefit here is there are no fees, if the loan is paid back in the 60-day time frame. Remember, this is your retirement money, so using it is risky and potentially devastating to your livelihood — if the business fails.

Supplier or wholesaler financing

Supplier or wholesaler financing secures money needed through a business’ supply chain. This method works best with a smaller, local supplier that really wants business and is willing to work with you. Factors can be a big help in this area, as they can offer vendor assurance letters which can help garner additional credit from a vendor.

The key is to think beyond the traditional and to research various avenues to determine what may work for you. Although these options may not all be long-term financing solutions, they can definitely help bring in the cash you need for growth, until you qualify for a traditional bank loan or can appeal to investors.

For more information about financing, visit fswfunding.com.