Indiegogo The Other Secret Site

 
Indiegogo works basically as I stated in the previous blog. 

What’s a Crowdfunding

A crowdfunding site is where you try to back a project’s vision with other people’s money. The projects that are backed can be almost anything, and they come from anywhere in the world. The Indiegogo site listings consist of a person or group of people who start a campaign and the backer(s) who pledge the money. This blog discusses the technology section of the Indiegogo site; however there are other areas, where you can either start a campaign or become a backer. A campaign starts with an individual or group of people going on the Indiegogo site to raise money for their project. They tell you about themselves, how the money they receive will be used, and how their vision could become a finished product. The campaign owner will setup different tiers for pledged money, with a month and year of when that tier should receive the finished product. When you pledge early in a campaign, you can be part of an early bird tier, which usually means that you will receive a perk for contributing early. The campaign owner will show a process timeline from the beginning to the end of the project. There’s a section in each campaign for questions and comments from people pledging to interact with either the campaign owners or other backers.

The Backer

The person pledging money on a project is a backer for that project. A prospective backer will usually look over the information about the person or group in charge of the campaign. He/she then has to decide, if backing, which tier level he/she can afford. A backer pledging takes into consideration the month and year that the item should be received, because no one wants to back a project that they won’t see for 5 years. The projects I’ve seen, or backed, on Indiegogo usually have no longer than a year for completion. When you’ve made your pledge, then you’re officially a backer of that project, and then the waiting game begins until you receive your finished product. During this time, a good campaign owner will keep his/her backers happy with continuous updates of the project. There are many campaigns that are not produced, because backer participation is very low in funding.

Good and Bad Campaigns

My experience with Indiegogo is that very few projects actually finish within the projected timeframe that is given. What, backers or potential backers, have to remember is that most of the campaign owners are novices regarding what has to be done to bring a project to fruition. They are probably good in their field, or complement each other’s talents well as a group, but having never done anything of this magnitude there are bound to be errors. I find that most of the factory work on these projects is being done in China, and campaign owners probably have no experience dealing with the Chinese way of working.

When projects have gone over the date of delivery, the backers start to get very nervous because there is no recourse if a campaign owner decides to take their money and run. You, the backer, can make all the comments you want on Indiegogo, or even report the campaign owner to the BBB, but the bottom line is you’re out of whatever money you pledged. Indiegogo is testing allowing backers to buy insurance for projects. I have been party to a campaign scam for a router that could control every connected device in a house. This router had a completion date of December 2014, so we the backers were looking for it as a nice holiday gift. The campaign owners had setup campaigns on two crowdfunding sites, and when they were fully backed, they setup up a third product website to give all of those who hadn’t backed another chance. A campaign owner will usually setup a product website after their campaign is fully funded so that was not unusual. The only difference between backing the project on Indiegogo and backing the product off the website is you’re getting it sooner, with any promised perks. The campaign owners for this router provided no updates or any information at all when contacted. There was speculation from the backers on both crowdfunding sites on what happened to their money. I found out that the campaign owners were two brothers who went to jail for an unrelated matter. You just never know if a campaign owner is legitimate, or if he/she can actually complete the project, due to variables within.

Scanadau Scout

The item you see pictured is the Scanadu Scout, a medical device that is hoping to get FCC approval. I am part of one of the biggest medical trials for data collection with a device of this kind. The campaign owner hopes that one day this device can be used by the everyday person to check his/her own blood pressure, oxygen, heart beats per minute, and temperature

The latest project I’m backing is new on Indiegogo. It’s a projection clock that I’m scheduled to receive in December 2015. This clock is supposed to show you social media notifications; weather, location, short messages, and you can customize the projection that you see. Users will control all of these features through their smartphone from anywhere. This turned out to be another scam. The campaign manager gave us very sporadic information during the campaign, and once the campaign closed we received no information. Indiegogo has other campaigns areas you can either start or back in music, health, gaming, and films.

Who Is Indiegogo?

Danae Ringelman, Slava Rubin, and Eric Schell started Indiegogo in 2008, with a headquarters located in California. Indiegogo is one of the first crowdfunding sites to let people ask for money to back projects. Indiegogo makes money by charging a 9% fee on contributions, of which 5% is returned if funding is met. Indiegogo also makes money through PayPal and credit cards

Indiegogo provides a way for new ideas in technology, as we move into the smart things era. You will be amazed at some of the projects you will find and some may be hard to resist. I know that every time I visit the Indiegogo site, I’m opening my wallet to pledge.

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My Secret is Out

There’s this concept online called crowdfunding. In basic language, crowdfunding is a group of people that buy into another individual’s/company’s idea. I mean buy as in money and buy as in you like what they are selling. I actually can’t tell you how I got involved, but believe me, it had to be something I saw online that made me say, “Wow!” I was working then, though money was tight, but what I saw made me say, “I’ve got to have this!” The problem was my spouse, who wasn’t my spouse at the time, but we were dating and living together. I knew that spending money on a watch was not going to fly. Yes, the first geeky item I pledged to was a watch. This watch connected to your phone and you got notifications. This was before smart watches were the rage. What I did was to first talk up the watch by saying how it could keep me from missing messages on my commute from New York to New Jersey. Well, that didn’t work, so I did what I knew was fail proof: it was an early birthday present to myself. While I was wheeling and dealing with my spouse on this watch, I went to a newfound website of geek items and saw another watch. This time, not only could I get notifications but I could talk into it. Dick Tracy here I come! Now, I’m talking about two watches. Well, I only have one birthday, so how could I get her to see things from my point of view? Nope, it wasn’t going to happen, so I did the unthinkable and just kept my big mouth shut. The website that had grabbed my attention that I was not mentioning was Kickstarter. 
Kickstarter

Kickstarter
was started in April 2009 by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler. The Kickstarter headquarters is located in New York City. Kickstarter is a very user friendly site for project owners and backers. Kickstarter responds to questions and problems about their site very quickly and you can communicate with the project owner by clicking on the comments section or emailing him/her through the website. The comments area is also a place to interact, not only with the project owner, but with other backers, during the course of the project.
Kickstarter has a global community of people from more than 220 countries and territories. Roughly 35% of successfully funded projects now come from outside the United States, as do 45% of backers. Together, these backers and creators use Kickstarter to reach across borders and shape culture into what they want it to be, rather than accepting it for what it is. And as ideas from different cultures collide with one another, they inspire new conversations, creative approaches, and cross-cultural connections.
 

Kickstarter Project Manager 
I will discuss the technology area of Kickstarter; however, there are many types of projects that you can back, such as films, music, and books. The Kickstarter site enables people to discover and back as many projects as they believe will become a reality. When a person, or groups of people, decide to start a project on Kickstarter they must first build a project page, which includes a video with a description explaining their project. The next step for the project owner is to provide information about their budget and a timeline from beginning to end of the project. The project owner must then decide what kind of rewards they will offer backers, such as a choice of item color or engraving the item with the project name and year. These rewards are given when the project funding reaches certain milestones. Project owners have to keep in mind that they pay for all of the rewards offered to backers. When project owners think about the funds necessary to bring their project to fruition, they must consider everything because Kickstarter will not let their project become a reality if the funding goal is not met. A very important part of the project is promotion. A project needs active promotion because a project no one knows about will never get funded. Kickstarter’s fee is 5%, with an additional 3 to 5% for processing payments. If the project owner doesn’t meet their funding goal, they owe nothing.

Kickstarter Backers
There are different tier amounts that a backer can pledge. When a backer pledges early there is usually a perk from the project owner as a way of thanking a backer for coming aboard early. The different pledge tiers not only tell you the item, but an estimated month and year that you will receive the item. The shipping information will also be listed in each tier box, along with any accessories that might be given. Once he/she has met the project funding level, the project owner will give their backers updates as the project develops through each stage. Backers like to know they’ve made a wise decision in backing a project and hate it when shipping has to be pushed back time after time. My experience with Kickstarter is that projects are always pushed back for different reasons. The project owners try to give realistic shipping estimates, but often a project of this magnitude is new to many of them and they are not prepared for the problems that arise. You, the backer, have to be aware that there are also scam artist that will go through the motions of creating a project, but once funding is met and they receive their money, you never hear from them again. There is really no recourse for backers when a project owner takes the money and doesn’t fulfill his/her part of the deal. Kickstarter backing is partially about being first to get an item that no one might know about or have even envisioned. As I stated, not all projects make it to the backers. An example of this was a watch that I pledged for my daughter. It was supposed to be the thinnest watch out in 2013. The company wasn’t able to make the watch because they encountered too many hurdles that they weren’t prepared for. I recently received a letter informing us that after liquidating all of their assets, there was no money to give to backers.

Some might think this is throwing money away because these projects aren’t cheap, and if a project fails you can’t get your money back. I think of it like this: It’s no riskier than the lottery or going to the casino. You never know when you’ll hit the jackpot. There is a certain rush you get as the months go by waiting for your reward to make it from the project owner’s vision to you.

Knowing Your Customer

Levitating Plant Pot

plant 3

 

 

Trying to decide on products caused another one of those “What the hell?” moments. Not easy. I knew demographics sort of determines what you buy. I mean, you’re not going to buy a flashing t-shirt for your 80 year old grandmother, but maybe you would. But, for the sake of considering demographics, you wouldn’t put those two together.

Demographics Who Are You?

Let’s talk demographics: demographics is nothing more than what or who you are targeting. My demographics were geeks or people who want to be ahead of the trend. My spouse’s demographics were whoever will part with their money. Can you see the problem here? What she considers or does not consider is not about targeting – well, maybe, if you consider anyone willing to pay her price. How I decided on this demographic is simple: I love the “wow factor” that you get when you have something nobody else has, though I don’t like the attention.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: I was walking down the train steps in New York City and I had on a watch that you can talk into. This watch was one of the first smart watches. You got notifications from your phone on this little space at the bottom of the watch. I decided to take a call on the watch and some guy sees me doing this and he says, “That’s cool.” Well, I flew down the steps – you would have thought a gang of people were chasing me. I mean, it was New York we’re talking about and you never know when someone is talking to you honestly or they’re setting you up to be robbed. Anyway, I never took any more calls on that watch in public again. That is basically why I targeted that group. Once I explained what a demographic was, and my reasoning for geek demographic, I was told that I was being to limited. Well I wanted to know what her demographic was, since it couldn’t be just people spending money. Then it became: let’s buy products that are for different ages. But, that couldn’t work, unless we were going to buy 1 of a product. We didn’t have money like that. Here we go again, not speaking because we couldn’t agree.

Finally, I put on my big boy pants and swallowed my pride. I sat down over morning coffee and explained why we should target geeks. What I needed her to understand is that Amazon is every retailer’s competition. They have everything, but they are less likely to have geek gadgets in abundance. Well, it did work we decided to go with geek gadgets – the kind that people don’t know they want until you bring it to their attention. The items had to have that “wow factor.”

Crowding funding Sites, Here We Come

Here’s my secret: I get all of those “wow factor” items from crowding funding sites. I will be talking specifically about them in my next blog or two. They deserve their own blog and you too can be walking down the street with a “wow factor item.” A crowdfunding site is where you back a vision or project of other people. These project managers, as they are called, can be any place in the world. The project or vision can be anything that the person or persons feel will be get their name out. There are a variety of reasons people take the crowdfunding road, and of course, the main reason is money. There are not only crowdfunding projects of things you’ve never heard of, but people also use this fund sourcing as means to get money to promote music, books and films. The huge goal of these people with projects is convincing people to part with their money. The other thing I want you to realize is that crowdfunding is like going to the casino: there is a 50 percent change you might hit it big, but there is a 50 percent chance you go home, with your head down, wondering why in the world you spent your money. Crowdfunding is no guarantee. There have been plenty of investments in projects that I never see. In the next blog, I’ll tell you about two of the most popular sites. Don’t leave now we have a way to go!

 

Hello World

Come on this journey of my spouse and I, as we face the challenges and rewards of starting a business on a shoestring budget. I’ll make it funny and informative as to the ins and outs, on how deal with your spouse during the Startup phase.
I’m retired with too much time on my hands and she’s got one foot out towards retirement, but in reality it’s still months away. If you haven’t figured it out, we’re no spring chickens.  I did mentioned we have two dogs, one who needs all your attention and the other sleeps all day and then at night wants to play.
For anyone who’s surfing the net and you come across our blog, stay for a while and check us out, I’m sure you’ll have plenty to laugh at. Hope to see on our blog.

 

Not a Clue

Wow, who would have thought starting a business with your spouse could be so stressful? I mean the kind of stress where you wake up in the morning taking your blood pressure because you want to know how high it’s gotten by the end of the day. I’m not kidding; when you see the number, you’ll be calling the doctor for an emergency visit. The question that comes to mind is, who is this person? What happened to the person I love and who is my best friend? When you decide to open a business with your spouse, the ugly can get uglier, and that’s just how it is, especially when there are two very different personalities.

The Second Time Around

I retired recently, and wanted to find something to do, not just for me, but for us. My spouse is going to be retiring in ten months, and when there’s nothing to do, it can be hazardous to your health. How? There’s no easy answer for that, but picture a nomad wondering aimlessly from one place to another with no direction. That’s how you feel without a plan in place. In a previous relationship of mine, we ventured into selling figurines at a flea market, so why not again? I broached the idea to my spouse, who was cool on the idea, but agreed to it when I told her how much money could be made. Money is a great motivator for her.

What’s in a Business Name

What’s in a name? EVERYTHING. You might think picking a name would be semi-hard, but jeez, this was like getting the dog to stop barking at the mailman — not easy. My spouse and I went back and forth trying to decide on a name, and I wanted to scream, “Are you freaking crazy, or do you just not have a clue?” She doesn’t get it — the name of the business means so much, as it defines who we are, and more importantly, what our business is about. A business name must be perfect. It can take days or weeks to come up with the perfect business name — it might even come to you during a dream. You might not settle on a name until the pieces of the business plan start to come together.

Clearly, there is no guarantee that you’ll think up the perfect name in the time it takes to drink half a cup of coffee. Yet in the time it took my spouse to drink that half cup of coffee and put the cup in the saucer, she threw fifteen names at me, and got mad that I didn’t feel like she’d cured some horrible disease. The names stunk, and there was no thought put into it beyond taking a sip of coffee. I guess you can tell that agreeing on a business name wasn’t easy for us. I hope this experience will be different for you and your spouse.

The main thing is that we got through this, and are still together. We realized we had to sit down and brainstorm names without getting mad. Finally, we agreed that Unique Things was to be our website name. WHEW! We learned that if we had looked at our target audience and found out exactly what we were going to sell, this process would have been a lot easier. The next piece of our hastily put together plan was products. There is nothing easy about us becoming the master of our fates or our own bosses even at our age.