Crowdfunding is such a beautiful thing. People from all over the planet from different backgrounds with varying perspectives and a wealth of ideas and creativity come together to produce something beautiful. Okay, maybe that is a bit idealistic but it doesn’t diminish the fact that crowdfunding is changing the way we create and do business. Today’s case in point of channeling creativity into something beautiful comes from Hong Kong. A team of eight, headed by co-founders Chanasinj Sachdev and Neill Myers have been working on a novel concept since late 2014 and are now introducing it to Indiegogo backers to bring it to fruition. Oh, and I almost forget to mention a key team member, Bubby the office cat!
If you're like me, you're trying to figure out how we're already in August. Before we know it, 2015 is said and gone. The days seem to fly by, without any hesitation of wanting to slow down. 2016 is knocking on the door, so we might as well start preparing for it.
For Karl Lindsay of Newcastle, Australia, preparation for 2016 started 12 months ago, but not the way you'd be expecting. Karl, a wonderful photographer, has been travelling the world, taking breathtaking photos from various countries. Continuing with his plan of sharing the photos with the rest of the world, he has launched a Kickstarter project to make it happen.
I love to read and at any given moment, if you were to ask me what book I am reading, I would likely respond “several”. Reading is fundamental to civilized societies and one of the best skills to improve the quality of life. For entrepreneurs reading industry specific corporate memoirs and start-up how-tos is one of the best ways to learn. Fiction also has an important role in providing creative insight to seemingly impossible situations. And let’s face it, entrepreneurs are dreamers who learn from the best and find ways to achieve the unachievable.
One such entrepreneur is Yahaya Baruwa of Toronto, Canada. The 27-year-old Nigerian-Canadian graduated from York University, a promise made to his father to pursue his education, while working on another dream which was to become an established writer.
“I decided that I wanted to write a novel as a challenge for myself; a way to touch, move and inspire one million everyday individuals with the courage to take steps towards their own dreams,” Says Baruwa.
We each are in the pursuit of happiness. Some think this is manifest in an aggressive and successful career, others by traveling the world, while others through philanthropic endeavors. The above listed manifestations for the pursuit of happiness are lofty, important for personal growth, and do attribute to overall happiness. However, I find the root of happiness to be based in relationships.
This Thursday’s crowdfunding campaign POP review is of a dear friend of mine, Shawhin Mosadeghzad. Shawhin graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelors in Business Management. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Dallas, Texas to work in the consumer packaged goods industry, where he and I met. We began The Freshpreneur venture nearly two years ago. He now resides in San Francisco, California.
Shawhin is gregarious by nature and values relationships, and in this age of social media and instant communication, he wants to bring people back to its essence—building relationships.
Music and passion go hand in hand. Although some songs are written for the purpose of catchy tunes and lyrics, with only the aim of bringing in dollars, most are made with emotional expression in mind. As an audience, we connect on a deeper level with music that carries a lot of passion behind it.
The lyrics to a song paint us a visual of the experiences the artist is portraying, showcasing the challenges they have faced. At times, we feel what they have felt.
A prime example of this can be found in the lyrics written by singer-songwriter Katie Kuffel. Katie, a Seattle-based musician, utilizes the blues, jazz, and folk genres to make her creative material, by integrating her expertise in the fields of classical cello and jazz piano. With a unique sound at the foundation of her work, she is now turning to crowdfunding to produce her new album.
If you are a fan of The Lean Startup, then you might want to pay attention to this Kickstarter campaign. Eric Ries, the author of The Lean Startup has decided to take an exploratory approach to his next written venture. Ries will leverage Kickstarter’s vast network to gauge the effectiveness and application of the book.
”The campaign is a chance for me to further test the ideas that I’ve been exploring with my startup and corporate clients for years.”
Over the last four years, Ries has interacted with and consulted many organizations concerning his Lean Startup concept from multinationals to startups to governments. Along the way he has witnessed the struggles and successes that these organizations experience. And whether large or small, public or private, there are commonalities spanning the organizational gamut that can be held useful for any and all entrepreneurs, investors, and business people.
When it comes to jotting down short, quick notes, paper notes with adhesives on them can be our best friend. We use them for reminders, to-do lists, and everything in between, while sticking them onto our walls, fridges, computers, etc. However, as effective as they are, just like everything else, they wear out over time. Even though they stick to most surfaces for an extended time, the adhesive eventually loses its grip.
Searching for an alternative, yet viable option, a group of designers called Tesla Amazing have been working on a project that they believe will change the game. As explained, their product is "reinvented paper that you can stick to any surface without any pins, glue, buttons, or thumb tacks."
Before getting into today’s segment, I want to see how fast your brains can react. After each of the following, I want you to hum a tune that comes to mind, in which it is associated with the movie. Ready? Go!
It’s interesting how quickly we can trigger that tune. It goes to show how important a musical component is to a film.
Unless the thought is brought up, we never really take a step back and truly appreciate the music that go hand-in-hand with a movie. What we take for granted is the fact that without the music, a movie becomes less grasping. It wouldn’t have the same drive and passion. Without the musical support, a movie would fall apart, lacking one of its core foundations.
What we don’t see is the genius work that takes place behind the scenes to make these tunes happen. The music has to be perfect, supporting the movie along the way. To do so, incredible composers, who some have been labeled as Mozarts of our generation, create these beautiful master pieces.
Up until now, the world hasn’t had the opportunity to fully understand this unique musical genre. For the first time, a group of Emmy Award-winning journalists, called Epicleff Media, are bringing to the screens a documentary film that portrays a world that we are all too unfamiliar with.
From what started as a brainstorm session, the last few months have been nothing short of excitement for Epicleff Media. Titling the documentary Score, these young and ambitious journalists have managed to interview over 30 top Hollywood composers to learn more about their stories and the industry they passionately embrace. To name a few, this list includes Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight), Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings), John Debney (The Passion of the Christ), and many more.
As viewers, we'll have the opportunity to see many components of how a score is developed. As explained, “Tracking the progress of modern-day film score development, SCORE will illustrate how the first few notes on a piano keyboard end up in the most dramatic moments of a film’s emotional climax.” The film will also showcase how a score can affect the way a film is rated, such as R instead of PG-13.
In general, the documentary will “explain the tricks composers use to make a powerful moment stick in our hearts – and how well-timed melodies and unconventional sounds turn heroes into villains and tension into triumph.”
As you read this blog post, take a mental inventory of where you are located. If you are at a desk or table—great—if not—think of your office at home or work. What is your desk made of? What does it look like? Now leave the office (mentally) and picture other practical items in your home, such as tables, benches, stools, chests, frames and the like. Are these items unique or generic? Do they scream with your style?
Ok enough with the questioning. What you have successfully done is visualize much of your home furnishings. You also may have a distinct feeling of pride, indifference or embarrassment. If you feel either of the latter two then this week’s POP may be of specific importance to you.
Alex & Lindsay Remley of Columbus, Ohio have combined their entrepreneurial vision and work ethic to create a wood furnishings business. They operate from their garage today, but in less than a month that will all change.
Exploding kittens. Now, that may sound a little grotesque or even sadistic—and it would be if it was literal, but it is not. No kittens were harmed in the making of Exploding Kittens. However, bizarre would be an appropriate summation for this game (which I will explain in The Offer below).
The highly ranking “what’s Popular” Kickstarter campaign was posted by Elan Lee and produced in conjunction with Matthew Inman and Shane Small. At the time of this writing the campaign has already raised a whopping $2.5 million in three days which is more than Oculus Rift made in 30!
“100% funded in 20 minutes. 1,000% funded in less than an hour.”
Wow—you have got to check out this Kickstarter! I am an entrepreneur, and as an entrepreneur I am always looking for ways to improve my business and to create experiences that I can draw upon in the future. For today’s feature I spoke with Monika Kanokova and had a very enlightening conversation. Our discussion lasted 45 minutes which was cut short because I had to run to the grocery store before my wife got home (to which I was late—oops).
Kanokova is a freelancer, but prior to that she worked for a firm in Berlin, Germany. The firm was planning to relocate her, but was going back and forth on it. Instead, Kanokova decided to place her future in her own hands and quit. Being a dedicated and skilled employee, she managed to maintain clout with her business network, which naturally followed her on this entrepreneurial journey.
This is a great lesson for us all. Whatever role or job you find yourself in do it well, because you are creating relationships that will last well beyond your current business title. From these relationships Kanokova has been able to bring to life her book This Year Will Be Different.
“This Year Will Be Different is a practical guide to learn about tips and tricks from great female entrepreneurs. It's filled with stories and interviews with women who are now making money as bloggers, designers, consultants, photographers and many other great professions.”
This is one of the first things that you will read on Monika Kanokova’s Kickstarter campaign page for her book This Year Will Be Different. Kanokova has endeavored to interview 23 women entrepreneurs to gather the essence of their stories and success. The interviews are in depth and fully transcribed. Some of the themes explored through these women are their varied backgrounds. This includes education and early pursuits, to finding their business ideas, to business model changes, to long-term goals and aspirations, to launching their businesses, to finding investors, to online presence and more.
To date, the book will have 24 chapters, each with a specific theme geared toward budding entrepreneurs and start-ups. One of Kanokova’s core beliefs is that success comes to those who give back. She expressed, “The people that are more successful than other people are those that share their story with others. If you share what you do people will come to you for this service.”
Backers can obtain a digital download compatible with Kindle and iPad of This Year Will Be Different for $10. For $20, you can receive a signed copy of the book, and for an additional $5 you can have your name added to the back of the book as a crowdfunding backer.
I have backed this project and am greatly anticipating the February arrival of my signed copy of This Year Will Be Different. After speaking with Monika Kanokova, my decision to back the project was validated.
One of the best ways to get your business out of a rut is to step back far enough so that you can see your world from a distance, and then compare it to that of someone else’s. We are all trying to put food on the table so to speak and we all have the same issues to overcome. ”Take the essence of others people’s stories and relate them to your personal problems—make it applicable,” says Kanokova.
We all love rags-to-riches stories, even though they are neither realistic nor representative, yet we get caught up in their allure. Real success stories take time and dedication. This Year Will Be Different steps through 23 women’s journeys from hobby to monetized success and that POPs!
Now it is up to you. Will this year be different?
Monika's Kickstarter Campaign
Who did you nominate for the Ice Bucket Challenge this past summer, before dumping a bucket of ice cold water on yourself? If you didn't, did you end up donating instead? Chances are high that you heard about and/or participated in the ALS challenge, which swept the social media world, raising well over $100 million.
The challenge aimed to raise funds and create awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disorder, commonly known as the Lou Gehrig’s disease. It drew the attention of many, from the general public, to athletes, to celebrities, and much more, creating one of the most successful fundraisers we have ever experienced.
However, as it brought in mountain-high funding for research, the awareness component about the actual disorder didn't reach as many individuals as anticipated. Yes, people donated to the cause, but not everyone took the time to actually learn about it. I, myself, am guilty of that action. Fortunately, a short film about the disorder is being produced, by a group of Chapman University students, to fill in the knowledge gaps of what ALS is and how those affected by it live on a daily basis.
Estimated to be a 10 minute short film, Adagio is based on a protagonist, "who loses a connection with her father after they lose their ability to play the piano together as his disease manifests. She transitions from a daughter to a caretaker role. The two ultimately learn more about each other than they ever anticipated."
The story line transitions back and forth from piano rehearsals that the protagonist participates in, starting from a young age, with her father in the audience. As she grows older and her father's health weakens, the film paints a picture of what life looks like for families that are taking care of a loved one with ALS. As expressed, the students' "goal is to create an authentic, genuine story about the evolution of a father and daughter relationship after he is diagnosed with ALS. We are drawing upon the inspirational and incredible stories of the families we have met with ALS and aspire to incorporate each one of them into our film."
I was able to speak with Adagio's producer, Mikaela Burton, about the vision they have for the film and why they decided to pursue the topic. She noted that the passion behind the film is drawn from individual experiences that a few of her team members have had previously with ALS. It also comes from meeting with certain families and wanting to share their stories. They hope that the film will generate further awareness about the disorder and how the lives of not only the individuals with ALS, but their caretakers change overtime.
Adagio has the potential of helping the momentum ,that the ALS Bucket Challenge created, keep going. By creating a fictional story, yet implementing actual situations that are ALS related, Adagio will have the opportunity to both educate and make a connection with its audience. Depending on its initial success, Adagio may find itself at film festivals around the country.
Overall, producing a film to drive further awareness about ALS POPs.
Adagio's Campaign Page
Lately, I've really enjoyed finding new and upcoming bands that produce great music and unique sounds. Fortunately, crowdfunding has been a great tool for that. The industry has also been great for artists looking to raise funds in order to make their first album happen. As the crowdfunding industry continues to grow, more and more artists are drawn to its concept. Veteran musicians have also began finding their way to the crowd, as they find the process more efficient, while having the opportunity to further connect with their fanbase.
The Steel Wheels, a band from Harrisonburg, VA, is one of those veteran bands. After spending a good portion of 2014 on the road, this independent band is back in the studio, working on producing its next album. With ten years of collaboration and music production under their belt, The Steel Wheels' new album looks to have a promising sound to it.
Labeled Leave Some Things Behind, The Steel Wheels' new album "explores the themes of travel and movement in the modern age." As the crew explains, "Leave Some Things Behind reminds us that growing is learning what things are important to us and letting go of the things that are not important." The focus of the new sound is about the band's travel experience on the road. As expressed, "Our sense of home is constantly evolving to include a broader community of friends and fans than the one of our residence."
With a fanbase that has helped them get to this level, The Steel Wheels understand their followers are the ambassadors for their music. Therefore, they're providing a little bit more for the backer community during the campaign. As stated on their page, "Available only to campaign supporters, the recordings provide a unique glimpse into the process of forming an album and even include some songs that didn't make the cut! "
The Steel Wheels have produced great music in the past decade, and they show no sign of stopping. With Ben Surratt, a Nashville recording engineering, working with them, the crew is off to create a heart-felt album.
We can all relate to Leave Some Things Behind, as it is described meaning that "the past is gone and we have no choice but to let it go." Potentially, the new album from The Steel Wheels will be another favorite for the band's followers, while bringing in a new fans from the backer world. I'm glad that I ran across their campaign and look forward to the new sound being released soon.
Overall, communicating about moving on through music POPs.
The Steel Wheels' Campaign Page
The Steel Wheels' Website
Folding Light? No I am not talking about Interstellar—although if you have not yet seen Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of the space-time continuum, it comes highly recommended. I am talking about something much easier to grasp. Actually grasping it triggers a built-in dimmer. Ok, ok enough with the delays—it's the Eliza Light.
Wesley Meyer, an American-born resident of London is the creator of the Eliza Lamp. Having grown up in New Mexico, much of his fascination with light can be attributed to its rocky landscapes that curl and bend natural light. ”My projects try to find the common ground between art, graphic design and product design”, says Meyer. He has helped design shared workspaces to skyscrapers, and now he comes to the crowdfunding community of Kickstarter for his latest endeavor.
The LED lamp Eliza Light has an origami inspired design made from folded brass, which in effect gives the emitted light a smooth geometric sculpture to fold around. Meyer actually used paper for the original prototypes, folding them in different configurations until he reached what is now the Eliza Light.
"Eliza is a companion light. She's there to help make any activity more enjoyable. The world has too many tasks and too many task lights. I wanted to make something that was about the happiness we enjoy from light itself."
The Eliza Light is sensitive to touch and can be turned on, off, or dimmed by touching any one of its surfaces. It also turns on to its lowest light setting as your hand approaches (for easy finding in the dark). The LEDs can produce light for up to 30,000 hours, and the lamp is powered via a Micro USB cable. The ensemble is designed in London and hand-crafted in the United States.
“The lamp's operation is as sophisticated as its outward appearance”, touts Meyer in a press release. I agree. The lamp is perfectly designed for the ultra-modern New York City loft with brick walls and exposed conduit, yet is soft enough to be a night light on a child’s bedside table. "I really wanted that moment where you interact with the light to be elegant and simple," he notes.
There is an overwhelming amount of lamps and light sources on the market. This is partly due to the commercialization of home décor and department stores, but also in part to the demand for unique products that resonate with their owners. Crowdfunding is a marketplace entirely composed of new and unique products that have not (as of yet) hit mass production. Eliza Light is one such manifestation.
However, it is not about the lamp alone. Meyer has a broader scope in mind explaining that "the Eliza Light is more about a design language than a one-off product". He alluded to other light sources that could benefit from the enhancements in Eliza Light, but I get the impression that his sight is on further- reaching spaces and designs, rather than lamps.
Folding light? Now you know what it is, and that POPs.
Eliza Lights’ Kickstarter Campaign
Eliza Light’s Website
Every day, 20 percent of Google searches have never been searched for in the past, according to PR Daily. We live in the digital age—an age that has yet to be defined. The push to completely go digital has met the pull back of some analog systems and traditions. We are currently somewhere in between. As evidence of this tweener phase, cofounder Daniel Lakos and his team, of Budapest, Hungary, have created a game utilizing the dexterity of analog and the mental-mapping of digital. The game is called Logifaces, and as self-described in its tag line is an “analogue game for digital minds.
The game was designed for a Hungarian competition with the premise of creating something 3D as opposed to the standard 2D game board—something like the Rubik’s Cube. Lakos and his team decided to use crowdfunding for its powerful ability to raise funds and reach large audiences at virtually no cost. Indiegogo was the default choice since its largest rival, Kickstater, does not operate in most countries outside of the US.
As explained, “Logifaces started out as an idea to bring...complex geometries to a real, non-virtual space.” The game is a logical puzzle. However, this puzzle is not limited to only one, but rather many outputs. The puzzle is meant to be a creation of one person or a group of people. Logifaces is a set of 16 geometrical concreate prisms. Each of the 16 is different with varying heights and angles. During play, the edges of each prism must be flush with any surrounding prisms (relating to the puzzle aspect of it).
The game set comes in a triangular case tightly housing each piece individually. The color options for the prisms are marble white, basalt grey, and charcoal black. For enthusiastic backers, a clear glass option is also available. Due to the success of the campaign the early-bird option has been sold out leaving the next best option of one set of 16, plus a complimentary 9 prisms to up the challenge factor.
When I spoke with Daniel Lakos, I asked for the forward-looking projections and goals, as well as some of the challenges they had faced along the way. Lakos expressed that the ideal initial outlet for Logifaces is museums, being the “obvious place where design meets gift and fun”. I think Lakos is spot on. Museums are places of learning and exploration with a heavy tone of modernism. This is the space where Logifaces fits. Not to mention that these outlets command much high prices than traditional outlets. One notable example of this is the display of Kickstarter products in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
One of the challenges faced by Logifaces was rallying support and cooperation from design studios and manufactures. “Most of the designers refused to work with us because we didn't have any [brand] awareness”, explained Lakos. Interestingly enough they have since heard back from several manufacturers and designers due to the success of the crowdfunding campaign—further validation of the power of crowdfunding.
POP into a café with your Logifaces game and have some good ol’ fashioned analog fun. It’s ok, Minecraft can wait. Remember the digital age has yet to be defined.
Logifaces’ Indiegogo Campaign