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.”
I am kind of intrigued as to what this exploding kittens thing is all about. To start, Exploding Kittens is a card game. That’s right—a good ol’ fashioned card game. The concept began while two of the founders were playing a game with a traditional 52 count deck of cards. They inserted the joker card and whoever drew it first lost. “It was called ‘Bomb Squad’ and it wasn’t any fun at all,” says Elan in a post on the campaign page.
Exploding Kittens, while stemming from this, is vastly more comedic and includes some elements of strategy and a heavy helping of luck. The “exploding kitten” cards remove players from the game. However, there are lifelines. The game includes distraction cards, like laser pointers and cat kibble. There are also attack cards to go on the offensive, like “thousand-year back hair” or “Bear-O-Dactyl”, or “Unicorn Enchilada”.
"But wait a minute! I love cats, especially kittens!" you may say. Don’t worry, this is not a direct affront on felines, only some friendly chiding.
“First, Matt tried drawing the kittens as the actual bombs…But that felt too Angry Birds’ish. Next, we tried making the kittens suicidal, but that felt terrible. In the end, we realized that everyone understands feline shenanigans, and that could be our solution. Our kitties would not blow up out of malicious intent or negligence, but by doing the things that kittens do, like running across keyboards or chewing on things they shouldn't be chewing on.”
The potential for this project is still in the works. Will it end up like potato salad—a one hit internet phenomena or Oculus Rift—bought out by a large firm for $2 billion? By the numbers, Exploding Kittens will far exceed these examples. But why? There is a strong correlation to the success of this campaign—networks.
Look at Elan Lee. He was the former Chief Design Officer for Xbox Entertainment Studios and is no first timer with Kickstarter, as he has personally backed over 140 Kickstarter projects. These two large groups within his network (video game industry and crowdfunding entrepreneurs) are targeted potential backers for his crowdfunding launch.
Now look at Matthew Inman. Matthew is the owner/creator/contributor of the successful online comic The Oatmeal. He is also the one who created the unmistakable artwork and design of the Exploding Kittens game. He also has hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of hits on his website each month.
Merge these several personal networks together and you have an explosion of success for a crowdfunding launch like, say, Exploding Kittens.
Exploding Kittens’s Kickstarter Campaign Page
Exploding Kittens’s Website
City skylines form some of the most iconic venues in the world. The geometric concrete, glass, and steel structures can be cold and harsh, but there is a certain appeal nonetheless. This is even more the case at night when the whole scene is ablaze in choreographed neons and fluorescents. Like others, I am no exception and would emphatically enjoy the urban jungle view from the floor-to-ceiling window of my 32-floor apartment. However, right now I am assigned to the 3-floor French windows that overlook the neighbors across the alley.
Don’t get me wrong, I am on my own adventure at the present moment and am thoroughly satisfied with it. It's that I do know that I won't have the above mentioned apartment in the foreseeable future. What precludes most from ever obtaining this are the high rent rates that urban communities command. Well, what if you could have this amazing view in the suburbs or even the exurbs?
Martin Luik of Orlando, Florida, is the CEO of Swan Expo LLC. He lived in Estonia as a child and since moved to the United States. He is a self-proclaimed redefiner and enhancer of every-day products. Luik has launched a Kickstarter to bring urban cityscapes to your windows without the high rent rates. He is calling it Swan Skyline.
Swan Skyline is a perforated window shade. The perforations allow the natural light from outside to enter the living space and illuminate a city skyline. The size of the shade can be customized to fit your specific window(s). Currently the campaign is offing the skylines of NYC (three-shade set), Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta. Swan Expo has announced that there will be more to come.
"Our goal is to capture the most amazing city skylines found across the US and around the world and create from them a functional and artistic city at night window shades product," explained Luik.
The shades are made of a custom fabric and the prints are laser cut into them. Once cut, the fabric is then laminated to protect from wear-and-tear, such as unravelling. The shades are made in the US and begin at $50 each.
I love this idea. It would add the cool factor to so many apartments or houses. It would even be great in an apartment overlooking New York City’s Central Park by dialing it down when you need that R&R time. Depending on the customizability concerning specific city vistas, I feel that Swan Skylines has some solid potential.
Not only city views, but other iconic scenes or monuments could bring in an attractive audience of potential customers. Most people have a certain city or place that resonates with them. Ordering unique and/or custom shades would only make it that much more meaningful. Again, I think the key here is customization. If Swan could have a process in place for people to upload images and render a mock-up for approval, it would generate a lot of buzz.
Concerning customization Martin Luik commented, "Swan Skyline project goal is to expend our designer’s team around the globe and with our company specific requirements create digital artworks... If we can accomplish it, Swan Skyline can offer any of your favored city Skylines and bring them into your homes or work places. Swan Skyline product is fully customizable to any sizes or designs."
This idea POPs!
Swan Expo’s Kickstarter Campaign Page
Swan Expo’s Website
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 journey from hobby to monetized successful and that POPs!
Now it is up to you. Will this year be different?
Monika's Kickstarter Campaign
It is a brand new year and anything is possible. We hope that you have been inspired by the many entrepreneurs and ideas that we have highlighted over 2014. There will be plenty more to come in 2015. It is time to make your new year’s resolutions to step up your game and improve your business. If you have not yet taken that entrepreneurial leap, then I would challenge you to do so this year. Today’s feature can perhaps warm you up to the idea.
Marco Zagaria, is an entrepreneur from Rome, Italy and has been working on a product to combat the cold weather. He finds that nighttime is when he expends most of his creative juices, yet this is also the coolest part of the day. Heating the room with a gas stove can consume a lot of energy and consequently cash. Now, thanks to Zagaria, a small room can be heated up by a few degrees for a mere 10 cents per day.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of an igloo—a half-dome ice hut made to keep the cold out and the warm in. Similarly Zagaria has developed a small thermal heater that he is introducing as the Egloo—a candle powered heater. The crowdfunding campaign is currently on Indiegogo, and the product can be claimed via a backing of $60.
The terracotta Egloo has a baseplate, on which to set four small candles. A metal grill is then placed over the baseplate and candles, which is designed to support and suspend a small terracotta dome. This is the inner dome, where the heat is concentrated to a range of 140-180 degrees. Finally, a larger dome, with a hole at the top, caps the Egloo. This hole provides for thermal exchange between the room air and the heated air between domes.
Four small candles can last for up to five hours, not including a residual heat that is emitted after the flames extinguish. The Egloo will increase the temperature of a 20 square meter room by two-three degrees. The replacement cost of the candles are an estimated 10 cents—not bad!
This idea has already been validated by the 288% financial backing that it has received to date. At the present moment, I am particularly sensitive to room temperature as I have been battling an illness through the holidays. Something toasty to warm my hands, as I type this, would be wonderful. I already have the thermostat maxed out on heat mode and am wearing a zip-down turtle neck sweater.
Restaurants and cafes would benefit from the glowing ambience and mild heat emitted from the Egloo. Rome seems like a picturesque city for these traditional terracotta emblems to be iconized in cafes.
I think that Mr. Zagaria is on to something with a solid POP.
Egloo’s Indiegogo Campaign Page
It is Christmas day, and I am overlooking a sea of pastel-colored cement houses with corrugated tin roofs that expand in all directions until reaching either the South China Sea or the mountains partially covered in low-hanging cloud. I am on the on the 14th floor of the Vinh Trung Plaza Hotel in Da Nang, Vietnam. Being that it is Christmas day, we have been on our iPhones all morning and into the afternoon FaceTiming, Skyping, and traditionally calling family. Actually my wife is still on the phone with her sister.
Communication is very important especially around the holidays. The iPhone happens to be the current means of that communication for us. And yes, our batteries have needed to be charged several times, which brings us to today’s post. Lenmar Enterprises, Inc., a family owned business in Southern California, has recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for the iPhone 6 accessory HAVOC. “The inspiration came from the off-roading lifestyle… The HAVOC really encompasses living your life beyond the walls, no need to worry about outlets OR getting dirty,” says Heather Buck, Marketing Director for Lenmar.
The HAVOC is an encasement for the iPhone 6 and comes in the colors Grunge Metal (silver) or Obsidian (black). This case has several key features that are advertised on its campaign page. Firstly it charges your iPhone while in use, providing an additional 110% battery life. On the backside of the case are LED indicators for quick reference of remaining battery life.
Secondly, the HAVOC is water resistant so getting caught in the rain or spilling a drink won’t cause you the anxiety that it once did. The audio and charging ports are sealed off and protected but still accessible. Lastly, the case is designed to absorb the impact of falls and other such trauma. These enhancements culminate to encourage one to live life and have his or her phone keep up.
The cell phone case and accessories market is an expansive one and can be very difficult to set apart (in a good way) from the rest. One thing is certain, that as dependency upon technology increases, so does the need for battery longevity. HAVOC accommodates for that, but also adds in the benefits of water and shock resistance. To have an edge, Lenmar must establish itself as a brand synonymous with portable power.
“In the coming years we want to continue to educate the market on portable power. The need is there—just not everyone knows that there is a solution for it,” explained Buck.
This statement may prove to be the essential POP that Lenmar needs to obtain market share.
Lenmar's Indiegogo Campaign
Entrepreneurialism perhaps was once uniquely the American dream, but has now transcended many countries and cultures. Albeit, there is still a great divide in the entrepreneurial universe. This divide is not partial to geography or race but to gender—skewed toward men leaving women entrepreneurs severely underrepresented.
DreamRise is an organization that is trying to tip the scale in favor of women, or at least in that direction. The organization, headed by founder and CEO Jacqueline Sofia, wants to create a crowdfunding platform strictly and specifically for female entrepreneurs in the Middle East. Sofia has spent the last three years in Amman, Jordan where she has come to know first hand the challenges for women wanting to start their own businesses.
“Being a female founder in the Middle East and having your own company and your own business for some of these women has been extremely rewarding,” says Sofia. Her company, DreamRise, is trying to tackle inequality for women in a place that is teeming with problems and negative connotation, the Middle East. The Kickstarter campaign is to launch a crowdfunding platform and online magazine to help amplify the voices of women. The catalyst for traffic and exposure to the proposed platform will be its niche focus on female entrepreneurs, firstly those in the Middle East.
“The way we approach crowdfunding is from a completely different perspective. We approach it through the narrative of these women and of course our focus is women specifically. We’re looking at the stories of these women and their businesses and we’re bringing them to the forefront of crowdfunding,” stated Sofia.
The campaign page lists that they are currently working with three women entrepreneurs and have a staff of writers and bloggers. They are currently accepting submissions from Middle Eastern female entrepreneurs.
“The problem is that women don’t have access to capital and resources the same way that men do…[they don’t] have a lot of access to physical assets [they] can put up for collateral,” explained Sofia in her video pitch.
Crowdfunding is taking off at an impressive rate and new platforms are emerging constantly. What will uniquely position each platform is its niche, being that Kickstarter and Indiegogo are each behemoths catering to the masses.
DreamRise has such a niche. It is focused on a specific demographic where the opportunity is great and competition is few (if any). The cause behind the venture is great and earns a solid POP from The Freshpreneur.
DreamRise's Kickstarter Campaign
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
Mindarin, the team that brought you Astro: a camera mount that adds motion to your time lapse videos, brings you their latest endeavor—Pico—which enables any camera to shoot time lapse videos without the motion. The team of six has again returned to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter for its latest edition. As its second product launch, the team behind Pico has really leveraged the learnings of Astro’s launch in 2012.
Although ultimately successful, there were many mistakes that the team learned from the first go around. And now with streamlined processes, including communication to backers, relationships with suppliers and manufacturers, and keeping to scheduled timelines, Mindarin feels very confident with this campaign. As an added bonus this campaign is enjoying the existing backer base from the crowdfunding launch of Astro numbering 2,053, many of which have already backed Pico.
As state, Pico is a "smart, affordable, and easy to use time lapse trigger.” It is about the size of a thumb print. The flat circular device allows your camera to snap pictures every 1-60 second(s) as directed by you. Pico is programed in either one of two ways: through the mobile app or manually while connected to your camera. Once programmed (set to the desired cadence to snap photos) Pico is plugged into the camera via its accompanying cable.
To manually do this, simply press and hold Pico while connected to the camera. You will hear a series of beeps from Pico and you release when the appropriate amount of beeps has elapsed. Each beep represents one second. If you would like to snap a photo every three seconds press and hold Pico until three beeps have sounded and then release. Your camera will automatically take a photo every three seconds until the device is removed or the camera shuts off.
Using your smart phone you can likewise set the device as desired. Additionally, you can vary the exposure levels including bulb ramping and speed ramping.
Pico is showcased in red, but the campaign has a special Kickstarter exclusive black. While all early bird specials have been taken, you can still acquire this photographer’s must-have with a backing of $50.
I got to speak with Carlos concerning the campaign for Pico, and he shared with me some of Mindarin’s goals further down the road. For one, they anticipate plenty of invention and ingenuity. All of the team members are developers and they are constantly working out new models and prototypes. The next product will most likely be unrelated to photography and hinge more on robotics. As for distribution of its products, Mindarin has been selling only through its website, but is currently in talks with distributors to expand its accessibility and reach.
Mindarin has benefitted from the experience of running, what looks to be, two successful Kickstarter campaigns. More and more entrepreneurs are circling back to crowdfunding as a viable source of exposure, product testing, and of course funding. In the case of Mandarin, what they have done so far with Pico took them a year to accomplish with Astro. That POPs.
Pico’s Kickstarter Campaign Page
In Mediterranean countries where olives and olive by-products represent a sizeable proportion of local diets, life expectancy rates are higher and risk of heart diseases are lower. This is true especially when compared to their North American and Northern European counterparts. Olive oil is rich in fatty acids—the good fatty acids that the body requires unlike saturated and trans fats.
When selecting olive oil from the supermarket, the first decision tree is of the purity of the oil—refined, virgin, or extra virgin. But perhaps you didn’t know that within the “extra virgin” segment not all oils are the same. According to the Olive Oil Times, a website dedicated to everything olives, “69 percent of imported olive oil samples and 10 percent of California olive oil samples labeled as extra virgin failed to meet the IOC/USDA standards for extra virgin olive oil”.
Michele Iadarola, of Puglia, Italy, wants to restore the good name of olive oil and that of his native country Italy. Currently based in New York City, he is launching his new company Especially Puglia.
The Kickstarter campaign for Especially Puglia is based on a farm-to-table model with a little twist—adoption of an olive tree. When you adopt an olive tree from Especially Puglia, you will receive a package from the company with a certificate of adoption including a photo and number of the actual tree in Puglia, Italy. You will also receive a Puglia-made ceramic bottle and three liters of extra virgin olive oil from your adopted tree. All of this comes in a small wooden crate delivered to your door in time for Christmas.
My wife and I strive to substitute other oils with olive oil where possible. This is a minor tweak in our cooking with a positive health potential—that and I also prefer the taste of olive oil to others. We were pleased to eventually locate some among the myriad of other cooking oils here in Vietnam. But even then, we have to trust what’s in the bottle. When you can’t read the back of the label, you really wonder what certain products are made of. Even more so when it is in your native tongue and you still don’t understand the label.
More importantly, olive oil should be fresh. Ladarola explains that unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with time and that the health benefits and taste deteriorate over time. Many options at the store could have been bottled up for a year or more. Especially Puglia’s “olive oil [is] cold pressed within eight hours of being harvested, packaged, and shipped directly from Puglia to you”.
Show your support for Especially Puglia by backing the project, so that you POP it out of the crate in time for Christmas dinner. Oh and for all of the American readers—Happy Thanksgiving!
Puglia’s Kickstarter Campaign Page
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
Every nine seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Domestic violence is a sad addendum to humanity and of growing concern worldwide. There are many efforts to educate against and prevent its spread but more can and should be done in this effort. German-American singer and songwriter, Andie Naar, has just released an EP featuring the single I Am Gone about domestic violence. “Domestic violence is a very personal topic for me”, says Naar. “I want to raise awareness, inspire victims and help organizations that offer support for those in acute danger.”
Naar is running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to create a music video for the single I Am Gone. The song tells of a woman’s journey out of domestic violence and into freedom with the help of a woman’s shelter. The aim is “ to craft a magnificent music video that will hopefully touch and move whoever watches it”. Apart from the awareness that the video will bring to its viewers, Naar also plans to include the information of various shelters, non-profits and advocacy groups in the conclusion of the video. She has also invited any and all backers to contact her with non-profits helping victims of domestic abuse to perhaps include these organizations’ logos into the music video credits.
Downloadable MP3s of the EP begin at five dollars for backers. Eighteen dollars will get you an additional link to the HD music video plus your name in the “special thanks” section of the video and website. Other perks include special edition prints and CDs as well as a live singing of I Am Gone.
Andie Naar is using her musical talent to inspire change. That change starts with you—the potential crowdfunding backer. You can help bring life to Naar’s dream and awareness of domestic violence. “Every little contribution helps me to make my dream come true to support the movement against domestic violence”.
I hope to see more from this artist and similar artists who are improving the world one small act at a time. Andie Naar deserves this POP.
Andie Naar’s Indiegogo Campaign
Andie Naar’s Website
Health is arguably the most important element of one’s life. With it, you can traverse city streets and peruse museums or you could enjoy a few days out in nature hiking, cycling, or camping. You can work on complex problems and lead teams in the corporate scene or jetset around the world purely for pleasure. The point is you can do anything you desire to do if you have the health to do it. And for most people health is controllable.
That being said, most societies are plagued with external pressures to look happy, wealthy and healthy. It is time to stop worrying about how others perceive us and to start focusing on our own acceptance. In terms of health, it should start from the inside out.
Sarah Goodman, Director of Marketing & Public Relations for the startup hopeful iHeart, is leading an Indiegogo campaign to corral a focus on health, specifically inner health. “Instead of focusing on outer appearance, track what's really important, what's going on inside”, touts the campaign’s page. Enter iHeart Physiological Age System.
Most likely you have heard something similar to “She is 50 years old, but has the energy of a 25 year old” or “He is 45 but looks 35." This may not be too far from the truth and now there is a science-based method and interface to prove it. iHeart is a small device that fits onto the tip of your finger to measure your pulse (not too unlike the pulse reader at the doctor’s office). However, this Bluetooth enabled instrument reads your pulse in such a way that it can decipher its wave length and produce a reading of aortic stiffness—a strong indicator of biological health.
Some display features of the iHeart include simple readouts of beats per minute, blood oxygen level, and battery life. This information, and more, is bluetoothed to your mobile device via the accompanying app. The information is generated after a mere 30 seconds of wearing the iHeart on your finger and is generated in real time. You can view your pulse’s wave length, biometrical data, and most importantly compare your physiological age with that of your chronological. The app allows you to track, add notes, and see trends as you progress towards your goal.
In speaking with Sarah, I really got a taste of her enthusiasm for health and well being. She shared a story with me about her father, Jess Goodman, and CEO of iHeart. He is a physician by trade and about 15 years ago he asked a Tai Chi master what advice he should give to patients concerning good overall health and longevity. The master asked him to show people health benefits associated with stretching between the heart and the kidneys. Over the subsequent years later, medical research validated this nugget of truth, labeling it as aortic stiffness.
The tech/health market is growing steadily and wearables are emerging everywhere. iHeart is a device that does not compete head-to-head with these other devices, as it is not merely a counter but rather an evidence provider of the users actions. In theory, the iHeart can work in tandem with another wearable.
Sometimes a needed lifestyle change only requires a little push. The iHeart is that push. Seeing your actual age, compared to your physiological age can be a powerful motivator and reality check.
The iHeart receives a resounding POP from The Freshpreneur.
iHeart Indiegogo Campaign
So you order that big cola from a drive-in restaurant and a teenager receives the order, grabs a cup, fills it, caps it with a lid and sends it out the window to you. When was the last time that that employee washed his/her hands? And if so was it done properly? Earlier this year I did a piece on hand washing for children to solve a similar problem.
We are a commodity and service driven economy and there is a lot of hand holding, or passing of products through literal hands, from development to distribution to retail to consumption. This is especially important in the case of food handling. What regulations are in place to accurately assure that proper measures are set forth and executed to prevent the transfer of bacteria?
Charles Abraham and Zachary Eddy of Plano, Texas or the greater Dallas area have been furiously working and pumping all resources into an idea turned product that has a real chance to become an industry standard and requirement. They call it the SaniTimer. Eddy was a corporate chef at a fortune 100 company and now is fully dedicated to this endeavor. Abraham handles the sales and marketing component of the duo.
It all started with the proverbial ah-ha moment. As accounted by Abraham concerning his business partner Eddy,
“His assistant chef walked into the kitchen and asked him what he needed to start working on…’well go wash your hands first and then we will get started’. [a moment later] He walks back. ‘What did you go do?’ [Inquired Eddy] ‘Wash my hands like you said’. [Eddy] went on to say, "no you didn't. That was impossible. You weren't over there long enough.’ The cook finally asked, "how am I supposed to keep track of the time?’ and there it was [the SaniTimer].”
The fully patented SaniTimer is a universal faucet add-on that counts down the seconds (30) on a display letting the user know when the appropriate time has elapsed to rid the hands of bacteria and germs. The end of every cycle includes a soothing series of beeps as further notification. The timer is water activated so there is no need to turn it on or off with buttons.
There are several key industries that Messrs. Abraham and Eddy are poised to penetrate which are each large in scale and sales potential, namely restaurants, schools, and hospitals. “In five to 10 years, we hope that we will have two or three models that serve different purposes in hand hygiene and we also hope to be global”, explained Abraham. “If [restaurants, schools, and hospitals] get cleaner, everybody who is a patient, patron, or customer wins. Hand washing affects absolutely everybody. So, we felt people might see that and say, ‘I'll put $10 bucks in for that, it's a great idea and good cause’.”
Would you POP a SaniTimer onto your faucet? Let us know what you think about this product below in the comments.
SaniTimer’s Kickstarter campaign page
I'm listening to a YouTube channel of concentration music right now as I hammer out this post. The music
is streaming through my white headphones in an attempt to oppose the incessant lunchtime buzz here
in the office. Unfortunately, my headphones are nowhere near noise cancellation, so the only option is to crank up the tunes. This week, I present to you Freshpreneurs something new and cutting-edge in the consumption of music and other audible entertainment.
I say cutting-edge for two reasons: 1) the idea includes
a simple tweak or rather a merge of two basic objects—headphones and a stereo and 2) the Indiegogo campaign has only been active for just over a week
and it is nearing the $1,000,000 mark.
Co-founders, Wenqing Yan and Victoria Hu, both graduates of UC Berkeley, have combined their talents of entrepreneurship and digital artistry to establish Axent Wear.
“The Axent Wear cat ear headphones has always been a dream of mine. As an artist, it would be amazing to see my vision come to life”, states Wenqing Yan. Axent Wear, as mentioned above, has an active Indiegogo campaign in pursuit of its first product, Cat Ear Headphones. Crushing their goal of needed capital by a factor of four and with funding still flowing into its coffers, the founders no longer have to worry about realizing this dream, but building a brand around its soon-to-be business.
The headphones have a frequency response range of 20 to 20,000Hz. The cushioning around this 40mm driver is a comfortable fit over the ears. The 3.5mm jack is removable and includes a Mic and USB charger. But the iconic look of these headphones is the external speakers raised up from the headband, resembling cat ears. The whole ensemble is accented with an infusion of brilliant LED lights—thus the names Axent Wear (company) and Cat Ear Headphones (product).
The project perks for backers allow for customization of the pairs of headphones. The LED lights can be blue, red, green, purple or even an alternating series of colors. Axent Wear also allows for customized paint jobs of the headphones including metallic and matte. Currently a pair of Cat Ear Headphones can be acquired for a $150 campaign donation.
This is one of the cooler products that I have seen in a while on Indiegogo and Kickstarter and has already shown its popularity among the avid backers of crowdfunding. There is no doubt that a pair of these will gather lots of attention, and that is precisely the market that they are after—musical extraverts who aren't afraid to take on the status quo white Apple ear buds. And of course, keynote feature of these headphones is the one-press external projection of the tunes that you are jamming out to.
We have all been in that moment of musical rhythm stomping out the beat and humming in sync with our song. Life seemingly could not be any better. Well now that moment can be extended to friends with the external speakers. Pretty cool.
So POP ‘em on and project your style because Cat Ears Headphones are going to make an impact.
Axent Wear Indiegogo Campaign
Axent Wear Website
Nearly everyone procrastinates. Nearly everyone fails to reach a goal. Nearly everyone forms bad habits. I don’t
want to focus on the negative, but I also cannot ignore the
fact that we often fall short of our self-imposed ideals and resolutions. Why does this happen? For one, we are all imperfect beings that have the capacity to imagine
perfection; from which our goals are born. Moreover, goals are often so absolute and rigid that they do not allow for
the flexibility of natural growth—which is try, fail, learn, try again, fail again, and learn more. Perhaps more than anything, it is the yielding to the status quo that constantly beckons us. It is this point—yielding to the status quo—that we can most readily regulate.
I came across a product on Indiegogo that it is simply marvelous and can encourage contra-status-quo-ism. With a hint of Pavlovian conditioning, the fitly named Pavlok is a device that rewards or punishes behavior depending on the desired output. Its founder, Maneesh Sethi of Boston, Massachusetts, had the aha moment for Pavlok when he himself was experiencing waning productivity on a writing project. Let’s take a deeper look.
The wearable device--Pavlok—can easily fit into your palm. It is rectangular in shape and fits into the compartment of the accompanying wrist band. “With Pavlok, we decided to create a discreet device that can be worn how you want to wear it”, boasts its campaign page. The device also comes with sticky adhesive to place it anywhere (if you are not into wrist bands). How does this work? Pavlov is a device and app solution. The application is where all of your goals are inputted and the device is the executor of the reward or punishment.
If you do not reach a particular milestone that you designate then the Pavlok will remind you of this with a vibration, or a sound or LEDs or even an electric shock. The shock is not harmful or necessarily painful but it is a behavioral trigger. The premise of Pavlok is to identify bad habits and to replace them with good ones. Thirty days of a repeated action becomes a habit and Pavlov was designed to take you there. The wearable also has some tracking ability to manage daily activities and patterns of sleep. It even knows when it is worn.
Back to goals. We have already established that we do not always mange to reach our goals but it goes without saying that we should nonetheless continue to strive for high targets. One of my favorite people, Og Mandino, wrote in his book The Greatest Salesman in the World, “Never will I be of concern that my goals are too high for is it not better to aim my spear at the moon and strike only an eagle than to aim my spear at the eagle and strike only a rock”.
The Pavlok is a needed catalyst for goal obtaining. The Pavlok team connects with us by stating, “Imagine living in a world where we could set goals…and consistently achieve them. Who could we become? We’d finally have that dream body. We’d finally kick that bad habit of smoking or biting our nails. In short—we'd finally become the person we always knew we could be."
I am a big fan of progress and achievement, and I feel that Pavlok really provides a POP in the right direction for achievement.
Pavlok’s Indiegogo Campaign Page
I had a marketing professor in college whom I greatly enjoyed and still admire today. His office was adorned with point of purchase material, figurines, bobbleheads, toys, posters, and the like. The shelves, walls, desks—any surface—were covered. There was almost not enough room to think it was so full. Yet each piece had a story
to tell. This professor had an interesting and successful career including holding the office of CMO of a
successful Fortune 500 company prior to his professorship.
Perhaps not all offices are as rife with things as the above example, yet many workstations and cubicles do have a fair amount of office toys ranging from stress balls to Slinkys to Jell-O encapsulated staplers. It all screams personality and flare. In the office environment people collect things as a point of differentiation. But, there can come a point when too much is too much. In the accumulated flotsam and jetsam practicality may shine brightest.
Today I bring you a practical item to add to your desktop collection. It is Office Putty; “Calm. Focus. Create.”.
Office Putty is a non-sticky, never dries-out-putty that is intended to relieve stress and create focus. The creator of Office Putty, Ryan Perica, was in search of something better to relieve stress and bring concentration to the work week.
“The creation of Office Putty was first driven by a personal need; I wanted the perfect office tool and was sick of the junky toys out there. When I found myself using it every day to help with stress and concentration, I thought this has got to be something that many office workers need”, says Perica.
Manufactured in the USA, the odorless putty is a subtle blue and comes in a small silver tin—a sharp look for modern desks. And the Kickstarter community agrees. With more than 20 days left, the campaign has already surpassed 120% of its intended goal. For only $22 CAD you could back this project and receive your very own Office Putty.
“The biggest challenge was what I think most people have – the fear of failure. But once I saw how people around me were using and enjoying Office Putty, I just had to get the product on Kickstarter.”
I love office toys. One of my coworkers had a Slinky on his desk and it was so calming to subconsciously fiddle with while working out a business problem. I can only imagine that Office Putty would produce the same effect. Perica said that the he wants his new product to reach household name status of the desk toppers category similar to the Kleenex of facial tissue and the ChapStick of lip balm.
"I am really passionate about discovering innovative ways to create a productive and fun work environment. Office Putty is the first step towards a dream to change working environments for many offices who want to eliminate the day-to-day grind."
Perica also alluded to consultancy work on the distant horizon for him and his by-then-team. But for the moment he is enjoying the success of the Kickstarter campaign and its subsequent launch of Office Putty.
So show your support and POP open a tin of Office Putty.
Office Putty Kickstarter Campaign
Office Putty Website
One of the most pesky insects is the mosquito. Sure enough these little flies can ruin or at least hinder the fun and relaxation that you are trying to have. Unfortunately for my wife, she is like a magnet to mosquitoes. If there are mosquitoes in the vicinity she will be the first person to receive a bite and also the person with the most.
Not only are these bugs an annoyance but they can carry diseases too. According to the CDC, “Almost 40,000 people in the U.S. have been reported with West Nile virus disease since 1999, and of those over 17,000 have been seriously ill and more than 1600 have died.” These figures do not include any unreported claims.
A Tampa, Florida based group of anti-mosquito enthusiasts, along with some specialists from the University of Florida have joined forces to create a simple yet impactful solution to ward off mosquitoes.
The solution is the Invisaband; a microfiber bracelet infused with geraniol, which comes from geranium plants. The micro fiber allows for a slow release of the ingredient thus giving each bracelet a 120 hour lifespan. When it is not in use it can be stored in a resalable plastic bag (included) to preserve its shelf-life. The invisaband comes in a package of five—enough for friends or family.
This simple adjustable bracelet replaces the sprays and lotions that leave a sticky residue and often have harsh smells and chemicals that seep into your largest organ—your skin. But can a little bracelet on one wrist really protect from mosquitoes as well as a spray that covers all of the body? Well you can put it to the test risk free. Per the Invisaband Indiegogo campaign page:
“There are many natural repellents on the market today, but few prove to be effective. Geraniol, on the other hand, has been studied for a number of years showing proven efficacy in repelling mosquitoes. We are so confident in the effectiveness of invisaband that we are even offering a 60-day, money-back guarantee!”
Invisaband would be a great alternative to traditional repellents and if enough trials of the product can occur and if those trials are positive, then we will see a big upset in the insect repellent category. The current trends are already in its favor. Consumers want products that are natural, fresh, transparent, and healthy. The Invisaband is these things. What it needs right now, and time will tell, is a mass trial and hopefully conversion to adoption.
"In 5 to 10 years, we'd like to see invisaband in stores not only across the USA and Canada, but worldwide too", says Matthew Kostanecki, founder of Invisaband. "We've had quite of few distribution requests from a variety of companies and are excited to see where that may take the product. We're hoping for invisaband to become a household product name."
I, for one, hope to see these in the local market soon so that I can POP one on my wrist and be worry-free when it comes to mosquitoes.
Invisaband Indiegogo Campaign Page
Space is expensive for urban dwellers. And as costs of
living increasingly outpace salary increases we will continue
to see the likes of Ikea and other space-conscience home
furnishers Tetrisize our world—specifically our living
spaces. Several countries southwest of Ikea’s
Swedish headquarters is Spain. Our feature this week
comes from Madrid and the design studio, UNAMO.
Humberto Navarro is a designer and the founder of the stated
studio. His crowning piece is a convertible piece of furniture entitled 3Moods of which has an active Indiegogo campaign in hopes of breaking into an international market.
3Moods, as cleverly quipped, serves three moods or purposes: relax, work, sleep. The interchangeable unit is a sofa, bed and table—or it can be anyone of these at one time. As touted on its campaign page “3Moods is …convertible furniture that fits your space, your needs and your life”. The table can seat four or scale up to eight persons. 3Moods can also be an armchair, a desk, or a chaise lounge. Most occasions can be accommodated with 3Moods freeing up space from standard furniture.
“We are a team dedicated to looking for solutions to everyday problems, because we want you to be happy”, stated Navarro concerning the design studio.
The wood surfaces of 3Moods are made of OKUME plywood. The framing is made of stainless steel and all upholstery is removable and washable. The unit can be one of a variety of colors with 20 to choose from. The option of indoor or outdoor material is also available.
There will always be a population that longs to live in the heart of urbanization—the middle of it all. And with this growing population down-town high-rises and condos are commanding premium rent rates. For many the compromise has to be in the squared living area since the prices are fixed to each market’s supply and demand.
If this trend holds true then 3Moods may prove to be the Holy Grail of young professionals and others spending an inexorable percentage of their pay checks on rent; if not the Holy Grail then at least competition for others in the market.
UNAMO is planning to feature 3Moods in several design exhibitions later this year in Paris and Milan in hopes of breaking into the international limelight of modular furniture with a POP.
3Moods Indiegogo Campaign Page
A soft warm piece of toast with a solid cold wedge of butter. Those words do not read well together—and it certainly isn’t optimal for Sunday brunch. Yet, we have
all been there—a piece of bread or toast that has been massacred by a stubbornly unyielding cube of butter.
For those who do not have the forethought to allow
the butter to soften or who are unwilling to keep it out indefinitely (because let’s face it, it gets to be a bit funky after a while) life is about to get a whole lot easier. This could truly be the next best thing since sliced bread.
Howard Chiu is the Kickstarter campaign lead of the THAT team, made up of designers, engineers, business analysts, social engineers, and branding consultants. Chiu currently resides in Seattle, Washington and oversees the SpreadTHAT project.
What SpreadTHAT is, as alluded to above, is a better way to spread butter, real butter, on your bread. Regardless of the butter’s density or temperature, the SpreadTHAT allows the butter to actually spread onto the desired surface easily and pliably. How it works is ingenious and, quite frankly, why I decided to feature it this week.
The knife is made of a copper alloy that transfers the heat from your hand through the spreader and into the butter (in this case). It utilizes the same technique that many CPUs employ in cooling overheated hard drives. The alloys is such that the flow of heat flows to the lesser temperature. There are no batteries or electrical cords and no waiting—the transfer is immediate. In speaking with Chiu, he did mention that SpreadTHAT is best used when butter is scrapped from the cube rather than slicing a chunk. For obvious reasons, the butter still needs to melt and this is achieved more quickly with thin slices as opposed to large gobs.
The SpreadTHAT is a sub brand or product in the overarching kitchenware brand, THAT. The company behind it, Gixia, has been in existence for 12 years, with the last two dedicated to the THAT brand. I probed Howard Chiu for the other kitchenware items that he and his team were developing, however, he was pretty tight-lipped. Most other ideas have not gone through all stages of approval. Yet he did say that they are working on a robot—an actual device that moves about the kitchen. Keeping true to form, Chiu said, “I can’t say too much but it doesn't like people too much at this stage”.
I look forward to the ingenuity that THAT can bring to the kitchen. Whether it’s a better way to butter bread or an ornery robot walking around, the future is going to be POPping.
SpeadTHAT Kickstarter Campaign Page
The American dream: a comfortable home with parents, children, and maybe a pet. As picture perfect as this may sound there are inevitably messes when the whole family gets together—especially at mealtime. Surely there is a way to minimize, if not avoid the mealtime messes.
Lindsey Laurain of Parker, Colorado and founder
of ezpz, has brought a solution to the table. Mrs. Laurain is a working mom and mother to three sons, a four-year-old and two two-and-a-half-year-old identical twins. Out of necessity she has created a product that can reduce the mess and stress of mealtime clean up.
The product is the Less Mess Happy Mat, which is a plate, bowl, and placemat all in one. The design of the Happy Mat actually looks like a happy face with the two eyes and mouth forming three compartments. This raised circular “face” sits in the center of the rectangular placemat. The whole piece is made up of BPA-free silicone and self-adheres to the table with a strong suction. No more food splatters from tipped plates and bowls.
The Less Mess Happy Mat comes in four color options: pink, cyan, lime, and watermelon. It is virtually indestructible and safe for oven, microwave, and dishwasher usage. The mats can easily be stacked for storage or even to carry to the table—full of food. A financial backing of $25 to the Kickstarter campaign can secure a Happy Mat for you. If you need multiples, the campaign perks definitely cater to wide consumer base.
“My vision is to create the brand and the company and to do everything that I can as its founder”, said Mrs. Laurain in a phone interview concerning the future of her patent-pending venture. “It works—this is such a true statement; there is nothing like it on the market and any kids item with any sort of suction does not work”.
She is not a fan of management and the other woes that come with big companies and corporations, so she prefers to keep operations efficient and consolidated. This is not to say that she does not want to grow the business of Less Mess Happy Mats—on the contrary growth is needed—but it must be controlled in order to maintain the brand’s image.
Even as a fledgling startup, hindsight has already shown its wisdom with EZPZ. “Always follow your gut; I could have avoided a lot of mistakes if I would have just listened to my gut”, remarked Mrs. Laurain.
Mrs. Laurain would prefer online outlets, such as the company’s website and Amazon.com, but did acknowledge that brick-and-mortar would also play a role in the market roll-out, albeit strategic to maintain certain price points.
So the next time you place food in front of your child at mealtime make sure it doesn't POP off of the table—use a Less Mess Happy Mat.
Less Mess Happy Mat’s Kickstarter Campaign Page
Less Mess Happy Mat’s Website