Tag Archives: seedinvest.com

Education, dating and e-commerce startups in full force at NY Tech Day

By Dennis Clemente

Last April 25, New York had its biggest NY Tech Day ever with an audience that is triple its size from last year and exhibitors from education, dating and e-commerce industries showing up in full force. All in all, about 10,000 people trickled in to hear from more than 400 startups and not-so-recent startups at the sprawling 75,000-square-feet Pier 92, with majority of them based in New York and its boroughs.

Startup founders talked to everyone who cared to listen.
There was Paul Canetti of MazDigital.com, formerly of Apple, who offers a publication app with no programming required. “Now, the magazine industry need not bother with the million-dollar cost of coming up with their own magazine app if they can use our app system.”
Would it save and even make magazines thrive? That remains to be seen.

There were about a dozen education sites and apps for both young and old—and those looking to transition to another career. Moocdom.com aims to give professionals the chance to upgrade their skills.

Across from each other were MeeGenius.com and Kitukids.com. Founded in 2010 Wandy Yeap Hoh and David Park, MeeGenius digitizes children’s stories in audio playback, whereas the latter, founded by Daniela Arredondo, comes in video format. Both think they can co-exist in the marketplace.

For adult learners, Mediabistro.com and General Assemb.ly talked to everyone interested in their short courses and workshops, which range from the marketing kind (social media marketing) to the startup and programming kind, for those not yet familiar with them.

Learning another language took another dimension with Smigin.com. Susan O’ Brien demonstrated the app’s interactive capabilities; they’re developed as videos and games.

Sites for the romantically inclined abounded. InkedMatch.com is about online matchmaking for tattoo lovers; Cheekd.com is still doing the online matching in reverse; Datenight.is for couples who need dating ideas and Parlor.me dares you to start phone conversations with strangers.

Asked about how she is going to compete against all the other dating sites, Lori Cheek of Cheekd.com raised her hand in a triumphant gesture. “I’m in it to make it!” Cheekd.com was featured in The New York Times sometime back.

To look great in those dates, DietBet offers a unique app game—you lose weight you win money. To begin, everyone puts money in a pot. You’ve got four weeks to lose 4 percent of your starting weight. Whoever hits their 4 percent goal is the winner—and splits the pot.

And for those looking to give special gifts, there’s Egifter.com for those must-have coupons, Giftivo.com, which bills itself as a “smart gifting engine,” and Danggle.com, with the most unique gifting idea—“social gifting for yourself.” You go to the site, post your lusted-after item, let your friends chip in, and get the money to buy it.

Those looking to make skilled, trade and household services easier to find were also in attendance: Handybook.com, Servicerunner.com and Myclean.com aim to fit every possible need outside of IT. Finding IT professionals is an entirely different challenge. For even the best recruiters, like TheLadders.com and Landover.com and the new ones like SoundAdvice.jobs, it must really feel like looking for a needle in the haystack with startups mushrooming everywhere. Some e-commerce sites like Bonobos.com and media companies like Medialets.com also used the event for their tech and marketing recruitment efforts.

Not all startups were for necessarily for consumers. Carlos Carbonell and Mat Gaver of JustEcho.com, a digital agency with emphasis on mobile innovation, launched their new company, EchoTime at the event. “It makes time tracking affordable and fun for employees to fill up.”

There were some physical devices, too—and they’re both made from Brooklyn. Solidoodle.com demonstrated its 3D printing machines which sold for $499. Set to launch this year, Bitponics.com offers a real-time sensor data that allows you to manage your garden from any web browser.

For those who want to start their own online businesses, start getting crowdfunded at Seedinvest.com or Indiegogo.com who were also in attendance. But if you can fund the business yourself like Afzal Faroroqui, owner of Rentagizmo.com, then we should also see you in next year’s tech startup event.

How to crowdfund your business idea successfully

By Dennis Clemente

You have the idea, but you don’t have the money? You might want to try crowdfunding. Last April 15 at the Microsoft office, John Vaskis, Indiegogo’s Gaming Vertical Lead, presented how you can crowdfund your business successfully, whether it’s a game or your dream of publishing your own book: Do a video pitch.

Vaskis said a video pitch gives you twice the chance of getting funds. “Campaigns with videos raise 114% more than campaigns without. Do a three-minute video and make it personal, but also offer unique perks.”

Citing one successful pitch, Vaskis said Angry Video Game Nerd got 6,700 people to create a feature film based on his YouTube personality. “The Nerd sent over 2,500 autographed photos with custom message for his most ardent supporters.”

Vaskis also said updates every five days are important to keep the communication going with your audience. “It has been our experience that this doubles expected funding. “The higher number of updates…the greater the funding success.”

What is crowdfunding? It’s the pooling of funds, from the people who have passion about your idea. It’s as old as the pooling of funds for the Statue of Liberty stand in Ellis Island. Back then, it was the New York Times that served as the platform for New York to raise over $100,000 in funds. Average contribution the paper received: 89 cents.

Crowdfunding is about raising money and connecting with funders online. But where other ways of funding can be merely static collection, crowdfunding is about the shared enthusiasm between the fund-seeker with the funder.

How does one choose a platform these days? There’s the hugely popular kickstarter.com, and the fairly new seedinvest.com, which may still be free of charges.

Why do people give money for altruistic reasons when he could get a return on his investment somewhere else? That’s been a question for some people, but not for people who sincerely want to help another person fulfill his or her dream.

At Indiegogo, crowdfunding takes these steps to fruition: post a campaign, build virality, collect money, fulfill perks, and get started.

Getting started is just the beginning. You will need to generate interest and momentum for your campaign and that includes knowing how to motivate people to contribute to you. Vaskis said the keys to creating a good pitch are honesty, transparency and authenticity. “Make sure you know what you are raising money for, when your project will take place; why you are raising funds and how you can get people involved.”

It’s also vital that you develop a social media/PR strategy and discuss updates with your audience, as you push your goal and offer perks to your fundraising campaign. It could be a combination of any of the following: offer early access to products/services or discounts or coupons; throw a party for funders; teach a class or host a tour; offer unique, limited edition items; give personal thank you notes; share insider secrets; join the conversation and most important perhaps, communicate early and often.

But where do you even begin? That’s what may intimidate you at first, but it turns out that family and friends can be counted on to be your no. 1 cheerleaders, as Vaskis pointed out how 30 to 40 percent of funding came from them. This creates validation.

If anything, crowdfunding is fanbase building but with some money attached to it. Your network is your “fans” who may contribute $70, the average contribution at Indiegogo.

But what makes Indiegogo unique? It has been doing this on an international scale since 2008, ahead of Kickstarter, which has also proven to be very successful in the U.S. Indiegogo claims to have over 120,000 campaigns from 196 countries.

For more information, visit indiegogo.com, kickstarter.com and seedinvest.com

New crowdfunding platform offers no fees for a start

By Dennis Clemente

“We have a broken financial system,” says Ryan Feit, the outspoken co-founder and CEO of seedinvest.com, a new equity-based crowdfunding platform, explaining how small entrepreneurs are hampered by a 10-year low in bank lending and challenged by the fact most of our savings and output go to FORTUNE 500 companies.

In setting a serious, take-no-prisoners’ tone approach in his presentation, “Crowdfunding: Raising Startup Capital for the 99%,” Feit made his point across loud and clear, recommending what is fast becoming the way to go to seek funding: go crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding has taken off following the passing of the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act by President Obama in April 2012. This was in support of entrepreneurship and small business growth. The JOBS Act is designed to encourage small business and startup funding by easing federal regulations and allowing individuals to become investors.

As a result, crowdfunding platforms like kickstarter.com and indiegogo.com have helped fund startups, creative projects, non-profits and all types of small businesses. Kickstarter.com operates on a rewards system where a donation to a startup is just that—a donation that may result in a reward from a fundraiser, except no claim of ownership.

How successful have this been? One successful startup in Kickstarter called Pebble Watch initially requested for $10,000 but collected more than $10 million in pledges. For the most funded projects in Kickstarter can be found here: http://www.kickstarter.com/discover/most-funded?ref=sidebar

Fiet outlines why crowdfunding is a game changer: you can get more funding to launch your business; customers can become investors; you can generate a following; spend less time fundraising and get market research from the crowd, which saves you time thinking if your business idea is viable.

Under the JOBS Act, you are now able to do the following:
• Advertise your fundraiser: Either on the wall of your store or online
• Let anyone invest: Now anyone can invest, tapping into millions of people as potential investors
• Allow no limits in shareholders. It means lots of people can invest small amounts

But how can one be held accountable or deemed trustworthy in a system where you don’t even meet the fundraiser personally? Feit cites the fact that in the Internet era, news travels fast, citing one case where a fraudulent fundraiser was caught having pulled images online to pitch his supposed project to the world before things got out of hand.

Some regulations have also been put in place as part of a controlling mechanism. As a backer or supporter, there is a yearly limit on the amount you may invest in a project. This is based on your net worth or yearly income. The limit ranges from 2% of people earning (or worth) up to $40,000, up to a cap of $10,000 for people earning (or worth) $100,000 or more.

But once the fundraisers get the requested funds, who’s going to make sure they keep their word and start their business? It’s a legitimate question but everyone knows people are inherently trusting, generous and supportive of another person’s dreams. Feit calls it the “wisdom of crowds” at work.

What if the amount of money targeted to be raised was not met, where does the money go? Depending on the crowdfunding site, money is supposedly returned to the investor. For investors, it is important for them to ask the site if they can get their money back before the deal closes.

Feit ended his presentation by going to his site, seedinvest.com, and said he is not charging any fee yet. With the reported backlog in other sites, it’s probably better to the 1% in all of us to have as many platforms as we can find, for the business(es) in the back of our minds.