Tag Archives: kickstarter

Creating a Business doesn’t have to be hard, just requires Hard Work

Creating a business doesn’t have to be complicated. If you are worried about all the legal stuff that lawyers like to come up with to scare you and tax issues you have to deal with, why not leave it to the people who get paid to do that? Successful business ideas don’t start with all the legal stuff in the beginning, they all start with an idea. You then take that idea and see if anyone will buy what you are selling. If you find that people are willing to buy from you then you have a viable business on your hands.

Simple Steps to Starting a Business Today
Step 1. 
Come up with an idea that you think people need or will solve a problem.

Josh Malone found a problem with water balloons. He saw that it took a long time to fill up water balloons and then tie them and then throw them. So he came up with a system that allowed you to fill up 37 water balloons in just a few seconds. Not only did they fill up but they also tied themselves so kids could start throwing them at each other right away. His kickstarter campaign showed that even though this is not a pressing issue, the time of the year to launch his product (summer in America) was the perfect timing for raising money. His initial goal was $10k but as of this writing, he has already reached $315,889 dollars. You can watch just what his program is all about in the video below.

Step 2. Build a Prototype or example to show people the purpose of your business

This is the hard part for most people. They have an idea but putting in the hard work to make it all happen is where you go from the dreamers to doers. Ask how many people around you have ideas for their business and you will get a lot of well-wishers who say, “someday I want to start my own business.” There are many people who have taken the first step in showing their hard work and it has paid off for them. People need to see that you are serious about your idea and if you show the first step then they will meet you part or half way.

Kleo’s Doughnuts is a good example of that

Xiki Commands created many videos to show their work in progress

Step 3. When asking for Money have a laid out plan to show what you plan to do with it.

A lot of people have trouble with this part because they have never had to manage money before in a way that goes towards building a business. This is why investors of any kind expect entrepreneurs to write a business plan so they know more about their business and what they will do with the money once it is given to them. The more detailed a business plan the more helpful it is to understand what you plan to do once you get funded. These are a few examples that demonstrate their effort.

Moment smartwatch is a wrist watch that allows you to type on the band and send information just like the screen on a smartphone. Their kickstarter campaign details what the product is about, their fund raising goals, and where they plan to go with it. All that detailed explanation paid off because they were able to go past their goal of $100k and hit $447,900.

Another campaign that passed its goal was to distribute money in random places to random people. The idea is connected to a series program that teaches about Art and Action and it’s relation to a variety of studies. His story and explanation for how he planned to use the money told investors the why and what and how they needed to know. He went past his goal of $1k hitting $1150 instead.

This guy came up with an idea for doing something he loves and sharing it with everyone else. If someone can raise money for a suit for an interview or bake a cake for their girlfriend then he figured he could mail people pancakes that he made. Not a silly idea since he was able to go past his fund raising goal.

Step 4. After you have received funds then you must show action
The prototype and examples you gave with your presentation are just the beginning parts of starting a business. Now the hard part begins with organizing everything, ordering supplies, and meeting deadlines. This is where idea becomes reality. It is one thing to create something for yourself but when other people depend on you to give them what they want that is when you have more responsibilities to deal with.

Justin Herd experienced his moment when he had trouble as a college student trying to eat his meals with out creating a lot of dishes in the process. He wanted something that he could use one time to do many things in. He created a bowl that you can cook in, strain, eat, and store food in. He idea took a long time to perfect and along the way he has been racking in the cash but his bigger moment came when he went passed his goal on kickstarter.

Step 5. Give the People what they want when they want it.
Now that you have laid out your plan, shown people what you can do and when they can get it, the next hard part is making sure they can get it anytime they want it. If barriers are up that make it difficult for them to get your product then it just encourages them to find competitors that sell similar products or services.

You never want to add more hassle to the shopping experience then there already is. You have to learn how to streamline your whole operation so that when orders come in they are met right away with action so they are sent out right away. Zappos company prides themselves on giving their customers little surprises when they order something from them. This could be in the form of replacing shoes without any problems or free next day delivery without them knowing about it.

You can also build on an idea and just improve it so that people already understand how to take advantage of it when they need it faster.

The free book lending library has become very popular with crowdfunding programs because it builds on an existing idea and just improves it a little bit.

Little Free Library in Brooks School Park
Little Free Library in Albany, NY
Little Free Library in Woolich, London

The great thing about the Little Free Library program is that they all met their goals.

After you have established yourself as a business that has customers and you have repeat business then you can move onto the legal stuff and tax stuff. You can hire out lawyers and accountants who can then manage your finances for your growing business. This way you can focus on the day-to-day operations and hiring new employees. This whole process has been shorten because of the ability to raise money faster online making it easier to start your business faster.

The most important thing to be aware of when starting any business is to know your strengths and weaknesses. If you have a hard time meeting deadlines then hire someone that can finish projects once you start them. After you have drawn out every part of your business so you can visually see how your business operates then you can start learning how to improve every part. It takes time but don’t expect to be up and running right away.

As for the dreamers of the business world the only expression you will hear from them when looking at successful crowdfunding campaigns is “that’s such a simple idea I could have come up with that.” Yea but you didn’t.

What to learn how to give away money? Why not take a class on it.

Many people think that giving away money is easy to do, just look out your window when you stop at a light and see the people begging for money; a dollar here, a dollar there and maybe you will have hit your charity giving for the day. For those taking a course on philanthropy students find out how hard it is in determining how to give money away.

Many top schools now offer courses that teach students how to give money away, using real money from a grant given to the schools by either Hedge Funds or special finance companies. Students are taught how to look at a company and figure out what makes them worthy of the money. The process is long and difficult because you can not just look at their cause; everyone charity or non-profit says the work their doing is important, but not everyone knows how to manage an efficient order of operation and that is what students are trained to look at. Students are taught to look at the background of the person running the organization, the staff, where they got their education, or if they did, how long they have worked there and where did they come from before.

After a student has looked at whether or not the team they have working there is a good fit or not then they move on to their finances. Most non-profits, N.G.O.s and charity organizations have transparent books but if they don’t that should raise a flag. For any first time student looking at the finance reports of any company can be complicated because each company organizes things differently but if they look at it from a tax perspective which requires every company to file certain items a certain way then it gets easier reading the numbers.

So after all this hard work of pouring through the numbers and researching the background of the top employees, what is a student to determine, or in this case, supposed to learn?

1. How organizations manage donations
How an organization uses donations determines how focused on the cause they are. Many times organizations run just to support themselves with the donations they get, leaving many to wonder, why is the money not being spent more on your cause? An organization that reduces it’s overhead then it can spend more it’s cause and events.

A student would be taught in such a class to look at what they did with the last three major donations they received. Did it go to paying for staff salaries or did it go to a program they were trying to get off the ground? How much of each donation goes to just keeping the organization running?

2. Where does most of their funding come from?
This is an issue that many donors don’t really consider in full terms. Most people will look at a non-profit and think that because the word non-profit is in the title then they must be working for the good of the people but if all their donations are only coming from for-profit companies then what does that say about their order of operation?

Any organization needs to have a diverse collection of donations in order to really be concerned with getting their name out there. If they focus all their efforts on pulling only from companies that know how to make money on their own and one day they were to lose their funding, then their business model was not well planned out. This happens a lot and many go under every day.

3. How many donations did such and such organization receive in the last year?
This question is extremely important to understand because it explains how well their finances are but also their cash-flow. An organization, with a great cause, should have money coming in everyday in all kinds of sources, companies, grants, the public, private donors, etc. This shows to the investor that they understand how to handle donations because they deal with it on a daily basis. A company that only receives funding sporadically throughout the year will probably use that money to pay their bills and staff first before their cause.

4. How many individuals are impacted directly by the donations?
These numbers are important to look at because it shows how big of an impact that one organization has. Many grants require X number of people in a given program before giving away any money so if a company has less than the targeted amount then there is no sense if giving money to that organization.

As an investor looking at those numbers, you need to know how many people will be impacted by those donations. You also have to look at what kind of impact it will have, sometimes it is only indirectly, for example a charity that wants to build a lab to help people learn web design might only have enough to build the lab but not enough to have classes every week. Would such a donation help out their cause?

5.  What does the company do with left over donations at the end of the year?
Many non-profits are required to use all the funding by the end of the year so if a company was not able to use up all of it then what do they normally do with any remaining cash? This question is evident if you were to walk into a non-profit and notice all the nice furniture and desks they have. A simple question of how many people were helped last year and this year will help show just how well that money is being spent.

6. How many grants does the organizations write a year, including any additional programs asking for money?
Any company that is in need of money to help keep their cause going should be looking for all kinds of programs. The number of grants they write and get approved versus the number that don’t get approved is also important to look at and why. Getting approved from a nationally recognized institute versus getting approved from a local volunteer program reflects highly on how well connected the organization is. This sheds light on how serious they are about asking for funding from the right places.

Putting it Together
Whether you donate to your local church or programs you see on TV, giving money away that will have an impact is harder than it looks. In many of these courses in order to get an A they must show, with just cause, why they decided to give away $50k to one organization or divide up the money and give to different ones.

The next time you are deciding whether or not to give some money away, you can look at it from this perspective, can I make a return on my investment allowing me to invest again or is this a one time donation? There are many small programs where you can learn how to invest without such a high risk. If you are serious about learning how to invest in a charity program, non-profit, startup, or N.G.O. do your homework first and find out right away what they plan to do with that money.

Here are a few places to help get you started without any huge risks.
Kiva – You can loan some money to those wanting to start a business. The best part is you will hopefully get your money back if they are successful and then you can invest again.
Crowdrise – Created by the famous actor, Edward Norton, he created a place where people can invest in all kinds of causes.
Kickstarter – Here you can browse all kinds of companies looking to get their product off the ground. If you do your homework and see what kind of influence they have online then you will be taking the first steps to investing in a company.
Indiegogo – This crowdfunding site takes you away from what kickstarter created and lets you invest in more independent projects that range from personal to adventure.

Centralizing Causes
So now that you have an idea of what it takes to invest you can look at how to spend your money wisely when giving it away. The fact that so many non-profits and charity organizations are springing up everyday makes it harder for one to decide where to invest their money. An efficient use of the system would be to centralize causes into one organization rather let there be hundreds, if not, thousands of the same cause.

The cause in the end is what suffers from the diverse nature of so many different programs out there instead of benefiting. If there was only one organization for helping people with AIDS then that would make it easier for people to know where to donate but since there are so many now, it discourages those from donating as much as they would if there was only one. Words for thought.

Take a Class on Philanthropy

Reading Rainbow makes a Comeback via KickStarter Campaign

[Article Updated] 5/31/2014
In the time since this article was written, Levar Burton was able to surpass his goal of $1 million dollars, which currently stands at $3 million and growing. Their new goal is set for $5 million since they still have 32 days left in their crowdfunding campaign. Might as well make the best of it, right? Glad to see so many to a show that gave so much to kids who watched it when it was on TV.

Remember the days when you could turn on PBS and watch Levar Burton teach you about new books, tell you stories, and go on adventures in your mind? Those were the days when learning to read was fun and interesting. I still remember the intro in my head and so did most of your friends at school. It’s what connected kids at school together, common TV shows we all watched together at home. Now you don’t have that anymore. Take a look back at a song that most kids could sing back word for word.

Brought back some memories of sitting in front of that TV and singing along didn’t it? Levar made reading fun and interesting, something most kids don’t get anymore. They have no physical connection with books today unless they have great parents who make it a habit to visit the public library once a week.

Funding for reading programs today goes to low income kids primarily. The question of “how do we get kids interested in reading” back in 1983 turned into “how do we get kids to read, period?” in 2009. This shows a lack of respect for teaching kids to read. It’s not enough that schools should be required to teach kids to read, it should primarily come from the parents. In order to use the internet one must be able to read unless all they use it for is to watch tv or movies or play video games. Mr. Burton stated, “Right now, 1 out of every 4 children in America will grow up illiterate.” How do we expect to compete with countries like Japan, China, and India where they beat us in math, science, and technology every year? Children need to not only learn how to read but to learn that it is FUN to read.

Change in Direction
In less than a day, a feat that has only been accomplished a few times on kickstarter, Levar Burton was able to meet his goal of $1 million dollars to bring back the Reading Rainbow program. As of writing this article, over $70 thousand was raised. Instead of on TV, it will now be on the web, in classrooms, and on tablets. For a long time now there has been an app of Reading Rainbow but Levar felt there needs to be more involvement and in order to make that happen he decided to raise the funds with today’s crowdfunding options. It’s great to say that he met his goal and is well pass the mark since yesterday. Chances are he will get back more than he expected but that should not come as a surprise because he gave millions of children who watched his show for three decades the idea that reading is fun, something no dollar amount can match. He created a video for his campaign, watch below.

Great ending on the video if you know who that person is. Children still do not read as much as they should for various reasons but Reading Rainbow was a show that brought different books to you and made it fun. If Reading Rainbow impacted your life in anyway share your thoughts below in the comment section.

Find out who else donated

Opposing Views
Reading Rainbow is not the only program out there encouraging kids to read, First Book and Children’s Literacy Initiative, are a few others but they operate in a different way than how Reading Rainbow works now. Reading Rainbow was a program brought to you by PBS, a program that was free paid for by grants and other funding. First Book and Children’s Literacy are non-profits whose aim is to foster reading in children not for profit.

In one way there is a view that Kickstarter should be used to develop struggling startups from the public not for for-profit entities, which Reading Rainbow now claims for itself. Those should be high praise marks because it is For-Profit companies that know how to make their product and service last longer because that is the point of their business model. If it wasn’t for For-Profit companies, non-profits wouldn’t have anyone else to beg for money from, besides the government. Why should non-profits have to keep asking for money all the time? Shouldn’t they learn how to survive on their own? For-Profits have and they are doing great. Prices go up because costs keep going up so they improve. Non-Profits only get better at asking for money and selling small things here and there.

Reading Rainbow will be able to offer more innovative programs now that they are no longer begging for money anymore. They have come up with different ways of generating money for all their different programs. One of their programs will be for teachers to use their special tools in classrooms with a monthly subscription, whereas, schools in poor performing areas will have access to their resources for free, so there is a balance still of making sure those who need it the most get what they need and those that can afford to pay, do.

Should you donate?

A Legacy Lives On
Whether you grew up watching the show or not, it has a special place in our hearts for what Levar Burton brought into this world for children, and even adults learning to read. He taught us that the best adventures happen in our head from the words on the pages. He taught us that we can be anyone we want when he go on the adventures in all those books. So whether you want to contribute because you want one of the special prizes he is giving away or would like to give back to a show that gave you so much, each is good enough because it will go to help a new generation of kids learn how to read in a fun and engaging way. I will never forget coming home from school waiting for the program to come on and the endless hours watching that show.

You can adopt a classroom or have a private dinner with him or appear on the show, any one of those prizes can be had for a special donation. Check out his kickstarter page and see just how big of an impact he really had and to learn more about what he wants to do now.

His online kickstarter campaign will probably break his goal by twice that amount. He will be able to fund his program and give kids the ability to read at their grade level which will benefit the rest of their life.

All I have to say is Thanks Levar Burton for making reading fun, I especially enjoyed all you taught me growing up. This also includes a nod to Mister Roger’s Neighbor program.

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KickStarter Campaign

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Tech Startups struggle in the city that never sleeps

Silicon Valley is home to some of the most famous startups in the world. Why? Because that is where all the major investors and resources are to building up major ideas into corporations. A city that has been trying to cash in on the same opportunities has found that it is not as easy as it looks, even if you try to mimic the same model the west coast is using.

In an effort to rival Stanford’s hotbed of innovators, city officials approved Cornell University of turning Roosevelt island into a technology campus. The idea is that it will bring in major investors, the next generation of innovators, and with all that money to the city and fame. The turn out so far has not be great. New York has a different vibe that each city carries with it. The adage that “if you build it, they will come,” seems to be what the city of New York is hoping for. Just because you build a large scale site for building new companies, the major investors are still in silicon valley. They will still have to fly to California to pitch to the VCs of their industries if they are looking for any kind of footing. It’s a tricky investment so when the campus is complete and up and running for a few years, the numbers will show whether it was a wise decision or not. For the major companies that looked promising in the beginning, like Foursquare and Tumblr, the outcomes have not been what everyone hoped for.

Will New York become the next Silicon Valley?

What idea do you have that might work on Kickstarter?

There are many ideas floating around but not everyone makes the effort to put their ideas into motion. The people you see on kickstarter are the ones who took their ideas past the brainstorming stage and moved right into the product development stage. It takes a lot of work and time to make that happen. If you think there are a lot of people out there using sites like that to build things that it’s just not worth it to make the effort to rise above all the noise just understand there are ten times the number of people who didn’t put in the effort to bring their ideas to life.

This company decided to make work out apparel in the form of jeans, don’t ask me why any would find the need to work out in clothes that are not meant for the gym but ok, that have a special design to them. The jeans are able to stretch in certain parts when you are doing certain exercises, especially squats. If you watch the video you will see the person able to work out in their comfortable jeans and squatting without worrying about them tearing or ripping in a place where the sun don’t shine.

Find out why they were able to exceed their goal
Check out their Kickstarter page here to see their original goal

Want to build your own dinosaur, or at least, pay someone to do it for you? Here’s how

Dinosaurs will always be fascinating, not just because Jurassic Park showed the world what dinosaurs would really look like but also because they are larger than life creatures. So when architect grade student Lisa Glover was asked to create something that would show manufacturing in a unique way, came up with the idea of building a 15 foot dinosaur, that you can wear.

She launched a kickstarter program to help get money to build more so when she posted her goal of $8,000, the response she got back will astound you. If you want to donate, check out her kickstarter page all in all, it’s an awesome idea worth looking into.

Grad student brings Dinosaurs back