“Let’s Do Something Naughty”

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This is a campaign that brings the bling. The shocking, shameless, sparkly short film “Vajazzle” is premiering online for Valentine’s Day, and after the spectacular success of its PledgeMe campaign, we just had to sit down with creator Nathalie Boltt to get the inside scoop.

Before launching Vajazzle’s campaign, Nathalie and her crew had never considered crowdfunding. They initially tried to fund the film through conventional channels, with encouraging results – the film was shortlisted for premiere funding from the Film Commission. But Nathalie suspects it was “just a bit too racy” for the Commission to support. She describes the decision to turn to PledgeMe as “terrifying”, saying “you’re really putting your neck on the block, and the danger is that nobody wants to see this.” But as she points out, filmmakers have to be willing to make that sacrifice anyway – “because why should the Commission give you money for stuff nobody wants to see?”

Much of Vajazzle’s campaign success is undoubtedly tied to its pitch video, which is 1 minute and 46 seconds of glorious glitz and glitter. If you haven’t checked it out yet, watch it below!

 

 

It was shot in an hour (after they decked the house out in silk and hunted down the cat) and not only showed viewers what they were in for, but also helped in terms of “clarifying [the] whole concept” for Nathalie and her crew. The reaction to the video surprised Nathalie, with eager responses from everyone from her own mum and dad to the parents at her six-year-old son’s school. But these unexpected supporters are what make up a crowd – as she puts it, “that sort of person comes out of the woodwork, and says ‘yes, let’s do something naughty.’”

Vajazzle 2And Nathalie has no intention of letting them back into the woodwork any time soon. Although the film has now been shot and is ready for release, she’s keen to maintain her crowd: “[the project] has got to lead back to the mothership…so when it’s time for your next feature, they’ve been with you the whole time.” And Nathalie is also committed to showing gratitude to her audience – whether that’s with an autographed blu-ray of the movie or a customised vajazzling of her own “mons pubis”. Our chief media wrangler, Jackson, was even thanked with his very own free vajazzle voucher! It’s all part of showing her appreciation: Nathalie urges future campaigners to “say thank you, thank you, thank you to your pledgers – never come across as ungrateful.”

All in all, Nathalie sees people pledging to films as a win-win for everyone: “Not only have they funded you, seen the result, been happy with it hopefully…but they’ve been part of something fun – and isn’t that just basic human nature, just wanting to be part of something exciting?”

So if you want to be part of something exciting, and you’re keen to see an exploration of “the freaky side of the female mind”, watch one of our latest crowdfunded short films, Vajazzle, below – trust us, it’s like nothing you’ve seen before.

 

Four Steps for a Fab Team Photo

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People pledge to people. The best way to get your crowd invested in your project is to show them who’s behind it, and what better way to do that than a team photo-shoot? So, by studying the great work of our friends at Thankyou Payroll, we’ve come up with the four steps you need for a fab team photo.

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1. Collect your team

Your team might not initially be on board with becoming models. If you’re having trouble with a few camera-shy colleagues, remind them how it’ll help them connect with your crowd, and ask them what kind of shot they’d be comfortable with. If worst comes to worst, let them hold the dog.

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2. Choose your pose

A great photo is all about great composition. Find a stance that suits each team member, but remember that the photo’s all about cohesion – make sure you’re showing off how good you look as a team, not just as lovely individuals.

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3. Stay consistent

If you’re taking lots of different photos, it’s good to keep a consistent theme running through them, so people remember what you’re about. We love how Thankyou Payroll’s dog, Hale-Bopp, is present in all their photos (although to be clear, points of consistency are not limited to canine companions!)

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4. Have some fun!

At the end of the day, a team photo is all about expressing your team’s unique personality. Don’t be afraid to get weird or wacky with it – just show your crowd you who are. They’ll love you all the more for it, we promise!

And, as a bonus tip: If you don’t know what to do, ask your crowd! We loved seeing the crowdsourcing efforts of Thankyou Payroll this week:

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And, if you don’t know who Thankyou Payroll are – check them out asap here: https://thankyoupayroll.co.nz. They provide a free payroll service to charities and kiwi businesses (and they are awesome).

Half a mill in half an hour

Yeastie Boys made it big yesterday. They equity crowdfunded half a million in half an hour. This is the fastest equity crowdfunding raise so far in New Zealand and one of the quickest in the world!

Down at Goldings Free Dive the atmosphere was electric. The venue was packed with people thirsty to become investors.

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Just before 6 Stu got up and thanked their crowd for coming down and all those who were about to pledge. At the stroke of 6 Anna hit the publish button on the campaign, Stu rang the bell, and confetti exploded into the air.

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People dived onto their phones and laptops to get in. Within four minutes the campaign had hit $100k!

Pledges were flying in thick and fast. Not just from in the bar, but across New Zealand. There was a steady progression of pledges over the half hour. Could they have hit a million? We reckon so. Maybe something to consider next time Stu ;)

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Between refreshing the laptop and updating the crowd Stu was quietly chuffed when, a mere 17 minutes in, they hit their minimum goal. pledgemepugThe crowd went wild at that point and Anna and I feared that the dreaded PledgeMe pug of unavailability might make an appearance. Luckily the team at Rabid had prepped the servers so they were ready for the onslaught of Yeastie Boys and Girls.

It was great to see Yeastie Boys bringing their campaign into the real world. Stu had travelled up and down New Zealand over the past week handing out business cards and talking about the equity raise. He also issued the financials and company documents over the weekend so people could read up and decide whether to invest over their Sunday brunch. Help was on hand with Stu answering questions and team PledgeMe helping people to pledge.

The buzz was great and it meant that on top of putting together a slick business plan and brewing great beer they activated their crowd and got a magnificent result.

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All good things must come to an end. Just before 6:30 the party was over with the maximum goal of $500,000 was hit. More huzzahs and hoorahs! The revellers went  home with a warm fuzzy feeling in their hearts and shares in their back pockets.

Yeastie Boys now has 212 new shareholders. We’ll they’re not just shareholders they’re champions. Stu has bought his crowd into the company and now they have an interest in seeing Yeastie Boys succeed. Big congrats to them for going out to their crowd and making it work.

KEY FACTS

  • $505,019 raised
  • Time: 30 minutes exactly
  • 212 new Yeastie Boy shareholders
  • Average pledge: $2382
  • Largest pledge: $50,000
  • Happy Yeastie Boys: 2

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Top Ten Tools for Crowdfunding

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Connecting with your crowd can be tricky. Luckily, there are lots of great sites and apps that can help you at all stages of your campaign: creation, organisation, promotion and connection. Check out our top ten tools below, and see what they can do for you and your crowd.

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1. Google Docs

This extension of Google allows you to create documents online, and is a really good place to write your pitch – it’s free, easily accessible and simple to use. Plus, multiple people can edit a document simultaneously, which gives you an easy way of collaborating with other people in your team. It’s also sort of freaky.

2. Google Drive/Dropbox

It’s important for your team’s sake that you have a way to store the files you’re creating, so everyone can access them easily. Drive and Dropbox are both great tools for this – they let you and your chosen group upload or download files which you can access from anywhere, any time.

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3. Trello

When you’re organising a campaign, the sheer list of things you need to get done can be overwhelming. Trello helps you keep track of you and your team’s to-do list. You can upload and assign tasks, and keep an eye on how your different projects are progressing. We especially love the check list function, tick tick tick!

4. Google Calendar

You need to be able to visualise the timeline of your project, and ensure that everyone in your team is in the loop. Google Calendar syncs easily with Gmail, and lets you invite members of your team to specific events, as well as reminding you about upcoming appointments and deadlines.

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5. Social Media

In order to keep in touch with your crowd, you need to think about how you will use social media. By using sites like Twitter and Facebook you can give your followers updates on your campaign on their own turf, and they have the opportunity to connect with you too. Photo-sharing sites like Instagram are great for this too; they’re an easy way to check in with your crowd and remind them what you’re up to. But not in a spammy way, make sure to have conversations not just promotion fests.

6. Canva

Canva is a super-easy design tool that makes creating images simple, even for people who’ve never designed before. It has specific templates for different kinds of social media, making the process of creating and sharing images online straightforward and enjoyable. We even used it for the images in this blog (just to prove a point, we still love our designer Rory).

7. Squarespace

Having a website is a great way to inform people about your projects. Squarespace is a very easy-to-use website builder, with customisable content and a professional look.

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8. MailChimp

MailChimp is a great way to email your crowd en masse. They have beautiful newsletter templates, and make it really easy to design sign up forms. Plus, if you have fewer than 2,000 contacts your account is free!

9. Google Forms

Feedback from your crowd is always useful. Google Forms lets you build free surveys to send to your followers quickly, and turns their responses into a spreadsheet so you can analyse what they had to say.

10. Attending.io

This app helps you make event pages that look great, but that are simple and easy to create. Your followers can choose to RSVP with any of their social media accounts or email, which allows you more freedom in bringing different parts of your crowd together. Use this to create your launch party, or your celebration picnic when you meet your goal. Organise investor Meet and Greet’s, or tea parties. Go wild, with your crowd.

That’s our top 10 (or 13 if you count some of the cramming we did under Social Media), but we’d love to hear what you’re using at the moment. So comment below, and happy funding!

Pitch Kitchen

While you’ve been on your summer holiday we’ve been preppin’ the kitchen, the Pitch Kitchen that is.

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Yesterday we turned up the heat on two companies who are going to be doing equity crowdfunding campaigns with us.

The slicing and dicing isn’t like a Ramsay’s Kitchen where Anna and I sit there and make people cry. In fact it’s more like Jamie Oliver where we cook up good, healthy ideas with a group of friends giving feedback and support on ways they can make a crowdfunding campaign better. It’s an afternoon for honest feedback, streamlining your pitch and working on the getting your equity campaign to gourmet quality.

The first two entrepreneurs put under the grill were Stu from Yeastie Boys and Tom from Chariot. Also in the room we had some of our shareholders, team, and alumni: Jacky Laverty, Nat Boltt, Breccan McLeod-Lundy, Dave Allison, Julia Campbell, Will Stewart, Nick Lewis, Anna and I. We were there to provide that friendly and nourishing advice. We all had these sweet name tags →

Stu kicked us off running the group through his pitch for Yeastie Boys and then the teaser video they’ve put out. Stu announced just before Christmas that the brewery would be equity crowdfunding later this month.

Tom then pitched us Chariot, it’s a super slick car-sharing app which will be launched very soon. They’re also going to be launching their PledgeMe equity campaign soon too — SO WATCH THIS SPACE!

From there the group asked questions, gave feedback, and shared ideas for the two companies. Stu and Tom were busily writing down notes and Anna was assigning people tasks of small chunks of work that we could do there and then.

For example, Jacky and I helped Tom whip up a basic communications plan for their equity campaign while Nat and Julia helped channel Stu’s creativity for a new pitch video (it’s going to be hair-larious). There were also discussions about financials, events, and messaging.

Both Tom and Stu came away from the afternoon with clearer pitches and a clearer vision what it takes to activate a crowd and run a successful equity crowdfunding campaign  — a recipe for success.

We’ll be running the pitch kitchens when and if companies need ‘em. If you’re hungry for one let me know.

Game, Set, Match.

Nigel Taptiklis, David Lee, Zach Rissel, and Jacqueline Ireland, with their award from the NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards.

Earlier this year, we had the pleasure of teaming up with the Wellington City Council and some superstar social entrepreneurs, to run their Smart Energy Challenge. This was an initiative in which community-led projects ran crowdfunding campaigns on PledgeMe, which were then matched dollar-for-dollar by the Council. It was one of our first matched funding projects, and we though it was an awesome idea.

Clearly, we weren’t the only ones. At the NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards last month, the Wellington City Council won the Renewables Innovation Award, due to their innovative private/public funding model.

After this success, crowdfunding is being considered an option for the Council’s future – Council staff Zach Rissel said he would “highly recommend considering crowd-funding for implementing Council projects”, describing it as “a great way to validate ideas” because it makes the community’s backing and support of an idea clear. Senior Policy Advisor Nigel Taptiklis also saw this connection as a positive of crowdfunding, and suggested that it  “puts the end-decision about whether the project goes ahead in the hands of the community”. We couldn’t agree more!

We want to say a huge congratulations to the City Council for this award, and we’re super stoked to see the NZI awards recognising the power of crowdfunding. Here’s to making a positive difference within our community!

A Purr-fect Publication

Frances Eliza could see a gap in the magazine market: despite all the publications circulating round the city, Wellington’s felines just weren’t being catered to. So she came up with the idea for Blackcat Quarterly, Wellington’s premier lifestyle magazine for cats. It’s made by people for their feline companions (the cats were ruled out of assisting production due to their issues with typing), and features everything from fashion editorials to celebrity cat news. Thanks to its support from 33 pledgers, this publication is set to take Wellington by storm, and to finally provide our deserving cats with some real reading material.

Here’s what Frances had to say about her PledgeMe experience:

What did you like about PledgeMe?
I liked being able to fundraise for my quirky project in an easy way. I’m kind of a shy person when it comes to asking people for favours, and this process allowed me to feel like I wasn’t asking for a handout so much as giving people something they really wanted via the rewards system. I also found the staff really helpful and friendly.

How did you find the experience?
Great! There were some things I didn’t understand about it that I wished I had known before I started- such as the fact that I wouldn’t recieve donor information until 3 days after the pledging closed. If I had known this before I would have chosen different prizes, since I thought I would have more time to work on them, but it wasnt until after I had already set them up and pledging had begun that I realised I would have to do them all in a rush at the end.

Any tips for newbies?
Make an awesome video and offer rewards that are actually worth the amount of money people are pledging.

I say crowdfunding, you say:
Crowdfunding.

To re-fur to this claw-some publication and to preorder the first issue, head on over to http://blackcatquarterly.com, or check out their project here.

 

Yeastie Boys fights for the right to fund

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First up: you need to turn this on while you read below.

We’ve been working with Stu at Yeastie Boys for 9 months so the equity campaign they announced today is kinda our beer/crowdfunding baby. In fact, Stu coined the title of our blog about equity crowdfunding a few months back with: “It’s not dumb money, it’s love money”, and they brewed us up a mean Teal Steel beer for our equity launch celebrations.

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 Yeastie Boys feel like Wellington to me. Everyone knows Stu, because Stu without hesitation will help anyone, even his competition. In fact, Stu doesn’t want to build a brewery, he wants to build an industry. Stu, Sam and their brews are iconic in Wellington — but they’re bigger than just the capital. Co-head boy, Sam is based Auckland, they contract brew in Invercargill, they’ve won international accolades and now they are gunning for global domination / collaboration.

In fact, they’re already on their way to that: last time they sent a container to the UK they sold out before they got past Singapore, and they have sold their brews in over 900 pubs across the UK.

The best thing about the way Yeastie Boys are taking over the planet is that they’re doing it differently. They don’t want to keep hold of their intellectual property — “IP” might be a statement of fact after a few beers — they want to set it free.

They contract brew and get their recipes made all over the world. They collab with a raft of brewers in New Zealand and in other countries. They make friends, and then help their friends with their work (yes — they introduce their competition to their distributors!). Their focus on people, and making the best goddamn beer possible, inspires us here in the PledgeMe office.

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 So, we’re stoked Stu and Sam will be launching their campaign in late January. They are going to help us pave the way for a different way of raising capital, and a different way of doing business — with your crowd who wants to be raising a glass with you, not just to you.

Sign up here to hear more pre-launch.

Meet the team: Jen

Jen is our resident dragon onesie wearing Chief People Wrangler. She’s the woman behind the emails that our campaign creators get. She tries to shepherd folk through the crowdfunding process with tips, tricks, and insight from her three successful campaigns.

When she’s not in the office, she’ll often be found at comedy gigs around town, doing improv with a bunch of cool Wellingtonians (and Cantabrians to be fair – she loves you kids too) or running her own festivals.

What’s the best thing you’ve seen on crowdfunding.

Oh, man. Just one? Currently the cat fanciers magazine delights me. There’s been heaps of great Christchurch projects. Actually, wait – my favourite is Minuit. I love that band.

 When did you first find out about crowdfunding?

A Kickstarter back in the day. The first one I pledged for was Neil Gaman & Amanda Palmer. (checks phone). I’ll have an email there from something. I just really wanted a copy of the performance! And this was the way to get it.

Heaps of my early pledges on PledgeMe were for campaigns I found out about working on Community Zone (Wellington Access Radio) – I’d interview them and then get excited about their project and boom – pledge away.

How did you first find out about PledgeMe?

Had a meeting with Anna about Bats (outside Deluxe), and did my first project, Fringe at the Gryphon end of 2012.

Anything you learnt through crowdfunding yourself?

Have a really clear goal! People need to get what you’re doing really easily, like an elevator pitch. Think – what people can get out of your project? How can they share in what you’re making? What can only you offer them?

Any tips or tricks for potential crowdfunders

  • Keep it simple
  • Make a video
  • Have a range of fun engaging rewards.
  • Get someone to look over your writing if you’re not a confident writer
  • Ask for help. Remember, there are people around you that want you to succeed.

Weirdest crowdfunding you’ve ever seen?

KFC guy (Get Dave a Feed). Less weird, more hilarious though.

If you’d like to get in touch with Jen, you can email her, follow her on twitter, or send her virtual high fives in the comments below.