What's Up Wednesday

Scooping up another campaign!

May 25

The team at Scoop are no strangers to perfecting the PledgeMe pitch. In the last year alone they’ve run three successful campaigns with us – and now they’re back at it again.

Over the past 18 months since they first crowdfunded to launch their platform, Scoop has stood against the tide of clickbait journalism by offering quality news to kiwis which is not reliant on advertising for funding. They see this as the “future of news” – and now they want to offer more New Zealanders the chance to get on board.

With their 2016 membership drive, Scoop is seeking 1000 new members, and looking to use the money pledged for all-important tech upgrades and public interest grants. They’re already nearly halfway to their target, but we wanted to hear more about how they’re planning to get there – so we had a chat to Alastair Thompson, one of Scoop’s founders.

How are you finding the campaign so far?

his Membership campaign started significantly faster than our previous campaigns and the team working on it have been really enjoying it. There is something very special about engaging a crowd via the PledgeMe platform, an atmosphere of generosity and kindness which feels very genuine and real, and which is shown most clearly in the lovely comments of support which many pledgers put with their pledges.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

It is time for us to make another big push out to our crowd and we will be stepping up the activity for remainder of the campaign. In the coming week we have two several significant pieces of content to release which we hope will provide added substance and background to our pitch including an impact statement, which talks about the why of the Scoop Foundation, as well as a public version of our internal vision statement, a kind of roadmap for where we hope to take things over the next few years.

We have a few other plans up our sleeve to bring life to the campaign too, including a celebration of  Scoop.co.nz‘s 17th Birthday on June 9th.

Anything you want to shout out to your crowd?

Of course and thank you for the opportunity! We’d like to thank our crowd for their ongoing support and encouragement. We particularly appreciate the thoughtful comments that many have made when they pledge, and which we have been turning into acknowledgement @ScoopTrust tweets and Facebook posts. It is a difficult time for everybody in the news media and it is very nice to have people say in their own words why the appreciate what we are doing. Warms the cockles of our hearts.

To warm Scoop’s cockles even more and help support the future of NZ news, head on over to their campaign page here and get pledging!

What’s the Difference between Equity & Lend

We’re getting ready to offer two ways for you to invest in Kiwi companies and organisations — PledgeMe.Equity and PledgeMe.Lend.

So how are they different and what can you expect as an investor?

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How are they similar?

Whether you’re buying shares or contributing to a loan, the crowdfunding core remains unchanged. The campaign page is still the go-to place holding all info needed to make your call. This includes a to-the-point business plan, past financials, forecasts, and a public forum to ask questions. There might even be some interesting rewards offered if you decide to invest.

You get to hear the story, see the vision and meet the people behind the organisation and can choose whether or not you pledge.

How are they different?

Like a curious Tom Jones, I hear you asking “What’s new pussycat, whoa, whoa, whoa?”. The difference lies in the return, the risk and the relationship.

Unlike holding ordinary shares in a company, lending means that straight from the get-go, there’s an agreed and predetermined return. You’ll be offered a set interest rate on what you lend, and you’ll gradually have the loan paid back to you over time. The benefit is that your financial reward could start flowing sooner whereas the downside (compared to equity) is your return is limited. This means if the company grows incredibly, you’ll receive your initial loan with the agreed amount of interest compared to equity crowdfunding where you own a percentage of that growing company.

Whether you’re considering an equity or lending campaign, we strongly advise you to take a good look at the information provided, ask questions, and get yourself feeling confident before you invest. You want to balance the risk of a company or organisation not fully delivering on the opportunities that they had anticipated against the return you get — be it financial, tangible product, social or emotional.

For lending campaigns, we carry out an initial assessment to see if campaigners are suitable and ready to borrow. We call this our Campaign Readiness Evaluation for Debt (CRED). It’s important to understand that a loan that you contribute to isn’t a sure thing. There is the possibility that you may lose some or all of your investment so think carefully about the cause that you’re supporting and your ability to absorb any loss. If things don’t go to plan, we have a debt collector waiting in the wings to help recover as much of what you are owed as possible.

When you make a loan to a PledgeMe.Lend campaign, you don’t own a piece of the borrowing company or organisation and no guarantees are given. Borrowers will be able to offer secured and unsecured loans. “Securing” a loan means that if things go awry, lenders will have a right to specific assets of the company or organisation (“security”). On the other hand, an unsecured loan has no assets directly connected to it. Security can provide an extra layer of comfort for lenders and as a result of that lower risk, a secured loan will typically offer a lower return on your investment. What being a lender does mean, regardless of the security a borrower provides, is that if a company is sold or is forced to close, you will have priority over the ordinary shareholders of the company when it comes to the distribution of money made from a sale or liquidation. Your repayments come before payouts to ordinary shareholders.

There is a bit more distance in the relationship between a borrower and their lenders than that of a company and their shareholders but PledgeMe sits in the middle and we encourage borrowers to keep you informed as they go out and do good things with the money you invest. As you get repaid, you’ll get periodic updates from the company or organisation to keep you in the loop.

 

Getting Started

We’ve got a new process for you to Register to Lend which will be live prior to our first campaign. There’s a couple of new bits of info that we need to capture (like your income tax bracket to look after the nitty gritty of Resident Withholding Tax), new terms and a lending disclosure statement to take a read of and agree to.

 

Our role

We’re still very much the platform in the middle. The big addition to the crowdfunding process with PledgeMe.Lend stems from the ongoing relationship and the steady return that’ll flow your way. We facilitate the flow of money from you to the borrower initially and then back from the borrower to you as repayments are made. We ensure that communication remains open after a successful campaign.

 

PledgeMe.Lend is a new way for you to support companies and organisations. The instrument is a little different but the essence of it is still the same.

 

Eat My Lunch at it again

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I love the ethos behind Eat My Lunch. Changing something as simple as the act of eating lunch to create a massive social impact.

The Eat My Lunch crew are skilled brand builders, chefs, and doers – and they’ve built a pretty kick ass team and crowd around them. [ed note: Anna, put some money in the swear jar]

I met Lisa, Iaan and Michael last year when they were still crammed in a family home making hundreds (if not thousands) of lunches a morning. I rocked up at just before 6:30am to a quiet and dark street in Mt Eden. There was another confused looking chap outside the house, checking his phone to see if he was actually in the right place. When we made our way inside, we were embraced by a hive of activity that belied the fact it wasn’t even 7am. And, we got put to work. 

For months, Lisa and Iaan welcomed dozens of new people into their home every morning, and Michael provided instructions on what needed to be made (and where). They had early support from the likes of Lorde, Mini Cooper and even the actors on Shortland Street. And, then they turned their morning military precision towards a crowdfunding campaign a few months after launch.

When they crowdfunded last year they were our most pledged to campaign – with over 2,500 pledgers rallying around to help them move from their home kitchen to a professional set up.

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In less than a year, they’ve already gifted 150,000 lunches to kids in need in Auckland and now Hamilton, but they want to go bigger. With the help of their crowd, we think that they are about to go next level again – looking to borrow money transparently off their crowd to expand their business even further.

We’re excited that the first campaign we will launch on PledgeMe.Lend will be Eat My Lunch.

And, I’m personally excited because Eat My Lunch are proving a few things that I hold dear:

  • That there are women CEOs out there making good companies happen.
  • That you can create a social enterprise in New Zealand that has a big impact
  • That you can focus local and be successful
  • That you can bring together a diverse set of backgrounds to make something truly beautiful happen.

Want to learn more about their campaign? Sign up to their newsletter here. Read about their campaign in the news here.

 

What's Up Wednesday

Good On You

May 11

 

Have you fallen in love with some leather boots, but want to know where they come from? Are you sick of supporting companies only to find out they’re doing badly by their workers, or animals, or the environment? Do you wish there was a way to choose companies that care about the stuff you care about? Then we have good news for you.

Last November, the Good On You app was launched in Australia to make it easier for consumers to see which retailers provided ethical products. Now Sustainable Projects, a social enterprise from Dunedin, are working to bring the app to NZ. But they need your help!

In order to launch the Good On You app, these campaigners need help to set up, promote and distribute it. And in exchange, they’re offering some awesome rewards – everything from planting a tree in your name to a beautiful bamboo bra – what more could you ask for?

To find out more about this exciting possibility, we got in touch with “Lead Catalyst” Bec McMasters, and asked her some questions about her campaign:

How are you finding the campaign so far?

We’re loving the support we’re getting, lots of really positive and uplifting messages from our crowd that are totally spurring us on! I’ll be honest, we’re a little behind where we thought we’d be with the funding , so we’re hoping that Kiwis will get behind us and help us inch towards our funding target and ultimate aim of bringing the Good On You ethical clothing app to New Zealand. We don’t want the Aussies having all the good toys!

What do you have planned for the rest of the campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

We have screenings of  The True Cost, a documentary film that takes you on a journey of the clothes we wear, the people who make them and the impact the industry is having on our world. Screenings are happening throughout the country, check our Facebook events [www.facebook.com/goodonyounz] for details, tickets are still available from iTickets.co.nz, and we’re releasing some fantastic new rewards on the campaign every Wednesday, so check them out!

 

Anything you want to shout out to your crowd?

Thank you! Your support means a great deal to us! We’d love to see our supporters becoming ambassadors for the campaign and sharing it with the friends and family they know will love the app!

 

Want to support Good On You? Well, good on you! Check out their campaign right here.

Brianne West: What I’ve done and learnt since equity crowdfunding

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Brianne West crowdfunded over $200,000 in two weeks last year to fund the expansion of her solid beauty product company, Ethique Limited. That’s her up on the right ringing the bell at the launch of her equity crowdfunding campaign. 

Since she crowdfunded, she’s been busy. Really really busy. In fact, so busy she’s almost gotten over her fear of flying. Instead of us telling you about crowdfunding, we thought we’d get Brianne to put it in her own words. Here are a few things that she’s achieved since she went to her crowd:

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Not one, but TWO! Introducing: Melanie Templeton

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We are pleased to announce that we’ve appointed a second board member from the applicants that came through our crowdsourcing process, Melanie Templeton (pictured on the right above). With over 100 applicants the decision was far from easy, but Melanie wowed our board with her experience and passion.

Melanie first heard about PledgeMe at a Global Women’s event that Anna spoke at. Since then, she’s been watching our progress.

She is an experienced senior commercial manager and leader, with a track record of leading the development and implementation of successful business strategies both locally and internationally. She’s also an avid organic gardener.

She has done everything from running her own award winning restaurants in Wellington in the mid nineties to being an accredited Business Mentor with BMNZ to being an “accidental banker”. Mel is currently Interim Group Executive, Direct Banking, for Rabobank Australia and New Zealand Group. However from mid June, she will take up a new role as Commercial Director of fledgling agri-tech company Regen NZ Ltd, as she continues her personal leadership intent to help people, businesses and community create a more prosperous New Zealand.

Let’s hear from her:

New Zealand is a hotbed of talented entrepreneurs and I am so pleased to have the opportunity to bring my experience to the table and work with a trailblazer like Anna Guenther and PledgeMe.

“Helping Kiwis fund the things they care about” is such a tangible and purposeful pillar for a company to springboard from, and I have so much respect for the way in which PledgeMe stays true to is purpose as it has evolved over its first few years.


She’s excited to help us not only grow PledgeMe, but help us with reviewing our policies, strengthening our brand position (with Jessica’s help), and rolling her sleeves up to help make more Kiwis fund the things they care about.

Be Seriously Fun(ding) Humans: PledgeMe’s Values

Over the past six months Team PledgeMe has been working on our values. What are they, how do we express them, why are they important, and what’s the impact. We came up with a whole bunch of ideas, but whittled it down to five values. Jackson shared our first value: Support Transparency and Trust, and Barry our second: He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. Now here’s Tash with our third:

Be seriously funding humans

 

 

There are two things here. Not only are we serious and fun people, we help folk get seriously funded. But we also want to put the fun back in funded. Really. It doesn’t need to be boring!

Crowdfunding is all about giving your supporters an awesome opportunity to help you out. As People Who Do Stuff, it can be hard to step back and really see how much other people care about what you do. The focus is usually on giving back to them – be it supplying products, making music or delivering a service that you’re passionate about. So while you worry about the creating, the going above and beyond, doing the most amazing job: a crowd of people gathers around you. They buy your stuff, go to your gigs and love what you have to offer.

When that crowd has an opportunity to back you in a way that lifts you up, it’s like going to a really great party. Watching people jump up and down cheering for awesome plans is the most wonderful thing to watch and experience. Those people jumping up and down draws more attention to your awesomeness, creating more opportunities through new connections, shared stories and financial support.

All of which sounds a million times more exciting than filling out paperwork at the bank or sitting around stressing about how to scrape together the finances to bring a cool new idea to life.

Having said all that: we take it seriously. When projects come through to us, our ultimate goal is for your campaign to succeed. That’s where the expertise of the PledgeMe team comes in. If we think you need to make some adjustments, we’ll tell you: it’s all in order to give you the greatest chance at success. Nothing makes us happier than a funded project; we celebrate every single one as it means the world has one more successful idea out there.

Seriously fun(ding) humans comes down to having a great time sharing stories with real, joyful people while raising cash for things you care about.

License to Lend

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So, it’s official! We’re going to be launching our Lending platform soon!

Pending a few final checks, the FMA have confirmed they will be granting us our license. And, we’re stoked. Our entire team in fact, is stoked. Even our lawyers are pretty stoked (thank you, Buddle Findlay!!). Here’s the action shot when we announced the license looked likely to come through:

Our reaction to the license

The man behind the platform

Our Rad Debtor, Barry Grehan (top right) has more reason than most to look so ecstatic.

He has been the driving force behind our licence application. He started skyping Anna back at the end of 2014, when he was planning his trip to New Zealand. His bold email really caught our attention (even though by then, we had hired Will for the role he wanted).

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When Barry arrived in Wellington, he made Anna meet for a coffee and offered to research the crowdlending opportunity – both here in New Zealand, and internationally. As a reformed banker from Ireland, he had a wealth of knowledge around business lending and the questions to ask. That, coupled with his friendly nature and curiosity, meant he was able gather information from multiple countries and existing P2P platforms. He then summarised his extensive knowledge of the P2P space in what could only be equated to as a thesis. His hard work paid off, and he won me and our board over on the idea of debt (even though, we later decided we couldn’t really call it that… we are picking our battles).

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Barry, thank you so much for all the work you did to get this over the line. You are indispensable to us (and, I know Will would be lost without your humour and legos in the Auckland office).

What’s next?

With our license granted (pending a few final checks), we are knuckling down to deliver the final tech platform by end of May. We’re hoping to have our first campaigns launching then, and can’t wait to share more about those companies and organisations with you.

Once launched, these companies and organisations will be able to run transparent campaigns to crowdsource lending from their existing crowd and wider. Campaigns will need to demonstrate an ability to pay back the loan and interest over time, with the interest rate set by the campaigner.

Here’s Barry’s article from earlier in the year on why we applied for a P2P license for PledgeMe.Lend (previously PledgeMe.Debt).

Read our PledgeMe.Lend guide here.

Email Barry if you’d like to chat more about creating a campaign.

What's Up Wednesday

Gimme Shelter

April 27

New Zealand has a homelessness problem. And it’s not one we like to talk about.

In 2006 it was estimated that there were nearly 5,000 people sleeping on our streets. Since then, with the impact of economic crises and the Christchurch earthquake, this number could have grown massively. But no research has been done to ascertain this data – and without the data, we can’t work to fix the problem.

Enter Gimme Shelter Aotearoa.

Gimme Shelter believes that in order for real change to occur it must happen at a governmental level – but the government won’t take action unless they have the facts in front of them. So they’re reaching out to you, their crowd, to help them build a phone app to survey rough sleepers. This app will allow members of the public to conduct the surveys and upload that data to the cloud – which means its surveying ability is limited only by the number of kiwis that get involved.

They need a lump sum in order to get the app created, marketed, and to create explanatory videos – and in return for pledges towards that, they’re offering everything from Kokako coffee to dinner at our alumni restaurant La Boca Loca. We thought this campaign was so well-thought-out that we got in touch with James to hear some more about it:

How are you finding the campaign so far?

It’s our first time crowdfunding and it’s been really great getting our project out there, seeing so many people support us and show they believe in our rough sleeper survey. The pledging has been interesting to watch too. The first $3,000 came in quick – in like three days – then the real work began. Pledges have come in from friends, family and a few people outside our crowd which is showing us that people really do care about the issue. Now we just need to find more people to spread our message and Pledge Me campaign too.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

We’ve just been adding some more rewards and looking to share those with the right people. There is some really nice stuff on there, from food (Little Island dairy free yumminess) and fashion (the incredible NZ made Ingrid Starnes), to Karma Cola, Kokako coffee and hot chocolate to a landscape garden design package by Xanthe White Design! It’s all because of the amazing people in our crowd who have come forward and offered these rewards.

Anything you want to shout out to your crowd?

Keep sharing! No seriously, the more eyeballs we get on our page the more we can show how many people really want to see rough sleeping homelessness resolved in New Zealand.

To find out more and #LetEveryPersonCount, check out Gimme Shelter’s campaign right here.

What's Up Wednesday

ActionStation!

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 10.00.40 amActionStation is back, and better than ever! And this time, they’re launching a campaign that’s a little bit different.

The ActionStation team are awesome – hardworking and committed, they’ve already run a successful campaign with us, and leader Laura was one of our Serial Campaigners last year! But unfortunately, they’re also a pretty small team, and they can’t run every campaign that’s suggested. So, inspired by their rad crowd and the model of crowdfunding, ActionStation are looking to give power to the people for real – by letting them create and win their own campaigns.

Their new digital platform is designed to give their community the tools to create their own campaigns, with support from Action Station. It’s part of their long-term goal to make people-powered change possible and accessible for all New Zealanders. We thought this was such a cool project we just had to hear more, so we got in touch with Laura to find out some more.

How are you finding the campaign so far?

The campaign is off to a slow start, but that’s because we haven’t yet taken it out to our full community of ActionStation members and the donations we’ve received so far are just from social media. We’re hoping that with a huge push over the next 2 weeks through to our email subscribers (140,000 people!), we’ll see some massive jumps. We know this project is really important and timely, people just need to know about it.

 

What do you have planned for the rest of the campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

We’ll be asking people who have run campaigns with ActionStation in the past to record short webcam videos explaining why they ran a campaign with us, what the experience was like and why this new digital platform OurActionStation is needed. We see it as a way for our allies and partners to use their own voice and speak to their own crowd about the importance and value of this project.

Anything you want to shout out to your crowd?

Power to the people!

 

To support Action Station and their cool new digital platform, pledge to their campaign right here.