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.

PledgeMe Alumni: James Shaw

PledgeMe has been helpin’ Kiwis fund the things they care about for almost three years now. In that time we’ve had something like 700 successful campaign go up on the site. We’ll be sharing the stories behind some of those successes and sit down with PledgeMe alumni to hear where they are now and how crowdfunding helped them out.

First up is James Shaw!

James Shaw is the Green Party’s newest Member of Parliament. But before he graced our fair country’s halls of power he used PledgeMe to crowdfund! Jackson went and had a chat to James about his project. Continue reading

The future of the past of Technology?

There is a lot of talk about the future of technology, but one of our current campaigns wants to celebrate the past. Showcasing collections of technology relics alongside up and coming future tech. They want to create a meeting point, an homage to games past, as well as supporting the technology community in New Zealand.

"It's great to go back to your childhood and show your kids the games 
you used to play. Each of these pieces has its own amazing backstory of 
people who worked long hours to bring the technology into being." 
says Mark Barlow, the main collector and instigator of this campaign.

Techvana have already exceeded the $50,000 mark, but need to raise $250,000 to set up their company and grow.

They’ve gotten a bit of media attention:

As well as a lot of support. They’ve crowdsourced crew to set up the museum, mounting exhibitions through to running Singles Speed dating Night for Geeks (which is on the 27th!).

But what they need now is investors. People that see the vision, and want to be part of the base of shareholders that want to green light this museum and make it a part of Auckland’s history as well as part of it’s future. Check them out here.

Crowdfunding Crowdfunding: Episode I

We love crowdfunding so much that we are walking our talk to crowdfund ourselves! We just launched our very own equity crowdfunding campaign so we can grow and you can own a little part of us (Anna’s elbow or perhaps my left knee).

Equity crowdfunding is a new thing for us, PledgeMe only got its license a few months ago. We’ve worked with over 40 companies on equity campaigns, with one currently raising. Now, we’re walking the talk, giving our crowd a chance to get involved, and to show anyone thinking about doing equity crowdfunding what they’d need to think about before embarking on this track.

So here are some thoughts about the things we’ve found tricky or had to do a bit of work on before going ahead with the campaign.

Valuing yourself

Valuation is a tricky one. There are so many models for figuring out valuations (from discounted cash flow to asset valuation to market comparatives to the Berkus method). We needed to make sure the valuation made sense to our crowd (from our Board straight down to Anna’s best friend). It’s got to give investors a good deal and at the same time ensure your company gets enough capital to see through its growth plans. That balance is hard to find. Over on his blog, Rowan Simpson offers some good advice:

“Try not to get bogged down in this, whether you’re an investor or a founder. At the end of the day neither side wins because they eked the last percentage point of dilution out of a funding round negotiation, they win by working together to build a fast-growing ass-kicking name-taking business.”

In that spirit, we see ourselves as a fast-growing ass-kicking name-taking business. Our share price and minimum buy are definitely in favour of attracting investment from our crowd, but is going to allow us to go mobile and expand our team to grow the business even faster. Check out our financials here.

Conversations with your Crowd

Anna leaned across the table to me, and in a casual tone asked “Would you invest in PledgeMe?”. The answer was of course yes.

I’ve been a long time supporter of PledgeMe and have seen heaps of friends get projects off the ground because of crowdfunding. Now working for the company and being a good friend of Anna’s, I want to invest in the company to help ensure its success and place in NZ’s vibrant crowdfunding scene. And, I want to be part of the upside if it comes.

No doubt each of you will have similar people around your company or idea. We recommend making a list of 50 people you think have the money or inclination to invest in your company and personally contact each of them. This can be a daunting project, but I can see Anna dutifully making her list now and starting to follow up with her crowd.

It’s a daunting prospect, but pulling in your crowd is absolutely essential. It ain’t crowdfunding otherwise!

Creating a pitch video

Even though I once starred in a 48 Film Festival film, PledgeMe didn’t have quite enough internal experience to patch together a pitch video. Luckily we had the support of our crowd. We called in the big guns with two times successful PledgeMe user Julia Campbell, and Ro Tierney a friend of our crowd. They helped us put together this slick video which clearly explains why you should invest in PledgeMe.

We recommend keeping your video short, definitely less than five minutes (if not less than 90 seconds) and only putting essential info in there to give your company a bright and cheery human face and show what you’ve done (over just telling in text). All the complicated stuff should be left for the business plan and financials.

Here’s how we laid out our pitch video when we planned it. We shared the plan with our team and commented / live edited / perfected the wording in Google Docs over a few days. You need to make sure your pitch isn’t too long, and that it sounds good when you speak it out. Then we created photoshop visuals for the film-maker based on the script, and listened to a lot of music on Audio Jungle.

On shoot day we went through the script one more time, ate pizza, and tidied our desks… And, our office chairs might never be the same again – Ro turned from film-maker into set dresser moving chairs, boxes, and potted plants to make sure the shots he took looked good (we’re still returning the chairs back to their owners – days later).

The real magic happened in the edit. Ro turned our ideas into reality, tweaked the visuals, and after a few drafts back and forth (in our Google Drive) we had our final video ready to upload to Youtube. Check it out:

Compliance

We were in a tricky situation trying to crowdfund ourselves using our own platform. Luckily we negotiated through the FMA’s rules and have made it so we can run this campaign. This has meant Anna has had to step away from the campaign and crowdfunding consultant Kat Jenkins from Multitude has stepped up to run the campaign with support from our legal team at Buddle Findlay, Virtual CFO at Deloitte and the oversight of our independent Director, Anake Goodall. Also, people like me (aka “Associated Parties”) need to get formal approval to invest, and will get listed on the websites interest register.

While this is something you won’t have to think about, other areas of legal compliance regarding what to do with your new shareholders is something you should be taking into account. There are reporting requirements (annual, financial, and audit) as well rules for any company that has over 50 share parcels issued (The Takeovers Code). There are also certain instances where you’ll need a special resolution passed (eg. 75% of your shareholders voting yes). Most of this is just good company hygiene, but when your crowd is involved you want to make sure you’ve got your dry-cleaned suit and best perfume on.

What if it ALL fails!?

That dreaded thought that runs through everyone’s mind when they push ‘publish’ on a PledgeMe campaign.

We are incredibly optimistic that our campaign is going to go really well. We’ve got a huge crowd behind us, a solid track record of success, and wide networks of people who we know are ready to pledge.

In your case the best way you can ensure success is to make sure you activate your crowd and get them buzzing about investing in your company. That’s what we’ve done. So Anna, our board and I are just going to cross our fingers, take a deep breath and plunge into this campaign.

Check out our campaign here and get investing!

We’ll have Crowdfunding Crowdfunding: Episode II here soon.