What's Up Wednesday

Darren Watson’s First Ever Acoustic LP Project

Wellington blues artist Darren Watson is a twotime successful campaigner, and one of our favourite alumni. Now he’s back, and this time he’s looking to raise funds for his first-ever acoustic LP. He’s almost halfway there but he still needs your help to get over the line – so we had a chat to him about why you should be supporting the album.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

I’m really excited to be making my sixth album and the campaign is a huge part of making it happen. It’s amazing to have direct contact and support from the people who REALLY enjoy the music I make. With Pledge Me I feel like I am almost making friends with these folks!

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

Well, hahaha I’m a poor musician so frankly the albums probably wouldn’t happen these days without crowdfunding through Pledge Me. Once upon a time we had record companies to front the funding to get these things off the ground but more and more musicians are going straight to the audience. I think it’s fantastic.

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

I can’t say too much or it might ruin the surprises. But rest assured there will be a few nice things happening.

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

Just a whole lot of thanks for all the pledging and sharing you guys are doing! It’s frigging amazing! I’m sure you’re all going to dig this record. I’m in a really good space, playing and singing-wise and the writing is flowing too.

Saffron of Afghanistan

Meet the spice that could spark a social enterprise.

In recent years, saffron has been introduced as a healthy alternative to opium in Afghanistan, and its processing has created jobs for women in the country. Afghanistan-born Tariq Habibyar wants to capitalise on this, and create a factory that will process saffron and sell it, fair trade – thus providing jobs for local women and the disadvantaged in Afghanistan. But to get there, he needs your help – and so we had a chat to him about why you should be pledging.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

  • This is an opportunity to seed fund a project that commits to expand, pay forward, and make an impact in the lives of many who deserve to live better lives.
  • Personally, this project is close to my heart and seeing this successful will give me a sense of satisfaction and I hope it will do the same to my customers as it is intended to do so.
  • It will introduce a positive image of Afghanistan to every home of my new home New Zealand.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

I love the ‘give and receive’ relationship with fellow human beings. I try to undertake any project that connects me to people for a social cause and adds value. The fact that a friend, colleague, or an individual I don’t know invest their time, energy, and money to communicate with me through this, means a world to me. It makes me happy to see we care about each other and about good causes.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign?

I will try to complete the ‘booklet’ for recipes as soon as I can to share with my crowd.

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

Thanks a lot for your contribution to this project. I’d be grateful if you shared this link with your friends and families.

To support Tariq’s project, check out his campaign page now.

Help us crowdsource a list of social enterprises in NZ

We’re making a list. We’re checking it more than twice (on an ongoing and a controlled-by the-crowd basis in fact). The impact we’re aiming for? Visibility for all of the kiwi social enterprises improving New Zealand and the world. And you can add to it here: pldg.me/thesocentlist

Why?

When the Social Enterprise World Forum comes to Christchurch in September, it’ll mark a major milestone for the social enterprise movement here in New Zealand. We think it’s awesome for the industry, but it’s got us thinking. Relying on a big one off global event like that to create massive (but temporary) exposure for Kiwi-grown organisations who care isn’t enough. We need to do more. Social enterprise is about many small steps from many people to collectively solve our big challenges. It’s not just about one-off events, but about every day actions.

Spreading the impact of social enterprises in New Zealand begins with visibility. Those of us that want a better future for New Zealand have the power to support others that dream of a better future – our social entrepreneurs. If we know about the socially-driven alternatives, we can choose to support them. What’s the most important way we can support? By buying their products and using their services. And then, by sharing their stories.

This isn’t the first time that someone has tried to gather a list, and we know it won’t be the last. Past efforts have fallen flat because arguments crop up over what a social enterprise is or because the sole owner of the list runs out of steam. So for the greater good of getting shit done, we’re crowdsourcing a list from folk that know best – people in the space. And, we’re doing it through Google Spreadsheets so anyone can add, edit, and improve the list. We’re also casting the net wide in terms of definition:

any organisation with a focus on positive social or environmental impact, that has a revenue stream that aims to sustain their work.

They might already see themselves as a social enterprise, or they might not. Here’s some of the social enterprises that we know and love:

  • Thought-Wired are a technology company that aims to give a voice to the voiceless. Dmitry and his team have developed nousTM – software that enables people with severe disabilities to communicate by using their brainpower!

  • Make Give Live bring together communities through local knitting groups to create beanies and connect through that shared effort. For every beanie that Make Give Live sells, they give a beanie to a homeless or elderly person in need of warmth.

  • Pomegranate Kitchen are a not-for-profit who provide group catering and individual lunch delivery in Wellington. They provide work, training and a sense of belonging to all of their cooks who come from refugee backgrounds.

  • Ethique prevent plastic packaging from going to landfill and polluting our environment, by making solid beauty bars made from biodegradable ingredients wrapped in compostable packaging.

We believe social enterprise isn’t about succeeding at the expense of others. There’s a spirit of collaboration and collective movement. It’s not about a few powerful controllers or poster children. It’s about shared success. If we solve the problems we see, we all win. So, please help us crowdsource a list of all of the social enterprises in Aotearoa, so that we all can be a part of a better, more socially and environmentally focussed, future.

Check out the list here. Add the names of the social enterprises you want to shine a light on and have a glance through at those that you can start actively supporting. And shoulder tap people in the know for more names or ideas. Kia ora!

The motivations are many

Andrew Schwartz is a law professor from Colorado who’s travelled across the Pacific to research the evolution of equity crowdfunding in New Zealand, and take home some learnings to help progress equity crowdfunding back in the US. We’ve had some great conversations over the last six months.

Equity crowdfunding originated in my homeland, the United States, with the introduction of the JOBS Act in 2013. But, New Zealand quickly jumped out in front, launching its market two years ahead of the US (not to mention three years ahead of Australia). For this reason, I took a leave from my ‘day job’ as a law professor at the University of Colorado and spent six months at the University of Auckland as a Fulbright Scholar so that I could study your mature equity crowdfunding market. One issue I have analysed is the extent to which equity crowdfunding is used by social enterprises – meaning those who seek to achieve non-financial goals as well as an economic return.

A few years ago, I published an article in which I claimed that crowdfunding investors are at least partially motivated by non-financial factors, including political expression, environmental protection and community-building. For instance, supporters of organic farming could invest in an organic farm, or local residents could invest in a café whose presence would enhance their community. Whether these investments pay off financially is not necessarily essential; the point of the investment, at least in part, is to support a cause or a company that one believes in.

At that time, equity crowdfunding in the United States had not yet begun, so my article was purely theoretical. Once I came to New Zealand, however, I was able to test my hypothesis and examine whether this actually happens in practice. If pledgers really care about things other than financial returns, I would expect that a large percentage of successful crowdfunding campaigns are for social enterprises. And this is exactly what I have found.

Based on the data I collected, it appears that social enterprises have taken advantage of the new opportunity presented by equity crowdfunding, and that crowdfunding investors have an affinity for these sorts of businesses. According to my data, approximately one-third of New Zealand equity crowdfunding campaigns, and one-third of successful campaigns, pertain to social enterprises. One example is Ooooby, a technology company whose mission is to put small-scale sustainable farming at the heart of our food system, which raised nearly $300,000 from over 150 investors through their equity campaign. And this one-third does not even include ‘local’ companies without a specific social mission, including ParrotDog Brewery, a craft brewer that can fairly be described as a ‘hometown hero’ in Wellington, which raised $2 million from more than 800 investors in their equity campaign.

These are extraordinary findings, and they were confirmed by interviews I conducted with entrepreneurs, platform operators, lawyers, academics, government officials and others involved in equity crowdfunding. Numerous interviewees agreed that crowdfunding investors have multiple motivations when they invest in a company—and the desire to generate a financial return is just one of them. They agreed that equity crowdfunding investors select whom to support based on social views, emotional motivations, altruism, and to support their community, as well as to hopefully make some money.

In short, the facts on the ground here in New Zealand are consistent with my hypothesis that crowdfunding investors really do have a variety of reasons for participating in this new form of equity market. An important takeaway from these findings is that those who seek to support social and local enterprises should encourage participation in equity crowdfunding.

Have you thought about what motivates you?

What's Up Wednesday

Winter Ales Festival 2017!

When Jane and Jay heard that the annual Winter Ales Festival wasn’t going ahead, they were crestfallen. But rather than sitting round feeling sorry about it, the two beer fans put their heads together, and came up with a solution: they approached the not-for-profit Craft Beer Capital, and with their support, they’re now turning to the craft beer community to help put on the festival.

By pledging on the campaign you’ll receive a ticket to attend the festival, and there are a whole lot of other exciting package options available too. To find out more about why you should be fizzing for this festival, we got in touch with Jane and Jay:

Why do you think this campaign is important?

For us, this campaign is important as it gives the community a chance to take part in bringing the 2017 festival together. Having the pledge target is really key as it lets people see how much it really costs to put this sort of thing on. We could have gone through a traditional ticketing website, this however made us feel like others got an opportunity to be part of on of Wellington’s best beer events. We also made options for people to buy festival merchandise for those who are not able to make it on the day but are keen to show their support for this.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

We were motivated to reach out to our crowd as to have a great beer festival you need a few things, beer, volunteers, glasses and people to attend. This years Winter Ales Festival event organisation had a different outcome, as SOBA handed it over to two keen beer enthusiasts. So we had to go down a different avenue for funding… Keeping the beer community involved, being able to reach out to all beer lovers but also keep supporting local made Pledge me and excellent choice. For us it’s not just about buying a ticket, it’s about working together to keep this awesome festival an annual event.

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

We are just about to release what this years merch looks like, we have a local Wellington artist who worked on some incredible images for the event! We are really happy with them and are pretty excited for how they are looking on the range of t-shirts, long sleeve tees and jerseys!

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

We are totally stoked with the support we have had so far! We have definitely taken this on as a challenge and the support, excitement and encouragement makes it all the more motivating. As mentioned in the campaign blurb, we are donating any money made from the festival once we have paid all our bills to Kaibosh food rescue.

To hop on board and grab your ticket for the Winter Ales Festival, head over and pledge here.

What's Up Wednesday

Gecko Press

One good book can kickstart any child into a life of reading, and Gecko Press wants to create a world where every child loves to read. And the way they plan to do this? A curiously good book club!

Their vision is a digital and real life community, where people can come together to share their favourite books, plan activities and events, and pass on creative tips and tricks to encourage kids to love to read.

But it’s going to cost them at least $50,000 to get it off the ground. They’re investing some of the money, but they need outside help for the rest. In exchange for your pledges, they’re offering everything from an invite to the launch party, to a year’s supply of books delivered to your door! We chatted to Faustine about why you should be getting on board.

Why do you think this campaign is important?

I worry that reading is a disappearing art, in the midst of all the distractions we have in our lives. We think reading needs to be more visible and active, to compete. At Gecko Press we want to activate a bit, as a publisher, and to get loud about reading, and to help parents and aunts and grandfathers and librarians and booksellers and all the people who want to encourage children to love to read. We want to create a strong and active community that are all wanting to find the next book for a child, to keep the momentum of reading.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

Gecko Press has always been a little out on a limb, and through the years Gecko Press has had a lot of support from many different people – and it really does make a difference. And if we are to build a bigger community, then the people who know and support us must be the best place to start.

We estimate it will cost at least $50,000 to get the club off the ground. We are investing $15,000 for the next phase, but setting up the digital side of the club is too expensive for us to do on our own. And $35,000 is a lot of money to be raising!

Most of this money will go to the digital side of the club, making chat and recommendations and good blog content, and asking experts to add material that helps us find the right book for the right child. We want to offer reading incentives such as tiny reading journals and badges that say: Im a curiously good reader.

It is all about the ecosystem for me. We want our booksellers to thrive, and to support libraries and schools, and we want children to rate reading high on their list of favourite things to do. That’s why we think it’s important to reach our crowd. We want people to help us make the Curiously Good Book Club great!

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

We’ll have some contests with great rewards (check our social media pages…)! We’ll also add new and very unique pledges… so keep looking!

Anything you want to say to your crowd?

We are acting strongly and with commitment to encourage New Zealand children to become lifelong readers. We understand that for books to thrive we need a healthy ecosystem of readers, writers, teachers, illustrators, librarians and booksellers. We think this ecosystem must be wider than a single publisher or individual books. HOpefully the end result will be better than we can imagine!

“Sometimes all it takes is one good book, or the right book for the right child at the right time. It doesn’t matter what that book is or where you find it – but it does matter that children love to read.” Julia Marshall, Gecko Press Publisher

To pledge now and help a child embark on a lifetime of reading, check out the Gecko Press campaign right here.

International Inspiration & Home Truths: Coffee

Our series “International Inspiration and Home Truths” shares some of the crowdlending stories we’ve heard from far and wide, brings that inspiration back to Aotearoa, and hears from the enthusiasts who’ve helped us to imagine what crowdlending could look like for a range of Kiwi organisations. This week we’re waking up and smelling the coffee (roasteries and cafes)!

(Disclaimer: I don’t drink coffee because I’m allergic to caffeine. Or so my mam told me when I was eight. It’s only recently that I realised that it could well be a masterminded social experiment that she created to test my obedience. So as I always listen to Mammy I must admit that, as I write this blog, I am not powered by any beautiful blended beans.)

Coffee is more than a commodity. It has become a craft. An art-form to appreciate, to indulge in and to share with others. Coffee brings people together. Heck, workers in sectors like tech would fall over if it wasn’t for their daily dose of black gold.

Can communities of conscious-coffee-consumers play an important role, by supporting their favourite roasteries and local cafes beyond just drinking the good stuff that they’re creating? They can indeed… by funding the growth of the brands and the communities of which they’re a part.

For coffee creators and cafes countrywide, crowdlending can be an opportunity to not just fund new ideas and expansion plans, but to rally the community and give them that sense of ownership over their space and encourage loyalty through that deeper sense of belonging. And the financial reward that comes from their loan stays within their community.

What’s happened around the globe?

Three very different campaigns, from three different companies, raising money for three different things through crowdlending.

First up, The Art of Coffee in Dublin borrowed €7,200 to buy a top-of-the-range sandwich machine for their newly opened third cafe. Along the way they discovered a crowd of new customers who filled the cafe in the months that followed.

Then there was Seattle’s organic cafe and bakery Chaco Canyon, who last year raised $45,000USD to soothe the growing pains of operating three locations with 80 staff and speed up their environmental sustainability drive. Co-owner Chris Maykut showed his gratitude to their crowd, “Chaco has always existed to support the community, and in turn you have supported us with incredible enthusiasm and generosity through the years.”

Grind & Co Espresso Bars are a funky bunch (they’ve got a cafe-cum-recording studio in the heart of London!). In 2015 they offered an 8%, 4-year loan to their crowd and raised £1.3million. With the money they raised they opened a fifth store and brought their bean roasting in-house.

What could happen closer to home?

Imagine, a local cafe bringing in their own mini-roaster so that the coffee they create is made from the freshest of beans. Imagine the collective voice of their crowd of lenders helping to expand their local favourite cafe and pull in more of the community to share the quality experience.

Imagine, a truly sustainable Kiwi roastery growing their impact on the whole of their fair chain by borrowing from their crowd. Imagine the interest earned on their loan not just rewarding their community of lenders, but part of the reward benefiting their bean growers too.

Have you got the sweet aroma of coffee crowdlending in your nostrils? Let’s chat!

Takeaways from our Crowdlending 101 webinar

This week we achieved a new first: we hosted our first webinar! Anna and myself teamed up to share some of our crowdlending insight – what it is, how it works, the inspiration we’ve gotten from overseas and at home, and how to take the first steps towards launching your crowdlending campaign.

powered by crowdcastHere were some of the big takeaways from the session:

  • Anna can’t pronounce my surname. It’s Greh-hin.
  • Webinar’s are quiet. You’re speaking into an echo chamber. You have to imagine the rapturous applause and the thunderous laughter after every delightful joke and quip!
  • A crowdlending campaign works just the same way as a regular project crowdfunding campaign – you set your $ goal, you set your campaign deadline and you’re aiming to reach your goal by your deadline by collecting pledges from your crowd. The big difference is the reward that you’re offering – paying back your pledgers with interest
  • You have a big say over what your loan looks like. You choose the interest rate you want to offer, the min and max loan that you want to raise, how long the loan will last, how often you’ll pay it back and whether or not you secure your loan with assets. It’s really about giving a voice to the people that matter – your organisation and your crowd
  • Having a partner in crime is helpful. It takes away some of the lone-screen loneliness
  • Our two successful campaigns so far, Eat My Lunch and Denheath Desserts, were both successful partly because they let their campaigns speak to their values. For Eat My Lunch it was replicating their Buy one, Give one impact model for their loan, by offering both a financial reward (interest) and a social reward (more hungry kids fed each month) to their lenders. For Denheath Desserts, it was sharing their story of local pride and seeing almost 40% of their lenders come from the local area.
  • I, em, say “em” a lot. Something to practice, or un-practice.
  • The stories from overseas that have caught our ears have been wide ranging. From a local surf school in rural Ireland raising €10,000 to refurbish their school, to Mexican grub chain, Chilango offering their crowd burritos as interest and raising £2million to open three new London stores.
  • The first questions to answer before diving into preparing for a crowdlending campaign are:            1) is our organisation ready to borrow; and
             2) is our crowd excited to support us?
    Taking our CRED assessment will help you understand if you’re in a good financial position to borrow from your crowd. Drawing up your list of the first 50 people who you believe would support you by pledging, sharing or both and listening to their perspective is the best way to begin to build confidence in your crowd.
  • Try not to fall off the screen when you’re in the middle of answering a question
  • Give enough time for participants to type their questions.. Fill the gaps between asking them to ask, and them asking. I was told to do this by a friend before going live…and then promptly forgot.
  • When you are repaying your loan, we look after the flow of money from you to each of your lenders.
  • For organisations who’ve informally borrowed from their crowd before, PledgeMe.Lend can be a good way to involve that closer crowd but also get you working to spread the story to a wider audience and empower your closer crowd to help with that story-spreading.
  • Most of your pledgers will be either people you know and people who know you.
  • Watching it back at 3x speed is well worth a watch

We’re going to be running more webinars over the coming weeks to help spread our knowledge and crowdfunding insight to any curious campaigner

International Inspiration & Home Truths: Sports clubs

Our series “International Inspiration and Home Truths” shares some of the crowdlending stories we’ve heard from far and wide, brings that inspiration back to Aotearoa and hears from the enthusiasts who’ve helped us to imagine what crowdlending could look like for a range of kiwi organisations. The next type of organisation spilling over the top of our box of inspiration is sports clubs.

Sport is an essential part of many of our lives. A good chunk of us build our identities around the sports we play, watch and follow. Whether it’s rugby or racing, surfing or squash, there’s a little bit of us that belongs to that sport. Our team are no different: for Tan it’s tennis, for Kelsey it’s football, for Barry it’s futsal and for Anna…well, is cheese a sport?

At the core of our sporting-lives is a community of people that get the same buzz that we do ourselves – club members that get such joy out of being involved with and having a sense of ownership over our clubs. Sports clubs are constantly building crowds of members, players, fans and followers.

So have sports teams borrowed from their crowds before? Indeed they have. German football club Hertha Berlin F.C. broke crowdlending records a year ago when they raised €1million in ten minutes from their fans and members. As part of their “Hetha 4.0” strategy, they wanted to refresh their online identity and become the most innovative and inclusive club in Germany.

It’s not just big professional outfits that crowdlending can work for. Fin McCool Surf School on the shores of Donegal in Ireland borrowed €20,000 from their crowd to refurbish their clubhouse last March.

What could happen closer to home?

Imagine, a kiwi surf lifesaving club borrowing interest-free from their members to refurbish their wind battered clubhouse. Rallying their crowd to improve their common home whilst rewarding them by paying them back over time.

The enthusiast who’s inspired us

Geoff Lewis got us thinking about crowdlending for sports clubs when he and Anna crossed paths last year. He’s a proud member and President of Thorndon Tennis and Squash Club in Wellington.

Who are you, and what do you do?

We are the Thorndon Tennis and Squash Club.  As a tennis club, we were established in 1879 making us, we believe, the oldest tennis club in New Zealand.  Even Wimbledon started only a few years before the Thorndon Club! Our vision is to be a thriving, dynamic tennis and squash club in the heart of Wellington. To help achieve our vision, we are striving to upgrade our facilities, some of which are showing their age!  One important project is to upgrade our two existing lawn tennis courts into modern, high-quality playing surfaces for all-year-round use.

What do you think about crowdlending?

Upgrading our lawn tennis courts requires a substantial capital spend. We are hoping to fund this partly with grants from gaming trusts and partly with additional income from a larger member base and from using one existing court as a mid-week parking facility. To bridge the timing gap between the capital spend not covered by grants and future income, we think crowdfunding via loans from our members and supporters is the way to go.  Our lenders will earn interest on their funds, feel good about helping the club, and feel secure about getting their money back over time.

What are your concerns about crowdlending in New Zealand?

Crowdlending in New Zealand is still relatively unknown. At the same time, more stringent financial regulations in New Zealand require a professional approach to raising funds.  We think for a modest-sized sports club such as ourselves, it makes sense to use a crowdlending platform like PledgeMe to ensure that all the legal and technical boxes are ticked.

What excites you about it?

If crowdlending helps Thorndon Club to build two brilliant new tennis courts, and upgrade other facilities such as our four squash courts, it will be a very exciting achievement for us and for the inner-city community of Wellington who I’m sure make great use of them.

A little bit curious about how crowdlending can work for your local club? Chat to us!

What's Up Wednesday

Bicycle Junction’s New Community Hub!

Calling all cyclists! Wellington institution Bicycle Junction is on the move, and they want their new community hub to be bigger and better than ever.

Bicycle Junction started up four years ago, in the heart of Newtown. Its name came from the hope that the shop could be “a junction point in people’s lives where they are introduced to life by bike.” The team behind the shop see it as a place where everyone, cyclist or not, can be warmly welcomed, and become part of Wellington’s vibrant cycle-culture.

And as part of their mission to make Wellington a cycle-centric city, Bicycle Junction are moving and growing – and asking for your help. They’ve always supported their community, but now they want to build a retail and cafe space that can transform into a community venue by night, to give more back to the city and support even more people doing cool stuff.

To find out more about why you should be getting into gear with this campaign, we had a chat to community activator Catarina:

How are you finding the campaign so far?

We’re very excited about our crowdfunding campaign because it gives us a chance to take community engagement a step further. We’ve been pretty involved with various events in the past but when your community actually puts money up to help you realise a dream, that’s real validation.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

We think our crowd is behind us 100%. And we don’t consider our crowd just to be cyclists. In fact, we don’t really like that word. We prefer people on bikes. But we also think pedestrians, coffee-lovers, students, families, and anyone who is in the area would love a bike shop/community hub like ours nearby.

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

We’re excited to bring on reward partners such as Garage Project, Karma Cola, and other yummy goodness. We’re also working on a few ways to remember the old shop in Newtown. And finally, Dan wants to do some crazy stuff on a bike so stay tuned for what that might be! He’s nuts so this is really going to be outrageous!

Anything else you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

We love the new spot we’ve chosen and we will sorely miss Newtown but we don’t want this to be just a shop that only serves Te Aro (although Marion and Ghuznee will be THE place to be now!). We want to be ALL of Wellington’s bike shop and serve a growing community of people who want a more liveable and vibrant city.
We know how generous the people of Wellington can be and we hope they’ll continue to share that generosity through our campaign!

To support Bicycle Junction and get their wheels spinning, get pledging right here.