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Crowdfunding is the future...

The Rise of Real Crowdfunding

Posted: Sat, 12 December 2015 by Amanda

The rise of Real Crowdfunding

Amanda Boyle, founder of Bloom

Crowdfunding has become a mot du jour in the media and entrepreneurial circles but the use of crowdfunding as an umbrella term for alternative finance has led to confusion around what it actually is, and what it is really meant to be. 

Uniquely, in the UK, crowdfunding is regulated and part of the financial mainstream so it's hard to argue that equity platforms are a genuine “alternative” in the world of alternative finance. They provide loans or facilitate investments as, simply, the online versions of traditional financial institutions, with very similar restrictions or risk profile to the banks.

Real crowdfunding is much more simple - it's transparent and it's accessible to everyone. The project owner explains how much is needed,  what the finance is for and what's being offered as rewards – whether it's the first copy of a new album, a personalised thank you, early product samples, or tickets to a show. If the rewards and the project are appealing enough for someone to want to give their financial support, they can promise as much or as little as they like.

Rewards crowdfunding – real crowdfunding – is a genuine alternative finance solution that allows people to support entrepreneurs or creative projects in exchange for personalised rewards. Reward-based models are not just about profit, but about great ideas and enabling the spirit of sustainable entrepreneurship to flourish. This is the ethos of real crowdfunding: a more democratic, inclusive way for anyone with creativity, an important community or civic project, or a kick-ass business idea, to reach out for financial support, without having to sacrifice equity or control

At Bloom, we harness the collaborative power of the crowd. We connect an online community that generates financial support based on nothing more than altrusim, curiosity and generosity.  Rewards-based crowdfunding is the future of finance, and its popularity is testimony to the ingenuity of funders and project owners alike. 


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The Art of Asking

Posted: Sat, 09 August 2014 by Amanda

Singer, songwriter, artist, performer, Amanda Palmer's TED Talk has been viewed more than 3 million times. Even if you've seen it before, her message goes to the heart of crowdfunding... the art of asking.

I find it puzzling that people can be so reluctant, sometimes embarassed, to ask for support, whether that's cash, knowledge or skills. And yet, if you turn to the person immediately next to you and ask for help, with clarity and honesty, I'm prepared to bet the answer 90% of the time will be yes.

"Through the very act of asking people, I connected with them. And when you connect with them, people want to help you. It’s kind of counterintuitive for a lot of artists — they don’t want to ask for things. It’s not easy to ask. … Asking makes you vulnerable.

I don’t see these things as risks — I see them as trust. … But the perfect tools can’t help us if we can’t face each other, and give and receive fearlessly — but, more importantly, to ask without shame. … When we really see each other, we want to help each other. I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is, ‘How do we make people pay for music?’ What if we started asking, ‘How do we let people pay for music?"

What I take from Amanda Palmer's message is that most of us allow ourselves to be scared away by the 10% possibility of rejection.  Let's all be more brave. Let's 'give and receive fearlessly'; I can't think of a better slogan for crowdfunding.

Amanda

CEO / Founder

Networking on social media

Posted: Fri, 08 August 2014 by

There is huge, even boundless, potential for social media to expose your company to a wide audience, to build brand awareness, and to forge valuable connections. Are you harnessing this potential, and using your business’ social media to your full advantage?

The business value of an online presence cannot be underestimated. Much of the scepticism about the value of social media in business seems to stem from a misunderstanding of the “social” element. Social media is social in the sense of being connected, collaborative, and co-operative. It is not superficial or light-weight.

At BloomVC.com we have to be entirely immersed in social media – our business simply couldn’t function without it. The majority of project owners who come to us find us through Facebook or Twitter communities. As an online platform, our natural audience is those who are already engaged online, so it’s no surprise that 80% of our business originates from social media. It’s our business space, where we connect with people.

Compared to it’s marketing potential, the networking opportunities of social media are often overlooked. However, if you start thinking of the internet as one giant, always connected networking event, imagine the possibilities! Forums or networking events are great for meeting people in person, but experience has shown me that only about 20% of these connections will turn in to business prospects.

I first saw the potential for harnessing social media years ago when I, admittedly reluctantly, signed up to Linkedin. I was surprised to find myself really appreciating it. I was using it to chat with my peers, forge connections and build business networks – in other words, it was an online extension of what I was already doing offline. The difference was that online networking was, and is, quicker and easier and allowed me to engage more effectively on a much wider scale.

Having made an acquaintance, you should be putting your contacts to work on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Even one-person ventures can’t operate in isolation; you are likely to need to reach out to others for certain skills, advice, contacts or expertise. This is where the wider-reaching ripple-effect of social media comes into its own. In the spirit of online collaboration, there are also innovative new platforms structured entirely around providing help for free. Start by finding existing acquaintances on your social network, then ask them to use their contacts too – even if you don’t know a website designer, one of your contacts might. A good tip is seek out the “influencers” on social media – those who have established networks, with large numbers of likes and followers. Klout ratings and Hootsuite rankings can help you to assess who you need to know online.

When searching for new business contacts, think of your social media feeds as your shop window to the world. Twitter is a particularly great platform for frequent updates and sustained posting – it is hard to over-tweet on Twitter, whereas on sites such as Facebook people might feel that their newsfeed is being saturated by too many posts. Calls to action on Twitter are also surprisingly effective; a “please RT” makes it four times more likely that your message will be retweeted. Once you’ve got people’s attention, don’t forget to include new contacts by tagging, or using @address and hashtags on Twitter. This will open up your discussion to an even wider audience.

Whichever platform you use, it is essential that you engage with your audience. You have to participate in existing discussions, as well as starting new ones. Social media can provide you with the world’s largest audience, but you shouldn’t take to the stage without something to say. Many large businesses seem to view social media as just a bolt-on to their main marketing package, and have created their social media accounts simply because it’s now seen as “the thing to do”. I absolutely believe that every business ought to have an online presence, but only if they also have a purpose, a clear agenda, and a reason to engage. Social media is all about conveying your own personal message, whether you’re in the FTSE 100, or just have the beginning of a great business idea.

Lessons Learned - Campaigns

Posted: Tue, 05 August 2014 by Cara

If you’re ithinking about crowdfunding, chances are you already know about this campaign but if not, the Ubuntu smartphone project is the most ambitious target to date... at a whopping £32 million. Previously, the most successful crowdfunding project was the Pebble watch project, which raised more than £10 million and made crowdfunding history. If you’re really up to date, you’ll know that the Ubuntu campaign has now surpassed the Pebble Watch project in terms of money pledged, but unfortunately it looks like another £20 million in 5 days is going to be too much of an ask. As the project owners have a fixed funding project, this means that they won’t get anything unless they hit their target, which seems unlikely.

We wanted to highlight this story for two reasons – one, it proves the huge potential of crowdfunding, and two, there are lessons to be learned from this campaign. We’ve discussed some of the reasons why this campaign has been so successful, and also why it is likely to fail.

Reasons for success

There are several points which make this project very appealing.

1. This campaign is ambitious in every sense – attempting to triple the previous crowdfunding record, as well as breaking into the competitive smartphone market. Backers have clearly responded to this ambition and feel excited at the prospect of being involved in something which could potentially be massive. Are we looking at the next Samsung or Apple?

2. The project itself is very slick, displaying gorgeous graphics and a real sense of credibility. There has been a lot of time and effort spent creating this project, which helps to validate the company as it projects a professional image.

3. The rewards are great in the sense that backers can have access to the (potentially) coolest smartphone in the market, before the rest of the world jumps on the bandwagon and buys it too. I mean, come on, how awesome would it be to have the latest Samsung or iPhone before it was even released?

Reasons for failure

Unfortunately, the reasons for the campaign’s success could also be their downfall…

1. This project is too ambitious in too many ways, especially for a fixed funding model where they need to hit target or they’ll get nothing. Many backers probably see the target as greedy, and as money that could be much better spend addressing world poverty or global warming. £32 million cannot be justified as a minimum essential spend – we think the project owners should have split their goal up into smaller targets to build awareness, hook the market and then come back for more. Slow and steady wins the race!

2. Great graphics do not a smartphone make. Whilst the project compares the Ubuntu handset with various leading competitors, there is no real evidence or validation of the concept. The technology is perhaps too new and unknown to garner enough support.

3. The rewards are great, but they are priced far too high, especially for a crowdfunding campaign which should offer exclusive rewards. There also isn’t enough variety – what if you love the concept, but can’t afford the new handset? Well, you’re not really getting a good deal, and that’s cutting off a whole section of the potential crowd.

So that’s our take on the Ubuntu campaign, but we’d love to hear your thoughts so do tweet us, or comment on Facebook!

Are you/would you be a backer and why?

IWD: My Crowdfunding Experience

Posted: Sat, 08 March 2014 by

I''m writing this in between getting my daughter into a costume for World Book Day at nursery, tweeting about our current crowdfunding total and filling the dishwasher. If that doesn''t say something about International Women''s Day, I don''t know what does!  A crowdfunding project is much like a baby: it needs love, attention and praise, constant feeding in order to grow and 'Time Out' to think about the consequences when things don''t go as planned.

This year, we launched a new product range, Summerhouse Drinks, real lemonades made by ourselves here in Scotland. Our crowdfunding campaign is helping us raise the funds to build a van with a summerhouse on the back for selling at sampling at foodie events and festivals throughout Scotland. It is also helping us raise awareness of our new product and brand which is paving the way for our new drinks with both stockists and consumers before it hits the shelves.

I knew that crowdfunding would be exciting and nerve racking and I haven''t been proved wrong. What I have been surprised about is that to date, the majority of our pledgers are from business and personal contacts, very few are current customers. People are pledging to help us and be part of something, rather than get a financial gain.  I've also been surprised and delighted at the number of people who have become ambassadors for our campaign, encouraging their own following to pledge. That has been both helpful and humbling and they will get a very special welcome to our van when it is on it's VIP tour of Scotland.

Claire's crowdfunding project has been very successful thanks to her hard work and her great rewards! Check her project out here.

Join the Crowdfunding Forum

Posted: Sun, 10 November 2013 by Cara

As crowdfunding ambassadors, we’re always looking for new ways to engage with the Bloom community, but also the crowdfunding community at large. That’s why we are now joining in the conversation at http://crowdfundingforum.com/forum.php which is a fantastic place to share projects, ideas, tips and connect with many others. Please make sure you read the rules, interact with others and don’t spam! There are specific areas for project promotion so check those out too.

Our Community Manager Cara Pleym, will be taking the lead so look out for Cara@BloomVC on the forum, and let’s chat crowdfunding!

Charity Crowdfunding

Posted: Tue, 08 October 2013 by

Charity Crowdfunding

According to official statistics, people across the UK are giving significantly less to charity. The Charities Aid Foundation has announced that the total amount of money fell by almost 20% in 2012.

But it’s not all bad news! We see inspiring charity projects and incredibly generous funders every day on BloomVC.com. Here’s some stats to lift the doom and gloom:

25% of all BloomVC.com projects are charitable or not-for-profit ventures

50% of all money promised on BloomVC.com goes to charity projects

Generous BloomVC.com funders have already promised over £136,000 for charity

The latest charity project to be successfully funded received £1,280 from a single donor - this is more than the average person donates in a year!

We all know the amazing things that crowdfunding can do for entrepreneurs, start-ups and creative projects – but crowdfunding also has unique potential for positive charitable and social ventures. Tougher economic circumstances have spawned many innovative online solutions, and charities should embrace crowdfunding in order to boost failing donations.

With a philosophy of funding anything, anywhere, we know that crowdfunding for charity works.

(Image courtesy of www.theguardian.com)

Crowdfunding Offer to Scotland's Food and Drink Industry

Posted: Thu, 29 August 2013 by Michelle

Scotland has an incredible global reputation for the best in food and drink - who hasn't heard of, and enjoyed, haggis and whisky?

But we have so much more to offer than that, fantastic artisan producers and some of the top chefs and restaurants in the world. Which is why celebrating and promoting the best of what we produce in Scotland's Food and Drink Fortnight is so important.

So we'd like to throw our support behind the event and make a very special offer to Scotland's food and drink producers in honour of this two week long event - if you launch your crowdfunding campaign between September 7 and 22 we'll refund Bloom's 5% commission when you reach your target.

Nice, huh? If you want to know more about crowdfunding in general or have specific questions about crowdfunding your food or drink business, then please do get in touch. Email michelle@bloomvc.com and she - and her team - will be on hand to help.

Bloom offers 1-1 support for all project owners, from pre-launch through creating and launching your campaign, to reaching for target. Download our e-Book from our home page www.bloomvc.com for some top tips and then simply Start a Project.

It's too good an offer to miss! Start today!

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight

(image courtesy of www.thesuffolkcoast.co.uk )

#SGHOUR Round Up

Posted: Thu, 08 August 2013 by Cara

 

If you weren’t following #SGHOUR on Twitter from 5-6pm yesterday, you missed some great crowdfunding chat! Our very own CEO Amanda Boyle was answering all sorts of crowdfunding questions, and there were some great conversations. For those of you who missed the action, or don’t have Twitter, we’ve pulled out the key Q&As from the live chat so that no one misses out on some crowdfunding gems.

 

How does crowdfunding work?

A: #CrowdFunding comes in three distinct types, equity, lending or rewards. Only the last one is a radical departure. Rewards #crowdfunding can be likened to pre-selling... No risk access to markets, customers who want you to thrive.

 

How does a startup make their crowdfunding campaign a success?

A: A sharp, focused pitch, which we help with, a clear 'ask' & compelling rewards.

Check out our blog for advice on telling your story.


Give an example of a successful campaign with an edge?

A: That's easy @Bonnie_Bling sent her products to @TheXFactor ... contestants wore them! @Bonnie_Bling uses coloquial terms for her ranges of pendants, brooches, etc.

Read our guest blog for the Formations Company, all about Bonnie Bling and their success story.


What demographic is the biggest user on Bloom?

A: No surprises, the biggest audience is women... 25-50; socially engaged, supportive of others.

 

Is there something important startups should NOT do before crowdfunding?

A: I'd say don't expect it to be easy money. People will support your effort but they won't do it for you. It's also best to focus on one campaign. Do not underestimate the power of the crowd to get behind you!

 

How much time do you need to spend on a crowdfunding campaign?

A: We recommend spending at least 1 hour a day on promotion.

 

What makes Bloom different?

Check out our blog post with our top reasons for crowdfunding with Bloom!

 

How does Bloom choose which projects to launch?

A: There are no geographical, currency or cultural barriers, just the Internet & everyone connected to it! In a wee plug for @bloomvc, we're the only site not to select or curate the projects published!!

 

How should you promote a crowdfunding campaign?

A: All the same rules apply as for any sort of business... promote at every opportunity, in every way possible!

 

Can regulations obstruct a project getting crowdfunded?

A: Depending on where you're based and what form of #crowdfunding. Not usually rewards though!

 

Do you allow companies to relist on Bloom?

A: Always! this is about the right cash at the right time. Business always needs more!

For example, our fab crowdfunder Hannah Stansfield wasn’t successful in her first campaign, but she learned from her experience and has since come back and funded three separate projects!


What’s the average campaign goal on Bloom?

A: Not a fan of averages, the range is £100-£15000 to date! It's all or nothing, so important to get right. Remember, we're all or nothing (some sites allow take what you get) so you need to hit target.

For more information about setting your crowdfunding target, see this blog post.


How was Bloom funded?

A: Easy! Bootstrapped by the directors. We closed a very small external round in April this year.

 

As you can see, we had some great questions but Amanda answered them all with ease – we are the crowdfunding experts after all! It was fantastic to see so many engaged with crowdfunding, and hopefully everyone involved now has a better understanding of how it works.

To top off the exciting session, Amanda also announced a special surprise! All projects launched on Bloom in the month of August, using #SGHOUR, will have their fees refunded – that means even more money for our fab project owners. We’re excited to see who is going to take advantage of our special offer, and in the meantime, remember we’re always open to questions – just #askbloom on Twitter or email eva@bloomvc.com

(Image courtesy of sixminutes.dlugan.com)

Why Crowdfund with Bloom?

Posted: Wed, 31 July 2013 by Cara

As a business, we need to make sure that we are attracting customers, and also ensure that those customers have a great experience with us. We know there are lots of crowdfunding platforms out there, so we’re not just going to tell you to use Bloom, we’re going to convince you by giving you clear reasons why.

First of all, it’s important to note the difference between the three types of crowdfunding – equity, peer to peer, and real crowdfunding. Equity crowdfunding is where you sell shares or parts of shares to lots of small investors, who will expect a financial return. Peer to peer crowdfunding is simply a loan, which you need to pay back. 

Real crowdfunding, what we do, is where you offer rewards or perks in return for money, and you don’t need to pay the money back. Which type of crowdfunding is right for you depends on what stage you are at with your project, but we would recommend that you use rewards based crowdfunding for startups and early stage projects. Of course, you can also use real crowdfunding at a much later stage too!

OK, you know what crowdfunding is, understand the three types and have decided to go for real crowdfunding. So why crowdfund with Bloom?

Here are some top reasons;

We have a wealth of experience – our founders have started, lost, succeeded and failed with various businesses so they know what they’re talking about!

Bloom is the UK’s leading rewards based crowdfunding platform, as well as the only platform in Scotland. That means we are early adopters, and experts in our field.

You will be allocated a dedicated team member, who will work with you before, during and after launch of your project.

Your project will be promoted on a regular basis to the Bloom community, via social media channels, newsletters and networking.

We care about our projects, and we offer support in many different areas should our project owners need it. From social media tips to writing a press release to suggested contacts in a certain sector, you’ll receive a whole host of added value.

However, we are a little bit biased, so we’ve asked our crowdfunders to give you some of their reasons for using Bloom.

“I’d also like to give a good word for Bloom. They were really helpful, supportive (they were tweeting about me all the time, it seemed) and provided a very easy to use platform for it all to happen on. Thanks to them I’ve managed to get my business off the ground. I’m totally delighted “

-          Duncan Lockerbie, guest blog

“Crowdfunding is such a wonderful idea.  To donate a small amount is manageable for most people and to be able to choose rewards which suit your own budget and interest is fantastic. I found that Cara at Bloom has been there to help me at each step and has been so supportive”

-          Larain Briggs, guest blog

“p.s also a shout out to @bloomvc who are not just crowdfunding experts but pivotal in making dreams come true :-) I now have my own shop :-)”

-          @WelshWallace, tweet

That’s just some of our key reasons for crowdfunding with us, and there are many more besides, but if you want to ask us any questions then #askbloom on Twitter or email eva@bloomvc.com

We’re always happy to chat crowdfunding so do get in touch, and we’re looking forward to lots of fab new projects being started!

(Image courtesy of www.ltsnitelife.com)

Take Advantage of Crowdfunding Opportunities

Posted: Tue, 30 July 2013 by Cara

by Bloom intern Cara Pleym

A recent article in the Herald highlighted the astonishing results from research commissioned by the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce – Scottish firms could have raised £16 million through crowdfunding, but actually only raised £1 million! As the only Scottish crowdfunding platform, this is frustrating because we know we can help businesses with funding and so much more.

Why aren’t more people taking advantage? Well, we think that people don’t really understand all the opportunities that crowdfunding can bring. So we’ve written this blog to address some common misconceptions and issues, and encourage more of you to give it a go!

Crowdfunding is new and untested

False. Crowdfunding has been around for centuries – we just didn’t call it crowdfunding. Remember the Darien scheme in the 1600s that you were taught about in History? That’s the earliest example of crowdfunding. Trafalgar Square was ‘funded by public subscription’ – that’s crowdfunding too. Plus the success of crowdfunding in America has proven that this new funding model is revolutionising the finance industry. We just need Scotland to get on board and join the revolution!

Crowdfunding is too complicated

There are three different types of crowdfunding, which might be confusing people. There is crowdinvesting, where you sell shares or parts of shares to lots of small investors who require a financial return, there is crowdlending, simply a peer to peer loan which you need to pay back, and there’s real crowdfunding – which is what we do. This means you simply offer rewards or perks in return for money, and you don’t need to pay the money back. Deciding which type of crowdfunding is right for you is an important decision, but we would recommend using real crowdfunding if you’re in the early stages of your business or project, as there are no financial obligations involved.

Crowdfunding takes too much time and energy

This is an important point – a crowdfunding campaign does need a lot of attention to be successful, but it will be well worth it! Mhairi from Bonnie Bling, and Polly from Cake Cetera both devoted time every day to their crowdfunding campaign and were both successful. Where are they now? Well Mhairi has been able to go into her business full time, and has enjoyed massive successes with loads of media coverage and celebrities wearing her cool acrylic jewellery.  Polly went on to secure a national deal to deliver her gorgeous cupcake bouquets and has recently been awarded £50,000 to grow her business. So yes, be prepared for an intense campaign, but you’ll reap the rewards if you work hard.

I don’t want to ask for money

This is a cultural problem, and one we all share. We just don’t like asking for help. So what’s our advice? Learn to ask! Everyone has had a helping hand at some point, and they know how hard it can be starting out. Plus your backers aren’t donating, they are getting a cool reward in return for their money and the knowledge that they helped start a great project. Stop thinking of crowdfunding as charity, and start seeing it as a real opportunity to raise funds, build an engaged community and prove your idea.

We hope this blog has cleared up some of the issues around crowdfunding, and maybe even got you thinking about starting your own project. If you have any other questions feel free to #askbloom on Twitter or email eva@bloomvc.com

We’re here to help you every step of the way so get in touch, start a project and chase your dreams!

(Image courtesy of consultcormack.com)

Crowdfunding: For Richer, for Poorer?

Posted: Fri, 21 June 2013 by Cara

Intern Cara Pleym debates whether the wealthy, such as actors James Franco and Zach Braff, are right or wrong to use crowdfunding.

There has been a lot of controversy over the recent news story that actor James Franco is crowdfunding to fund his film trilogy. His story isn’t the first either - Scrubs actor Zach Braff crowdfunded his movie, and the project for the Veronica Mars movie was one of the most successful crowdfunding projects ever.

On one hand, some argue that crowdfunding means equal access to crowdfunding regardless of their wealth, whereas others believe that if you have money, you shouldn’t be asking for more! It’s a thorny issue, but we want to explore some of the questions that this news story has raised.

At Bloom, we believe that we shouldn’t apply selection criteria because we’re not here to judge. Instead, we help you create a project that is high quality, and then let the crowd decide who they do or don’t want to back. Therefore, we wouldn’t look at personal wealth as excluding someone from crowdfunding, because we also believe that crowdfunding is not just about the money.

The heart of crowdfunding is the community, and this is particularly true for celebrities who have massive fan bases. Crowdfunding could allow such celebrities to engage more closely with their fans, and give them the opportunity to be involved. Fans can get a sense of ownership of the end result, because they know they have helped make the project a reality, whether they put in £1 or £1000.

However, we also recognise that it can also be seen to be morally wrong, taking money from those who have less. We appreciate this, but the reality of the situation is that by crowdfunding, these famous figures are holding themselves responsible to a crowd of thousands. Fraud is a very rare occurrence in crowdfunding for this very reason – the crowd will chase you if you don’t live up to expectations!

Right or wrong, we still think everyone should be given the chance to crowdfund. After all, the power is well and truly in the hands of the crowd, who will decide whether or not they can get behind any particular project. We all have the choice of whether and whom to give money to.

So all in all, our opinion is that crowdfunding is and should be open to all, but that it’s your choice whether you want to get involved.

Do you agree? We would love to hear your thoughts – comment on Facebook or tweet us!

(image courtesy of www.people.com)

Commission Free for 10 Days

Posted: Mon, 10 June 2013 by Michelle

It's the 10th of June today and we're really quite excited.

So what's special about that, you might ask? Well today we're launching our special 10 x 10 commission free offer to our crowdfunders to celebrate the launch of our 10 day crowdfunding option.

All 10 day crowdfunding projects launched in the next 10 days will be refunded the 5% Bloom commission, so if you need money in a hurry to get your startup off the ground, or to support a community group, charity or arts type project, then now's the time to do it.

We'll help you get your 10-day project launch-ready and as long as it's live on Bloom by June 20 2013 you won't have to pay us a penny.

Want to know more? Simply email eva@bloomvc.com with your questions.

What are you waiting for?

(NB PayPal fees still apply).

(image courtesy of noisydecentgraphics.typepad.com)

Bloom's First Crowdfunding Masterclass

Posted: Fri, 07 June 2013 by Cara

Update from Bloom intern Cara Pleym

We had an amazing day on Friday 7th June, which was our very first crowdfunding masterclass, hosted in collaboration with Interface at 29 Studios. The aim of the day was to give potential project owners the information they need to know about crowdfunding, plus an opportunity to engage with us and ask questions. We had a fantastic audience who weren't afraid to ask a few tough questions, which helped everyone understand crowdfunding a little better.

Kicking things off was Interface, a fab company connecting businesses with academic partners, which opens up many opportunities, especially for small businesses. Alan Feighery, the Operations Manager at Interface, talked us through the business and gave us some brilliant examples of their clients's stories. Even better, they have 90 case studies available on their website which you can check out for more information.

Next up was Bloom CEO Amanda Boyle, who explained the three types of crowdfunding - crowdinvesting, crowdlending and real crowdfunding (which is the Bloom model). She used examples of Bloom success stories to demonstrate how powerful crowdfunding can be - we even had an impromptu speech from intern Cara about her experience of backing Polly from Cake Cetera. 

After a quick tea break, we were treated to a talk from intern Natalie about her crowdfunding campaign 'Pants to Poverty' which highlighted some great tips for our potential crowdfunders and also sparked a lively discussion about rewards. We had lots of questions which is great because it shows everyone listened to whay we had to say and wanted to know more! We even got chatting to a few audience members after the crowdfunding masterclass, to give 1-1 consultations about potential projects.

Overall it was a great day, which was helped by the fab venue at 29 Studios and the lovely staff who kept us fed and watered. The crowd seemed to learn a lot both from ourselves and from Interface, and we learned a lot too! Hopefully we've sent some people away inspired to start a new project, so fingers crossed for some exciting new projects coming our way soon.

For more details on this event (and future events!) follow #moneyforstartups on Twitter and keep an eye out for some videos and images being shared in the near future.

NEW Sharing Function for Promises

Posted: Thu, 06 June 2013 by Cara

If you make a promise to a project, chances are that you want to tell everyone about it and publicly show your support for that project (plus brag a little about your cool reward!). Well, we have now made that even easier for you with a brand new tool to share the fact you’ve made a promise, directly from the Bloom site. We have outlined the process of making a promise below, and used screenshots to show you how you can use this fab new feature.

1. Make a promise and choose your reward

Just enter the amount that you want to promise, and use the arrows to select the reward that you want. Remember you can choose several rewards, as long as the total equals your promise value, so for example, you can choose a £15 reward and a £20 reward if you are promising £35.

2. Approve the PayPal pre-authorisation

You will be asked to log in to your Bloom account if you're not already logged in, and then you need to put in your PayPal password. Next you will see the screen below.

This is the review of your promise details where you can check that everything is OK before you approve your promise.

 3. Brag about your promise

That's all you need to do to make a promise, and you should now see a message confirming that your promise was successful, like the screenshot below.

Now, just click the 'share this project' to use the Facebook sharing function.

The following screen should appear.

Just add your comment, press share and you're done!  This means you can show all your friends that you have made a promise, plus it's a fantastic way to help spread the word about the project(s) you care about.

We hope you all like this new function - it's another great incentive to make a promise so why not browse our projects and see if there is something you like?

Introducing Our New Intern Jamie Moore

Posted: Mon, 03 June 2013 by

Hi!

My name is Jamie and I am one of Bloom's new interns!

I am a Third Year Risk Management student at Glasgow Caledonian University. I believe that crowdfunding has the potential to revolutionise the way that organisations raise funds without having to rely on banks or other lenders, which is why I am excited to get a chance to see this in action here at Bloom! Right now very few people in Risk Management are talking about the potential of crowdfunding! This is something I aim to change in my time at Bloom!

I also get the chance to use my Risk Management skills in the areas on social network management which is fast becoming the number one way in which businesses communicate not only to customers but to suppliers and the media too. The ability to communicate with this network effectively is something I have seen Bloom do time and time again and I hope to learn just what the secret is!

I also have an HND in Events Management so I have first hand experience on just how tough it can be to get a project going. I hope to use my experience in starting projects to help others!

I have a varied working history that includes Restaurant Management, PR + Marketing, Video Game shop supervisor and Sandwich Maker.

When I'm not studying or working, I enjoy video games, reading, politics and deep philosophical discussions on Back to the Future :)

 

10 day crowdfunding option - unique to Bloom

Posted: Tue, 14 May 2013 by Michelle

10, 9, 8 ... the countdown has begun.

 

You can now raise your crowdfunding cash in just 10 days.

Previously 30 days was the shortest timeframe in which you could run a crowdfunding campaign, but we're aware that sometimes you need money much quicker than that so we've introduced the first ever 10 day option.

It means a lot of hard work crammed into just 10 days, but you know it will be worth it.

So if you have an idea and an urgent need to raise the funds to make it a reality, then you know what to do - simply click Start a Project and go for it.

If you want to know more, drop us an email - eva@bloomvc.com

(images courtesy of thevinylvillain.blogspot.com )

TV Opportunity for SMEs

Posted: Mon, 06 May 2013 by

Twenty Twenty Television, an award-winning independent production company, has been commissioned to develop a major factual business series for Channel 4, which will explore the importance of foreign exports for boosting the UK economy.

They are searching for small and medium sized businesses 'setting-up-shop' in new and emerging foreign markets, as they try to boost their business through exports. One of Britain’s top business leaders will help these ventures as they try to define their foreign business operations, source local partners, manage financial resources as well as navigate bureaucracy and unexpected cultural challenges up to the point at which they start trading. 

While the UK exports a wide range of goods and services across a multitude of industries, they are particularly interested in SMEs that may be launching retail products or tangible goods that require a physical presence in a foreign market.

They are also especially keen to find any businesses pioneering their products in new, uncertain markets in some of the more precarious foreign territories. If you are an SME looking to export into new foreign markets and interested in potentially being involved or finding out more information please email joe.johnson@twentytwenty.tv.

Why should I make a promise?

Posted: Mon, 29 April 2013 by Cara

Our blog already has lots of advice for project owners, so we decided to write one especially for potential backers. We know there’s high interest in our projects, with hundreds and, in many cases, thousands of views per project, but sometimes this doesn’t translate into promises. We want to highlight the key reasons why you should click that button and make a promise.

1) Rewards

We work hard with our project owners to bring you cool exclusive rewards, at a range of levels to suit your budget. These often involve unique products, special discounts and personal touches which you can only get through the crowdfunding campaigns. What if you’re thinking of promising £40 but don’t fancy the £40 reward? No problem, simply pick and choose rewards as long as they make up the right total e.g. why not grab two £20 rewards or a £25 and a £15 reward?

2) Making a Difference

It’s easy to forget how important your promise actually is – trust us, that project owner will constantly be checking progress and is sincerely grateful for every penny promised. Even if they don’t hit target, your promise lets them know that they have support and will help build their confidence. It sounds cheesy, but you really can be a part of making dreams come true. Take Polly from Cake Cetera for instance - just £1300 stood between her and a national business deal and thanks to her Bloom backers, she can now deliver her beautiful cupcake bouquets to 18000 florists nationwide instead of just in Glasgow.

3) Interaction

The great thing about making a promise to a project, or even just supporting it by sharing it with your networks, is that you get a unique opportunity to engage with the person/business/cause that you care about. You can give feedback, ask questions, and be much more involved with how your money will be used. You never know, that contact might even be useful in future for a job opportunity or as a potential partner!

4) Promise Now, Pay Later

Yep, that’s right, when you make a promise the money doesn’t leave your account there and then. Your promise will only come out of your account if and when the project is successful. That means you can make a promise for a project closing after pay day, and not have to worry about the money coming out straight away. You’ll also receive an email from us when your chosen project is successful, to let you know the good news and remind you that your promise will be taken.

5) Crowdfunding is Cool

Let’s admit it, it’s pretty cool to be able to brag to your friends and say that you helped grow a business, or saved suffering animals or helped fund a student project. It’s even cooler when you see where that project is months or years down the line, and you know that you helped make it happen. Quite often in fact, our backers don’t even take a reward – they simply help for the sake of being kind and giving someone a break.

So hopefully we’ve convinced you all to start making promises? Fantastic! We look forward to seeing who the crowd will back next.

Not such a BAD IDEA after all!

Posted: Sun, 21 April 2013 by Natalie

Buzzing with excitement, Bloom intern Natalie Morrison spills the gossip about the Bad Idea Awards Final

Saturday was the final of the Bad Idea competition and what a night it was! We got a chance to catch up with the students that took part and hear what their families thought about their business ideas; it was clear everyone knew the Bad Idea competition was a great opportunity for young people to try a revolutionary new way of thinking and take the first steps on their entrepreneurial journey.

Judges Michelle Rodger (Bloom), Nick Cohen (PCR) and Diane McWade had the difficult task of choosing a winner after listening to inspiring pitches from the five finalists; James- Building better care homes, Haydn- Fezzie Boots, Amy - Duo water bottle, Holly - Safety Buggy and Fraser - Chanking Coolers. The enthusiastic young business minds took centre stage and really wowed the judges with their product diagrams, extensive market research and even sales planning. I’m glad I wasn’t a judge!

While the judges left to try to somehow choose a winner, fellow Bloom intern Cara and I rushed down to chat to the finalists; there was a real mix of excitement, relief after the pitches and the worry about when the judges would be coming back! It was all getting a bit much, and that was just me and Cara - I think we were as nervous as everyone else.

Finally the judges returned to deliver their results, drum roll please… 3rd place went to James with Building better care homes, 2nd place was awarded to Holly with her Duo water bottle and 1st place went to Haydn with Fezzie Boots.

Congratulations to all the finalists and well done to everyone who took the opportunity to apply for the Bad Idea Competition. We know all the students will have learned a lot from the workshops, not least of all that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. And it doesn’t stop there Bad Idea’s Anthony Gerrard announced that there will be aftercare for anyone who wants to continue with their idea or wants to know what to do next.

It was a truly exceptional experience for all who got the chance to be involved such young minds with such great talent, we know they are all ones to watch out for in the future.

You can see all the young entrepreneurs and their crowdfunding campaigns here

The Seven Day itch- Parallax Faction by Anna Marie Campbell

Posted: Mon, 08 April 2013 by Anna

The Seven Day Itch – Anna Marie Campbell (Ani) - Parallax Faction-The Album

Following 53 days of crowd funding via bloomvc, I must admit that I have picked up so much information and practical experience, in relation to social media, however, although these are valuable tools this was not my reason for launching this project.

I have set out to raise £2,500 to fulfil a life long ambition for myself, and the rest of the band, to release an album: on vinyl, on cd, and via digital download. Bloomvc have provided us with an ideal platform to enable us to make this dream come true.

With only seven days to go we have managed to raise £950, which is fantastic. Family, friends and complete strangers have made promises to the band. This not only gives encouragement to make the album but we want to ensure that those who made their promises, will receive their rewards. We are so grateful to everyone who is promising to make this happen.

In addition, to those promising the band we have received an offer, to have the album mastered for free from a local small business and we have been given artwork from a local artist (Thank you, Janice) that will feature on the album.

The generosity and faith of individuals via the Bloomvc project, has also filled the band will a renewed energy. Iain has been mixing the tracks to get them ready for mastering, David has been sending demos to radio stations and music festivals and Danni (the youngest member of the band) has added some fantastic guitar licks to our recordings and live performances. The band is also currently planning for a range of gigs to raise the band’s profile and promote the album. We have also added a drummer, Chris, to the mix for our live performances and we are currently rehearsing for a “sold out” gig on Thursday. All of this positive energy, has had a little creative surge, for me too and I am currently producing an EP of new work “gossip ganda” that will be available as an additional download, alongside the album.

“The Seven Day itch” is, that following this surge of renewed energy we may not meet our target, or be in a position to reward those who have shown faith in the project, and in the music that we are producing. This is why we couldn’t help but be disappointed if we fell at the last hurdle.

So, only through you, our potential backer, can we make this work and raise the additional £1,550 requred for the album launch. A little promise will go a long way. Our reward packages range from £5 - £500. You can be a listener, or an Executive Producer, but no matter what rewards you chose, be a backer! Thank you, for your consideration and support. Your generosity is not unrecognised and you will be justly rewarded.

Help us release the album, Parallax Faction - "Supersonic Weird 80's pub music" as voted for, by our followers. 

My Internship Experience

Posted: Tue, 02 April 2013 by Natalie

Hi I'm Natalie and I've been at Bloom VC on a work placement from The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy. Wow, what an amazing experience I've had, I was let loose on the site and all social media... I even managed to not break anything...I think!

I can't quite believe how much I have learned and how much I have loved it. Bloom is right in the center of the crowdfunding revolution and I'm so glad to be a part of it. Amanda, Michelle and Cara have all shared their words of wisdom and helped me learn about how I can help the next generation of start-ups!


The advice didn't end there, my personal development has been unbelievable, I have been introduced to so many people that have even helped with my PJEA course work. I didn't even have to make tea! 

Bloom really is 100mph 24hours a day and the experience has really opened up my eyes - if you work hard, you'll have a lot on but it's worth it! I can really appreciate how hard the Bloom team work and how they have so much fun doing it -  it really is so rewarding to help make a project live then watch in the last few minutes as it reaches its target!


It was sometimes a bit overwhelming at times as it was all completely new to me, but the team were always on hand to help me to organize and refocus and chill out! At first I didn't want to touch anything in case I broke it but after a few words from Michelle, who told me anything could be fixed, I started to try everything and anything, all the time knowing that help was but an email, Skype or text away!


It's still all pretty new...but I know how to do a lot after 4 weeks and I'm so glad that I was asked to stay!

Keep your eyes peeled for me on twitter: @retro_chick80s
And you can send me an email: natalie@bloomvc.com

Why Should I Crowdfund?

Posted: Mon, 18 March 2013 by Cara

Crowdfunding is a new revolutionary form of funding, and is really very simple – tell people about your great idea and ask them to back you in return for a reward. So all you need to do is sell yourself and your idea, and offer cool, unique rewards. There’s no criteria to meet, it’s open to anyone and gives everyone the same chance to shine.  Your idea could be for a business, a social cause or a community project and the crowd will decide if they like it enough to give you the cash to do it!

Still unsure? There’s loads of reasons why crowdfunding could be perfect for you but we’ve listed our 10 top reasons below.

10 Reasons to Crowdfund

  1. You’re enthusiastic and passionate – this might not work for banks, but it’s brilliant for crowdfunding
  2. You want to raise awareness of your idea/cause – crowdfunding is a fantastic platform for building an engaged community who will spread the word
  3. You want to test your idea –you can  talk to potential customers and see if they like your concept
  4. You need cash quickly – you can run your project on Bloom for 30, 45 or 60 days so if you’re successful, you’ll get the money at the end of your campaign
  5. You aren’t eligible for other types of funding – we don’t apply selection criteria, so anyone can do it
  6. You like to experiment – crowdfunding is a cool new form of funding, why not give it a go just for the experience?
  7. You need a few rounds – you can break your target down, and come back as many times as you like
  8. You’re worried about failure – at Bloom, we offer one-to-one support, and if your project fails, we can work out why and you can try again
  9. You’re not ready for investment – there are no barriers or criteria, so it doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out
  10. You have a bad financial/credit history – no need for business plans or financial statements!

So we’ve given you the lowdown on crowdfunding, and hopefully now your question isn’t ‘why should I crowdfund?’ but ‘why not?’ We would love to hear from you, so please do get in touch at michelle@bloomvc.com or cara@bloomvc.com

(Image courtesy of www.nathanmagnuson.com)

Females Lead the Way

Posted: Fri, 08 March 2013 by Cara

As a serial backer even before I began working for Bloom VC, I’ve seen a lot of projects but had to choose which I wanted to back as I didn’t have much spare cash. Projects which received my promises were engaging and created a personal connection, but up until recently, I hadn’t realised that the majority of these were female owned projects.

The more I think about it, the more I agree that the female owner influenced my decision to make a promise, because I felt that the women were more open, honest and willing to interact. Generally, women develop more intimate and close relationships, especially with other women, and I think this creates a natural advantage, because they are more comfortable with the personal engagement that drives a successful project.

Now I’m not trying to say women are better than men at crowdfunding, and I do believe anyone can be successful if they put in the effort. However, perhaps women are naturally better suited to running a crowdfunding campaign in comparison to seeking more traditional forms of finance. Rather than struggling with barriers to traditional funding (real or imagined), crowdfunding could be the first port of call for women who need funding for their ideas.

Our most successful projects have been run by women, and we want to see more of them! The great thing about crowdfunding is anyone can try it, and it goes some way to overcoming issues for females obtaining finance. With so much of the business world still dominated by men, it’s nice to see a platform where women can shine and become the role models for others to follow.

So girls, lead the way! We’re looking forward to you all submitting your wonderful ideas, who will be our next female success story?

Crowdfunding for charity? A blog for International Women's Day

Posted: Fri, 08 March 2013 by Hannah

Can you crowdfund for charity?

 

 Yes and it works! Just ask Hannah Stansfield.

Why not hear all about Hannah's charity projects in Bloom’s Q & A with this sucessful charity crowdfunder.

Q: How did crowdfunding work from the point of view of a charity

 A: “Crowdfunding was a great tool to fund raise for ‘The Egypt Horse Project’ and ‘Janet's Wadi’  as you can easily track how much you've already raised, how many people you reach and how much money there is left to raise. It's also a great visual aid for supporters as they can actively view updates on the project and see how their funds are contributing to reach the target. It gives a great sense of family, when everyone comes together as the crowd to support a project and it’s a great way of researching to see what people think of your idea. Projects such as the ‘Saddle Pad Project’ and ‘Feeding Dahab's Dogs’ have really connected emotionally with many hearts and left people feeling compelled to support and make a donation or ‘promise.

"Crowdfunding is a great tool to help charities get a lump of cash in a relatively short space of time - on our own it may take several months to locate funding for one project, however,with the networking ability and versatil ity of a crowdfunding project you can reach a lot more people than you could possibly hope to just through your website or even on social media.”

Q: What did you try previously to raise funds?

A: “In the past we've run donation drives through the Facebook page and website, which when people understand what the project's aims are they work reasonably well - when you throw a more complex topic at people through social networking the aims and targets can easily get lost, and you end up spending more time answering the same questions posted by lots of different supporters than being able to concentrate on what's important. We had also tried a PayPal widget that actually looks quite similar to Bloom's project widget, however it did not attract much attention - possibly because it had little or no connection to anything else and was really just there for the sake of it!

"As of yet, we don't have much of a physical presence in the UK - I can't yet drive, so attending local fayres and fetes can be extremely difficult -  so it has been important for us to build support for the charity through the internet. It's scary to think that just a decade or so ago we would not have had all of these tools to help us this way and it's likely the charity would not have been able to set up so quickly and effectively.

Q: How did crowdfunding compare to the other types of fundraising that you had previously tried?

A: “Crowdfunding has been good in terms of reaching people we would not ordinarily be able to approach, as well as giving us an easier way of tracking funds coming in. Very often we have funds appearing in our bank account or PayPal account with no description as to what it should be spent on, but because we receive the money from a crowdfunding project almost simultaneously it is very easy to see what they are for. Although there are fees involved with using a crowdfunder, this isn't something that should put you off - all you need to do is add the fee amount on top of your project target, so that in effect the project pays for itself.

Q: If you did not crowdfund how would you have raised funds?

A: “I think we really would have struggled to raise the funds in such a short space of time and for the most part I think we would have had to rely on our 'regular' donators to give a little each month towards specific projects. The issue with this is that it is down to personal taste - if a long term supporter does not like a project we are working on, then they are unlikely to donate towards it and so there is the issue that we must somehow find new supporters who like the idea of our each project and are in a position to donate. It can sometimes be extremely difficult to find people who meet these criteria, and so crowdfunding has given us a way to introduce ourselves to a new section of people who are interested in our project and are in a position to donate.”

 Q: What has been your experience of crowdfunding?

A: ”I have so far - touch wood! - had a good experience crowdfunding. My crowdfunding platform of choice - Bloom - has been very helpful with setting up all of the projects and seeing them through to the end. The staff are lovely and very easy to talk to, they freely give advice to help make your project a success. Some projects have been unsuccessful, but more than anything I put that down to my own fault - either the project doesn't appeal to enough people or for whatever reason I can't share it with enough of the right people to make it viable. Being young it has certainly been a learning curve for me - figuring out what works and what doesn't, which rewards for promises are popular etc - but I think it all has broadened my experience and fund raising skills (which can't be a bad thing when you're operating a charity!).

Q: Women are said to be more focused, natural relationship builders and are generally more engaged, do you think this is true and have your natural skills and qualities helped you with your crowdfunding project?

A: ”
Personally, I would have to disagree, not because I think women/men are better in one sense or another, but knowing myself unless I am entirely passionate about a topic or project I am unlikely to be focussed on it! My best advice for other women wanting to crowdfund is make sure it is something you are wholeheartedly interested and invested in. 60 days of trying to promote a project you're not entirely set on gets a little degrading and disheartening if it isn't successful. When you have an idea or project you really love, you want it to succeed and you will push through come hail or high water, to see it to the end – this passion will not only reflect how many people you reach with information on your project, but the tone of your posting will certainly be different!

"Naturally, I am rubbish at asking people for money - I dislike being a burden and don't want to pester people, so for me the project has to be truly important to get me enthusiastic about it. For instance ‘The Saddle Pad Project’ was something that I felt people would be willing to give up their coffee for a week to promise towards, because the animals and owners affected are truly more helpless than we are in developed countries. The same went for ‘Feeding Dahab's Dogs’ – Janet's Wadi is a charity in Dahab run by an English lady, who is entirely selfless in her efforts to save street dogs and get them out of danger. If it can make people stop and re-evaluate the way they are living in comparison, you're on to a winner. More than anything, I believe crowdfunding has helped me to develop more skills or uncover skills I hadn't yet realised.”

Q: Would you crowdfund again?

A: “Between myself and the other operators of The Egypt Horse Project’ we are actually putting together an exciting new project following on from the ‘Saddle Pad Project’. It's an exciting time and I am glad to say yes, we will be crowdfunding again and possibly for the foreseeable future!”

Thanks Hannah, for sharing your insight to crowdfunding from a charity point of view!

Hannah’s next crowdfunding campaign launches today, and we are looking forward to another success! Check it out here, and why not make a promise ...


International Women's Day - Being a Role Model for My Daughter

Posted: Fri, 08 March 2013 by Anna

Ani Campbell – Parallax Faction – Crowdfunding - International Women’s Day

 Me and My Girl

When I was a younger woman (in my early twenties) I was in a band and I used to hide behind my microphone. The microphone was a shield to hide the fact that I didn’t feel particularly pretty, I felt that because I didn’t look like a pop/rock star that I would never have made it. I did feel rather exposed and knew that people would judge my voice, as well as my looks, which made me terrified to drop a note. So, in all honesty, the audience were likely looking at a young woman who resembled a petrified ironing board. Lack of confidence was a real issue for me.

When I became a mum in my late twenties and looked at my daughter, I can honestly say that her tiny face was a real wake up call.  I was also overcome with a sense of rather frightening responsibility. I remember saying to my husband. “How can I tell her to fulfil her dreams when I am stuck in a dead-end job and not fulfilling any of my own?” He couldn’t have agreed more. So I made a mental list of what I wanted to do with my life and have never looked back. Releasing an album one day was on that list.

I know that this is about women but I should also point out that the support and encouragement from my husband, should not be underestimated and the strength of the equality in our relationship was a huge factor. My husband worked equally hard, bringing up our daughter, sharing in the housework. We both believe in equality and we both inspire each other to fulfil our dreams. Isn’t that what equality is all about?

Parallax Faction –The album Why now? Why the hell not?

I am over 40, but should this prevent you from fulfilling a dream? Absolutely not. My moto is “If you stop dreaming you stop living.” I will encourage my daughter to do the same and my age is not a barrier. My more mature approach to the album release means I just think “I have nothing to lose”.

Crowdfunding via Bloom has presented the band with an opportunity that was never there before. The advances of technology have made it possible to record at home, however, the increasing culture of “pay to play” makes it really difficult for musicians to earn from their talents to fund the production and release of an album. So, unless you are lucky enough to be spotted by a record company your options can be rather limited. The concept of crowdfunding should not be underestimated. Musicians, or indeed, anyone who has an idea or a little dream, should seriously consider Bloom.

I have a “give it a go” attitude and the response from backers of the album project has been so encouraging that we are now seeing the album launch as a real possibility. I am truly delighted at the progression of the project so far. The generosity of some people can astound me. The current recession has hit people really hard (including us) so to find backers in this climate has been very inspiring, to say the least. It also adds confidence that the music that we are producing is of a quality that people want to back us. I have never been particularly motivated by money but people motivate me, so the backers have given me so much energy to continue on this quest.  In addition, we were offered free mastering by a local sound engineer who runs a small online business and have even been approached by a potential manager of the band. These were spinoffs from the project that I never expected.

I am very hopeful that we will reach our target via our Bloom crowdfunding project, we still have a fair bit to raise. Therefore, it is not time to get complacent and the work to encourage further backers to invest in us must continue. It isn’t the case that you pop up a project and you will get cash from strangers. You have to work at it. Raise awareness of what you are doing and get up to speed on social media fast. If you don’t know much about social media, find someone who does or learn.

Every penny we get will be invested in the album and the album launch. The more that we raise, the better the launch. It is that simple. The possibility of the launch of the album has also encouraged the band to look at performing at music festivals. To have one summer touring, in this environment, would truly be the experience of a lifetime. Isn’t this the stuff that dreams are made of? For me, yes, yes, and yes.

My daughter will have her own dreams. As a mum I hope that I will give my girl a little inspiration, nurture her to become a confident young woman and hold to on to her dreams with both hands. Her birth inspired me to learn, to grow, and to live life with hope, ambition and a belief that it is better to try to fulfil your dreams than to just accept what life has given you. You can reach for the stars but you don’t have to step on heads to get there. 

International Women's Day

Posted: Fri, 08 March 2013 by Jessica

Hi I'm Jessica and I have just had my first experience of crowd funding and i sucessfully reached my target!

I am currently putting on an exhibition 'You Must Love Working Here' which will be the first exhibition held as part of the Glasgow International Comedy festival. Instead of casting a light on comedians, this project turns the spotlight on the people who work offstage in comedy clubs, behind the bar and keeping hecklers in check.

The comedy festival was able to support the exhibition by including it in the programme and advertising it where possible, and The Bungo are supporting it by providing their walls and hosting the exhibition; but there were no funds available to cover the expenses. I discussed the funding options with Andrew Learmonth who I am collaborating with. He produced a radio package about the project for the BBC Comedy Cafe and is promoting it in the press. I considered Creative Scotland and other funding bodies, but as everything was in place for the exhibition to happen it felt quite risky to make an application for funding and then just wait with my fingers crossed, hoping to be awarded the funds.

I had been keen to try crowd funding after going to the social media week in Glasgow last September. I'd listened to a talk from Michelle Rodger co-founder of Bloom VC and Mhairi Mackenzie who successfully used crowd funding to purchase a laser cutter for her expanding business. Click here to watch SMW video

These talks were really insightful and inspiring. Andrew and I were able to pool our resources to put together a good selection of rewards, so I decided to give it a go.We covered all the bases, with rewards from £3 all the way up to £500 in case some generous soul wanted to fund the whole thing.

I have never been terribly good at self-promotion, but it was a sink or swim moment, I could put the initial work into the project and then let it fizzle out, or I could force myself to tweet like crazy and find new ways to push the rewards and get some energy and support behind what I had started. It is hard asking people for money, especially when it's not for a charitable cause but something closer to you.

Research has shown that women on the whole are not as good at ascertaining their worth as men, they tend to sell themselves short and are less likely to ask an employer for a raise. Historically they have also found it harder to gain access to traditional funding for business and other ventures. Social change is redressing that balance. Crowd funding, which relies on social input, not only allows you to gain funding for your idea, but it helps you to engage with people and gain more confidence in both yourself and your idea as you do it.

I don't know if it is the more feminine facets of my personality that helped me to succeed, but I did feel more engaged with my potential audience and I was more successful than I have been going down traditional funding avenues. Crowd funding gives you a clear goal, and allows you to be very organised. You know when you will receive the money and you can budget in advance, and for any changes along the way. It is a very open and risk-free way of testing your ideas and hopefully helping them to flourish.

I did also also apply for funding halfway through this project as a plan B, but I am so far yet to hear back. Either way though my exhibition will be up in Glasgow this March, and if I gain the other funding it will go to Edinburgh for The Fringe as well.

A big thank you to Jessica for sharing her experience of crow funding and please keep an eye out for the 'You must love working here' exhibition!

Crowdfunding breaks down financial barriers for businesswomen

Posted: Thu, 07 March 2013 by Michelle

Women are more successful at crowdfunding startup and growth capital than they are at securing traditional forms of financial support.

We can also reveal that women are better than men at raising the money they need from the crowd.

According to our statistics 40% of female-led projects are successful compared to 34% of male generated projects.

Bloom founder and CEO Amanda Boyle explained: “It’s widely recognised that women are not as successful as men at securing financial support from traditional sources for their businesses. But crowdfunding has changed that for the better – and forever.

“Crowdfunding is democratising finance and making it possible for anyone, anywhere in the world, to start a business or fund a community or social project. Women, who are naturally better communicators – and supporters – are finding this new model suits them perfectly.

These statistics from our community are exciting – and they bode well for the future of female entrepreneurs, whether business or social.”

We have also discovered that women are more likely to back a project than a man, and that there are more “serial” female backers than male.

“This is particularly interesting when you consider that there is a dearth of female investors in the UK,” said Amanda. “Only round 5% of angel investors in the UK are female, but it’s clear to us that women do like to back businesses and community projects when given the chance to do so.”

We’re really proud of our female crowdfunders – here are just a few of  our success stories, which highlight the impact crowdfunding is having:

 

Polly Quigley – Polly crowdfunded £1300 to create a packaging prototype that would allow her to distribute her cupcake bouquets nationally. She now has an effective box that will be available in approximately 6 weeks. This will allow her to send nationally via her website as well as supply to online retailers and roll out the service to 18,000 florists in the UK. She also has a distribution deal with Interflora.

http://bloomvc.com/project/Send-a-cupcake-bouquet-worldwide

 

 

 

Mhairi Mackenzie – Mhairi makes acrylic jewellery but needed £7.5k to buy her own laser cutter in order to increase production and grow her business. Since her successful crowdfund she has moved the manufacturing of the business back to her hometown on the Isle of Bute in Scotland. She now works full time on the business, has employed two staff and has a team of 5 piece workers all based on the island. She's receiving lots of exciting requests from magazines and celebrities (her custom pieces are worn by celebrities such as Llana del Rey and Olly Murs - Usain Bolt was photographed wearing her custom knuckledusters) and is now able to turn them around on time to meet next day deadlines. She has featured on BBC Breakfast and has even attracted a private investor.

http://bloomvc.com/project/Big-up-our-Bling

 

 

Elke Barber – Elke is a young mum whose husband died suddenly and she struggled to explain death to her 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter. Discovering a lack of resources available to help her, she decided to write a book based on her son’s questions. But having saved £8k to publish the book she was diagnosed with breast cancer and her savings were needed for day-to-day living expenses.  “Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?” was hugely successful on Bloom. Elke asked for £8k and raised more than £11k during the project with thousands more flooding in after the project closed.

http://bloomvc.com/project/Is-Daddy-Coming-Back-in-a-Minute

Introducing Our IWD No Commission Offer

Posted: Fri, 01 March 2013 by Cara

International Women’s Day is fast approaching – on Friday 8th March most of the world will be celebrating strong females and, of course, we’ll be joining in!

Historically women have found it difficult to access traditional funding for their businesses, and nowadays everyone is struggling to raise the funding they need for charities, social enterprises or community groups. But crowdfunding is changing the game; our statistics show that women are more successful than men at crowdfunding and we want to help them start or grow the business of their dreams.

So we are delighted to announce a no commission offer for any female projects launched on the 8th March, in honour of this important date. This means that we won’t take our usual 5% commission which means extra cash for the girls! (although PayPal fees will still apply).

If you have an idea you want to crowdfund, then simply click here and if your project is submitted, amended (if necessary) and approved by 5pm on Thursday, March 7 2013 we'll make it LIVE on IWD 2013.

Please also check out our IWD page for updates on our campaign.

Introducing our new intern

Posted: Mon, 25 February 2013 by Natalie

Hi my name is Natalie and I have been lucky enough to be accepted to do my work placement here at Bloom.

I first heard about Bloom when Michelle came to PJEA at Stow College to tell us all about crowdfunding, the first thing that struck me was how easy it was to launch a project at Bloom. After learning that on Bloom anyone could launch any project from Social Enterprise to Business Start-up, I knew I wanted to be a part of the crowdfunding revolution!

I am currently working towards gaining my BTEC Level 3 in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship this year, so not only am I well on my way to receiving my qualification but my own personal development throughout the last 6months has been unbelievable!

My attitude throughout the course is to see everything as an opportunity and take every opportunity that I can.

In my spare time I love to snowboard, I’m just really happy when I manage not to fall down! I also enjoy baking cakes and eating cakes; since my love of cakes has grown I have started to attend the gym again.   

Within my time at Bloom I hope to expand on my skills (not cake eating). I know that Bloom manages to plan an effective diary and work hard at time management, this is an area I know I will learn a lot in as well as networking, the team at Bloom work incredibly hard through social media to spread the crowdfunding word.

 Keep an eye out for me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Kiltr! 

My Internship Experience

Posted: Tue, 05 February 2013 by Cara

I’m Cara, one of the interns at Bloom VC, and I’ve just moved into my paid position after a positive internship review. I’m thrilled to be continuing as I’ve had an amazing 12 weeks, and I want to share my experience, especially for those of you who are considering applying for the internship opportunity! I’ll talk through some of the highs and lows for me, and hopefully give an insight into the role of a Bloom intern.

Well, where to start? It’s been an incredible rollercoaster that’s left me wondering where the last 12 weeks went! I originally came across Bloom as a backer, and loved the simple idea of crowdfunding, and the personal touch that came across in all the projects. When an internship opportunity came up, I knew I had to go for it! Not just because I wanted that golden word ‘internship’ on my CV, but I was really excited about the idea of working for Bloom. Helping dreams come true? Sounds like my perfect job.

Now before you start rolling your eyes, it wasn’t a walk in the park! Actually starting my internship plunged me into a daunting world of new systems and processes, and tasks that I wasn’t sure I could do. You will get support when you need it, but don’t expect to have your hand held. I suppose I did at the start, and quickly realised that I needed to start getting on with things and stop asking for permission.

The smallest things made me incredibly nervous - a last minute panic that the newsletter had spelling mistakes, or calling my first project owner to discuss how to progress their project.  I was invited to meetings about potential projects and expected to contribute, I was individually assigned projects that I had to get ready for launch, and I was left feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Those feelings soon disappeared as I grew in confidence and became much better at my tasks. I began to appreciate that I wasn’t spoon fed as I developed the skills and knowledge much quicker – because I had to! It all paid off as I was able to see projects progress from creation all the way through to successful funding, and it’s an amazing feeling!

I have made fantastic contacts through Bloom, and though the work can be frustrating at times, I love working with projects and helping them realise their goals. The key thing about being an intern with Bloom is that you are valued as part of the team, not ignored as someone who makes the coffee. So you can expect responsibility, and high standards, but that’s just the real world for you and there are so many benefits you can gain – experience, contacts, skills, personal achievement, a job you enjoy!

That’s just a taste of what I’ve experienced, but I’m more than happy to talk to anyone interested in becoming an intern, so you know what to expect if you are successful.

Contact me:

Email: cara@bloomvc.com

Skype: carapleym

Twitter: @carapleym

Welcome to the Team - Ross Anderson

Posted: Wed, 09 January 2013 by

Hello everybody, my name is Ross Anderson and I’m very excited to be the newest member of the Bloom team.

I originally came across Bloom thanks to my father who has worked with Amanda and Michelle before.

I have a great interest in crowdfunding and particularly like Bloom's close personal connections between the project owners, the backers and Bloom itself. I look forward to becoming part of this great community.

I have spent most of my life in Auchterarder where I went to school at Morrison’s Academy. Currently I am based in Dundee where I am in my second year at Abertay studying Games Design and Production Management.

During my free time I like to play games as well as hang out with my friends.

I spent three months teaching in Muguluka Primary school in Uganda at the beginning of 2011. This was a life changing experience for me and since then I have been eager to get involved with charities as much as I can.

What Excites Me About Crowdfunding

Posted: Sun, 06 January 2013 by Cara

Bloom intern Cara Pleym tells us what excites her about crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding allows everyone to have an equal chance of raising the money they need, by giving the crowd the power to decide who they want to fund. No more business plans or financial statements – all you need to have is a great idea and sell it to the crowd!

If you’ve tried the banks and can’t get funding, crowdfunding could be the solution you are looking for. We don’t need to know your financial history, and you don’t need to pay back your funding. We can help you come up with cool unique rewards, and your backers will give you money in return for their chosen reward – it’s really that simple!

Even better, running your campaign gives you the chance to prove people like your idea, and you could pre-sell your products as rewards – which is proof you can take to the bank if you need additional funding.

With the explosive growth of social media, there are opportunities to engage and connect with a wide audience for a positive cause, building a strong community that will stay with you long after your project closes. Using social media gives your backers the chance to give you their feedback and helps create a loyal customer base which is invaluable for any business.

Don’t be put off if you don’t have a business idea, it can be for a community or social project, and we give every idea the same chance to succeed – after all, who knows what the crowd will go for? We’ve already had loads of different projects from funding a book, films, a laser machine, horse saddles and inventors prototypes, and we’re always looking for new exciting projects so don’t be afraid to jump in!

The generosity of strangers is truly humbling, and most of the backers on our site who promise a higher amount don’t even choose a reward, they just want to help someone out! We all relate better when people are being open and honest, so we make sure that comes across in the projects. It may seem strange, but we’ve even had skint students promising money just because they have connected on a personal level with one of the projects.

We love that we are helping people’s dreams come true – Mhairi from Bonnie Bling has been able to go full time in her thriving business and Polly from Cake Cetera has secured a national deal with Interflora to sell her gorgeous cupcake bouquets.

What’s your dream? Why not give crowdfunding a go and see if we can help make your dream a reality?

(Image courtesy of http://www.crowdsourcing.org)

 

2013 - The Year of the Crowdfunder

Posted: Tue, 01 January 2013 by Michelle

2013 - this is our year!

This is the year for crowdfunders  - backers and project owners - to seize the moment and crowdfund your dreams.

Whether you have an idea for a business or a student, community or charity project, just go for it. You have nothing to lose.

Crowdfunding is opening up a unique source of finance to all, without the need for business plans or bank loans, consultants or committees. You, yes you, can bring your idea to life and embrace the support of the crowd.

We've all said at some point in our lives: "I've got this crazy idea to build a ..." or "I could do better than that" or "This community needs a ...". Usually followed by "But I've got no money to do it."

Well now you have no excuse. We’re building a top team to take your hand and guide you through the entire crowdfunding process, from helping you to craft the perfect pitch, to creating must-have rewards and building a supportive community.

Your project can be small, a few hundred pounds, or it can be large, thousands of pounds. It can be run over 30, 45 or 60 days. It can be for anything (legal, obviously) that you want.

And it’s simple. Simple but truly exciting. The crowdfunding rollercoaster will take you places you never thought of, it will inspire and humble you, show you the generosity of strangers and demonstrate just how much you can achieve with a good idea and some hard work.

We’d love to help you, all you need to do is Start a Project and we’ll be right beside you on that rollercoaster all the way, throwing our arms up in the air and screaming just as loudly as you.

Join us! Be part of 2013’s crowdfunding revolution. And make your dreams come true.

NB When we said you have nothing to lose, we really meant it. All projects launched in January will be commission free. What's stopping you?

Congratulations to our Award Winner

Posted: Mon, 17 September 2012 by

Massive congratulations to Victoria Arnold of Homestayfriend who won the ASB Best Young Business Award, sponsored by Bloom.

Victoria is a dynamic young entrepreneur whose award-winning business offers a unique short-stay accommodation service for students and leisure or business travellers in the UK. Victoria has sourced host properties and host families from around the UK where you can stay as a guest in someone’s home - either short stay or longer-term - and have a truly cultural, welcoming and comfortable experience.

Amanda Boyle, one of the judges of the Association of Scottish Businesswomen's Awards, congratulated Victoria on her win and said:"The standard of the entries was incredibly high, but we felt Victoria's business stood out with its international focus and growth potential.

"I'm delighted to be supporting the ASB, the calibre of business talent in this organisation is impressive and deserves to be recognised."

The Awards ceremony was held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, an amazing venue. Speaker for the evening was the inspirational Christine Ourmieres, CEO of CityJet, and other award winners were:

Scottish Woman of Achievement Award - Professor Anne Glover.

Employee of the Year Gemma Ogilvie of Cosmetology (Scotland) Ltd  http://instagram.com/p/PmB0dch3ua/ (photo by Wendy Maltman)

Business Charity Partnership Award - Sense Scotland and Mail Marketing

Outstanding Contribution to Business - Irene Hogg, Loanhead Community Learning Centre

Most Enterprising Business - Laura Jevons, Claremont Office Interiors

You can read more about the winners here http://asb-scotland.org/winners-2012.cfm

Picture of Victoria Arnold - via Gillian Dick, Find Me Glasgow

Crowdfunding Inquisition at Google Campus

Posted: Fri, 07 September 2012 by

What a great event!

Amanda joined representatives from Seedrs, Bank to the Future and CrowdCube at Google Campus to answer questions about crowdfunding. As the only non-equity, reward-based crowdfunding platform at the event, the response to our model was incredible.

There were some great questions asked during the "Inquisition", but the conversations afterwards were even more fascinating. Lots of opportunities to be followed up.

Here's a link to the event, there's lots to be learned about the various models of crowdfunding that will help you decide which platform is most appropriate for your project.

And as ever, if you have any questions, do get in touch - we're always happy to talk about crowdfunding.

Watch the video here

Clarifying the warnings about crowdfunding

Posted: Wed, 22 August 2012 by

Last week the FSA issued a report warning of the dangers of crowdfunding, and advising that it is only for sophisticated investors.

What they failed to point out is that this only applies to the equity model of crowdfunding, where backers buy shares, or parts of shares, in the project owner's company.

The reward model of crowdfunding - the Bloom model - involves no investment, no selling of shares, and the project owner retains 100% of their business.

If you want to use the equity model to raise funds for your business, then we recommend you use our friends at Seedrs, who are the only FSA regulated equity crowdfunding platform in the UK.

But if you don't want to give up your equity, then use Bloom or one of the other reward based crowdfunding platforms.

Do give us a call if you want to know more.

Touching Hearts

Posted: Thu, 21 June 2012 by Michelle

A successful crowdfunding campaign grabs attention. It might be because the project is jaw-droppingly exciting, or because the rewards are unique, or because the video is viral genius.

Or it might be like Elke Barber's project, and be successful because the story touches hearts.

Elke's son Alex was just 3 when his dad died, and the heartbreaking task of telling him his daddy wasn't coming back prompted the duo to write a book, specially for very young children, to help them understand the death of a parent.

That in itself is touching, it resonates with many parents in a similar position and with those who can't imagine ever having to tell their child a parent has died. But Elke was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, she had to stop work and the money she had saved to publish the book is being spent on day to day living expenses.

Turning to the crowd for help, she told her story with heartbreaking honesty and the response has been staggering. She has had more than 21,000 views of her project, 295 people from all over the world have backed her, she has raised more than the target £8k and still has 35 days left to continue raising money. She has 600 supporters on Facebook and many more on Twitter. She's been on STV and in the Edinburgh Evening News. Despite her illness, she has reached out her network and asked for their help.

In short, she is running the perfect crowdfunding campaign.

You don't have to have a tragic story to be successful at crowdfunding, but you do have to tell a compelling story and work every day to reach out to your audience of supporters.

It can be time consuming, but it's not difficult, and it is absolutely essential.

STV story

Board Appointment for Boyle

Posted: Fri, 20 April 2012 by

Thrilled to announce our founder and CEO Amanda Boyle has been appointed to the Board of the Entrepreneurial Exchange, Scotland’s leading organisation for entrepreneurs.

Amanda took her place alongside new Chairman Chris van der Kuyl, CEO of BrightSolid, at the Exchange’s Annual Conference in Gleneagles on Thursday.

She said: ”The Exchange has been part of my business life for more years than I'd like to admit and, more personally, I've made some genuine and loyal friends as a result.  Practically, Exchange members have provided a sounding board to some of my best decisions and my worst moments in business; the sort of situations family and friends simply don't get.  I've also recruited fantastic non execs and advisors for various Boards.   

“I can genuinely say I would not have achieved as much as I have, nor even had the ambition that I have, without the support, encouragement and mentoring of Exchange members.”

Amanda promises fresh thinking, challenging conventions and positive results in her new role.

Good luck, Amanda.

Bloom and the ECA

Posted: Mon, 16 April 2012 by Michelle

Currently, there are more than 1,400 crowdfunding platforms operating worldwide.  But apart from the FSA, which is looking carefully at how to regulate the equity-based crowdfunding model in the UK, there is no regulation of the hundreds of crowdfunding platforms being launched across the UK and Europe.

Hence the launch of The European Crowdfunding Association (ECA), a not-for-profit industry body comprised of leading platforms, funds and individuals active in the crowdfunding space in Europe.

The association was conceived in early 2012 by a group of entrepreneurs and investors, including Bloom, to provide a unified voice promoting crowdfunding as a source of capital to support the development and growth of for-profit businesses, social enterprises and other projects.

Chris Puttick, co-chair of the ECA says: "Crowdfunding can be a powerful tool for getting start-ups and other projects funded and Bloom’s successfully funded project Wake Up Call is a great example of what can be achieved. The industry is still in its infancy and new approaches and applications are continually being developed."

Co-chair of ECA Mike Fauconnier-Bank continues: "The ECA recognises the importance of educating the crowd, regulators and businesses seeking funds about the exciting opportunities and potential risks of crowdfunding. In doing so we strive to promote a broader public engagement with entrepreneurship in general."

Amanda Boyle, CEO and founder of Bloom and Jeff Lynn, CEO and co-founder of Seedrs (an equity crowdfunding platform soft-launched last month), are co-founders of the association, and both see the benefits for individuals raising money and for those donating it. 

Jeff says: “The main benefit is to help both investors and entrepreneurs understand how it works, which platforms are operating legally and which are not, and how best to use crowdfunding to allocate or raise capital."

Amanda says Bloom is immensely proud to be a part of the ECA at such a formative stage. “It’s hugely important to us that crowdfunding gets the support and recognition it needs to become an accepted alternative source of finance, and we’re delighted to be working with such an experienced and passionate group of people to make this happen.”

Beta Testing Over for Bloom

Posted: Tue, 13 March 2012 by

Crowdfunding platform Bloom VC comes out of beta today with a successfully funded project under its belt and 30 more in the pipeline.

Bloom VC (Venture Catalyst) launched in November and the platform has been tested by users – both project owners and donors – since then.

Now that the fine-tuning is complete and the first milestone reached, founder and CEO Amanda Boyle has made the decision to close the beta test and start work on enhancing the features of the platform.

“We’ve had great input from our users and it’s helped us to create a platform that’s intuitive to navigate and well-integrated with the social networks essential to help spread the word and ask for support for projects, said Boyle.

“The next phase of development is all about developing a deeper support mechanism for users, an even more effective analytics dashboard and enhancing the experience for our donor community.”

Designed and built by the award-winning team at Everyone, the platform is hosted by Bloom’s technology partner, vps.net, whose CEO Phil Male is on the Bloom board.

Male commented: “We are extremely proud to be the technology partner for Bloom. Working closely with innovative and exciting new ventures is what we do day in day out, what better way is there for us to explore new ways of developing fresh ideas than to support Bloom?”

Student Kev Pickering became the first in Scotland to successfully crowdfund a project, his new movie, Wake Up Call. He reached his target in just four days, but went on to raise 46% more than his target by the end of the 30-day crowdfunding campaign.

Pickering said: “Bloom has been brilliant for me. Raising money for a student film is not easy and asking friends and family for money is never easy either, so being able to point friends and family to a page where they can easily read about the project and see what their money will be used for was really helpful.

“The staff at Bloom is extremely helpful and very accessible. Bloom has really been beneficial to me and my project "Wake Up Call" and I will definitely crowdfund with them for the next film.”

Bloom has more than 30 exciting new projects in the pipeline, ranging from technology to games, apps, cosmetics, music and another two movies.

 

Check out the team that helped us reach this milestone:

Technology partner – www.vps.net

Web developer - www.weareeveryone.com - Winner of New Business of the Year at the Scottish Business Awards, February 2012

 

 

The Hidden Benefits of Crowdfunding

Posted: Mon, 20 February 2012 by Michelle

The beauty of crowdfunding is that it delivers far more than just hard cash.

Obviously the money you raise is important, why else would you launch a crowdfunding campaign?

But crowdfunding is about much more than just the funds you raise, and we’re going to reveal the hidden benefits.

If you work your campaign effectively, you could benefit in a number of other ways, all vital to help you grow your business or indeed support your community or social enterprise in the future.

Firstly, you’re able to do market research about your product or service. By asking people to give money in return for your reward, you can establish whether or not there is a market appetite. If people are willing to give you money so you can create a product they want, then you’re on to a winner. You’re able to demonstrate proof of concept when you reach out to raise additional funding later on.

You also build an engaged community of customers, people not only willing to pay you to start your business but happy to tell their friends about you also. Building testimonials from this super-supportive crowd when your project is successful means you start your business with some really positive and powerful case studies to underpin your marketing efforts.

Often the reward is the produce or service the money will be used to develop, so in effect you are pre-selling, generating a healthy order book to launch your business. Not many businesses can boast that they started out with a full order book.

The fact that crowdfunding is based on the use of social media (often free but always inexpensive compared to traditional PR) means word of mouth PR and the buzz around what you’re doing might also provide some newsworthy media coverage for your business or social enterprise.

All of these benefits stack up into a significant opportunity for when you take your business to the next stage and need to raise additional funding, maybe from banks, Angel investors or VCs. You are in a much stronger position to negotiate, having already provided the answers to many of the questions they will ask.

But remember, your crowdfunding campaign is not just a one off activity. Once your project succeeds (and even if it doesn’t) what you’ve started leads straight into the next stage of your business or social enterprise. You continue to engage with your customers, build on the support they’ve given you to aspire to more and there’s no reason why you can’t crowdfund again.

In fact, once you’ve experienced the “hidden benefits” we’ll be surprised if you don’t.

Rewards v Equity

Posted: Sun, 19 February 2012 by Michelle

Bloom is a reward model. If you put your project on our site you don't have to give up any equity or ownership of your business, nor do you have to pay any of the money back. 

Simple you'd think, but there's some pointless and ill-informed scaremongering going on. From webinars proclaiming crowdfunding is a bad idea to simple confusion over what is/isn't/could/couldn't be legal. While it's important to engage in discussions and debate about the value, opportunities and potential pitfalls of crowdfunding, it's only fair that these should be based on fact. So, time to set the record straight ... 

There are clear distinctions between the three differing crowdfunding models:

Peer to peer, or debt-based - a simple loan that must be paid back. Loans are straightforward, it's a simple transaction, you just have to make sure you can repay it.

Equity-based - you sell shares or, more often, parts of shares in return for investment. Individuals who give money to your project are investors and own equity in your company. The perceived wisdom is, with an early stage business, the less equity you give away the better.

Reward-based - which is the Bloom model. In this case, the backer makes a promise to pay you money (if you reach your target) and receives a reward in return. Often but not always, the reward is the product or service the money is being used to develop and deliver, so in effect, pre-selling.

Bloom is a reward model. If you put your project on our site, you don't have to give up any equity or ownership of your business, nor do you have to pay any of the money back.

Bloom is all about encouraging and motivating project owners to successfully reach their targets, it's about encouraging and motivating backers to make promises that contribute to a greater goal.

With Bloom, you don't give up equity or repay the money, just deliver the reward and you retain complete ownership of your business.

Promises and rewards, what could be simpler?

Crowdfunding for Students

Posted: Thu, 19 January 2012 by Michelle

It's tough enough being a student with a great business idea. But when you're a student with a great business idea and a pile of student debt, accessing finance to launch your startup is going to prove a challenge.

Even without the current economic climate, someone with student debt and no previous business experience is unlikely to come out of that conversation with a cheque book, a loan and an overdraft facility. The bank of mum and dad is usually open for business, but what if you need a couple of thousand pounds, rather than just a couple of hundred?

Crowdfunding is the perfect opportunity for young graduates who want launch a business after leaving full-time education, or indeed for enterprising students who want to generate an income while they're studying.

It's perfect for two reasons, firstly the fact that crowdfunding works so well with social media means it's ideal for Generation Y who have grown up with friends/fans/followers on a variety of social networking platforms.

And secondly because the promises of money are not investments or loans. The student or graduate is not expected to give up equity in their fledgling business nor add to their already growing debt by paying anything back, instead they maintain complete control over their work or business. This is hugely important if the business is potentially high-growth and might be seeking angel or VC investment further down the line.

Fiona Godsman is chief executive of Scottish Institue for Enterprise, and she is excited by the opportunities that crowdfunding opens up for students.

She said: "At SIE we help students to become entrepreneurs. We identify young people with innovative early stage ideas and provide them with practical advice and support to help turn their ideas into viable business propositions.

"But it's hard for these young entrepreneurs without track records to get financial support, which is why crowdfunding is such a fantastic innovation.  

"Not only does it provide them with much needed seed funding, but by doing so, it demonstrates that the business community has faith in their ideas, which gives them the confidence to succeed."

Use social, get social, be social

Posted: Mon, 16 January 2012 by Michelle

One of the key success factors of crowdfunding is the ability to use social media to the greatest effect. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and others all give you the opportunity to reach a wide network of people who may help to fund your project.

Consider this: the average student has more than 250 friends on Facebook; the average Twitter user has more than 100 followers; the average business man or woman has more than 300 connections on LinkedIn. And each of those connections may have the same or more. And so on. If you could persuade even half of your online connections to give you £10 each then you’re well on your way before you even ask your friends and family.

So it’s important not to wait until your crowdfunding project is live before you start tweeting and posting and linking-in. This needs to be part of your strategy before you begin; you should be reaching out and engaging with all your connections, offline as well as online, while you’re creating your project. Tell them what you’re doing, and ask for their support. And when your project goes live, you need to keep in touch with them, both directly – via social channels or in person – and indirectly, with updates and posts on your project page.

We reckon you need to spend at least an hour a day (not necessarily all at once) engaging with people to ask them to make a promise to your project and giving them compelling reasons why.

The more effort you put in, the more likely you are to reach your target.

Want to know more about Bloom? Watch our new video

Posted: Thu, 12 January 2012 by Michelle

Crowdfunding with Bloom?  It's really simple. You can launch a project or support a project from anywhere in the world. Come and be a part of our growing community.

Bloom - the Venture Catalysts!

A New Year Message from Bloom founder Amanda Boyle

Posted: Tue, 03 January 2012 by Amanda

What are you looking forward to in the new year?

Thinking about 2012 made me realise how much I relish the challenges and opportunities ahead.  The short answer is building a world-class, kick-ass business... but that's a pretty short contribution, so here's the unabridged version.


I can't remember ever being so enthusiastic and excited about a New Year.  Listening to the news - unemployment, debt, business failures - some might think it more appropriate to curl under the duvet and wait for the worst to pass. But, spend a few minutes on Twitter or LinkedIn or any of the established socially networked sites this holiday season, and the message is loud and clear, people are optimistic, positive and enthusiastic about the future. And no one is more so than me!


It's almost two years since I stumbled across the embryonic, online phenomenon that is crowdfunding.  What got me interested was what always hooks me... there's a problem looking for a solution and an appetite for disruption of the status quo. So I got to work finding out more, analysing the data and reviewing the legislation.
For anyone unfamiliar with the model, crowdfunding enables people to raise the funding for their start-up venture, community project or social enterprise from their friends, family, and social networks.  Just as we've been doing since the dawn of time, only now using the Internet to reach farther, spread the word and without sacrificing ownership.


There are already some terrific sites, delivering millions of dollars, pounds and Euro to get things started.  Who hasn't heard of Kickstarter or Indiegogo or Sellaband, leading the way for newbies like Bloom - Venture Catalyst or PeopleFund or WeDidThis. Today, there are 1574 sites and counting across the world, it feels like the beginning of a revolution.


I thought I'd achieved just about everything I wanted to, had no ambitions to repeat anything, and was waiting for something exciting to come along. It's taken 12 months of focus, determination and persuasion to get this far; not forgetting a fantastic team and an incredibly patient, supportive board, who are as deeply committed as I am to growing the entrepreneurial eco-system.

The biggest milestone to date has been developing and publishing the website, the next goal is to build the community that will generate £1million for startups, projects and causes.  If that's not worth looking forward to, I don't know what is.

Wishing you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Bloom on the BBC

Posted: Wed, 23 November 2011 by

Wow, we've certainly stirred up some interest with our launch last week, we've been quoted everywhere from the BBC to The Times in India.

Just in case you missed it, here's the link to the BBC article.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-15795509

NESTA support for Bloom

Posted: Fri, 18 November 2011 by

So excited to announce we have secured a financial partnership with NESTA, the UK’s foremost expert on innovation.

Robert Crawford, Director of Innovation, Investment and Growth at NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) said they are delighted to support us and look forward to learning from the our crowdfunding model.

Founder and CEO Amanda Boyle said: ”There’s a real need to support students and graduates, in science, tech and the arts, many of whom have fantastic ideas. And we now have more than a million young people who can’t find a job, so are looking at starting their own business instead.

“Through Bloom they not only raise the money they need to start up, but they are also proving the concept, building a customer base, often pre-selling their product or service, and actively creating a community of fans who want to engage with them.

“And all without having to give up equity in their business. It puts them in a very strong position to scale their business and start their journey on the road to angel or VC investment.”

Amanda emphasised that Bloom is not about replacing banks or the traditional funding organisations, but is simply filling a crucial funding gap at the very early stages, and offering ongoing mentoring and support to help ambitious individuals and groups turn their ideas into reality. In effect, creating a pipeline of opportunities for the angel and VC community.

Bloom, currently in beta testing, has already attracted projects from all over the world. The platform launched with a number of exciting projects seeking funding including an educational anti-sectarian film, dairy-free foods for babies and toddlers, and a music discovery and promotions website. 

Over the next week the site will also feature an eco-friendly business which aims to recycle used coffee granules into plant food, a universal e-ticket solution, virtual technology for the camera, an organisation that wants to turn one of the dirtiest beaches in the UK into a clean, tourist destination, and the world’s first “Imax for the home” immersive dome display.

Mr Crawford said: “There are a number of great business ideas out there that aren’t able to attract traditional types of investment and support to become a reality and thrive. 

“By using the Web to jumpstart new ideas and find new sources of funding, we believe we can do more to ensure more of these concepts see the light of day and are given the opportunity to drive the economy forward in future.

“We very much look forward to working with Bloom and to learn from the model they are developing.”

We are also delighted to announce we have secured vps.net as a technology partner, and our platform has been developed using the very latest global cloud technology, kindly donated by vps.net.

Phil Male, CEO of vps.net, commented: “We are extremely proud to be the technology partner for Bloom. Working closely with innovative and exciting new ventures is what we do day in day out, what better way is there for us to explore new ways of developing fresh ideas than to support Bloom?”

Softly softly catchy monkey

Posted: Sun, 30 October 2011 by Michelle

Well, the soft launch has happened, our first projects are profiled on the platform, and we're spending our time smoothing out the little glitches.

At the moment, you can watch our project videos and choose the rewards you want, hopefully later this week you should also be able to make a promise.

And you can upload your projects too. They won't go live until Global Entrepreneurship Week - our formal launch - but you can perfect your pitch, make a stonking great video, create some really exciting rewards and preview how it will look on Bloom.

What we'd like to do now is to thank everyone who has helped us get this far - we are by no means all the way there yet, plenty more hard work still to come, but we're grateful for all the support.

Stick with us, Bloom is going on an incredibly journey and we want you by our side all the way.

Hello...and welcome to Bloom.

Posted: Mon, 12 September 2011 by

We're so excited to see you here, whether you are starting a project, looking for a project to support, or simply dropping by for a look. Feel free to poke around, we're sure you'll find something interesting you might like to donate to, or a reward that takes your fancy.

It might even simply give you the inspiration and encouragement you need to take that first step to making your big idea a reality. Enjoy.