BlogCrowdfunding is the future...
Guest blog from our incredibly successful crowdfunder Welsh Wallace
I had not heard the term “crowdfunding” until a few months ago when I was approached by Michelle from Bloom VC. Being an avid tweeter I was having a moan how my disabilities from injuries I had sustained a couple of years ago was blocking my attempts to get on training programs as people only saw my disabilities and not what I was capable of. I am fully blind, one working-armed welsh lass, normally hooked up to oxygen and unable to stand for more than a few minutes. But even though my body may seem ready for the scrap heap I knew within myself I was capable of doing so much more than sitting at home collecting benefits.
You see I have a talent for sculpting with clay through touch. If I am honest, I am not that bad at it either. Before I would just be making the odd piece as presents for Jeff Wayne or Marti Pellow but so many people on Twitter kept asking me if they could buy my work or commission me to make a special piece. After having nearly every door closed firmly in my place I spoke at length to Michelle who gave me the support and confidence to put together a project proposal to raise enough money to create my own business selling my clay work. Working out the basic lowest expense scared me. £2500-£3000 was the absolute basic total to get off the ground and to me seemed an unachievable amount.
Once approved the project went live. What happened next was amazing. I had set the 60 day option to reach my target because I did not expect allot of interest if I am honest but so many amazing people on twitter reached my target within 2 weeks and beyond the 100% target. It gives you a sense of determination you didn’t have before because with so many people believing in you, you become more driven to succeed to not let them down. Waiting for the project to close was probably the hardest wait. While I waited I cracked on designing the shop brand and sourcing materials and suppliers, obtaining forms, to register the business etc and designing clay work pieces so a lot could be done before hand.
Once the money was received I then cracked on. Not a penny was wasted. Every penny I had saved for a rainy day was also spent. But to be filled with renewed confidence in you, and drive and motivation felt amazing. People who did not know me except from on twitter, through to people who did know me in real life, gave me so much support, either through promises or shouting from the rooftops to their friends about what I was trying to achieve. Unable to sleep as my mind kept working on designs, creating the website, making clay work and promises did not feel like work. And the support from Bloom did not stop once the project finished. If I needed advice, they were there. If I needed support, they were there and still are.
Also from the crowdfunding I did not have the stress of a loan hanging over me. So everything I make can be ploughed straight back into the shop to create a larger range. It genuinely feels like I am making presents for friends than items in a shop, it is that enjoyable. The promises I offered were from the range of designs I was making for the shop. Various costs but I charged the same amount that I will be in the shop as I felt it fairer to use the profits rather than expect the money for nothing. The Heritage Boxes went down a storm and I cannot wait to get feedback once they are delivered next week. My shop goes live in 2 weeks time and I have never felt happier.
Everyone wrote me off except Bloom and the people on Twitter. Now my Housing Association has given me special permission to work from home as they know how hard I have worked to get this far.
I have been given a future that I now have control over. I have my self respect back and that is priceless but completely owed to crowd-funding.
I hope to return the favour in the future by making promises to others and help them achieve their goals and dreams. Crowdfunding helped me achieve mine – they can help you achieve yours.
My name is Polly and my company is called Cake-Cetera.
I was inspired to set up the business after losing my mum to cancer last year. While mum was in hospital I was shocked to find flowers were banned from hospital wards. Visitors were asked to take them home as they are swimming with bacteria. I found that most people brought in cake instead and so Cake-Cetera was born.
I have designed a cupcake bouquet which consists of 13 cupcakes and 6 chocolate leaves. This can be ordered online for £30. Currently I hand deliver in my wee van in Glasgow but have been bombarded from interest down south.
I created a crowdfund via Bloom which helped fund the design of a packaging solution which would allow me to send my cupcake bouquets via courier around the UK. Through the crowdfund I raised £1300 through the generosity of friends, customers and complete strangers. This let me pay for a plastic mould to be formed to protect the cakes during transport.
After lots of prototypes, tests and disasters at last I now have an effective box which will be available in approx 6 weeks. This will allow me to send nationally via my website as well as supply to online retailers and roll out the service to 18,000 florists in the UK.
Funding the design of the packaging was holding me back yet the crowdfund allowed me to fastrack this and I'm so grateful to the 23 backers who supported and believed in me.
I look forward to sending them a cupcake bouquet in my fancy box and keeping them updated regularly with my progress.
We are so excited for Phil Worms, whose Helensburgh Heroes crowdfunding campaign was successfully funded on Bloom.
Phil crowdfunded the cash to buy two rare and historically valuable John Logie Baird artefacts but his latest fundraising bid is much, much larger.
He has secured support from Hollywood and Holyrood (the Scottish Parliament) to launch a £2million fundraising campaign to establish a digital skills academy, the ‘Heroes Centre’, in Helensburgh, birthplace of John Logie Baird the founder of television.
Hollywood actor Lex Shrapnel, who starred in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), the recent BBC television series Hunted and whose grandmother the Hollywood legend Deborah Kerr was born in Helensburgh, has become an official ambassador for the campaign to create the Heroes Centre, while the Scottish Government has welcomed the initiative saying it would give “the next generation of Scots a creative environment to acquire new media skills and expertise.”
Phil said: “It’s widely recognised that we need a new generation of digital content creators, and yet a major issue facing Scotland is the dramatic decline in the numbers of young people taking IT related subjects in further education.
“We are absolutely delighted to have such high profile ambassadors on board and with the Scottish government also keen to see this happen, what we need now is for Scottish businesses to get behind the idea by pledging their financial support so we can raise the two million pounds we need to turn the Heroes Centre into a reality.”
The Heroes Centre idea has been developed as a result of extensive consultations with the local community, education establishments and leading IT companies, all of whom have expressed a strong interest in utilising it when it is built.
The plan is to create a digital complex and specialised IT educational facility by converting a derelict Victorian warehouse in George Street, Helensburgh. The Heroes Centre will teach people at all stages of their lives the media and production skills they need to contribute and thrive in the digital workplace, while businesses will be able to access facilities for web promotion and marketing. It will also have a cinema and a three storey ‘wall of fame’ showcasing memorabilia from the array of inspirational men and women or ‘Heroes’ who have come from the town.
We were invited on to Douglas Fraser's BBC Radio Scotland business programme this week to talk about crowdfunding as an alternative source of finance for businesses.
And what better way to demonstrate how it works so well than to feature two of our successful crowdfunders - Mhairi Mackenzie of Bonnie Bling and Polly Quigley of Cakecetera. Both businesswoman have embarked on an amazing business adventure since they crowdfunded on Bloom, with opportunities opening up everywhere for Mhairi and an excitng few months ahead for Polly, who's now manufacturing her packaging in China with a view to supplying a major retailer next year.
Feel free to listen to the whole of Douglas's programme, but the juicy bits (ie "us") start about 12 minutes in.
We're thrilled to be able to tell you that Mark Wright's Dark Form Productions has wrapped the movie and he is ready to enter Innocent Violation into film festivals across the world.
When Mark launched his project he needed £590. Having successfully crowdfunded 17% above his target, Mark, his film crew and the actors were able to complete their work. If you backed him, you'll have had regular updates on filming and will be receiving your copy of the film soon. For everyone else, here's Mark's success story.
"Well, it’s finally finished. Innocent Violation, the film we at Dark Form Productions have been working on for seven months, is now complete. I directed and produced it from a script by Craig McEwan, who also stars in the lead role. The actors were wonderful and were dedicated, enthusiastic and patient, as were the people in the background such as Barry Gunning, Director of Photography par excellence and a mine of information on filming.
Barry also helped edit the film with me and I am indebted to him for all the time, effort and expertise he gave. Richard Lundy deserves a mention as does Lisa Gray, as without their help, the actual filming would have taken much longer and posed more difficulty. Simon Forrester as the runner, a role that is often overlooked in filming, was also invaluable.
I was particularly impressed by Paul Maclaren of The Lost Highway who writes and performs the music for all our productions. His ability to match the atmosphere of a scene to appropriate music has been instrumental in creating the right ambience for our film.
We had a punishing schedule and at times, due to time constraints and the fact that the shoot location changed a week before the shoot, it seemed a moot point whether the finished product would ever come to fruition. With such a fabulous cast and crew however, we managed to see the project through from inception to completion.
Of course, as with any project there were ups and downs, but the former outweighed the latter heavily and I can honestly say that not only is this what I want to be doing for the rest of my life, but also to work with such a great bunch of people was both a pleasure and a privilege.
None of the above would be possible of course without the help of Bloom VC. The many donations Dark Form Productions received from a wide variety of people was amazing and we are very humbled to have been the recipients of such generosity from our backers.
Thank you again for helping us to make a little celluloid magic. We hope you enjoy the film and tune in for our next venture."
Since Mhairi Mackenzie’s crowdfunding campaign closed successfully in June, her business, Bonnie Bling, has gone from strength to strength; increasing production, introducing new ranges, moving premises, recruiting staff and bringing on board a private investor.
It’s been a whirlwind of activity since she decided to ask the crowd for £7.5k to buy a laser cutter, to enable her to manufacture in Scotland and also to be able to respond to demand more quickly.
60 days and a lot of hard work – tweeting, Facebooking, writing press releases, speaking to colleagues and friends – later, Mhairi had crowdfunded £8,130. It was more than she’d asked for and it meant she could buy an even better machine than the one she originally had her eye on.
But it also meant other changes for the business. Originally Bonnie Bling – which designed and created quirky jewellery using slang and regional dialect words - was a part-time venture for Mhairi but she had her eye on bigger things, not least of all collaborations with some major UK companies and plans to roll out the range to different locations, including London, Wales, Yorkshire, the Highlands, and even New Zealand, Australia, America and beyond.
At the time Mhairi said: “I want to keep our business as a UK one, I don't want to have to outsource our manufacturing to another country. I want to create and keep jobs right here in Scotland and the UK, purchasing a desktop laser machine is the first step in enabling this to happen.
“With the collaborations and enquiries coming thick and fast we have the potential to create around 3-5 full time jobs within a year, with our manufacturing capacity increased this could double in year two. It is a very exciting prospect and one that I hope you'll decide to support.”
Well that has all now come true. Bonnie Bling HQ is now located in Mhairi’s hometown of Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. New premises are behind the scenes at Bute’s cool collective of local products, Brandish Bute (so manufacturing is remaining in Scotland).
And she has secured a private investor, in addition to the crowdfunding campaign, which has enabled Mhairi to work on the business full time and employe three part time staff (meeting the employment goals for herself and for others).
It’s been an incredibly busy time for Mhairi, and now she’s working on exciting new collections and collaborations in the run up to Christmas as well as working on an ASOS outlet.
She hasn’t forgotton those who gave her business the opportunity to become independent. She’s finalising plans for the Laser Party, promised to her crowdfunding backers, complete with new designs, a neon frenzy of entertainment and a fashion showcase featuring pieces from the new Autumn Winter collection.
If you want to listen to Mhairi talk about her crowdfunding success story, you can join us at Social Media Week Glasgow. Register here for the event on Thursday, September 27 2012 #SMWCrowdfunding
What we love about the crowd is that it's always there for you, every step of the way; market research, collaboration, connecting, tweeting, backing, donating and sharing their own skills and expertise with unbound generosity.
And here's a perfect example; Andrew Huggan successfully crowdfunded his debut album on Bloom He's been busy writing, mixing and recording his songs, but he's also working on creating some special artwork for the CD sleeve and has realised he needs to ask the crowd for help again.
Andrew says: "It's all go. The album is continuing to progress, slowly, but the good news is two songs are now ready for mixing, with a third soon to be ready. I anticipated this project being a big undertaking, but it's proving a greater challenge than first thought ... not that that is a bad thing. It's amazing how creativity flows when you get your teeth into something.
"As well as all the recording, writing, arranging and editing I have been doing, my thoughts have also turned to the artwork side of things. I've been thinking more and more about the design of the actual CD cover and booklet and have a strong idea set in my mind of how I want it to look - this is where I need your help."
Andrew explains:"Within the booklet, I plan to have a page dedicated to each song, containing a wee bit about it, the lyrics and also a photograph that relates to the song. Kirsten and I will be trying our hands at some photography in a few weeks, taking pictures for the album, but there are some photos I would like that I sadly do not have the skill or knowledge to take! if you are a keen photographer and would like the opportunity to have some of your work immortalised in my album artwork, please do get in touch."
Here are the images he needs:
For "Johnny O' Braidislee" - a picture of a deer/some deer in the woods. The woods are important due to the nature of the song.
For "On Eagles' Wings" - a picture of a bird of prey in flight.
For "The Selkies' Song" - a picture of seals lazing around.
If Andrew uses your photograph, he will need permission to use it in the album and also on his website for the song pages. He also promises an extra, exclusive reward to say thank you.
If you can help, please send your photo to email@example.com
Contemporary Scottish jewellery designer Mhairi Mackenzie will continue to manufacture in Scotland, after she successfully crowdfunded £7.5k to buy a special laser cutting machine.
Demand for her unique Bonnie Bling jewellery, featuring Scots slang words, grew rapidly after been seen on celebrities such as XFactor's Amelia Lily, MTV's Laura Whitmore and singer Lana Del Rey, and Mhairi needed the equipment to enable her to meet the demand and expand the business.
But access to finance was tough for the entrepreneur, who also runs a separate web design business.
“There certainly aren't as many funding opportunities around at the moment as there were when I started my first business eight years ago,” said Mhairi. “I guess part of that is being over 25 and part being due to the economic climate.
“I decided to use crowdfunding as I felt that it was right for Bonnie Bling. We've always had a close relationship with our customers and this seemed a personal way for them to become part of our business story. “
So Mhairi chose to launch her crowdfunding bid on Bloom. She offered pieces of jewellery, T-shirts, and discount opportunities as rewards for backers, and even offered to make a custom set of jewellery for the backers with the deepest pockets.
“It was so exciting watching us get near to, and then hit, the target. All of our supporters were tweeting, texting and Facebooking all at once, cheering us on and spreading the word,” said Mhairi.
“I’m blown away by the high level of support we've found, everyone has been amazingly generous and I can’t wait to throw us all a party to celebrate.”
Mhairi’s successful project is the ninth for Bloom – including two projects that have reached target but have yet to reach their closing date.
CEO Amanda Boyle said: “At last crowdfunding is coming of age in Scotland. In America crowdfunding is widely accepted, but the UK was slower to catch on.
“Now we are providing an acceptable, alternative source of finance to startups, businesses, students, charities, communities and social enterprises.”
We’re thrilled to announce our second successfully funded film project. Congratulations to Mark Wright of Dark Form Productions – this is what he had to say about his crowdfunding experience.
“Trying to find funding for anything in today's market is difficult, but funding for short films can be near impossible! I had tried the standard ways, like approaching businesses in return for profits etc, but found it difficult to get a buy-in for it.
“My proposed film was planned on a very small budget but even given that, it seemed unlikely that Dark Form Productions might be able to raise the requisite funding. However, Bloom provided the necessary tools to ask for funding using their innovative website.
“I was amazed at the number of hits my proposed project got and in the end, not only was my project fully funded but 117% was raised, making the project viable and easier to produce, particularly with the amount over what we had hoped for which will result in fewer constraints on the budget.
“There was great support from Bloom VC as how to market the production, and what packages (rewards) that I should offer. It was also very helpful to have the project proof-read for potential pitfalls and to ensure all the links were correct, plus ensuring that the packages offered just the correct amount of rewards for money promised.
“I was amazed at the amount of support I received – I did of course receive wonderful support from family and friends – but a big portion of the funding came from people I had never even heard of before!
“It has been an enjoyable and great learning experience, and I would recommend this process with Bloom to anyone looking to fund a project. Now I can push forward with the short film, and I also have a pool of backers that I can hopefully call upon again with future projects.
“I am indebted to Bloom for their professionalism and helpful attitude to crowd funding.”
Thanks to all who backed Mark and his project!
Wow, fully funded in just four days.
Congratulations to successful project owner Kev Pickering, whose movie Wake Up Call not only reached, but actually surpassed its funding target.
At the end of his crowdfunding campaign, Kev had raised £586, that’s 46% more than his target.
What made him so successful so quickly? Kev told a good story, showed a great video, and he reached out to his friends and family first to ask for their support. Add to that a series of fab rewards – I mean, who wouldn’t want to go to a movie premiere or have their name on the credits as Executive Producer? – and this project was one destined to win from outset.
Kev is a student at Edinburgh College of Arts and this is a sequel to his very first short film, “Wake Me Up, 2002”.
"Wake Up Call" is a character driven short crime film, based in the Edinburgh underworld. It follows the characters of Mr Fraser, an ageing gangster and Duncan, an up and coming criminal, and what happens when their paths cross. It is an observation of modern violent culture and the mindless brutality that surrounds it.
As a student at Edinburgh College of Arts money is tight and this, Kev’s most ambitious project to date, needed the right funding to reach the widest audience possible. Kev explains in his pitch why this is so important to him, and he details what he plans to spend the money on; case expenses, make up/effects, costumers, catering, music rights, transport, locations, equipment hire and festival entry fees.
We wish Kev the best of luck with his new movie, and hope to see him back here again crowdfunding for his next venture.