Vancouver, Wash.-based company Investist has a new idea for rolling in style. It’s called Hovertrax, and it’s an auto-balancing, electronic transporter with two-wheeled gyro technology — or, more simply, a wiggle board with power.
The group is collecting funds for the gadget through Kickstarter, and, as of Wednesday afternoon, has already raised more than $50,000 — exceeding its original goal of $40,000, with 39 days remaining to donate
The concept behind Hovertrax is simple: Its two motors, one in each wheel, correspond with your movements. To move forward, lean in to your toes; to move backward, tilt your heels behind you. Spin the board in circles by placing one foot behind the other. The company assures there’s no learning curve — just hop on and hit the road Read more…Read More →
Crowdfunding platforms are evolving from relatively simple funding intermediaries to businesses that offer value-added services in addition to gathering money.
We’ve covered a few such budding platforms in the past: CrowdHut, for example, which helps with marketing and acts as a post-campaign e-commerce platform. CrowdSupply, on the other hand, aids entrepreneurs with product fulfillment.
In June, we’ll see another such platform, called TrepLabs, open to the public. TrepLabs is a project initiated by the mobile app search engine Mimvi and Entrepreneur Magazine; recently, it was announced that white label provider Launcht would oversee the crowdfunding aspect of the platform.
Rather than being a standalone crowdfunding solution, TrepLabs is more of a mobile app incubator, with a crowdfunding portion. (The video below provides a good overview of the services the platform will offer.) Startups will have to apply to the program, and, if selected, will work with TrepLabs for two years.
The idea for TrepLabs came about when its founders realized that one of the big under-the-radar problems in the mobile space was “independent app developers getting priced out of the market they created,” Mimvi’s CRO Eric Rice told Crowdsourcing.org.
“The numbers are very skewed, the industry is dominated on the top level,” Rice elaborated. “The top five or two and a half percent of developers bring in 60 to 70 percent of the revenue.”
TrepLabs’ mission is to help the little guys succeed. In order to be admitted into the program, app developers must go through a vetting process. Rice said the team is looking for developers that can code on their own (so they don’t have to spend time and money outsourcing the actual development of the app) have great ideas, and can work efficiently. Rice said roughly ten percent of developers that have contacted them have fit the criteria.
“Then, we put together a profile, look at it, and vote on who the top four or five are this month,” Rice explained. “For the next 30 to 45 days, we essentially repackage the company and incubate them. We’ll develop a revenue model that fits the audience, so it’s not just paid download. We’ll seek corporate sponsorship, we may take the code and license it, we may outright sell an app. Then, we’ll slowly begin to align their marketing campaign for their TrepLabs launch.”
Rice said apps will get heavy exposure before launching the crowdfunding campaign — that’s where the partnership with Entrepreneur Magazine comes in handy. Campaigns will carry unique perks that are more substantive than just t-shirts (though those will also be in the mix), which should entice backers to pledge relatively large amounts of money, Rice noted.
The vast majority of apps on TrepLabs will be finished or nearly complete, so there’s virtually no risk of an app getting funded and backers not receiving their reward. Rice said TrepLabs decided to partner with Launcht for the crowdfunding portion both because of the platform’s functionality, and also because of founder Freeman White’s involvement in crowdfunding regulations. (Perhaps there’s an equity crowdfunding component on the horizon?)
TrepLabs itself won’t take an equity stake in the apps it works with; rather, it will share in the future revenue, which aligns the incubator’s incentives squarely with the app’s.
Ultimately, the goal is to give developers the highest chance of succeeding in a competitive field.
“We like to think of the app business in general as Las Vegas,” Rice said. “The developer sits down at the table, puts down his money, and from there, there’s a huge, monster casino that wins all of the time. The only way the little guy can win is by improving his odds, and getting better. So, for the two years that we work with these guys, our mission is to ensure that these entrepreneurs’ odds are improved in every single move that they make.”Read More →
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CrowdIt CEO Jason Graf, an applicant to the 2006 ‘The Apprentice’ television show, beats Donald Trump to the crowdfunding marketRead More →
Hoping To Ride The Crowdfunding Wave, Celery Lets Sellers Accept Pre-Orders, Charge When Products Ready To Ship
Airbrite, a Y Combinator-backed e-commerce startup, is debuting its first product today called Celery (its name a play on the world “sell”). Celery is designed to be a “pre-commerce” store builder – or, in other words, it allows anyone to start selling ahead of having a product to ship. That means sellers can start taking credit cards now, then charge when their product is ready to launch. And in case you couldn’t figure it out by that description, Airbrite is hoping the product will be a hit with those raising funds using crowdfunding.
In fact, says Airbrite co-founder Chris Tsai, the company has already seen some traction with crowdfunders during its private beta, which rolled out to hundreds of users this March. But, he clarifies, Celery isn’t just designed for those merchants – it’s for anyone in any business who needs to enable pre-commerce on any platform.
Tsai says the product itself was inspired by the shift the team saw happening in commerce – that sellers want to establish more personal connections with buyers, and vice versa. But to do so, they need tools that give them more flexibility. ”E-commerce is kind of like blogging was five years ago. It was really challenging to get a good CMS up without a serious backend developer, then came things like Tumblr and Blogger which made it really easy for anybody to get a blog up and running,” Tsai explains.
“It’s really hard today to get an e-commerce storefront that flexible and available anywhere,” he continues. “We want to make it easy to embed an e-commerce touchpoint wherever you are – whether it’s your website, your mobile app, on Facebook, or even on Google Glass.”
In addition to Tsai, who previously led mobile commerce initiatives for Groupon overseas, Celery’s founding team includes Brian Nguyen, whose background is in social commerce, and Peter Shih, a key developer on LinkedIn’s iPhone development team, who also worked at Foursquare. Their diversity of experience with social, commerce, and multiple platforms helps to inform their decisions as to how to proceed with Celery.
During their time in Y Combinator, the company was building its API and e-commerce platform, though originally with more emphasis on their support for mobile.
Celery is actually built on top of Stripe, which makes it similar to newly launched MoonClerk, another e-commerce startup whose focus is on one-time and recurring payments. But it also competes in the broader e-commerce space with giants like PayPal and Google, as well as startups aiming to simplify the experience including Ribbon, Chirpify, Soldsie, Sellfy, Gumroad, and more.
Stripe enables Celery’s flexible payment processing, but Celery’s platform also allows for pre-order management, pre-order customer service, tracking via analytics, plus support for coupons, emails to customers, and more – the whole checkout layer on top of payments.
The company charges a 2 percent commission on transactions, in addition to Stripe’s 2.9 percent + $0.30 payment processing fees.
In the future, Airbrite will introduce support for volume and bulk pricing for larger sellers, for pre-orders via Celery, and for general e-commerce, the company offers an open API.
Based in San Francisco, Celery’s team of five has seed funding from YC and SV Angel, but declined to disclose additional investments, only stating that it’s in a “healthy” place right now, and is not looking to raise.
Interested users can sign up for Celery here.Read More →