Crowdfunding expert Kendall Almerico, CEO of crowdfunding site ClickStartMe, explained recently how utilizing the media can impact the effectiveness of a crowdfunding campaign.
“Media exposure can send a crowdfunding project into the stratosphere,” the crowdfunding guru noted. Before launch, get the names and contact information for bloggers, reporters and broadcaster who might write or talk about the project.” Almerico suggests taking this step before launch, and having a short, personalized e-mail ready to deliver shortly after launch along with a link to the project.”
SOURCE:http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/5/prweb10736037.htmRead More →
It’s been a little over a year since Google started teasing something it called “Project Glass.” The futuristic, wearable computer that would change the way that you interact with the world was nothing more than a series of rumors for months before it was “formally introduced” in April 2012. Not known for hardware and not having a current bonafide physical device that was popular among consumers, many opined that this was Google’s way of begging for attention. It might have been, and it definitely worked.
In thirteen months, Glass has gone from Star Trek fantasy to reality. It’s been quite the whirlwind of activity.
The “wearable computing” age is upon us, and it’s been widely reported that Apple was working on a watch, therefore many assumed that Google was working on a similar device to keep up. This was clearly not the case and Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin took special interest in the Glass project and has been leading the charge going back to when prototype weighed around eight pounds in August 2011.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, as a lot has happened over the past year in Glassland.
The video from Google itself got sent people’s imaginations into overdrive. It was called “One day…” and gave us a glimpse into the life of a daily user of what Google had up its sleeve. We now know that the “One day…” reference had more to do with what the product could become, not what it would be in its first iteration:
The user experience in this video is aspirational, at best, as the current iteration of Glass is more of a compliment and utility to your day, rather than the augmented reality “enhancer” as this video demonstrates. Still, the elements that make Glass handy are all there, taking calls, getting directions and taking pictures from a new point of view.
Immediately after the video, and public admonishment that the project was real, the press wondered out loud if Apple should compete and that other companies should stand up and take notice. We also now know that the rumored final name for the device, Google Eye, isn’t likely. Good thing, because it sounds way creepier than Glass. We’ll get to more “creepiness” later.
It was clear that Glass was getting a lot of attention, both positive and negative, from the start. Even Jon Stewart did a parody about them.
OK, now they’re really real(ish)
Before Google’s I/O developer conference in 2012, Sergey Brin started showing Glass off to folks like Gavin Newsom. This is the first time that we found out that Glass had a trackpad that would let you scroll through its UI, even though we didn’t know what that UI looked like yet.
Even Google CEO Larry Page got into the act, wearing his pair at the Google Zeitgeist event in London. Was Page making important company decisions without us knowing, using his futuristic eyewear? Probably not, but it was cool to think about.
Holy crap, they’re really really real(ish)
At Google I/O 2012, developers sat in the Moscone Center not knowing what to expect from the company that has been using its advertising business to fund all types of cool projects. After all, who would have thought that a search and advertising company could actually pull off something like Gmail? Or a web browser? And now a driving car? A pair of glasses? Crazy talk. Well, on June 27th, 2012, Google fed into that crazy talk with…a crazy stunt.
The man at the helm of Google X and Project Glass, Sergey Brin, pulled off a stunt so memorable, that many of us in attendance still don’t fully understand what we saw.
After that, a bunch of people hopped onto bikes and drove into the keynote auditorium. The audience looked at one another, as if to say, “Did this just really happen?”
It was indeed Google’s “Apple moment.”
After Brin took the stage, we were left to wonder if he would then go into full Oprah mode and tell us all to check under our seats for a pair of Glass that would be our very own. Nope. At I/O 2012, the “Glass Explorer Program” was announced, and the first 2,000 attendees that wanted to pledge to pay $1,500 for the opportunity to develop apps for the Glass platform, could.
There was no date given for when the device would be shipped, but nobody cared. These things were real(er). Think about it, developers signed up to pay $1,500 for a device that they had never even touched. I was one of them, and even I felt silly. There was something about the cadence that Google had been marching to up to I/O that year that felt right.
Bloggers got to try Glass on for a few seconds, but didn’t get to do anything with them. The hypefest was on. Our founder, Michael Arrington, had a fun, and grounded, thought after the announcement:
“I can imagine in a couple of years we’ll all be wearing these at events. Then a couple of years after that maybe we’ll look back and think we all looked like idiots.”
After I/O, Google started communicating with its Glass “Explorers” about all of the device happens, introducing its skunkworks team along the way. Those who joined the program at the conference would get to participate in Hangouts, attend conferences and get exclusive news on Glass. In retrospect, Google set itself up for people to start making fun of those clamoring for the device, whom are affectionately/unaffectionately referred to as “Glassholes.” You see, whenever something is only available to a select group of people, those not inside of that group tend to lash out a bit. Sure, there are those who think that Glass will never amount to anything, but those on the fence had no choice but to attack. It’s kind of like high-school.
As the months went on, the press flirted with Glass, as more and more Googlers starting wearing them on campus. Stories about Microsoft’s “Glass” plans and a reminder of Apple’s wearable tech patents were peppered in, too.
OK, Glass. You’re real.
In April, a group of heavyweights in Silicon Valley announced a partnership called “The Glass Collective.” Developers who wanted to build things for Glass, without ads or any means to make actual money, could visit either Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz or Kleiner Perkins, and if their project was interesting enough, they could get funding from all three.
It was at that event that Google Glass team member, Steve Lee, let it slip that developers would soon be receiving invitations to pick their pair of Glass up from Mountain View, Los Angeles or New York City. They could have them shipped, but that’s no fun. Glass was officially real.
In just a few days after that Collective event, the first pairs of Glass for developers were coming off of the production line, the Mirror API guidelines were posted, its companion app for Android was released and full specs were released for the first time.
This “moonshot” that Google had been cooking up in its super-secret X Labs were going to see the light of day, outside of Google’s campus’. People just then started to realize that certain folks would be meandering around town with cameras on their face, and focused solely on how the device would affect them…the ones not wearing the device. The ones not in the “club.” A quick search for the term “Google Glass privacy” shows the same story written by hundreds of reporters, most of them never having worn the device.
I was able to pick up my pair of Glass on April 17th, and it’s interesting to see what the device really is in its current state, as opposed to what we saw in the video released last year. We did a “day in the life” video, showing what I was seeing on the display:
While it’s not as “pretty” as Google’s first teaser video, the elements are all there. In its current state, Glass is a utility that allows you to do some of the things that your smartphone does now. The difference with Glass is that you can do these things hands-free, quicker than before and in a less socially disrupting way.
What’s next for Glass?
For a period of time, we’ll see the same types of stories about how creepy Glass is. At this year’s I/O, none of Google’s executives wore the device on stage or while walking around the Moscone Center. It was its way of turning the “lens” onto developers and saying “It’s time to make this yours.” Still, we heard about people wearing Glass in the bathroom, as if to remind us that not everyone is ready to feed into the hype of the device.
It’s hard to argue with the point that the Glass platform is the most interesting one for developers to iterate upon since Apple’s introduction of the App Store. For the first time in years, these developers are getting a chance to re-imagine their existing services, or build new ones, for a brand new device. Glass isn’t perfect, and will only be as good as the apps that are developed for it.
During this year’s I/O, Twitter, Facebook and a slew of others announced their own Glass apps. The Facebook app is great, while the Twitter app will need more work. As I’ve continued to wear the device while I’m not at the computer, I’m finding myself trying to get away from all of the crazy and unnecessary notifications that I get on my phone and desktop. The Twitter app, for example, sends me mobile updates that I’ve subscribed to, @ replies and direct messages. This simply won’t fly, and Glass users are going to need more granular controls for what pops up on their display. It’s early though, and these are good learning experiences.
No matter what you think about Glass, you have to admit that the past year has been a good one for Google and its fancy, futuristic device. From a secret pet-project to developer-only playground, it will be fascinating to see what happens next in Glassland. There’s no telling when the device will be available for everyday consumers, but I can guarantee that it won’t be until developers have had ample time to explore the possibilities. I do know one thing: If you’re really worried about being spied on by someone wearing Glass, don’t be. You’re not that interesting.Read More →
The Devotec Fuel Micro Charger is the smallest emergency phone charger, and its 220 milliAmp hour battery is designed to give you around 20-30 min extra talk time, or up to a few hours more standby, depending on how you use your cell phone.Perfect for when you have had an unexpected delay, or haven’t been able to fully charge your phone, and you need to make a few calls, send a work email or use your GPS and maps function to find your way home.’Fuel’ is an emergency back-up solution-rechargeable and able to keep charge for at least 1 month.Read More →
Google’s underwater Street View launched last September, but Google’s Ocean program actually began six years ago, when one of the founders of Keyhole (which, after being acquired by Google, later became Google Earth), was inspired to also look into mapping the ocean. For several years now Google has been mapping the oceans, but bringing Street View underwater is still very challenging.
“Our goal is to really make all of our maps data more comprehensive by adding more ocean data. We want to take you from your home to the turtle’s home,” Google’s Jennifer Austin Foulkes said. So far, Google has launched this for six locations, including Oahu, Maui and locations around the Great Barrier Reef.
Because there is a strong scientific component to this project, the team set up a strict protocol for taking this imagery. Richard Vevers, director of the Catlin Seaview Survey – Google’s partner in this project – said that the cameras his team uses for this project are very different from those used by Google’s other Street View vehicles. The team had to use wider-angle lenses, for example. Google’s underwater Street View camera has three cameras on its front and takes images every three seconds. One of the cameras points downward, because that’s how images during reef surveys have traditionally been taken. The back of the scooter features a tablet that can control the cameras.
During a typical dive, the divers cover about 2km and take 3,000 to 4,000 images per camera, and the team does three dives per day, each of which lasts about an hour. In total, the team has taken about 150,000 images so far, and Vevers expects this number to grow exponentially over the next few months. In the long run, the team hopes to create diver-less systems that can stay underwater for 12 hours or more. The technology is already available, but it needs to be adapted to the kind of camera system needed for Street View.
In addition to the usual cameras, the team is also testing stereo cameras to create 3D imagery and has recently experimented with doing underwater Hangouts and using Photo Spheres to engage the public.
Every camera system costs about $50,000, and four of them are currently in existence, though two of them haven’t been in the water yet.
To get this underwater data into Street View, Vevers used Google’s standard Business Photos tool. The actual location of the images, by the way, is triangulated. The images, it’s worth noting, are also freely available for scientists.
The team is focusing on the Americas right now, but plans to bring underwater Street View to all of the world’s oceans over the next three years (that’s obviously just a few locations – not all of the oceans…). Another focus for the team is getting more developers involved – both for crowdsourcing data and for developing better reef-recognition algorithms. The existing algorithms can only interpret images from a downward-facing camera, but the team is hoping to create tools for working with all of the data the cameras generate.
Given the threats to the ocean, there is obviously a serious side to this project, something Vevers noted during his talk. Street View, he argues, is an important tool to inform the public about the threats that the ocean’s face today. “People don’t want to protect anything they can’t see,” he said. Most people don’t dive, but there’s no reason why we can’t take them diving virtually. There is no point in doing science, Vevers argues, if it doesn’t get out to the public and policy makers.Read More →
Editor’s note: Ross Rubin is principal analyst at Reticle Research and blogs at Techspressive. Each column looks at crowdfunded products that have either met or missed their funding goals. Follow him on Twitter @rossrubin.
These days, it seems that anything that whiffs of the traditional PC has all the market appeal of a month-old banana. Microsoft and its hardware cohorts are trying to fight back against the image of the staid tower and notebook with touch-enabled, all-in-one computers, clickety-covered tablets and convertible notebooks that twist like a contortionist. With no stake in Windows to protect, though, device crowdfunders have taken a different tack, pushing Android and other mobile OSes into alien configurations. While a bit of old hat for tiny game consoles from OUYA and GameStick, the game is now on for more general computing tasks.
Backed: MiiPC ZeroDesktop is a more established business than your typical solo entrepreneur sailing off into crowdfunding waters. But its experience with cloud services, as well as remote access lend differentiation to MiiPC, an overgrown milk pint of an Android computer that features extensive controls for the pre-tween to tween in your household and a green under-light for no good reason except it looks kind of cool. MiiPC will feature a companion app that lets ever-watchful parents and guardians control access to apps like a boss regardless of the theme-song message of Malcolm in the Middle.
The MiiPC project wrapped up this week more than tripling its $50,000 goal for the mini-desktop that backers could scoop up for $99. As the device uses a similar chipset to the one in present-day Google TV boxes, the company is going to turn its interns onto it this summer to see what kind of alternative uses can be found for a small, albeit plug-tethered, Android device.
Whacked: Aurus Dual-Screen Tablet PC. What madness is this? A mobile device with not one but two displays? The unthinkable has been thought of with Windows PCs by Toshiba and Acer and an Android device by Sony. All failed in part because the underlying operating systems are not optimized for doing things like, say, putting a keyboard or game controls on one screen with the display of an email client or game on the other. The campaign page acknowledges the issue, asking, “Need some dual screen apps?,” assuring backers that they are developing some. Sony, for its part, said it was working with third-party developers. But, again, good luck with that without Google throwing its full weight behind multi-screen devices.
Backers could have nabbed the double-barrell Android tablet starting at €399, but it passed few consumers’ screenings. The project racked up little more than 1 percent of its lofty €200,000 goal.
Backed: CoolShip. It wasn’t quite the level of integration we see in today’s all-in-one computers like the iMac, but some of the earliest PCs had no separate tower enclosure, integrating the processor and memory into the same casing as the keyboard. Perhaps the slickest examples of these early designs were from Commodore, which used them in the rotund and popular Commodore 64 and VIC-20. Indeed, that brand and its tell-tale industrial design has been trotted out for pricey Windows-ready x86 PCs designed into cases appealing to the nostalgic.
The Android-touting CoolShip, on the other hand, is not only cheap at $99, but even upgradeable so you can swap in new, more powerful processors as they become available. The flexibility should also help address another issue with computers integrated into keyboards: death by spilled beverage. CoolShip sailed by its campaign goal of $10,000, nearly doubling that amount, and is expected to start shipping to backers this month.Read More →
Congress is on track to passing a nationwide Internet retail sales tax, but it has serious flaws that could majorly muck up the e-commerce industry. We think citizens are often smarter than the government, and we want to give you a chance to make the bill better before it becomes law. So, we’ve teamed up with Congressman Darrell Issa’s Open Government Foundation, which designed a platform for making line-by-line suggestions to proposed laws. In TechCrunch’s version of the “Project Madison” crowdsourcing legislative platform, our readers can add, delete, and amend specific passages in the upcoming tax law.
Suggestions that are voted up by our community will get the most attention of Congressional staffers (which we know are watching our platform). It’s been claimed that the Internet is “democratizing” the world; well, here’s our chance to prove it.
Senate Bill S.743, the “Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013,” passed the Senate with overwhelming support and is on to the House of Representatives. But, it won’t be passed for at least a month, so we have some time to bubble up the best ideas from our community of readers.
As we promised when we first launched our new civics channel, Crunchgov, TechCrunch would source and promote the most insightful ideas from the technology community. A proactive approach to improving law is just the next logical step for how we can support the amazing work you all do.
Go to http://madison.techcrunch.com/ and get your citizen on. Encourage your friends, ping your local expert, and share this opportunity loudly. If we make an impact on the bill, it’ll a watershed moment in American democracy. Go forth!Read More →
Open Compute will develop a specification and a reference box for an open networking switch and will do so from the ground up in the fashion of open-source software efforts, such as those developed by the Apache Foundation.
The OS-agnostic, top-of-rack switch will be the first developed as an open-source project with the spec developed by the Open Compute community.
“Closesd switches are still the primary way things work,” said Frank Frankovsky in an interview this week. Frankovsky is a Facebook vice president in hardware design and supply operations who plays a focal role at Open Compute. “…Networking has always had a black box nature to it. You give it a packet and it gives it back on the other end.”
According to a blog post by Frankovsky, Najam Ahmad, who runs the network engineering team at Facebook, will lead the networking project. The Open Networking Foundation and OpenDaylight group will participate with Broadcomm, Intel, VMware, and Cumulus Networks. Work on the project will begin at the first OCP Engineering Summit, being held at MIT on May 16.
The networking specs will most likely be stripped down, compared to proprietary switches. “Scale is the hardest problem to solve,” Frankovsky said. “Simplicity allows us to trouble shoot faster.”
The network switch will be designed to be independent of the software that runs on top of it. That means customers can configure the technology in the manner that is appropriate for their purposes. The hope is that this “disaggregated,” switch will allow for a faster pace of innovation. Frankovsky said that Facebook has found networking to be a bottleneck. The proprietary switches are not built for scale. More so they are meant for small clusters. Additionally, changes do not happen fast enough in the switches the network vendors offer. Requests go to the vendor who then prioritizes additions in the new version.
There have been open-source hardware projects such as Raspberry Pi but none at the data center level. The need for open-source is precipitated by the surging growth of the Internet, which is forcing companies to process ever larger stores of data.
There are some companies not on the list of participants in the project. Dell, HP and Cisco are noticeably not present. My guess is we can expect to see some of those vendors joining in this open-source effort, especially as demand increases for infrastructure that is not locked down in proprietary fashion but is rather more plug and play.Read More →
Editor’s Note: The following guest post comes to us from Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games. Stegmaier offers some valuable thoughts on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign. For more tips, check out our interviews with crowdfunding consultants Lucas McNelly and Rose Spinelli.
My name is Jamey Stegmaier, and I’m the owner of a board game startup called Stonemaier Games. I launched and successful funded our first game, Viticulture, on Kickstarter in the fall of 2012. Since then, while designing other games and coordinating the manufacturing and distribution logistics for Viticulture, I’ve written a series of Kickstarter Lessons so that other project creators can benefit from what I learned from running a Kickstarter project, backing many other projects, and researching what works and doesn’t work.
Today I’m going to share 12 specific insights about running a successful Kickstarter campaign, broken down into three chronological sections.
- Back Other Projects. Even if it’s just for $1. Back mostly projects similar to yours, but branch out to a few others as well. Backing a project subscribes you to the e-mail updates for that project, so you can see what type and frequency of updates engage you opposed to disengaging you.
- Have Professionals Create Some Art and Design. The look of your project is really important. Some projects begin with complete art and design, but all you really need is enough to show backers what the full art and design will look like. This applies to the concept as well as the project page. Pay for the art and design. Your friend who knows Microsoft Paint really well and is willing to do it for free will hurt the project in the long run, not help it.
- Connect with Bloggers. Your project will not be funded if you rely solely on friends, family, and the “magic” of Kickstarter. You need strangers to find your project from other websites, and blogs are the best option. However, do not wait until you need blogger support to reach out to bloggers. Instead, start connecting to bloggers today. Subscribe to a lot of blogs in fields related to your project and comment on a semi-regular basis. Don’t make your comments about you. Just be a part of the conversation.
- Create Appealing Reward Levels. Kickstarter is not a charity, nor are you. Give your backers something of value at a price that matches that value. Ask yourself, “Would I pay $X for this?” If the answer is, “No, but people will support me by overpaying,” then you just made yourself a charity instead of a creator. Also, make your rewards relevant to the project—give backers a piece of the experience or product you’re creating. Don’t offer a t-shirt as a reward level unless your project is about making t-shirts. People are not actively seeking more t-shirts with random brands plastered on them.
- Designate a Lot of Time for Kickstarter. If you run an effective Kickstarter campaign, it will take upwards of 40 hours a week, easily. Strategically, take days off from your job, especially launch day and the final two days of the project. Clear your schedule so that all of your free time can be devoted to Kickstarter. Make sure to come up for air and bathroom breaks every now and then, but your priority for that month or so is to create the best experience for your backers.
- Interact with Backers. Your backers are the greatest asset you have. Connect with them as often as possible in comments, updates, and messages on Kickstarter, and give them a forum (Facebook and/or blog) to interact with them off of Kickstarter as well. Treat their ideas with respect—the fact that they’re giving you feedback means that they care.
- Create Stretch Goals. Projects reach their funding goal for a variety of reasons, but the number one reason they overfund is stretch goals. Stretch goals make every version of your product better for the backers, so it gives them a very compelling reason to continue to share and promote your project after it’s funded. Stay flexible with your stretch goals throughout the project and use them as little ways to nudge your backers to share it. Instead of sending out a backer update that says, “Hey! Share my project!”, send an update that says, “If we raise $2,000 more and reach $10,000 overall, I’ll add a new special thing to every copy of the product.” That’s compelling. Just make sure you calculate your costs in advance.
- Share Your Project with Grace and Passion. You know that friend of yours who posted the same link to his Kickstarter project twice a day for the last month? Remember how you removed him from your Facebook feed? Don’t be that guy. You can share your project, but do it in ways that add value to other people’s day. Be funny, insightful, passionate, and appreciative.
- Be Honest and Transparent. No matter how well organized and prepared you are, you’re going to run into at least a few issues after your Kickstarter project. Something you had counted on will fall through. And that’s okay. Really. You’ll figure it out. The key is not to withhold that information from your backers. Tell them what you’re learning as you’re learning it, and tell them your solution. Don’t wait for backers to come to you to ask how things are going.
- Deliver on Your Promises. The common perception among repeat Kickstarter backers is that they expect for projects to be delivered late. Think about that for a second. It has become such a common practice for Kickstarter creators to deliver late that it is widely excused. That means that you can exceed expectations simply by delivering on time! In the meantime, make sure to deliver on the other promises you made, especially in terms of quality. Don’t cut corners.
- Shipping. Shipping is the detriment of many Kickstarter projects. There are better ways to spend your time than hand-packing and labeling 500 widgets. Let a fulfillment company do that for you—some can actually do it more cost-effectively than you can because they get bulk shipping and packing rates (do not forget about the cost of packaging if you insist up on shipping yourself). Also, make sure that you know the cost of international shipping up front. Charge the true cost to international backers—you don’t want to bankrupt yourself on shipping.
- Give Back. You are going to learn SO much by running your Kickstarter campaign, creating your rewards, and getting them to your backers. Share that knowledge with the world. One of the best ways you can continue to build a community after your project is over is to create a conversation around the insights you now have.
To dig deeper into these tips and to see many more, check out the 30+ Kickstarter Lessons on our blog. Good luck with your project!Read More →
CrowdfunderCoop.com, Inc. is both a funding site and a crowdfunding consultancy. We provide our project clients with a complete marketing based program from organization, design, production and launch. Our focus is on small business projects from start-up to business expansion. We operate in and around the Charlotte, NC area where we are actively engaged in building an active base of “funders” to support local businesses and help improve our economy.Read More →