Crowdfunding: Pulling Back The Curtain Pt. 2

Are some crowdfunding sites a shell game?

I will gladly give you pizza in a few months for a $1 today.

I will gladly give you pizza in a few months for a $1 today.

With less than a few hours to go. My very first crowdfunding campaign has come to a finish.  As I mentioned last week in Part 1, crowdfunding is just as competitive as finding a job on the internet. Actually finding a job may be easier. You have to promote yourself, the product your selling, the sites your on, the plan, the goals, everything. It’s not like you can just post and everyone will beat down your doors to have your item. If it was that simple everyone would do it. It also doesn’t help if it’s not balanced and fair.

What’s The Shell Game…?

Some crowdfunding sites claim to have certain algorithms that are designed to keep it balanced. For instance, if you don’t maintain certain amounts by certain dates they will remove you from the listings. While this can increase exposure for those getting a lot of attention and slower product falls by the wayside, it’s not fair to those who are trying to gather speed. You’re basically racing against the clock, but the clock is rigged.  While they don’t remove you entirely from the site, they remove you out of site from the casual browser of new stuff. The only way for someone to find you is search for your name in most cases. Unless you directed that person via Twitter or Facebook your really out of luck.  I interviewed many sites who wish to remain anonymous, or off the record.

“After 4 days, a campaign must have raised at least $10.00 to be found in the browse pages. After 7 days, they must have raised at least $100.00 to be found in the browse pages, After 2 weeks, they must have raised a minimum of $500.00 to be found in the browse pages.”

This ultimately discourages many from making it to the top with some really good ideas. has this discouraged anyone? No! For a chance to get your product out in front of prospects? Are you crazy? It’s sales people! You take that chance and you jump out there with both fists and you sale, sale, sale!! It’s like the lottery, and you don’t see ticket sales drying up there do you? I think not. What is going to surpass Investor shares? Whats going to be the latest craze in finance? Tell us we want to hear!

 

Crowdfunding: Pulling Back The Curtain Pt. 1

I will gladly give you pizza in a few months for a $1 today.

I will gladly give you pizza in a few months for a $1 today.

When you think of crowdfunding you think the latest tech, garage made widgets, and concoctions that settle for the latest and greatest;  a new generation of programming of apps that can’t get funded by other traditional means of banking. Search across such sites as IndieGoGo or Kickstarter you will see a who’s who of “crapola” with many curious and ingenious gems sprinkled throughout. I came across one such account that advertises to help pay for this persons purchase of a gold mine, but then I came across another to help pay for their SEC filing, so they can help a pay vendor. The cost was $26,000 and that was the only perk and in exchange was gratefulness. Now I know how crowdfunding works, but that seems strange.

How Crowdfunding is Supposed to Work

Crowdfunding is when you get a lot of people to give a small amount and it adds up. That’s the jest of it. For example, I want to start a business and I offer you a $5 worth of product in the future for a $1 promissory note/cash now. It’s sort of the reverse of “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” Instead, “I will give you a hammer on Tuesday if you loan me a dollar today.” This concept is not new. It has been around for centuries as a way of business and trade. Some things today are still done on a handshake and a promise.

In the example of the person wanting the whole amount of $26K upfront, in one contribution, they were obviously not taking the system seriously or understanding. Most successful campaigns have certain items that people want. Not every item is sellable, and not every amount is achievable. Ask for too much and you will get the people that don’t have faith in your chances, ask for too little and you end up selling yourself too short. It’s a balance of marketing savvy, research, and a little luck. Just like going to the bank, you have a 50/50 chance of ever getting that loan. You have many chances to apply, but persistence can, and does payoff.

I recently ran my own crowdsource campaign on IndieGoGo spurred on by several college assignments that took off. I like any entrepreneur was looking for that magic donation from some eager venture capitalist or a million $1 contributions. What I did get was, I gained an enormous experience that many take years to get with creating a business from the ground up on paper. I planned for everything from service to hiring employees. I built my own marketing machine, and I contracted out what was not possible given the time of day. Built a dream team, created a business plan, Marketing Plan, Financial Plan, and massive amounts of research.  I sought quotes, pricing, real estate, tax advice, venture capital, angel funding,  traditional bank and SBA expertise, and guidance from around the world. I learned new terminology like Burn Rate, Pitch Deck, and Pre-Money Valuation. ( all 3 very important!) In 30 days. our Twitter site went from 0 to 1500 followers with over a combined 750,000 views. In just 30 days, our campaign site gathered 7000 page views, and was referred to over 1700 referrals. This concept is just getting started, and I can only imagine whats going to happen next. Stay tuned to find out.  Coming up….

Can I buy a share of your business?

The next plateau is Investment Crowdfunding. This concept is were I agree to sell you shares of my company in exchange for money. Until now this was not allowed by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). This all changed with the “The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act” or “JOBS Act” the gloves of small business were taken off and it may never be the same again.

Merry Christmas To All!

Merry ChristmasLets open the presents we have received throughout the year

What presents you ask? The presents of knowledge, love, and life. Everyday we learn something about ourselves, our friends, and our surroundings. We all expect everything to be good and/or bad, but when life surrounds us and if we really pay attention that’s when the learning process begins. Life teaches us to accept things such as gains and losses. We have lost many great people this year, both personally and socially, but while they will be missed we can still appreciate the legacy they left behind for us all to enjoy.  As we walk into the year 2014 we can only hope that a magnificent journey of great tidings exists. Look towards the positive aspects of life and make everyday the best day you’ve had so far.

Merry Christmas
Kelly Swanson

Goodbye Google?

page-cannot-be-displayedSo what would happen if Google failed? Has anyone given this any thought? Imagine a world without Google and you will see a starkly different Internet. The loss of YouTube alone would cause the lose of thousands of countless jobs, revenue, taxes for countries, and really great video like cats jumping into fish tanks and countless car chase videos. The ad revenue that is coming from those little pop-ups, insertion commercials for Tide, and the phrase “What’s in Your Wallet? from Capital One, is staggering. Who or what is causing Google to slide into oblivion? You guessed it, Apple. Now I know what you going to say, Android is ten times better than iOS. That’s not what the article is about. Its about castrating search technology. Like in that movie when the good guy is talking crap about how they cheated death and then WHAM!! that tail from the dragon swings around and spears him through the chest. Ensign Google is wearing a Red shirt on the Internet away team and doesn’t know what that means. What is causing this amazing backdoor move? a smoke screen. Exactly the technology integrated into the Safari Browsers. Apple has sold 351,345,000 phones worldwide since Q3 of 2007. That means that the population of the United States either has an iPhone, handed down an iPhone to a child or relative, sold it to someone on eBay or another auction site. Think about that for a second. The whole population of the United States. Wow. Of course these are worldwide numbers, and not everyone in the United States has a phone, but Apple has sold that many. With the number of repair shops and screen fix it sites, even Best Buy fixes glass screens and Radio Shack you can imagine the staying power of the first and latest iPhones that still exist having been fixed or never broke. Now thats not including iPads, iPad minis, iPod Touches, iMacs, MacBooks, and all the windows users that have converted to using the Safari browser to link up their favorites and bookmarks that they have on there iOS devices. The cohesive Apple Universe has grown to staggering proportions and in one technological update of iOS6, Apple threw the Ace of Spades on the proverbial poker table and called Internet autonomy. This one move is causing the lights to slowly, painfully, go out at Google. It’s so slow in fact, it’s giving others competitors with unique forms of data gathering and mining room to move in, and take some thunder away from the once almighty Google. Haters can hate, but data doesn’t lie. As a famous stats guy once said, “In god we trust, all else bring data.”

iPhones have been given a leg up in the battle for phone superiority since day one. Steve Jobs made sure the micro-footprint of the phone didn’t falter performance, or quality. Made with the best parts on the planet, strong frame, aluminum milled parts, the iPhone is considered a great looking albeit premium priced that is valued and retains that value for that matter. It’s the difference between getting a Lexus and a Nissan. Yes, Samsung makes a great phone, but it’s still plastic. The first iPhones were aluminum and ABS plastic. Plastic so strong its used underground for water pressure. Gorilla Glass that exceeds strength testing over any other glass is a mainstay. It was groundbreaking and truly something of a work of art from the minds of Jony and Jobs.

So where is Google going? Well the road signs say down. Apple has configured a way to ignore the revenue system that is at the heart of Google. The only reason Google makes a profit is people pay Google to show the world their ads. With out that revenue stream Google will lose marketshare. If anyone finds out about this, especially large advertisement firms, and companies, then the shift to mobile is clear. What if Apple used its Universe power not to tell you where to find something like Google does, but to actually show you in a way that is available right now on your phone. What would you pay for that? You’re near a restaurant, it’s 6PM, Siri arranged for reservations for your family with timers to hold spots nearby, then tells you. What would you pay for that ease? Not waiting for you to search, but it knows through patterns that you are driving home from work, the house heating warms the house, and preps the lighting for home. Oh that’s already here.

Partner traffic is going dark because Apple is blocking the revenue sharing system that allows clicks to add up. WIthout it, companies will stop investing in Google Ads. This will ripple, and without an intervention, something is going to change. This is also happening now. Brutal wars are on the horizon. Two modern Goliath’s are going to meet on the playground and it’s going to get interesting.

MBA Student For Sale -Part 1

Some translations don't always work!

Some translations don’t always work!

That title made me chuckle. It’s indicative of an MBA students life to anticipate finding a job that is lucrative and sustaining, but is that really the only purpose of an MBA? I think not. An MBA is just another tool in your curriculum vitae of life. It doesn’t just give you the key to the C-Suite, but prepares you for what you need to learn in order to work inside the C-Suite. There is a big difference there if you analyze those two statements. One, its not a master key, its a master degree. Two, you are not ready for the immediate demand that an executive may make look easy. Little do you know that that executive you envy has been knocked around, knocked down, belittled, ridiculed, and even ostracized in front of his peers, employees, and executive staff at one time or another. (Worse if your a Marketing executive) This should not dissuade you from wanting to get to the top as it is paved with many golden rules, and degrees. What an MBA can do is give you the knowledge that is lacking in corporate governance from an ethical and cultural perspective that makes great business thrive. Companies like Mars, Virgin Galactic, and Chipotle know the secret to corporate success by encouraging there staff to better educate themselves. It is still up to the MBA student to use this tool that he or she has spent countless, sleepless hours worrying and studying for.

Harvard is not the best degree in the world. I know many Harvard alums and they all say the same thing. Its Harvard! I say: Yeah, so what? Many people I spoke to in foreign governments around the world, lament about how new Ivy League students don’t have a clue about how business is done outside of America. This is true because many students are looking for a job in a major American metropolitan area, scoring that great gig at large banks and firms. They are not looking to go help a foreign start-up see if they can break into America’s market or help South Korea’s Hyundai thrive in Europe against Mercedes. It’s just not something an American MBA student thinks of. Many talented students are out there, but are not prepared for what lies ahead. Are you ready? Have your traveled to a country to work with companies before your graduated? Did you intern in China, Taiwan, Chile, Brazil, India or any of the other top growing economies in the world? If you didn’t, your not done with learning. It can affect you later on.

Many companies fail to enter foreign markets because they don’t understand the culture in those countries or they fail to partner with companies that already have significant market share there. Send someone that is not experienced to negotiate and you’re going to ruin that first impression. Stay tuned for more!

Something different…

I usually write about technology, but I felt compelled to share something I really enjoy and that is music. Anyone that knows me knows that I am infatuated with music. I collect vinyl records, by the hundreds,buying 20 at a time, when I visit some old record store. My favorite of course is Armadillo Records in Davis, CA. They always have a great selection. I just finished listening to the new Aerosmith CD titled, Music from Another Dimension, on Spotify. It is really good. It’s a mix of old and new styles with that ripping good rock-n-roll sound, Tyler and company are known for. My second favorite track on the album is called Another Last Goodbye. After so many decades of making great music, it always surprises me when an artist brings me back. They take you on a great trip through their current mind. I love listening to a CD or record, from track 1 to the end. Usually the artist arranged the songs in a particular order. It’s that artistic endeavor that I love to hear. I want to hear what the artist had in mind for me when I bought the record. They obviously wanted me to hear each song in a particular order. Usually this means listening to the good and the bad, but this CD is great from beginning to end. several good ballads and even a couple anthems are in-store for the listener. the last track, Sunny Side of Love, is about the most familiar song on the album. When you listen to it you will know what I am talking about. It’s a great tune and happens to be my favorite.

Windows 8 is just Windows…

Well with all the hoopla that Redmond would have us believe. All the hype, all the screenshots. I must admit they had me fooled. I thought my Windows was gone. Thank you Microsoft, for leaving the Window wide open!! It’s nice to be back home because the Metro

 Windows 8 System Settings

Windows 8 System Settings

(call it what you want) interface is not as productive for the buisness PC user, as it is for a Surface user. It’s certainly not as elegant a solution as OSX’s Launchpad. Microsoft should have given people a choice before forcing a default tablet interface in place of the start menu. I am sure many a CIO cursed Microsoft, but I am here to tell everyone it’s all for not. Yes, you can certainly have back the corporate desktop environment. It’s just being snarky and hidden. Behold! The goodness, pay no attention to the Window behind the mask… move along…move along…these are not the icons you are looking for! I was able to get to the desktop fairly simple because the basic mechanics of Aero’s interface from Windows 7 is still the same. You can access the programs from a start menu. You can install the same Windows enhancements such as Roboform, and browser add-ons. You can even stick your My Computer to your new Start (Metro) interface (see below).

Desktop and Start Menu without the button!

It’s interesting why they didn’t choose to replace all the underpinnings with a more secure model. All your files and command prompts are available for the buggering by viruses. It’s as secure than Windows x.x. My favorite options are adding the normal desktop options to the new Desktop Start page as seen in the screenshots. Now its not only cool that you can now customize your new Windows 8 experience, but you can still access the Control Panel, install IIS 8 maybe, access the Administrator Tools, some very wicked new tools in the Control Panel, and even the Task Manager is cooler. All in all its shaping up to be a great Friday! Take a look at some of the screenshots. To get to this interface, launch the desktop from your Start Page, Open Internet Explorer, In the address field, type C:\Windows\Explorer.exe hit enter, choose Run from the security prompt and you are back in the back office of windows. The corner hotspots still work. It’s all smoke and mirrors magic! Check out more images.

desktop-and-start-menu

Picture 1 of 7

Verizon wins for best iPhone construction…

I really need to spin this off in to its own business. I tore down an AT&T iPhone4 in about 10 minutes the other day. It was rather easy after about 5 times. I can fix any part that breaks in any iPhone. That’s pretty cool really. Inside the iPhones, for those that have never done this before, is a land of miniaturization that rivals the best computers on the planet. The design of the inside of the iPhone4 is an art form. I must admit I am impressed. I must also say that contrary to what has been written before about he differences between an AT&T iPhone4 and a Verizon iPhone4; it is indeed different. The Verizon iPhone4 is put together much better underneath the monozygotic exterior because inside it really is a dizygotic interior. The screw locations are arranged differently, more solid, and reinforced on the Verizon, and the vibration motor does not rely on the ancient “off-balance motor concept vibrator” so famously put in items such as pagers, used on remote cars, and are just smaller versions of their toothbrush and vibrator cousins. (I had to put that in there… its funny, but true.) The motherboards are different and constructed differently inside the phone. The camera is connected better, lots of tension springs to create a snug environment. The speaker has better acoustic sound ports, the circuit boards are actually braced. About twice as many screws are used in the Verizon iPhone4 as the AT&T iPhone. I have taken both of them apart to repair the glass screens, LCD’s, and replace batteries; side by side it was much easier to take apart the AT&T version, than the Verizon. So… there you have it, the Verizon iPhone4 is better built. I said it. I let the cat out of the bag! Now the glass is also different on the iPhone4 than on the 3G and 3GS, but I will save that for another posting.

New iOS app coming soon and Holiday Cheer!

We are in the process of creating a simple interactive ABC book for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch platforms. Original artwork is being created by hand which will be imported into Photoshop to create the interactive pieces for publishing with Kwiksher a very good rapid development tool for App Store apps. I am hoping for a submission to Apple by March so let’s keep our fingers crossed. If this all goes well, we are going to followup with a Russian and Spanish version.

Keeping in with this creative theme topic, the holidays are just around the corner. I would like to share with you a favorite dish we have served in our household for many decades. My late aunt Carolyn passed this little recipe on to me one Thanskgiving at her house. It’s stuffed celery but with an added item that I have never found in most dishes.

  • Several Bushels of Celery (adjust for qty)
  • 3 Boxes of Philly Creme Cheese. (make sure its Philly, it tastes better)
  • 1 half a jar of sliced Spanish Olives (with or without pimientos(love em))
  • Christopher Ranch chopped garlic, or Garlic Powder(chopped adds more crunch and flavor)
  • and the magic ingredient!! 3 tablespoons (or dollops in our family) of butter (NOT MARGARINE, YUCK!)
  • Mix all this together and spread onto your 3 inch sliced pieces of celery. Then chill for about an hour in the fridge till ready to serve to your guests.

Make plenty of these gems. They are great before, during, and days after the holiday meals. We often end up eating these from extra mixture in the fridge. The mixture will keep for several weeks sealed just like butter and cream cheese would. My aunt would love it if you made them for your family, then gave them all the recipe. It’s a tradition in our world to hand down recipes and information to our youth and fellow earthlings. I know I remember many times getting to spend wonderful moments of time with aunts and uncles. I am thankful for that time we spent. I hope everyone this holiday season can spend time with their favorite family member and build lifelong memories that you will cherish forever.

Happy Thanksgiving

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