Tag Archives: crowdfunding

PucaTrade Launches IndieGoGo Campaign for New Features

2 Mar PucaTrade

If you remember I love Magic: the Gathering, you may remember the last time I wrote about PucaTrade, the crowdsourcing-powered website for trading Magic cards.

PucaTrade

I’m back today to announce the launch of PucaTrade’s second IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign to add new features to the site. The campaign, which launches on March 2nd and runs for 30 days, will raise money for five upcoming features:

  • A mobile version of the PucaTrade website
  • The ability to trade non-English cards
  • The ability to trade digital Magic: the Gathering Online cards for real-life paper ones, and vice-versa
  • The ability to trade cards of any condition, not just mint/near-mint
  • Support for trading more than one of the same card at a time

Some of these features represent truly unique services, in particular the ability to trade between Magic Online and real-life Magic cards. Currently, a simple way to do this just does not exist. “The reality is that no one is really excited about how MTGO currently handles trading,” says Eric Freytag, PucaTrade’s founder. “We’re really offering something that nobody has seen before: the elegance you’ve come to expect from the PucaTrade experience combined with the MTGO ecosystem.” Personally, I think it could be a great way to help more players get their hands on older cards, many of whose digital versions are affordable but paper forms require a second mortgage.

The idea of support for foreign-language cards is also exciting. Freytag is very enthusiastic about it, calling the opportunity for PucaTrade to go global “a huge deal. In America, we tend to think of non-English cards as unique oddities that are fun to collect, but for a huge percentage of Magic players worldwide, ‘non-English cards’ are just ‘Magic cards.’” He’s absolutely right, and increasing PucaTrade’s potential user base by this much will be an enormous boon for the site’s popularity.

I was initially a little skeptical of the ability to trade cards of any condition. A staple of any good crowdsourcing system is its ability to compartmentalize a project into small tasks that are easily managed by an individual with little to no oversight. Asking your average Magic player to be able to accurately grade their cards’ quality seems like a tall order, but Freytag has confidence in his user base: “Mostly we plan on going really deep on our condition guide, to leave little question about what the card is worth.” He goes on to say that PucaTrade will also add features to upload photos of cards and transfer “PucaPoints” mid-trade, giving traders the tools needed to solve many disputes by themselves.

With Freytag behind the wheel, a user base more than 45,000 strong, and almost half a million dollars’ worth of trades completed each month, PucaTrade looks like it’s on track to knock this campaign out of the park. Adding these features will add a ton of flexibility in terms of how users dictate their trades and help cement PucaTrade as the #1 place to trade cards easily and profitably. If you’d like to donate to the campaign, swing on over to the IndieGoGo page and show your support!

“Crowdsourcing For Dummies” Released

29 May

Image © 2013 Daily Crowdsource

The title says it all. With the release of “Crowdsourcing For Dummies”, crowdsourcing now has its own entry in the popular “for dummies” series. Add this to the fact that crowdfunding is now enough of “a thing” to be parodied, and I’d say that crowdsourcing has officially and finally landed in the public eye. About time!

Daily Crowdsource is on the scene with details about the instructional book:

Over the past year, Daily Crowdsource writer, Crowd Leader, author, Professor, Crowdopolis speaker, & IEEE Computer Society President, David Alan Grier, has been compiling his knowledge in his latest publication, Crowdsourcing For Dummies. It’s a plain-English guide to help you understand crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, & open innovation.

I’m excited about this release because I’ve been communicating with Grier throughout the writing cycle & know he’s put a lot of time into it. Here’s what his latest book will teach you:

  • Plan and launch your crowdsourcing project
  • Find the right platform for your needs
  • Promote your project and attract the right audience
  • Manage and motivate your crowd to get the best results

David Allen Grier is a leader in the field and highly influential when it comes to the topic of crowdsourcing, so the fact that he’s the driving force behind this book makes me very confident about the accuracy of the information contained within. I’m undoubtedly going to pick up a copy as soon as I get my next paycheck. If you’re a fan of this blog, consider the same.

Nintendo Pokes Fun At Crowdfunding With Wario’s “Crowdfarter”

22 May
Image © 2013 Nintendo

Image © 2013 Nintendo

Ask any musician that’s been parodied by Weird Al Yankovic, and they’ll tell you: you’ve only truly made it when someone parodies you. Which is why I’m thrilled to death that crowdfunding is such a big deal that videogame giant Nintendo has lampooned it to sell their new Wii U game, Game & Wario.

Crowdfunding was popularized by sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo that present underfunded projects for people to throw money at if they want to see them completed. Nintendo’s parody, the maturely-named “Crowdfarter”, copies elements from the source material in a manner that shows that Nintendo isn’t just trying to cash in on a buzzword. They’ve made a conscious effort here to find the funniest and most ripe-for-parody elements of crowdfunding sites, and to represent them through their “lazy greedy corporate slob” character, Mario’s unscrupulous brother Wario.

Wario is a great fit for this parody; he wants to cash in on the new Wii U system, so he needs a game to do it. But of course, he doesn’t want to pay his own money to make the game, and that’s where we come in. Through Facebook “Likes” and Twitter shares, Wario will “fund” his game and spread awareness at the same time.

Nintendo went to notable lengths to rip on crowdfunding as lovingly as possible. All the elements that make crowdfunding unique are here: we’ve got the poorly-produced introduction video, the lofty and over-hyped funding goal rewards, the updates from Wario where he professes that his project will be “the best Wii U game ever”, and the less-than-subtle indication that the entire thing is less about the final product and more of a huge cash grab.

This parody would feel disingenuous if done poorly, but Wario’s characterization is absolutely perfect for this campaign. He’s unarguably the type of character who would see a system like crowdfunding and immediately attempt to game it for his own self-interested and lazy purposes. Wario might have even inadvertently touched on a deeper crowdsourcing issue with one off-the-cuff line: “Why should I pay for everything when other people will do it for me?” The best parodies always contain a kernel of truth.

Well done, Nintendo. I don’t own a Wii U so I probably won’t buy Game & Wario, but this is a marketing home run.  Check out the parody site here, and throw Wario a Tweet or a Like if you’re so inclined. Goodness knows his lazy ass could use the help.

Crowdfunding Crash Course: How To Make Your Campaign A Successful One

6 Feb

Marguerite Caruana Galizia - CrowdfundingI used to have a sort of embargo against articles about crowdfunding. It wasn’t that I didn’t see a place for it, or thought it was an illegitimate way to make money; I just thought that there wasn’t really any depth to the topic worth talking about.

But, times change, and a few articles later, I find that crowdfunding has really come into its own as a subject worth introducing to my readers. To that end, I was thrilled when I discovered that a dancing blog, of all places, had written up an excellent guide on how someone with no knowledge of crowdfunding could set up a project and get their dreams funded. Below, you will find my summary of the guide’s sticking points, originally compiled by Marguerite Galizia and presented on her personal blog.

What is Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a way to get your projects, personal campaigns, and product ideas funded without going to a wealthy backer or company with deep pockets, and anyone with a dream and a video camera can do it.

Through sites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and GoFundMe, users can create “project pages” where they show their idea to the world. These pages typically consist of a video, showing off the idea and its creator, and a written statement that goes into a little more detail. They specify their goal, or how much money they need to fully find their project, and a time frame for completion. The public views these entries, and donates money to those that they wish to see carried through. They are rewarded for donating certain amounts with a gift from the project creator, usually some sort of token of esteem or similar “thank you”. Depending on the site this project is posted on, the creator may get to keep all the money they’ve been given, or may only get paid if their project reaches its goal amount.

Step 1: Choosing Your Platform

When starting your campaign, the first thing to decide is where to host it. There are a multitude of crowdfunding sites available, and more keep popping up every day, so this is not a decision to be taken lightly. When choosing a site, one should consider factors such as the fees involved, the site’s level of professionalism, the countries the platform caters to, and which types of projects the site has made successful in the past.

Galizia’s article goes into more detail on things like the fee structures of these sites, if you’re curious, but the important thing to remember is to find a site that looks like a good fit for whatever type of project you’re doing. If you’re trying to start an art school, sites that fund scientific discoveries probably won’t do you much good. Similarly, if the site you’re using isn’t doesn’t provide service to your country, you’ll likely find it impossible to get any funding at all.

Step 2: Make Your Pitch

Arguably the most important step! Your pitch will introduce your idea to the world, and more importantly, it will introduce you to your potential donors. The strength of your pitch can make or break a campaign, so it’s important to make sure there are a few things you absolutely don’t miss. First among those is to have a clearly defined goal; your aim should be a finished, tangible thing that other people can use or consume. This can be a finished product, a book or movie, or even an entire company, but few people will fork over their money for the promise of things to come. Have something to show for your campaign when it’s over.

Also important to include in your pitch is some personal background on your project and yourself. Nothing opens wallets faster than when someone feels personally involved in your project, so start by making them personally involved in you! Explain your passion in a way that is simple and genuine, and emphasize that your donors are investing not only in the finished project, but in your own future. If they fund this project, who knows what else they’ll see from you someday!

Finally, choose your rewards carefully. For some donors, the rewards provide a large portion of their incentive to help, so make it worth their while. This doesn’t mean pull out all the stops, of course; your budget is obviously limited if you’re crowdfunding in the first place! But it does mean to cater your rewards to your audience. Galizia emphasizes that you should offer “bragging rights” rewards over “involvement” rewards. What this means is that people want to show off that they helped the project, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be a direct part of it. Put their name in the credits, or send them a prop from your movie, or a signed picture from the people involved, but don’t ask them to, for example, put their lives on hold to appear in a cameo role.

Step 3: Promote, Promote, Promote!

If you’ve got your pitch all set up, your final step is to get that page in front of as many eyes as humanly possible before your campaign ends. For someone who doesn’t have extensive experience in promotion, where to begin could be a bit of a mystery, but rule of thumb says to start with people you know. Friends and family are already invested in your future, and early donations from them will appear on your page and help your project gain traction.

Standard print materials can also be a good bet. Having a physical flyer or card to hand to your personal contacts could encourage them to tell someone else about it, with the added bonus that they don’t have to memorize the project’s details. Posters could also be a good bet, especially if they are displayed in areas where people likely to support your project gather. And there’s always real-world newspapers, which may be interested in running a story or advertisement calling attention to your campaign. Besides, senior citizens read newspapers, and they’ve got that retirement money.

Naturally, there is also the Internet and social media, which are as always fantastic channels for spreading the word. Facebook and Twitter blasts will make sure your followers are aware of what you’re doing, and that they can in turn tell their friends about it. You can also locate online communities, forums, and blogs that may be interested in your project, and make posts on their sites promoting your idea. You could even start your own blog about the project, which has the dual benefit of providing publicity and keeping your donors abreast of current project developments.

Go Forth and Get Funded!

If ideas are the only currency you trade in (out of necessity), crowdfunding is a great way to get your name out there, promote your dreams, and have a ready-made fanbase when your project comes to fruition. I’d like to thank Marguerite Galizia for putting together a great guide on the subject, which again, you should view in its original form if you’d like more information on any part of this guide.

Until next time, may the crowd be ever in your favor!

 

Casey Armstrong: Saving The World, Going Open-Source, Turning People Into Robots

23 Jan

Casey Armstrong, VineStove founderCasey Armstrong has been a busy man. Formerly the content director at Daily Crowdsource, Armstrong has recently founded his own company, VineStove. A crowd labor/ microtasking site at heart, VineStove’s general essence is similar to that of Amazon Mechanical Turk, ShortTask, or Fiverr. People post jobs or tasks for others to carry out, and pay them a small amount for doing so. These are tasks that can typically be completed in the ballpark of five minutes; example tasks on VineStove’s homepage include photoshopping an image or researching payment plans.

The thing that sets VineStove apart from those sites, however, is the fact that all the work is done on a strictly volunteer basis. Payment is still rendered, but instead of going to the person doing the work, it’s donated to a charity or nonprofit organization of the worker’s choice. And according to Armstrong, the companies are “doing some pretty cool things. I just added the SENS Foundation, for example; they work on longevity research. Channeling money to them means we all get to live a little longer!”

Casey’s Gift To The World

There’s another layer to Armstrong’s world-saving scheme. In addition to providing labor and funding for these foundations, he intends to eventually make VineStove open-source, allowing anyone with adequate interest to have access to the entirety of code he uses to run his site.

“The end game for me is really the open-source project,” Armstrong affirms. “I want to see microtasking get big and mature faster. I am addicted to sites like mTurk and Quora,  and microvolunteering sites like Sparked; I want microtasking to become a part of everything, really.”

He sees the open-source release of VineStove to be an important step in the process. “It might seem like a gutsy move, but I firmly believe that a crowdsourcing platform is about what you put into it, and not its clever construction or web development. I had struggled to build a microtasking site for years. It took me a lot of effort to learn web development, research my options, and plan it all out… I wish VineStove could have gone up in three clicks years ago.”

By releasing VineStove’s source code to the public, Armstrong’s intention is that anyone with a reasonable amount of dedication will be able to build a platform to serve their purposes, with minimal technical knowledge required. Like a true altruist, he hopes to render the hardships that he himself encountered in building his platform obsolete.

Right, But What’s This About Turning Folks Into Robots?

Getting a site ready to go open-source isn’t an easy task. It takes money, and for a small team like Armstrong’s, a certain amount of extra hands. And oddly enough, the solution to those problems can be found in the form of a crowdfunded robotic intern.VineStove campaign

I discussed crowdfunding a little bit last week; it’s the process of soliciting funding for a project from good-hearted denizens of the Internet instead of trying to get a big corporation or fatcat to bankroll the whole thing. Armstrong’s current project on RocketHub intends to do just that, providing the capital to make VineStove open-source through donations by people like you and me.

The robotic intern is the reward. Donate at least $5, and you’ll earn the ability to join Armstrong in his team on the project by piloting the robot as a proxy. You’ll be able to freely move around the VineStove office, interact with the staff, help out with the website, or even just drive the thing into Casey’s foot for half an hour (if that’s your thing).

While the ability for VineStove to get a different intern with a different skill set each day is one that will undoubtedly add some flexibility to Armstrong’s team, he also states that the project has an aspect of novelty as well. “The robot idea is mostly just fun. I don’t know where it will lead. However, I’m a believer in the internet spilling out into the real world, and I think we’re going to see more internet controlled robots in the future,” Armstrong says. He went on to reference similar projects in the past, particularly one in which mTurk allowed people to remotely control a robotic arm to perform common household tasks.

Become a Member of Team Armstrong

If any bit of this sounds appealing to you, know that there is more than ample opportunity for you to join in and help Casey save the world. With a little more than two weeks left in the funding campaign, there’s plenty of time to donate and help bring microtasking to the masses. If you’ve got a unique set of skills, you can put them to work by signing up to be one of the robotic interns, or just using VineStove itself to do some good-old charity work; all you need is a Facebook registration.

Whether you want to live forever, build your own thriving online community, or just mess around with a robot for a few hours, Casey Armstrong has you covered, and the world is better off because of it.

CrowdsUnite Is Your One-Stop Shop for Crowdfunding

16 Jan

CrowdsUnite

Attention entrepreneurs! CrowdsUnite has emerged as a deadly useful new service, making its way onto the scene with the intention of connecting you with the perfect platform for crowdfunding your dream business, product or artistic endeavor.

What is crowdfunding, you may ask? A fair question; it’s a topic I’ve only addressed a couple times on this blog. Crowdfunding is a specific type of crowdsourcing that aims to change the way that large projects receive funding. Instead of the people behind these projects appealing to an official board or a wealthy corporation for their startup money, they turn the challenge to the “crowd”.

Crowdfunding sites typically consist of a large collection of project plans, and allow individuals browsing the site to donate money to projects they wish to see carried out. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two of the most popular of these brand of sites; Kickstarter users alone pledged over $319 million in 2012.

In addition, users typically receive some sort of compensation in exchange for their donation to up-and-coming projects. Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects offer prizes to donors depending on how much money they chip in; the looser your purse-strings, the greater the reward. Other sites offer a return on your investment once the project takes off, and still others even offer equity, allowing you to share in your project’s success.

CrowdsUnite aims to become the main compendium of crowdfunding sites. “What Amazon did for retail, we want to do for the crowdfunding industry,” says Alex Feldman, the CEO and founder of CrowdsUnite. Since many crowdfunding platforms are specifically geared towards certain types of projects, and since more of them keep popping up every day, a single place where they are all collected, sorted, and categorized is extremely useful. In the future, Feldman says he hopes that CrowdsUnite will be the first stop for any individual who wants to find the perfect platform to start their crowdfunding campaign.

The site’s features, while constantly improving, are already quite robust. All of the most popular and successful platforms have detailed profile pages on CrowdsUnite, where potential campaign managers can view information such as fee structure, the nature of how the platform handles compensation, and if the platform is specific to certain countries. Additionally, CrowdUnite’s visitors can view reviews, comments, and articles  for each platform, submitted by their fellow users. Possibly the most useful feature is the ability to compare two or more platforms side-by-side to see how they stack up against each other.

If you’d like to help CrowdUnite on its way to becoming the go-to Wikipedia for crowdfunding, the best thing to do it hop over to the site and register an account. Fleshing out the information on various platforms by submitting content is a great way to get your favorite platform noticed and discover new ones. Feldman also adds that he is looking for business partners; if you are an industry professional or consultant that wants to explore the crowdfunding space, the relationship that CrowdsUnite holds with these platform administrators would be useful to you.

Update: Gambitious Goes Live, Crowdfunds Video Game Ventures

26 Sep

Via Chris Marlowe at DigitalMediaWire:

Gambitious, the previously announced [on TW too! – ed.] crowdfunding platform dedicated to games, has gone live in the U.S. with seven projects already up and seeking financial support.

As is typical with crowdfunding, Gambitious invites game producers and designers to set their own goals and present their projects to their best advantage. Where Gambitious differs, however, is that it enables projects to offer equity as well as any other investor and donor premiums they want to.

Gambitious CEO Paul Hanraets said this hybrid business model gives game creators more control over their projects and businesses. It also gives the company a foothold in the U.S., where offering equity through crowdfunding is not yet legal.

Hanraets said the passage of the JOBS Act will lead to American investors being able to join their European counterparts in 2013, but until then those in the U.S. can donate in exchange for a copy of the finished game or other considerations.

The Gambitious platform also includes a qualification process that requires a business and marketing plan for every project seeking funding, but guarantees that the creators retain all of their intellectual property.

Gambitious, which is launching in the U.S. later than it originally planned, is a subsidiary of crowdfunding company Symbid.

“It is time to move from the wild, wild, west of crowdfunding to a more professional model,” said Gambitious co-founder Mike Wilson. “Crowdfunding is the best thing to happen to indies since shareware in the 90′s and Gambitious is a transformational way of funding the video game market – legitimizing, protecting, and maximizing the opportunity for all that want a stake in the game.”

Games currently participating in Gambitious include:

    • Candy Kids by Abstraction Games, The Netherlands
    • Cosmic DJ by Gl33k, USA
    • Mushroom Men by Red Fly Studio, USA
    • Piratoons by Fishing Cactus, Belgium
    • Super Micro Heroes by Mutant Games, Spain
    • Tink by Mimimi Productions, Germany
    • Train Fever by Urban Games, Switzerland

Upcoming projects include the beleaguered Earth No More by 3D Realms, as well as:

    • Pantzer Pets by Gamundo, The Netherlands
    • Stronghold Crusaders 2 by Firefly Studios, United Kingdom

It’s worth noting that 3D Realms is the company that produced the first three Duke Nukem games, before floundering on Duke Nukem Forever for fifteen years and handing the project off to Gearbox (Borderlands and Brothers in Arms series). Hopefully their new project won’t take that long.

%d bloggers like this: