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Equity Crowdfunding: 3 Lessons the US Can Learn from the UK

The media has been all over Title II of the JOBS act and the effect this will have on crowdfunding, given that those seeking to raise funds are now able to solicit investment from accredited investors. From a regulatory standpoint, this has leveled the playing field between UK and US based equity crowdfunding sites, but there are a few things that the US can learn from precedents set in the UK.

Playing Active With Ubooly

The team at Ubooly is no stranger to crowdfunding; in fact they’ve recently launched their second Kickstarter campaign after having achieved success on the platform in 2012. We spoke to the Ubooly team to get a veteran’s viewpoint and advice on the crowdfunding process and to learn more about the smartphone-powered toy that is changing the way kids play. You can see their most recent campaign here. Thank you to the entire Ubooly team for setting a wonderful crowdfunding example and for sharing their expertise!

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We Wrote a Book!

Running a crowdfunding campaign is really tough work. You have to come up with a compelling project, design a message that resonates, and take it upon yourself to put that message in front of thousands of people. What’s more, the tools that exist for crowdfunders are mostly off-hand articles. For someone trying their hand at online fundraising, it’s hard to know where to start.

“Harness the Crowd” (the ebook) is a practical guide for those interested in running their own Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign. It breaks down the process into a series of concrete steps, and provides a list of vetted resources to help explore those concepts more deeply. It won’t run your campaign for you, but it will give you a solid place to start.

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At Harness the Crowd HQ, we love our notebooks. For everything from creating to-do lists to prototyping new design elements to doodling, there’s nothing quite like getting your ideas on paper in an old fashioned way. We are ecstatic to learn about AppSeed on Kickstarter as it now gives us a way to turn our sketches into workable prototypes faster than anything else we’ve seen. Using computer vision and object recognition, AppSeed turns your paper sketches into a functioning prototype that you can manipulate on your phone.

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Seasonal Spices

We recently learned that cooking spices lose a lot of their flavor in as short as 12 months. Shaking our heads as we throw away our 2 year old jar of mustard seed (we really should use that more), it got us thinking that there must be a better way to manage spices. Enter Seasonal Spices, a Kickstarter campaign from Tara Suan that aims to send you seasonal spices in manageable amounts. Try new spices without having to buy an entire jar and waste the rest, learn new recipes, and embrace the season’s flavors with their unique program. Win win win!

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Quantifying sleep is all the rage. Pretty soon we’ll be bragging to our friends about how time we spent in REM last night. One of the most interesting things about sleep – dreaming – has been relatively untouched, until now. The team at Shadow plans to leverage our smartphones to create a collective (un)consciousness and make it easy for individuals to log their dreams. The ultimate vision is to collect data on dreams from all over the world to identify interesting trends and help us understand our brothers and sisters halfway across the globe. With a smart alarm that helps you choose the best moment to wake up and maximize dream recall, we can’t wait to share our messed up dreams with the world.

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Mobile Showers for the Homeless

Crowdfunding is amazing. Not only does it bring us novel products and new art installations, but it gives us the opportunity to connect with humanitarian and social issues like never before. One such project that caught our eye recently was Lava Mae – Mobile Showers for the Homeless based in San Francisco. Inspired by the mobile food movement, the team behind this project is dedicated to putting showers and toilets on wheels to provide sanitation services to the thousands of homeless residents in San Francisco. Check out Lava Mae and support this revolution in urban sanitation.

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We love the simple truth that opens the video on Peek’s Kickstarter page – phones are getting increasingly bigger while jeans are getting increasingly tighter. Pretty soon we’re going to be out of options if we don’t want to wear a waist holster like our Uncle who still has a Palm Pilot. Peek’s simple design lets you wear your phone, credit cards, and accessories in a way that makes your smart device accessible and useful. Paying careful attention to keep the camera unobstructed, a real selling point is the ability to utilize photo applications without the use of your hands.

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Remember the dream you had where you were wearing futuristic headphones that required no cords and could change volume and track by moving your jaw? That wasn’t a dream, my friend. New on Kickstarter, the Split headphones are standalone music players that fit in your ears and work without any cables or Bluetooth. Changing volumes and tracks is as easy as a “bite click”. Help fund the team at Split for your chance to redefine hands free audio.

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Touching Time with The Bradley Timepiece

We recently had an opportunity to speak with Hyungsoo Kim, the creator and team leader of The Bradley Timepiece, which raised almost $600,000 on Kickstarter. Covering everything from the genesis of his idea to advice on how to crowdfund, Hyungsoo gave us an inside look into the makings his campaign and the inspirational story behind his product.

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Tea Bag Index

Our first featured campaign on the scientific research-focused crowdfunding platform Microryza is the Tea Bag Index from Taru Lehtinen, a PhD student in Iceland. We love tea at Harness the Crowd HQ, and we’ve never seen a better use for extra tea bags than helping chart global climate change. Using a technique that measures the decomposition rate (from weight loss) of tea bags buried in the ground, the team hopes to create a global index of soil conditions. Now we know what to do with the pomegranate green raspberry chai that my aunt got us for Christmas last year.

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The idea of the “quantified self” has absolutely exploded in popularity over the past few years. But even with big names like Nike bursting onto the scene with products aimed at helping you measure yourself, it’s still the case that wristbands, headbands, and even around-the-chest heart rate monitors can be cumbersome and annoying. The team at Hexoskin is aiming to bring an unprecedented level of quantification to your life with a tanktop-like wearable that can be worn during exercise, work, sleep, and thrown in the washing machine at the end of the day. It’s currently being tested by Olympic athletes, so you know it will be ready for your jaunt around the neighborhood.

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Local Bamboo - MTRL Design

Thanks to the absence of a native panda population, you don’t find much wild bamboo across the US. This poses a problem given the booming popularity of bamboo in the design of everyday objects such as tables, cutting boards, and coasters. The team at MTRL Design in Omaha, Nebraska is seeking to change the supply chain of bamboo products in America by bringing their uniquely designed products to the masses and supporting a local bamboo growing operation. Supporting them on Indiegogo brings you one step closer to growing your own furniture.

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Steampunk Pirates Bicycle Playing Cards

Like steampunk? Like pirates? Like playing cards? Odds are you answered yes to two out of three. Kickstarter veteran Nat Iwata is back to bring more steampunk love to the masses with a new Bicycle playing card deck featuring a mash up of, yup – steampunk and pirates. Now you can relax knowing that you’ll have the most unique accessories at your next Poker Night.

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America, In Love

There are few things better than a good love story. There are even fewer things better than a good love story that’s real (sorry, The Notebook fans). Two friends are setting out to bring real American love stories to the masses with the America, In Love project: a nationwide adventure of interviews, research, and emotional fact-finding to discover 100 of the greatest love stories in our country. It’s hard to think of a reason why not to support this “loveumentary”.

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