BoostR Success Story – FREDsense

FREDsense Technologies lands coveted spot at Silicon Valley startup accelerator

A startup in Calgary is making waves—by testing waves.

FREDsense Technologies is a new Alberta-based business that engineers organisms to test water quality. The founders came up with a “bio-sensor” technology to engineer bacteria and put them in containers, much like USB sticks, which can be submerged into water to test for a wide variety of contaminants.

This technology will be useful for the oil and gas industry, as well as the agriculture industry. Its founders are all students or recent alumni of the University of Calgary.

Because this new technology has the potential to have a big impact, FREDsense was one of seven startups selected from a pool of 400 applicants from around the world to participate in an accelerator program for new businesses in Mountain View, California.

Co-founders David Lloyd, Chief Operating Officer, and Emily Hicks, CEO, are at Singularity University, which runs this program specifically for startups coming up with disruptive technology to solve big world problems.

“It’s pretty fantastic. I’m still realizing that we’re here, this is happening, right in the heart of Silicon Valley,” Lloyd said.

“We’re suffering from huge impostor syndrome. Looking around seeing the talent and huge ideas in other teams is unreal. We’re also the only Canadians here, and Emily is the only woman here.”

Lloyd and Hicks participated in ATB’s Alberta BoostR program, a rewards-based crowdfunding platform, to help raise some money for their startup. After they did this, they realized they needed to accelerate even more. That’s where the program they’re now participating in came in.

“It’s a 10 week experience, you get $100,000 for your company, and every week we’re learning rapidly how to run our business better. We’re being introduced to potential customers and investors. It’s been an awesome experience,” Lloyd said.

Alberta BoostR was important for Lloyd and Hicks because they needed a way to fund prototypes of their product. They needed to show potential customers and investors that their technology really works, and Alberta BoostR helped to provide them with some funding to do that.

“When I heard about Alberta BoostR, I thought it was an incredibly cool way we could have impact and get people involved in what we’re doing at the same time. We decided to give it a go, even though in some ways, we’re really not the ideal fit when it came to rewards-based crowd funding,” Lloyd said.

“It’s one of the big reasons we’re here today in California and having this opportunity.”

Since Alberta BoostR is a rewards-based crowdfunding initiative, Lloyd and Hicks had to come up with, well, rewards. They ended up giving out water bottles, Lloyd said, since it fit the theme of “testing what’s in your water.” They also gave out t-shirts and hoodies. Finally, they gave away experiences. First, the put on a biology art day, where kids painted pictures with bacteria that glowed in the dark. Then they hosted a “be a synthetic biologist for a day” experience.

Once they’re back in Alberta, Lloyd and Hicks plan to really get the business up and running by getting their products to market.

“And we want to do that in Alberta. We believe in the province and the people and the amazing talents we have, and that we can make an impact from there on the rest of the world,” Lloyd said.

The company’s first product, FRED (Field-Ready Electrochemical Detector), uses a genetically modified bacteria to detect multiple water-borne contaminants in two simple steps. A cartridge holding the ‘sensing’ bacteria and chemicals needed to run the test is placed in a detector with the water being tested. After one to two minutes the detector sends the results via Wi-Fi, 3G, or USB connection, to your device.

Video Source: http://singularityhub.com/2015/10/02/taking-flight-meet-the-startups-of-the-2015-inaugural-su-labs-accelerator/

BoostR Success Story – Vin Gogh Paint and Sip Studio

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Brenda Mahoney of Vin Gogh Paint and Sip Studio recently launched a successful crowdfunding campaign using Alberta BoostR, and her rewards really set her apart. Vin Gogh provides an experience that combines three of life’s greatest passions: art, wine and food. She used her ability to offer these experiences in a customized way to attract different types of potential contributors to her campaign. Here are some of her ideas on how to create rewards that work:

  1. Choose rewards that relate to your business

Not every business has a cut and dry product that they can offer to supporters as a reward. But this doesn’t mean they should stray outside of their industry for rewards. It can be confusing for supporters when the rewards don’t match what the business does. Part of the reason to do a crowdfunding campaign is to make people aware of who you are and what you do. So offering rewards that don’t relate to your business at all can end up detracting from the brand image you want to communicate. If you do want to include rewards from outside your industry, try including them as a bonus. For example, Vin Gogh could offer a paint session with a box of chocolates to vamp up the reward. But offering only a box of chocolates wouldn’t make any sense.

  1. Think of rewards as a great marketing opportunity

Each person who shows interest in contributing to your business through a crowdfunding campaign is a potential customer, which is why tying rewards to your products and services is so important. Moreover, every aspect of your crowdfunding campaign – from your video and images to the tone and voice of your written text – is a great opportunity for people to experience your brand. Use the lingo you use within your business, showcase the goods or services you provide, and create experiences surrounding your business. Each reward purchased is an opportunity to get someone through the doors of your business and turn them into a returning customer or at the very least, a brand advocate who will spread the word to their networks about your business.

  1. Don’t be afraid to change the amount of each reward available

Some rewards end up being really popular, while others end up not being popular at all. It’s sometimes hard to predict this, so changing the numbers of each reward available throughout isn’t a bad strategy. This also helps keep certain reward levels alive. If you only have large reward levels left available, someone looking to contribute a smaller amount may no longer chose to contribute. Being responsive to what rewards the crowd likes/doesn’t like is key to success in crowdfunding. You want to offer engaging rewards and introducing new rewards is a great way to add more excitement around your campaign.

Setting rewards for a crowdfunding campaign can be tricky. Picking the right reward for each contribution level takes time and thought to make sure you’re providing a reward that your supporters want to be a part of. When you design your crowdfunding campaign rewards, ask yourself this: would people want to go out of their way to buy this reward? Is it enticing enough for them to open up their wallet and purchase it now?