BoostR Success Story – Shaunio Radio

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Priscilla Cherry owns online radio station Shaunio Radio. When Priscilla first inherited the station, she decided to dedicate it to independent artists, in order to honour one of her family members who had passed away. She saw it as an opportunity to share his music around the world, and to share the music of other independent artists.
So she decided to use the Alberta BoostR platform to crowdfund and re-launch the station. And she knew marketing would be key to running a successful crowdfunding campaign: she created videos for social media, cold-called strangers, you name it. And it worked! Here are her thoughts on how her marketing efforts made the difference.

Q: What different marketing channels did you use?
Priscilla: Obviously social media, because in our information age, it’s huge. At the beginning, I was really consistent in keeping people updated and engaged, and posted almost every day. But for me, I know people get bored fast and they like to be entertained. So besides social media and the videos, I thought, well, let me go back to traditional marketing. And I actually went business to business and was telling them about my campaign. So, like actually going door to door saying, ‘hi, nice to meet you!’ kind of thing. And actually cold calling as well. So I took it back a couple years and added some traditional marketing.

Q: Did you find that cold calling people was a successful strategy? Were people interested?
Priscilla: A little bit. You call people out of the blue and you give your little pitch, but they have no idea who you are. So they’re like, ‘what does this girl want?’ So I did that first, and then people would say ‘oh, I’ll get back to you’ or, ‘oh, send me an e-mail.’ If anything, I’d get a share of my video, a post, a retweet or something, but not necessarily any contributions. So that’s when I was like, for my personality, I have to be talking to people face to face, person to person. And that ended up being perfect, I got contributions when I went door to door.
Q: I was actually wondering how that went after seeing your video! (To see Priscilla’s video on door to door marketing, click here)
Priscilla: Yeah, it was interesting. Some people…you just don’t know what to expect. And honestly, some people, how I re-enacted it was not even an exaggeration. Literally people are just like, ‘no not interested,’ and I hadn’t even said anything yet! But other people, who are entrepreneurs themselves, they respect the hustle kind of thing, so they support right back, which is really nice. It’s hit or miss, definitely.

Q: What kind of marketing advice would you have for someone who’s just trying to start a campaign?
Priscilla: Honestly, I would just suggest completely stepping outside of the box. If it feels uncomfortable, then do it, because you never know what kind of results you’re going to get. Like door to door marketing. Just try different things outside of your box. Like I said, I never did that before, but I tried it, and it worked! So you never know what kind of results you’re going to get.

BoostR Question: Would you rather be a dragon, or own a dragon?
Priscilla: I think I’d rather be a dragon? Is this a trick question? Because dragons are cool, I want to blow fire out of my mouth, that’s pretty cool. And not scare people, but a dragon is a fierce thing. And if I am a dragon then I own myself, so there you go!

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?

Are You a Serial Crowdfunder?

I love crowdfunding

Maybe it’s because you’re a family member, best friend or neighbour. Maybe it’s because you love supporting local businesses, projects and the next ‘big thing’. Whatever the reasons, we think we’ve got your type figured out – The Serial Crowdfunder.

Connected

More often than not, many who contribute to a crowdfunding campaign are connected to the campaign owner in some way. This means you’re a family member, friend or close acquaintance. From a campaigner’s POV, these are the lowest (and loving) hanging fruit when it comes to launching a campaign and asking for funds. Dinner-table conversations never were so exciting!

Member at Large

As Albertan’s we’re naturally drawn to a maverick way of doing things. Our economy is built on small and medium sized businesses and thrives with each new entrepreneur that takes the plunge. Our lot wants to support this, be part of the bigger picture and know they’ve changed the lives of others and the community for the better.  Being a part of the bigger, successful picture is an emotional high we at Alberta BoostR won’t apologize for.

Rewarded

Finally, and lets be honest, sometimes a project gets a boost because the rewards are just that good. We find products, services and cool experiences make for great rewards and if the reward is up your alley, there’s a good chance you’ll want a piece of the action. Think of the Pebble Smartwatch as an example. You see it. You want it. You Boost it! That simple.

So what’s your story? Why to you boost projects? Are you a serial crowdfunder?