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Attracting Investors

The Craziest Things That Have Been Funded On Kickstarter In 2017 – So Far

From an air pollution pen to a robot arm – check out some of these successful out-there campaigns.

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Kickstarter is a great way for entrepreneurs to get funding for their out-there ideas. And when it comes to crowdfunding – no idea is too crazy. You’d be surprised at some of the things people are willing to fund.

In 2014, Zach “Danger” Brown wanted $10 to make a potato salad – so he started a Kickstarter campaign that wound up raising more than $55,000. From an ostrich pillow to a Grilled Cheesus (i.e. a sandwich press that toasts the face of Jesus in bread) – you’d be surprised at some of the campaigns that gained traction.

A pen made from air pollution, an origami canoe, a levitating timepiece – this year, we’ve already started seeing wild campaigns. Check out the craziest Kickstarter campaigns of 2017 – so far.

Note: Funding amounts are accurate to when this story was published.

1Pens with ink made from air pollution

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Image credit: Air-Ink | Kickstarter

Being an entrepreneur is all about seeing opportunities where others don’t. MIT grad Anirudh Sharma and the Graviky team certainly look to do that with Air-Ink, which utilises air pollution and turns it into an ink-like substance. The startup has created felt-tip pen markers and bottled silkscreen ink that utilise pollution.

To collect pollution, Graviky attaches a cylinder-shaped object the company calls a “Kaalink” to car mufflers, engines and chimneys. The device captures toxic material before it’s released into the environment. The collected particles are brought to a lab where any heavy metals and carcinogens are extracted, and then the remaining material is purified and mixed with solvents to create ink.

Air-Ink was launched in February 2017. Originally sought to raise $9,925, the campaign has reached $22,752 in funding.

Related: When Attracting Investors Go Ugly Early

2Little robot drawing arm

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Image credit: Line-us | Kickstarter

They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” so you may as well get a robot to copy you. Line-us, a small, electronic robot arm, will mimic what you draw on a screen. While hooked up to the internet, the little robot mimics your motion with a pen and will recreate whatever you draw on a tablet or iPad in real-time. The most amazing thing about Line-us is that it draws in the exact same order as its user.

The Kickstarter campaign was launched in February 2017. Originally sought to raise $48,228, the campaign has reached $89,524 in funding.

3Levitating timepiece

levitating-timepiece

Image credit: STORY | Kickstarter

STORY is a levitating timepiece – an insane way to visualise time. The innovative product features an orbiting ball that rotates around a wooden base, counting minutes, hours and even years.

STORY has three different modes, including Journey mode, where you can set it for a certain time frame such as your favorite season (i.e. one month until Spring left), Clock mode and Timer mode.

STORY’s Kickstarter campaign was launched Feb. 15. Originally sought to raise $80,000, the campaign has reached $556,048 in funding.

Related: How To Start A Business With No Money

4Origami canoe

oragami-canoe

Image credit: MyCanoe | Kickstarter

Lugging around a canoe is exhausting. But with this foldable origami canoe, that no longer seems to be an issue.

MyCanoe is a 14.5-foot folding canoe that travels in a box. MyCanoe takes 10 minutes to assemble and five minutes to take down, can be stored under a bed and fits easily in compact cars. The innovative canoe is made from marine-grade polypropylene, making it fully waterproof, and it has UV treatment for taking it out in the sun.

The project was launched on Feb. 15, 2017. Originally sought to raise $45,000, the campaign has reached $80,121 in funding.

5Miniature museum

miniature-museum

Image credit: Mini Museum | Kickstarter

Don’t want to travel to and spend hours in a museum? Now you can take a museum with you wherever you go.

With the help of scientists, museum curators, astronauts and other adventurers, Hans Fex curated his own collection of rare objects, which he’s now sharing with the world through the third Mini Museum.

The Mini Museum features a number of unique and authentic specimens such as pieces of Charles and Diana’s royal wedding cake, Megalodon tooth, Steve Jobs’s turtleneck and more. It’s available in two different sizes – the small version features 12 specimens and the large has 29.

This campaign was launched in February 2017. Originally sought to raise $200,000, the campaign has reached $955,610 in funding.

Related: Funding And Resources For Young SA Entrepreneurs

6100 pieces of a $1 bill

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Image credit: Make/100 | Kickstarter

Who knew a $1 bill could be so interesting? This new Kickstarter campaign is seeking funding for a $1 bill broken up into 100 pieces. That’s not all though – the bill is 100 years old and will only be shipped to 100 backers in 100 different locations.

There’s no doubt this piece of currency has been through a lot. And once the bill ships out, the campaign’s creators want backers from around the world to bring all of the pieces back together again (online) by taking a photo of their pieces and sharing information about where they are in the world.

This campaign was launched in the U.K. in January 2017. Originally sought to raise $680, the campaign has reached $1,815 in funding.

7Mini personal e-vehicle

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Image credit: Solowheel Iota | Kickstarter

From the makers of the original hoverboard, Solowheel Iota is a self-balancing 8-pound personal transportation device and described as the “smallest, greenest, most convenient e-vehicle ever invented.” Inventist wanted to make its latest creation smaller and more elegant than its previous hoverboard model, the Hovertrax.

The new Solowheel Iota can travel up to 8 miles at a 10 mph and carry up to 250 pounds.

The project was launched on Kickstarter in January 2017. Now available for pre-order, the campaign successfully raised $204,594 in funding.

Related: New Ways SMEs Can Find Funding

8Smart, portable turntable

Smart, portable turntable

Image credit: LOVE | Kickstarter

Vinyl is making a comeback. Over the past few years, we’ve seen new turntables pop up and now they’re getting a 21st century twist.

LOVE claims to be the world’s first intelligent turntable. The device reads vinyl records through a traditional stylus, but also hooks up to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and can be controlled through an app on your smartphone.

Its creators say LOVE is simple and convenient, making it easy to transport. With the app, it’s easy to maneuver too, letting users play, pause, skip and adjust volume through their smartphones.

The campaign launched in February 2017. Originally sought to raise $50,000, the campaign has reached $756,624 in funding.

9Portable personal assistant robot

portable-personal-assistant-robot

Image credit: PLEN Cube | Kickstarter

Hiring an assistant is no easy task, although with this customisable portable robot, you can seemingly have an assistant with you 24/7.

PLEN Cube consolidates information from all of your devices, captures events using its smart camera, tracks your motions and keeps you informed. The advanced tech features facial and speech recognition and a powerful processor. From keeping track of your calendar to managing your social media – think of this new voice-activated robot as your “right hand man,” the company says.

The portable, savvy new robot from Osaka, Japan, was initially launched on Kickstarter in February 2017. Originally sought to raise $50,000, the campaign has reached $70,706 in funding.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Attracting Investors

Looking For Funding? Try Manufacturing

There are over 200 national incentives for the industrialisation of South Africa. Can you tap into grant funding to grow your business?

Nadia Rawjee

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Many people ask me why the focus of public investment in SMEs and business is so heavily weighted on the manufacturing sector?

The reality is that investment in industrialisation results in a multiplier effect in jobs, foreign earnings through exports and increased tax revenues. Countries that focus on industrialisation have proven its potential to stimulate economic growth and address social challenges.

If you’re looking for opportunities and the support needed to realise these opportunities, manufacturing is a good place to start. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) offers several manufacturing-based incentives and grants.

Below are the ten key general principles associated with the DTI incentives:

1. Matching concept

DTI grants are based on a ‘matching’ or ‘co-funding’ principle, which requires an applicant to invest a portion of the funds required for the project for which funding is being requested. The DTI will fund a portion of the project qualifying costs (anywhere from 10% to 90% depending on the specific fund) on condition that the applicant can prove a source of the remaining portion. The source of the difference can be debt, equity or any other form of funding.

 2. Qualifying/allowable investments or activities

The DTI sets rules for what can be funded by way of a grant (qualifying costs). These may differ based on the incentive, but the general rule is that the main application of grant funding is for plant, machinery, tools and equipment. Land and working capital will not qualify and would form part of the co-funding.

Related: How Investors Choose Who To Invest In

3. Project size

This refers to the full project size and includes all costs involved in implementing the project. All costs include capital expenditure (e.g. plant, machinery, tools and equipment), working capital (e.g. salaries, wages, stock etc.) and other costs including, but not limited to, land, vehicles, business development and certifications.Not all costs will qualify for funding from an incentive.

4. Bankability

Projects are evaluated to determine their bankability. The DTI aims to ensure that the principles applied in an application and business plan are realistic and will result in a sustainable business and/or project. In evaluating bankability, the DTI will look at the ability and know-how of the team and will require the applicant to show proof of market.

Proof of market is demonstrated by off-take agreements, purchase orders, contracts or letters of intent.

5. Timelines

Incentives are strategic funding and, as such, are not an appropriate source of funding for distressed businesses or businesses with short timeframes. This funding should be viewed as strategic funding. The DTI may provide timelines for processing applications, however, applicants must be prepared for timelines longer than those indicated. Applications may take anywhere from three to 12 months to be processed and approved.

6. Approval prior to investing

Investments made prior to the approval of an application will be non-qualifying investments. This means that an investment made before receipt of an approval from the DTI cannot be recuperated. This will be enforceable even if the investment made formed part of an application that was approved.

7. Milestone based claims

The DTI will make payments based on project milestones as indicated in an application. Each fund may define its own milestone parameters.

Related: Who Would Invest In Your Start-up, And Why?

8. Rebated claims

Claims are rebated to applicants. This means that an applicant must first invest, in line with its application, and then submit a claim for the approved investment. This principle demonstrates the importance of securing co-funding, which will be used to initiate the project.

9. Tax free grants

Grants awarded and paid are tax-free.

10. Equity substitution in nature

As grants are not repayable, they can be considered equity for purposes of securing debt. Most debt funders require a portion of equity from an applicant to lower the risk of debt. Debt financiers will consider a grant as an equity contribution, allowing applicants to unlock debt that would otherwise not have been available.

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Attracting Investors

6 Steps To Ensuring You Meet Your Funder’s Mandate

Find your funder, approach the right people, and tick all the boxes.

Diana Albertyn

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1. Determine why you need funding

According to Quinton Zunga, founder and CEO of RH Bophelo, a special purpose acquisition company with interests in the healthcare sector, many business owners do not understand cash flow and its impact on the operations of a business. “A good idea without enough cash flow is not sustainable,” he says. “You have to prepare the business for the worst-case scenario and ask yourself ‘what if things don’t work out my way? Do I have a plan B?’ Don’t assume you’ll be able to access finance to save the business if your cash flow is poor.”

The reality is that too many business owners apply for funding because their working capital is under strain, customers owe them money or their margins are too low.

“There’s a big difference between funding that will help you grow your business, and trying to plug a self-inflicted cash flow problem,” agrees Kumaran Padayachee, CEO of Spartan SME Finance, an alternative funder.

The key to growth funding can be summarised in one sentence: Will this help me make money? If the answer is yes, you’ve ticked the growth-funding box. If you’re not sure, relook your financials and forecasting. If the answer is no, you’re trying to solve a cash flow problem that will not be fixed by taking on more debt funding.

“As a funder, we care about what entrepreneurs want the money for,” says Kumaran. “We look at business models and strategy. We take a view of the entire picture, which gives us insight into whether the funding will be used in a growth context, or to plug a gap created by a strategy, cash flow, sales, marketing, management or an access-to-market problem.”

The real insight is that it shouldn’t only be up to funders to determine the answers to these questions, but business owners themselves. If you understand why you need funding, one of two things will happen: You’ll realise there’s a problem in the business that funding won’t solve, and you can begin working on it; or you’ll be prepared when you apply for funding, increasing your chances of securing the finance you need.

The reality is that too many business owners apply for funding because their working capital is under strain, customers owe them money or their margins are too low.

Related: Government Funding And Grants For Small Businesses

2. Understand the funding landscape

paul-jackson

Different sectors, industries and funders have their own rules and mandates. To understand the funding you’re trying to access, you need to first understand the sector you’re in, and the funding rules 
that apply.

For example, property is a long-term investment and funders in this space require a commitment of at least five to 15 years. TUHF, which is a specialised residential property finance company, also requires 
an equity contribution, as it does not offer 100% financing.

“Funding is usually made up of two components: Financing (loans) and equity (owner’s contribution),” says TUHF’s CEO, Paul Jackson. “The purchase price of the property, the costs of refurbishment and the amount of money the client can contribute of his own money are the three main contributing factors that determine how much financing the client will need to 
apply for.”

More importantly, entrepreneurs approaching TUHF are dealing with industry experts operating within a niche space. This is true of most funders, and should be carefully considered by business owners.

When you’re considering your growth options, focus on what you absolutely need to push the needle, and make do with what you can as you build up your pipeline.

“In every case ask the question: Do the costs involved in accessing the finance make sense? Will this help drive growth? How? Once you’ve ticked those boxes, consider all your funding options. There are a lot of solutions available to you, from bank funding, which is the cheapest to access but requires a lot of collateral, to private equity funding, which involves giving away equity in the business,” says Kumaran.

“Alternative funders like us play in the middle of these two traditional options. Alternative funders tend to be niche and specific, focusing on specific sectors or industries. They carry more risk and don’t require collateral, which is why they’re more expensive than banks, but they bring industry and sector-specific insights as well — and it’s debt funding, which means you aren’t giving away equity in your business. Their processes tend to be efficient as well, largely due to the niche nature of the funder. When you’re ready to grow, find a funder that matches your needs and understands your business.”

3. Start early

“Raising capital patiently is key, because acquiring funding quickly but unwisely could lead to repayment issues,” says Quinton. “Some funding can only be accessed later and you need to be patient, or you may find yourself struggling to pay it off before your business has grown big enough to do so. You need to focus on preparing a business plan and understanding the cash flow impact of the decision you make. Look for an advisor or banker to work with you on the business plan.”

4. Know what funders look for

All funders are looking for specific business and personal traits in the business owners they back. Quinton values integrity and honesty, a good understanding of the business they are in, and personal commitment. “Funding a new business is always tough because the entrepreneur may not have experienced all the sides of the economy and may not be accustomed, mature and ready enough to go to the next level. This is where a steady track record is advantageous,” he adds.

Related: Attention Black Entrepreneurs: Start-Up Funding From Government Grants & Funds

Paul agrees. For TUHF, the entrepreneurial character and competence of the borrower is of paramount importance. “We follow a character-based lending approach,” he says.

“A client that displays certain characteristics is considered a better investment option. These include entrepreneurial qualities; an open-minded attitude that is willing to take advice; someone who is self-disciplined and manages the cash flows of the property to the benefit of the property, and not for personal use. Other sought-after characteristics include someone who keeps their tenants happy by keeping the property clean and well maintained, providing all-round good customer service; is committed to doing everything in their power to ensure the success of the deal; is up-to-date on utilities; and directly involved in the property management, even if there is an external service provider.”

5. Avoid red flags

Every funder has red flags they watch out for and they will walk away from a deal if they find them. “A bad past business track record indicates the business owner’s legal, financial, and HR values,” says Quinton. “These are important to us. Without some ethos and standards, you end up not being on the same page as your investor. I usually ask about the entrepreneur’s previous partnership — how they handled it and why it ended. Desperation is also a deterrent, as is a poor business case.”

Paul agrees. The driving factor in TUHF’s business is the borrower’s aptitude in property. “Real estate competency is therefore a key characteristic of TUHF borrowers. It’s important that the building is properly matched to the skill and entrepreneurial competence of the borrower. Some of the conditions we evaluate include a credit record, ensuring the borrower is not under debt review, or blacklisted; returned debit orders on a client’s bank statement; track record and state of repair of the client’s other properties; having the right risk attitude, which in our case is considered, cautious and patient; taking the time to do due diligence; and property fit — does the size and nature of the project match the client’s talents and experience. It’s a red flag for us if one of these is mismatched.”

6. Don’t give up

The most important step in funding is perseverance. Many business owners knock on multiple doors and make numerous applications before finding a funder that fits. This could be because red flags need to be addressed and financial management accounts followed, but each time you approach a funder you learn something new that you can implement in your business.

“Don’t view failure as a disaster,” says Quinton. “Figure out which stage of the lifecycle your business is in and align that to your commitments.”

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Attracting Investors

Pay Your Dues Before Raising Capital

Do your preparation. Research your market, build a cash reserve and win over your customer. Then ask for investment.

Alan Knott-Craig

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Did you know there are 10 billion mobile phones in the world? I have an idea for an app. If we only get 1% of the 10 billion users out there, I’ll have 100 million users and my company will be worth R1 billion. Will you give me R10 million for 5% equity? — Dave

Is this you? If so, pay attention: Market size does matter. But competition matters more.

Yes, there are billions of mobile phones in the world. Yes, there are great opportunities to be grasped. Yes, if you grasp them you will be rich.

The question is: How will you avoid competition? How will you ensure you’re not fighting hundreds of other well-funded, hard-working entrepreneurs? How are you different from the hundreds of others that chased the same idea and failed without trace?

Assuming that by some miracle you find a niche in which you’re the only player, the next question is: How are you going to let people know about your product? How will you raise awareness? How will you market?

These are the questions to ask yourself before you ask someone else for investment. Otherwise you’ll look like a fool and fail. Or worse, you’ll find a fool investor and you’ll waste two years of your life, at the minimum, chasing an impossible dream and losing other people’s money.

Related: Raising Capital In A Worsening Macro-Economic Environment

I currently work on a mine in the Northern Cape. I want to make a device that allows mining machinery and people to interact/communicate, thereby increasing safety and efficiency. — Brendan

Good idea, nice niche (niches are good!) You’re talking about entering the IoT category (Internet of Things). A healthy place to be in coming years.

In my opinion, you don’t want to get into the hardware game. Rather plug into the APIs (Google it) of smart device vendors like Apple and Fitbit. When it comes to sensors/devices for cars, buildings etc, you can find some pretty affordable stuff out there. Good battery, low maintenance. You’ll need to research it yourself. The key is the software. Tying together all the watches and cars and buildings in order to improve efficiency and safety.

Making software is not wildly easy. If you’re not a software developer, you have three choices:

  1. Pay for a developer to do it.
  2. Give equity to a developer to do it.
  3. Learn how to develop.

Option one is the cleanest and best. Your minimum viable product will probably cost about R200 000. If you don’t have the cash, postpone your dream. Don’t panic, the opportunity is not going away. Before you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, make sure you have enough cash.

I have compiled a marketing template. Kindly advise if the wording, language and clarity is on point. I had a second opinion saying it was not engaging, professional and has no actionable call. — Mam

Documents are useful for forcing you to distil your thinking, but they won’t get you a deal. Only face-to-face meetings get the deal. Only relationships get the deal.

Spending your life fine-tuning decks and docs is a form of procrastination and delaying the real thing: Sales.

If you win over the customer, the rest is just ‘ticking the boxes’. If you don’t win over the customer, the rest is just finding excuses to not give you a deal. Of course, you need your summary document. And it needs to be professional. And it needs a call to action.

But success will come from your ability to win over the customer (or investor). Don’t look to your documents. Look to your customer.


3-rules-for-being-an-entrepreneurAlan Knott-Craig’s latest book, 13 Rules for being an Entrepreneur is now available.

What it’s about

It’s easy to be an entrepreneur. It’s also easy to fail. What’s hard is being a successful entrepreneur. For an entrepreneur, there is only one important metric of success: Money. But life is not only about making money. It’s about being happy. This book is a collection of tips and wisdom that will help you make money without forgoing happiness.

Get it now

To download the free eBook or purchase a hard copy, go to www.13rules.co.za.  To browse Alan’s other books, visit bigalmanack.com/books/

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