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I met Karl-Martin Pold in 2009 when he interviewed me for his first master thesis on “Film and Web 2.0”. He wanted to find out to what extent Social Media plays a role in the promotion of a documentary film. His fictional example at that time was a documentary about Bud Spencer. But the project quickly became reality and now ten years later, after an extensive cinema tour, the film can be seen online and on DVD.
Every now and then I asked Karl-Martin how he was doing and questioned him about the project that was made possible with the help of three successful Crowdfunding campaigns. Unfortunately, I never made it to the theatrical release, but with the release of the “Sie nannten ihn Spencer” (translates as “They called him Spencer”) via Amazon Prime a fe weeks ago, the filmmaker once again won my attention.
So I asked him for an interview, he agreed. And here it is – the interview with Karl-Martin Pold.
Wolfgang: Karl-Martin, you made a film about Bud Spencer. Who was he again?
Karl-Martin Pold: Hahaha – an Italian cult star. A legend that has inspired many millions of people worldwide and that will still be admired 100 years from now. I recommend to take a look at my new website www.sienanntenihnspencer.com. There you can read a lot about my film or Bud Spencer 😉
Wolfgang: Your film took some time. Why?
Karl-Martin Pold: Yes – a total of 8 years. Puh, there were many hurdles to overcome. For one thing, I had to get to Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. Not so easy, if the gentlemen has no management, no website (Note: that was 8 years ago, this changed in the meantime). Bud Spencer had a secretary, Miss Nelly. She was also over 80 years old, didn’t speak a word of English and didn’t even have an e-mail address. So you can imagine how difficult it was to make contact. Well – and then the problem of film financing. The film was rejected six times by the funding agencies in Austria. That was always very bitter, because after a few years I had the world stars Bud Spencer and Terence Hill on board. Had a grant from Germany, two big established film distributors and 270,000 followers on Facebook. Nevertheless, there was another rejection.
Wolfgang: Parts of the film were financed with the help of Crowdfunding. What experiences did you have with it?
Karl-Martin Pold: I had great experiences with Crowdfunding. Back then, 7 years ago, I was a pioneer in the German-speaking Crowdfunding-world. Firstly, I had to explain to people what Crowdfunding actually means. Today this term has already found its way into the mainstream. Of course, we weren’t able to raise the huge sums due to this fact, but we managed to make all three campaigns successful.
Wolfgang: Crowdfunding and film – a dream couple?
Karl-Martin Pold: Crowdfunding and film can become a dream couple. There are many wonderful examples like Iron Sky or Stromberg. But of course it is becoming more and more difficult to attract the attention of the masses to one’s film project. Film production, direction and Crowdfunding are three totally different areas of work. As a successful Crowdfunding project owner, you have to master the rules of communication. How do I ensure that my project gets the necessary attention in the online world or – best of all – in the classic offline media? Attention is the currency that counts – also in Crowdfunding. You can have the greatest project. But if nobody knows about it, you’ve already lost. Either you’re a market crier yourself or you have to get someone to join you. It’s clear to me that the established film producers still completely underestimate Crowdfunding as a form of financing, but above all as a marketing tool, or – even worse – don’t have it on their screens at all. But that’s mainly due to the funding system. As soon as a film or the distributor receives a subsidy, a film no longer needs to earn any money because the distributor or producer has already earned his salary. That’s why Crowdfunding sometimes is the only way to realize films, especially in the indie film production sector.
Wolfgang: The crowd for your film is now very large (almost 260,000 fans on Facebook). How involved were the fans in the project?
Karl-Martin Pold: As I said, there were even 270,000 followers at peak time, more fans than Austrian soccer club “Rapid Wien” or the radio station “FM4” has. But in the meantime it has dropped a bit again, because the project is finished and this Social Media channel is not so intensively supported anymore. But to your question: The fans were very involved in the project. We had over 100 fans who were actively involved in the film project. From translators, programmers, graphic designers, cameramen, sound engineers to car mechanics. I could continue the list almost endlessly. These were all people who not only invested money, but also their man-power/woman-power in the project, simply because they wanted to support it. You can see what fanpower can do. From an idea of a dreamer to an international feature film that was shown in over 400 cinemas and became the last joint feature film with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill.
Wolfgang: Now “Sie nannten ihn Spencer” got published on Amazon Prime. What are your future plans?
Karl-Martin: I’m working on three new film projects. One of them is about the “super noses” – german actors Thomas Gottschalk and Mike Krüger. That was by far the most successful German duo in the cinemas. And their “super-nose” films have also achieved cult status. Interestingly, there are many parallels between these films and the Spencer/Hill films. The aim of this documentary is to find out why the films were so successful and why this kind of humor no longer exists today. So it’s a film about the Zeitgeist of the 80s, but much more natural. There is already a title: They called them “Supernasen” 😉
Wolfgang: Your tips for those who are planning a Crowdfunding project?
Karl-Martin: I could give a lot of tips. In all the intensive Social Media years I gained a lot of experience, but maybe to put it in a nutshell: like in many areas of life, it’s important to reaching people emotionally. You need to be authentic and to be convinced of yourself. Only then can you convince others to support you and your project. Many paths lead into people’s hearts, but with humor you can overcome most hurdles.
Wolfgang: True. I really laughed – while reading your Facebook posts and of course when watching the movie 😉 Thank you very much for your the conversation.
The first #Letscluster Conference brings businessexperts form across the world to Graz, Austria on March 26th. With topics like “smart mobility”, “smart manufacturing”, “smart health” and “smart home” the event provides exciting insights into topics that will keep us busy in the future.
Pitches, Workshops and Speeches
The event programme includes Pitches of 20 Deep-Tech Start-ups, as well as interesting workshops and speeches. Amongst other experts, austrian Innovation experts Reinhard Willfort and Michaela Binder (Innovation Service Network) will provide a workshop that introduces the “Open Innovation Toolbox”. The box offers a flexible concept that can be very well applied to every problem solving process, involving stakeholders such as employees, costumers, communities and other experts.
They will introduce methodologies such as Crowdsourcing and Service Design Thinking, which support the development, evaluation and dissemination of disruptive ideas. By using these tools, participants learn how to be part of the “Crowdbusiness”, that allows involving “co-thinkers”, who are emotionally and personally motivated to deal in truthful relationships.
Crowdfunding & social innovation
We have already presented crowdfunding several times as a good source of funding for business start-ups, especially when it comes to innovative business plans for which is a problem to get financing in the traditional ways. Today we have prepared another example, this time from food industry.
The Design to Eat is a social business project focused on herbal tea production in a company that focuses on supporting of the employment of disabled people. The idea was supported by the world-known tea maker Sonnentor, who joined the project as a professional guarantor to help create tea recipes and train the staff. But the start of the production required investment in customizing the tea production process to handle it even by disabled people – customized work desks, workplace facilities and tools. And for this, the authors of the project used crowdfunding.
The project was supported by many famous people such as actors, singers and athletes and several large cities in the Czech Republic. Today, the company produces several special editions of tea titled Tea with Face of Town, Tea with the Face of People and Tea and Art.
And because it is a tea produced with the support of Sonnentor, it is of course a tea without the use of chemistry or any artificial dyes and flavours.
To be able to get the business running, the authors decided to use crowdfunding campaign at the Czech crowdfunding platform startovac.cz.
The original goal of the campaign was to get 19,200 EUR. The goal set has been overcome during the campaign, and the authors have managed to collect more than 20,000 EUR (104 %) from over 196 contributors.
You can find more information about the whole project including some videos at the Facebook site http://www.prirozenoucestou.cz/dyzajn-k-sezrani-219918
Travel, a hobby that offers enthusiasts the opportunity to experience adventure and to discover the world. And crowdfunding offers the potential to get the resources to realize the dream journey. There are many projects that can be used as an example of crowdfunding campaigns which objective was to get financing for travel projects. We have selected two of them to present that even the craziest ideas could be successful when properly presented.
We go far in the steps of Czech Great War soldiers
The first story is about part of the enthusiasts who decided to travel in the footsteps of the Czech legionnaires who fought in the First World War. They decided to repair two old Czech Jawa and one Russian Dnepr motorbikes, and travel along the routes that legionaries waged during the war. The whole journey was planned no only as an adventure, but also as an initiative to draw attention to this part of Czech history, that is not well known.
The journey was planned to start I Prague, and continue through Košice to Lviv, Prypiat, Kiev, Volgograd and that along the Caspian Sea to Astana and Irkutsk. There they planned to take the motorbikes to train and use the train to get back to Moscow from where the journey should continue back to Prague.
To be able to organise the Journey, the authors decided to use crowdfunding campaign at the Czech crowdfunding server startovac.cz.
The original goal of the campaign was to get 6,000 EUR. The goal set has been overcome during the campaign, and the authors have managed to collect more than 6,284 EUR (104 %) from over 105 contributors.
You can find more information about the whole project including some videos at the Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/jedemedaleko/
From Bankok back home in a tuk-tuk
The second example is an adventurer who decided, that if you want, you can travel around a world even in Tuk-Tuk – the famous Asian transport vehicle.
He already had some experience from his previous 7000 km long journey to Gruzia and back on the bike. Even then his friends told him “You cannot do that, you are not trained cyclist and you have never travelled by bike more than 50 Km”.
Sometime after his first expedition, he was travelling through India and there he got an idea that it would be crazy to try to travel in Tuk Tuk. So why not try it? Everything is possible if you want. He says “A lot of people are looking for reasons why they cannot, they tell me you will have problems back and forth, but they do not look for ways to go. Besides, I love the idea that one day I will have grandchildren and I will be telling them the story of how I once drove home from Bangkok with Tuk Tuk.”
Of course, if you want to realize such a crazy idea, you need financing and that’s the time when crowdfunding comes into place.
To be able to organise the journey, the author decided to use crowdfunding campaign at the Czech crowdfunding server startovac.cz.
The original goal of the campaign was to get 4,000 EUR. The goal set has been overcome during the campaign, and the authors have managed to collect more than 4,800 EUR (121 %) from over 148 contributors.
Wolfgang: Hi Martin, you are the founder of Lumapod, an innovative tripod. Please tell us more about the product and the idea behind it.
Martin: I love traveling. And I always packed my tripod. But it is heavy, bulky and takes forever to set up. After a trip through Iceland, we decided to create a new kind of travel tripod, which is compact and fast to set up. We developed two different models and optimized it for different demands. So you can use Lumapod with your smartphone, GoPro, mirrorless or DSLR Camera. A quick and simple setup will empower you to take full advantage of every photo opportunity … 4 seconds and you’re ready to go.
Wolfgang: How long did you work on the prototype and when did you decide to enter the market?
Martin: I’ve been working on the project for about 2,5 years. Very soon it was clear that I want finance our product by using Crowdfunding. A lot of time went into development and prototyping. But we also had to invest a lot of time into topics like grant-applications and registering a patent and a trademark etc. As well as into the preparation of the Crowdfunding campaign itself. We defined the launch date a few months in advance and from there on we focussed everything towards this day.
Wolfgang: Why Crowdfunding?
Martin: Our product is perfect for Crowdfunding. On Kickstarter we were reaching exactly our target group for photography, design, tech and gadget. On the one hand, we did the campaign because of the financing. But Crowdfunding is much more than that. The campaign was also a market test. You can find out what the community thinks about your product and therefore you get a lot of feedback you can take into account before entering the market. If the campaign is successful (and it was) and the press covers you, you also get international marketing and can already build up a brand.
Wolfgang: How did you prepare for the campaign? What worked and what did not work for you?
Martin: We prepared very long and very intensively for the campaign. We did a lot on Social Media and also set up an email list. We used Facebook ads, affiliate marketing for getting email-addresses which worked very well. Less good were raffles – you get a lot of leads, but with poor quality. The day we launched, we informed all our email contacts that we are now live and that the best offer is only valid for 24 hours. We also researched relevant journalist-contacts and sent them our press release. That worked well, so we were featured in some big international media. During our campaign we also used cross promotions which were performing also quite good.
Wolfgang: What are the learnings that you got from the Crowdfunding campaign, for your team, your product, your marketing?
Martin: We were indeed able to learn a lot during the campaign. From my point of view it is important that the most important skills can be covered in your team. This is the only way to always have an overview. The product definitely reaches the community, which is very valuable learning. :-) The community gave us praise, but also really valuable input for improvements. Of course, there are naysayers, but you have them everywhere, so don’t let them discourage you. A Crowdfunding-campaign means a lot of work. The effort should not be underestimated. Also concerning the costs for marketing.
Wolfgang: Now that the further financing is secured, what are the next steps for Lumapod?
Martin: We are currently working on the selection of production partners in order to be able to start series production. At the same time, we are working on topics such as fulfillment and the setup of sales channels. The Kickstarter campaign drew the attention of several dealers and distributors to Lumapod. We will process these enquiries more concretely and hold talks with potential partners. When the first Lumapods are delivered to the Kickstarter backers, which means we have a finished product, ideally all distribution channels should already be in place. We also already have ideas for the next Lumapod models ;)
Wolfgang: Thanks for the interview and good luck with your product!
Sensoneo is a Slovak-based business offering solutions for smart waste management. Since its establishment in 2014, the tech company has become a global player with its solutions being currently deployed in 22 countries on 5 continents.
Because of increasing urbanisation, managing waste has become more complex and expensive than ever. However, cities and enterprises can now rely on Sensoneo to do all the hard work for them. Thanks to the combination of ultrasonic Smart Sensors that monitor waste and a smart sophisticated software, Sensoneo helps cities and enterprises to make data-driven strategic decisions and to optimise the logistics of waste collection, allowing them to reduce waste collection costs and to improve the environment at the same time.
Specifically, Sensoneo allows its users to:
- monitor how full are the bins
- plan collection routes based on real-time data and demand
- collect waste only when its necessary,: eliminating collection of half-empty and empty bins
- save 30% of annual waste collection costs on average (for a city with 25 mil Euro waste budget, where 50% (12,5 Mio Euro) waste collection budget, the potential savings are about 3.75 Mio Euro p.a.
- minimize the effect waste collection trucks have on traffic and air pollution
All Sensoneo hardware and software is developed by Sensoneo and manufactured in Slovakia Furthermore, the system utilises all available Internet of Things networks (NB-lot , LoRaWAN, Sigfox), making Sensoneo the pioneer among the ready-to-use solution providers for the largest network of IoT devices in NB-IoT, as well as a technology leader in the market with prestigious international partners such as as T-mobile USA, Huawei UAE, Nokia, Microsoft, Vodafone, Orange, and many others.
Sensoneo and Crowdfunding
Sensoneo is currently running its crowdfunding campaign on Slovak equity platform Crowdberry with funding goal of 1.2 mil EUR. So far, the campaign has been a huge success, with 67 investors indicating the interest to invest 101% of required capital.
The funding will be used to:
- Support the already ongoing international expansion, particularly the expansion of sales teams for foreign countries
- Expand the technology team to establish active presence in American markets as per requirement of the us partners
- Expand customer support
- Expand the R&D team to maintain technology leadership position
- Expand marketing and brand activities towards customers in North America, Middle East, and Europe
For more information please visit sensoneo.com
The campaign has been supported by Crowd-fund-Port Interreg Central Europe.
Barefoot is a modern style of footwear that returns to the roots of modern footwear. The idea of the project authors was to offer modern barefoot shoes, additionally made of materials friendly to nature. This idea stood at the origin of the idea of producing barefoot sneakers from hemp fibre.
Hemp is one of the longest used technic crops. It requires 50% less water and 95% less agrochemicals to grow than cotton. For centuries it has been used to produce clothing, rope, oil, paper, food and many other products. In the fashion area, hemp brings the features that manufacturers have so far tried to replace with plastic fibres.
Cannabis is antibacterial, antiseptic, absorbs significantly more moisture than cotton, does not attract moths, absorbs UV radiation, has high fibre strength, so the products are durable and offer natural thermoregulation – warm in winter and cool in the summer.
Those were the main reasons, why the authors of the project decided to try to produce barefoot shoes made from hemp. But to do that, they needed financial support to buy the equipment and to start the production.
To get the financing, the project authors decided to use crowdfunding campaign. The team decided to use crowdfunding campaign at the Czech crowdfunding server www.hithit.com https://www.hithit.com/cs/project/5088/barefoot-konopne-tenisky-bohempia.
The original goal of the campaign was to get 18,893 EUR. The goal set has been overcome several times during the campaign, and the authors have managed to collect more than 152,792 EUR (808 %) from over 1,636 contributors, which made it the most successful business crowdfunding campaign ever in the Czech Republic.
During the crowdfunding campaign the authors reached the following goals:
Original goal was: 18,893 EUR
Final amount: 152,792 EUR from 1,636 contributors (808 %)
Klaus Buchroithner runs the streetwear label Vresh and with his campaigns he regularly makes it into the headlines of various newspapers and online magazines. With his Vresh Box he attracted investors to finance his independent label by rewarding them with a special edition of individually designed T-shirts and a small, symbolic stake of his company. With his “Zuckerberg shirt” he even gained international media coverage by promoting a basic grey shirt, very similar to the one Mark Zuckerberg is wearing all the time. And for the production of his Vresh Jeans he turned to Crowdfunding and ran three campaigns, two of them successful. In an interview he told us his story and how Crowdfunding helped him boosting his fashion start-up.
Crowd-Fund-Port: You are running your fashion label Vresh for several years now. Please tell us more about it and how everything started?
Klaus Buchroithner: Vresh is a sustainable streetwear label. From 2019 we will exclusively produce basic styles from organic and recycled materials in cooperation with small family businesses in the EU. I have been working in the textile business for more than 12 years and everything started with the crazy idea of my brother, opening a Skateshop in our small city of Eferding/Austria. Soon it developed into a textile wholesale business with which we distributed international brands in Austria and Hungary. During my school time I took over the shop and opened a second shop in another city. Since the support of the brands was often bad for small retailers like me and the margin was too small, I decided to establish my own brand in the end of 2012 and do a lot better.
Crowd-Fund-Port: You are producing jeans for almost a year and a half. The first series was financed with Crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Why Crowdfunding?
Klaus: In my opinion, Crowdfunding is a perfect tool for launching a new product on the market. You can’t expect to raise a huge sum without your own community and engagement, but if you’re willing to invest some time and money, you get good feedback from the market, some pre-orders that you can convert into long-term customers and generally a lot of attention.
Crowd-Fund-Port: How did you prepare for the first Kickstarter campaign back then?
Klaus: I’ve been following the topic of Crowdfunding for quite some time and looked at many campaigns and researched the background. There is a lot of reading material on the Internet now and of course the consulting appointments with you (note: the interview was conducted by Crowd-Fund-Port partner Wolfgang Gumpelmaier-Mach of ikosom.de/Crowdfunding-Service.com) were also very helpful. External consulting helped us to implement the project better. For example, we re-recorded our video after some people in our community suggested improvements.
Crowd-Fund-Port: You also started a Crowdfunding campaign on wemakeit, unfortunately without success. What experiences did you have with the two campaigns?
Klaus: Basically, you can’t expect too much from the individual platforms. That was certainly better a year or two ago. They can give you a good boost, but most of the work you have to for yourself. Our failed campaign on wemakeit was no coincidence. We launched the campaign about a month too late, and then the temperature rose unusually strong. It’s very difficult to sell jeans at summer temperatures, even if you deliver them in September. That was certainly a great learning for me – starting the campaign during the season and not before.
Crowd-Fund-Port: To what extent did this experience help you in planning and implementing your last (third) campaign on Indiegogo and why did you crowdfund jeans again?
Klaus: We concentrated on the essentials and offered a product that already worked well the first time. This time we took the feedback of the first campaign and adapted the product accordingly. Only the change from Kickstarter to Indiegogo was a mistake. We already had 200 satisfied customers on Kickstarter, they probably would have been ready to buy. A new account on a (for the user) unknown platform is a big hurdle, especially in Austria and Germany – combined with the payment method credit card. But because we already had some experience, we knew on which channels it would be worthwhile to be present during the campaign and that’s how we pulled this off in the end.
Crowd-Fund-Port: I know you work a lot with your community and let them participate in the process of creation. Is that your secret recipe?
Klaus: That is definitely a very important part for our success. We are currently trying to find ways to involve the community even more actively in branding and try creating a stronger bond. Especially for small independent labels like ours this is essential.
Crowd-Fund-Port: Do you see Crowdfunding as an essential part of your (communication) work?
Klaus: It is definitely a good instrument, especially if you offer innovative products. For us, such a campaign can always be the market launch for a completely new product segment. You get a lot of attention and see whether something is working or not.
Crowd-Fund-Port: What’s coming next? Will there be more Vresh-Crowdfunding-campaigns?
Klaus: I can imagine bringing an entire collection onto the market by pre-selling it via our own website. The parts that sell well are added to the collection and if they don’t work, they’re not getting produced.
Crowd-Fund-Port: Thank you very much for the interview and good luck!
This interview was originally published in German on Crowdfunding-Service.com.
BySju is an independent London-based hat brand founded by young Slovak designer Zuzana „Sju“ Smatanová.
The story of BySju began in 2011 when Zuzana moved to London for university. As a parting gift, her grandfather presented her with a classic bowler hat made in 1920s in Moravia. Years later, when Zuzana was searching for a similar product but could not find one, BySju was born.
About the Hats
BySju represents a fusion contemporary luxury and streetwear inspired by modern youth culture. However, what makes the hats truly unique is that they are all handmade in the same Moravian factory as the one given to Zuzana by her grandfather.
About the Campaign
With a dream to make wearing hats a lifestyle, in 2014 Zuzana took to Kickstarter to set up a crowdfunding campaign with financial goal of GBP 20 000.
The aim of the successfully completed campaign was to raise funds for production of a second collection.
The campaign stood out in that it featured promotional material created in collaboration with several London-based artists. But as Zuzana revealed in her interview with Forbes Slovakia, the cornerstone of her campaign’s success is the brand’s story and its authenticity reflected in the campaign.
BySju and Social Media
Zuzana also informed Forbes that while Facebook is the most helpful medium when it comes to sales, she considers Instagram to be the most important promotional channel. After all, it was via Instagram that BySju was discovered by the stylist of a well-known musician will.i.am. Since then BySju has adorned the heads of many other celebrities, such as Paul McCartney, or the Backhams.