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January 15, 2013

Funders & Supporters: Funding a Crowdfunding Campaign

As a potential funder or supporter of a crowdfunding campaign you can make a huge difference in someone’s life.  Crowdfunding is an excellent way to bring together university communities for positive initiatives.  Funders should look for certain characteristics when deciding which campaigns to support.  The campaign description should be detailed and transparent, clearly explaining all the important facts.  It should be clear to you what the idea is and should specifically state what the money will be spent on.  Watching the campaign video is a great way to learn (and be entertained!) more about the product or cause.     

Campaigners list relevant websites for their product or cause to be transparent and open.  Many campaigners include social media links to allow you to verify the people involved and to interact with their Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages. 

Once you are comfortable with the people, ideas and the rewards being offered help fund the campaign!  These rewards are offered by the entrepreneur to give you an incentive to fund their dream. Rewards are usually based on the product, service or creative vision of the entrepreneur. Check out each campaign to find a reward that you want and then fund that campaign.  If the fundraising goals are met entrepreneurs are responsible for delivering rewards following the conclusion of the campaign.

January 7, 2013

We feel it is important to help our community understand crowdfunding both for fundraisers and funders.  That’s why we’re introducing UFunded University.  These posts will look at the unique traits of crowdfunding and how it affects you.  Since crowdfunding is so new there is not a lot of public information on the subject.  One of the popular crowdfunding sites, Kickstarter, publishes detailed information on their crowdfunding campaigns (over 74,000+ campaigns) that we decided to analyze and compare with what we have seen at UFunded to date.  We’ve broken down the data to share our best tips, advice and fun facts for your enjoyment!

Fact:  80% of Successfully Funded campaigns raise under $10,000

Fact:  Only 8% of Successfully Funded campaigns raise over $20,000

UFunded Takeaway:  So many entrepreneurs see the big dollar campaigns (greater than $20K) and think that it’s common or easy to raise such a large amount of money.  The truth is rewards-based crowdfunding is a great way to raise seed funding for your idea to test demand and help market it.  The typical campaign never approaches angel or venture capital levels of investment.  The overwhelming majority of crowdfunding campaigns are funded by your friends, family and fellow community members.  There is no such thing as free money.  You will need a strategy and a comprehensive marketing plan to engage your personal networks for the duration of your crowdfunding campaign to be successful.       

 There have only been 17 campaigns that have raised over $1M dollars. They receive so much attention from the media that it skews the perception of crowdfunding.  Having a realistic approach to the process is important to avoid over-confidence and costly mistakes.  We want you to be successful and fortunate enough to be one of the outliers that raises above $20K but you’ll need a plan to get that far! 

At UFunded you can expand your personal network by engaging your university community.  Tapping into this supportive community will allow you to supplement and grow your potential sources of funding and help. We provide guidance and marketing support for each individual entrepreneur.  We help you understand crowdfunding, tell your story, set a realistic funding goal, engage your university community and develop a comprehensive marketing plan. 

Crowdfunding is hard work.  As our successful campaigns (Pursuit, BRU, The LisaMom Foundation, Playtabase and MarketOSU) know, it’s a full-time job raising money through a crowdfunding campaign.  You need help to be successful.  Don’t be fooled by the myths of crowdfunding…have a plan, stay focused and be diligent!

December 27, 2012

Hey UFunders,

We are so grateful for a wonderful 2012 and here are some things we’re looking forward to in 2013.  It has been an amazing year for us and, more importantly, the incredible entrepreneurs that have used UFunded.  We continue to be inspired by the passion, dedication and creativity entrepreneurs have shared with their university communities.  Most of all thank you to our UFunded community of donors, entrepreneurs, mentors, advisors and advocates!

We founded UFunded to serve as the bridge that connects entrepreneurs with their university communities for capital, mentorship, exposure and expertise.  Since launching this past June we have expanded to university communities across the country proving there is value in the connections we foster.  As we continue to grow and expand here are some things for you to look forward to in 2013…

More University Communities

We continue to engage with more universities and entrepreneurs.  Check out UFunded right now to see the great ideas that are currently raising money and looking for support from their university community.

Equity Crowdfunding

If 2012 is the year that rewards-based crowdfunding went mainstream then 2013 will be the year that equity crowdfunding goes mainstream.  The SEC and FINRA will hopefully finish writing the investment rules for crowdfunding in 2013.  This will allow virtually anyone to buy equity or ownership in companies that use crowdfunding portals like UFunded.  What’s the big deal?  Right now it is illegal to go online and ask people to invest in your company through social media and sites like UFunded.  That will all change in 2013 allowing more companies access to capital from their family, friends and university communities.

UFunded University: An Insiders View

The funny thing about doing something all the time is that you become better at it.  And you learn important lessons that can help others.  As we’ve become experts at crowdfunding there are many things we can share with both entrepreneurs and university communities to provide better value for everyone.  In 2013 we’ll begin sharing these lessons to the community to increase understanding of crowdfunding through our UFunded University series.  Look for best practices on how to crowdfund, what to expect, how to engage without donating and tackling some of the misconceptions we hear from people.

Competition

We had such a good time with the 2012 Fall Classic that we’re going to embrace that format for 2013.  The Fall Classic showcased some outstanding entrepreneurs and had them competing over funding, social media buzz and support from their alma mater.  In 2013 EVERY crowdfunding campaign will be ranked along these criteria and presented in our Leaderboard.  This will let you compare the best campaigns of 2013 at any time.  Let the games begin!

Cheers from us,

The UFunded Team
Have a safe and happy New Year!

 

October 11, 2012

The UFunded 2012 Fall Classic

Columbus, Ohio (October 11, 2012) –UFunded kicks off its first annual Fall Classic with three universities competing to find out who can raise the most capital, leverage social media and gain supporters for their entrepreneurial ideas.

Participants include:

  • ***MarketOSU from The Ohio State University – a website that allows sellers of football tickets or old textbooks to connect with future buyers
  • ***Case In Point from The University of Oklahoma – features an iPhone case that doubles as a set of speakers
  • ***LisaMom Foundation from The University of Nebraska – a non-profit that aids families who have lost a loved one to cancer.

“We wanted to create an opportunity for university communities to help the entrepreneurs from their school.  It is our way of transferring the pride, passion and excitement of a game day sporting event to entrepreneurship,” said UFunded CEO Cuyler Hunter. “By adding a competitive element to crowdfunding, we make the experience more fun and engaging for everyone involved.”

The Fall Classic winners will be announced this December.  Each submission is awarded points based on criteria such as the amount of money that is raised and the number of funders, followers, Facebook “likes” and Twitter “tweets” the campaigns have.   The overall number of points earned over 60 days will determine the winner of the Fall Classic.  UFunded is accepting submissions through the end of October.  Any new submission that is accepted will receive $500 to participate and will have an opportunity to win the Fall Classic.

MarketOSU is currently in the lead with 367.50 points, the LisaMom Foundation following with 234.30 points and Case In Point with 209.20 points.

UFunded is the only crowdfunding platform dedicated to accelerating entrepreneurship within university communities.  “UFunded leverages the inherent affinity that alumni have for their alma mater” said Hunter.  “We enable students, alumni and faculty to showcase their products, services and ideas to an existing but largely untapped network of alumni funders, advisors and collaborators.”

July 13, 2012

Build your (Equity) Crowdfunding Portfolio

The excitement surrounding crowdfunding is at a fever pitch following the passage of the JOBS Act this past April.  The JOBS Act will give non-accredited investors (people making less than $250K annually or with less than $1M in total net worth) the opportunity to invest in companies through crowdfunding in 2013.  Before the laws were amended substantial legal barriers and regulations made it impractical for the non-accredited investors to financially support start-up companies.  Why is this important and how does it affect your investment strategy?

Most people have rarely had the opportunity to acquire direct equity in a company unless it is through the stock market.  At a basic level most people understand the value of investing in a 401K or the stock market.  You invest money today hoping that it will be worth more in the future when you need it.   It carries risk, and may lose value, but few people devote all their investable assets to the stock market or their 401K.  We think crowdfunding will soon become as commonplace in your personal portfolio going forward.

Think about it like this.  All the most buzzed about, well-known and profitable companies in the world had relatively humble beginnings.  Today, everyone has heard of Google, Apple and Facebook.  If you want to own a piece of their success you merely need to check the stock market and pay the going rate for their shares.  But what if you could have gotten equity or a piece of ownership before the whole world realized they were highly successful companies?  At a reasonable price?  Before they did an IPO?

That’s why you should be ecstatic over the JOBS Act.  In the future, platforms like UFunded will allow you to track, invest and support start-ups and people you believe in.  Companies will be able to raise up to $1M through equity financing.  If you were one of the early fans of Facebook in 2005 and they raised money on a platform like UFunded would you have invested $100? Maybe $1,000?  How excited would you be to own a piece of Apple when they first started making computers in 1979?  Would you feel good about owning equity in Google before they went public?

Fast forward to today and think about how much your modest initial investment would have multiplied.  That’s why crowdfunding should get you excited.  Now you will have incredible access and transparency into the next wave of innovative and game changing start-ups that need to raise capital.  No investment is without risk and you should always be completely comfortable (mentally, emotionally & financially) with any investment you make.

UFunded will continue to follow the JOBS Act to make sure equity investment will benefit university communities.  To date, we believe that communities built around shared university affiliations, traditions and values will be highly successful identifying and supporting the next Google, Apple or Facebook.  Check back with us to stay updated on the JOBS Act and to develop your investment strategy.  Excited yet?

Cuyler Hunter

Co-founder of UFunded

July 2, 2012

UFunded Newsletter

Hello UFunders,

Welcome to the UFunded debut newsletter.  Every other week we’ll send out newsletters to update you on UFunded, current entrepreneur campaigns and the crowdfunding industry.  From everyone on our team please have a safe and happy holiday this 4th of July!

Continue reading the newsletter…

June 27,2012

UFunded Enters the 10-xelerator Program this Week

We are proud to announce that UFunded is taking part in the 10-xelerator program based in Columbus, Ohio.  The 10-xelerator (10x), led by the Center for Entrepreneurship at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, is a mentorship-driven investment program designed for energetic and game-changing entrepreneurs.  10x is also a member of the TechStars Network, an invitation-only White House sponsored alliance of independent startup accelerator programs from dozens of cities across the United States and around the world.

The program ends with the New Venture Showcase Day where participating teams will present their start-up opportunities to highly motivated local, regional and national angel and venture capital investors on September 6, 2012.

We are very excited to be a part of the start-up community through the 10x program.  The program will give us access to the leading entrepreneurs and innovators in the Central Ohio region and beyond.   UFunded was founded to connect entrepreneurs with their alumni to work together raising money, finding early customers and creating marketing exposure.  There is a nice synergy to our mission and the value that accelerators like 10x provide.

We will be posting updates on Facebook & Twitter throughout the summer to keep you updated on the fun times!

June 20, 2012

UFunded Press Release Picked up Nationally

Check out the response we’ve gotten on our National Press Release!  Very exciting stuff!

Yahoo News Link

PRWeb Link

Equities.com Link

Crowdsourcing.org Link

Crowdfunding News Link

Allvoices.com Link

Digital Journal Link

AJAllmendinger.com Link

OFFICIAL UFUNDED PRESS RELEASE

University Communities Now Have Crowdfunding Resource

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 20, 2012) – Launching Today, UFunded is the only crowdfunding platform dedicated to accelerating entrepreneurship within university communities.

Crowdfunding provides the opportunity for individuals to network and pool money and expertise to support entrepreneurship.  The platform advances entrepreneurial endeavors by connecting a supportive community of funders to raise capital, seek advice and mentorship in an efficient, accessible way.

“UFunded leverages the inherent affinity of alumni for their alma maters” said Cuyler Hunter, CEO and co-founder.  “We enable students, alumni and faculty to showcase their products, services and ideas to an existing but yet untapped resource of alumni funders, advisors and collaborators.”

Funders can contribute money, expertise and advice to entrepreneurs in exchange for rewards, products or services selected by the entrepreneur.  As an entrepreneur working with UFunded, the company connects the entrepreneur to a base of funders within the university community.

UFunded already supports six campaigns who have all received funding.

Pursuit:  Pursuit is a pop-up clothing retailer based in Columbus, Ohio at the Gateway Center on Ohio State’s campus.  Pursuit specializes in subtle and classic suits tailored to the modern guy.  Website: www.Pursuityourself.com

BRU:  BRU is an on-premise brewery and bar scheduled to open in the summer of 2012.  BRU, the first-of-its-kind in Central Ohio, will allow individuals and groups to brew and bottle beer together using unique recipes.  Website: www.Youbru.com

Social Dips: Social Dips is a microbrew concept salsa company.  Social Dips has an innovative packaging design that uses disposable, single-use cups.  The company has plans to develop a variety of innovative and seasonal flavors.

Creative Customizing:  Started in 2009, Creative Customizing specializes in customized, digital printing apparel.  It provides clients with free, high-quality websites that allows the client to earn commissions by making sales through their website.  Website: http://creativecustomizing.com/home

KC Carter Music Video for “Holding Me Back”:  KC Carter has a love and passion for making music.  His recently released album is entitled FLP 2 (Faith, Love, Passion).  KC aspires to have his music stimulate a positive change in people’s lives.  “Holding Me Back” is a single from FLP 2 that talks about not letting circumstances or people from doing your best.  The funding of this project will go towards the production cost for his music video.  Website: http://www.cdbaby.com/kccarter

sideNOW:  sideNOW is a Facebook-inspired debate application that allows users to vote, share and debate their opinions among groups.  This can be used among friends and by corporations.  Users share their opinions and the majority vote is declared the winner.  Website: www.sidenow.com

UFunded supports the recent JOBS Act that allows funder to make equity investments through crowdfunding platforms and will provide this vehicle to both entrepreneurs and funders in 2013.

To sign up now as an entrepreneur or funder, please visit www.UFunded.com

About:  Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, UFunded is the only crowdfunding platform dedicated to the connection between alumni and entrepreneurs.  UFunded is co-founded by Cuyler Hunter and Luke Friedman, who identified an opportunity to create a space where entrepreneurs and alumni can pool resources together to strengthen the university communities they care about.

June 10, 2012 – “Crowdfunding: It’s more than just having an idea and collecting the money”

Interesting article (link) on some of the additional benefits of Crowdfunding.  Check it out!

“The beauty of crowdfunding is it allows you to connect with your target audience from Day One, better engage them and create empathy. In many ways this is the holy grail of marketing — [customers are] emotionally invested in the outcome, personally interested and want to see you succeed. So half your branding and awareness battle has already been fought.”

June 6, 2012 – “What You Need to Know From Crowdfunding”

Check out another article (link) in Forbes on important aspects of the JOBS Act.

Benefits

-  No SEC registration with Crowdfunding.

-  Significant less Red Tape.

-  Can raise up to $1 million of stock per year to unlimited number of investors.

-  Individuals who earn less than $100k can invest up to $2k per company per year.

Requirements for Companies Raising Capital

-  If trying to raise $100k – Must provide prior year income tax returns.

-  If raising between $100k and $500k – Must also have an Independent CPA review company financials.

-  If raising greater than $500k – Requires Audited Financial Statements.

Additional Crowdfunding Highlights

-  In 2011 Estimated 452 Crowdfunding platforms worldwide raised nearly $1.5 billion.

-  In 2012 Estimated to raise greater than $2.8 billion.

-  Until JOBS Act, only accredited investors were allowed to invest via Crowdfunding, those with net worth of more than $1 million or an annual income of $200k ($300k for a couple.)

June 4, 2012 – “Crowdfunding Brings Start-Ups More Than Money”

Alina Dizik recently wrote an article (link) about how Crowdfunding helps Entrepreneurs with more than just money.  Here are a few crucial things that Crowdfunding can assist in, besides just helping Entrepreneurs raise capital.  Check it out!

1)  Proof of Concept  2)  Learn what Potential Customers Think  3)  Lesson in Sales and Marketing  4)  Learn the Size of your Customer Base  5)  Organization Early on  6)  Ideas for Future Projects

May 26, 2012 – Ever wonder how Crowdfunding became a discussion for Equity Investment?

Check out this article on the origin.  Let’s just say it had to do with a guy and a Pabst Blue Ribbon.  I’m serious. – “Shaking Up Crowdfunding” Link

May 25, 2012 – How Angel Investors Can Benefit From Crowdfunding

As author Hall Martin points out in a recent article (link) in the Austin Business Journal, not only do Entrepreneurs benefit from crowdfunding, but Angel Investors can as well.  Some benefits for Angels from crowdfunding and the new Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act include early stage validation (i.e. the crowd confirming the idea) and a new source of deal flow (similar to how Venture Capitalists benefited from Angel Investors entering the market.)  Additionally, it is expected that Angel Investors will eventually partner up with crowdfunding sites to help this deal flow.  Angel Investors can spread some of the risk associated with early stage companies and diversify their portfolio by choosing multiple startups to invest in.  We look forward at UFunded to helping this trend grow and getting entrepreneurs the funding they seek.

April 6, 2012 – The Jumpstart Our Business Startup (JOBS) Act

As author Scott Gerber points out in his article “The JOBS Act Signing: A Giant Step for Entrepreneurship in America” (link), the JOBS Act has created significant positive steps for startups and entrepreneurs that are searching to get funding for their great ideas.  Until now, the SEC limited the ability of investors to put forth capital into startups via crowdfunding by only allowing accredited investors to purchase equity.  Just as UFunded does currently, crowdfunding allows supporters the ability to “donate” or “barter” with entrepreneurs to facilitate the growth of their great ideas.  With the JOBS act, the game completely changes.  Here is a list of some of the positive aspects of the new bill and the how it will help the entrepreneurs grow our economy.

-Reduces regulatory barriers for entrepreneurs to raise capital.

-Allows startups and small businesses to raise up to $1 million annually in equity using crowdfunding.

-An amendment from the Senate helps to protect investors against fraud.

-Capital investment helps to fuel growth in young, high growth businesses.  This makes up 1% of all companies, but 10% of all new jobs each year.

-Great alternative to racking up debt, whether from small business loans or high rate credit cards.

-Limits how much equity an entrepreneur has to give up, which in turn helps fuel growth and hiring.

March 1, 2012 – Crowdfunding Equity Investment

This is shaping up as a great week for those of us who believe that crowdfunding should be used to raise equity capital for companies.

The President, Senate and House came out in support of bills that will relax SEC restrictions and make it easier for startups to access capital and expertise through crowdfunding sites.  The bill eases disclosure requirements for startups while also protecting investors from fraud.  This is great news for entrepreneurs and the investors who want to support them!  You can learn more by visiting the Startup Exemption website.

February 24, 2012 – Your Daily UFunded Speed Read

Every day we share articles on crowdfunding, investing, business and more.  Enjoy!

Portfolio: Fraggle Rock!

VentureBeat: New Game Gives you Mind Control

Mashable: Check out the iPhone 5

February 23, 2012 – Your Daily UFunded Speed Read

Every day we share articles on crowdfunding, investing, business and more.  Enjoy!

Mashable: Branding your Mobile App

NY Times: Six Attributes of Successful Entrepreneurs

TechCrunch: Social Gaming and Startups

February 22, 2012 – Your Daily Crowdfunding Read

Every day we share articles that relate to crowdfunding, investing, or university entrepreneurs.  Enjoy!

National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer:  Webinar on Crowdfunding Legislation

TechCrunch: Crowdsourcing Wi Fi Hotspots

TechCrunch: Entrepreneurs & Small Business are Vital to US economy

February 13, 2012

We wanted to thank everyone for all the Facebook love on our new business page! The response has been really positive and we are starting to get this Twitter thing going too. UFunded aims to serve the thousands the entrepreneurs and universities they represent. Your support is critical so please keep forwarding our emails, giving us “likes” on FB & following on Twitter! The more people we can reach, the more people we can help.

Everytime you help us….U Make it Happen!

January 13, 2012

Watch this video to learn how this entrepreneur got the funds she needed to open her bakery by using crowdfunding. It may not mention our site but that’s ok–we’re new!

She still has good advice that will help prepare your campaign for success

http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/222633

January 3, 2012

We recently pitched UFunded at WakeUp StartUp as we prepare to go live.  WakeUp StartUp is an entrepreneur-driven movement to bring people together who are committed to creating, building and growing high growth companies in Central Ohio.  WUSU is a monthly networking event where founders explain their company to a collection of entrepreneurs, investors, students, faculty–and, of course, to The Ohio State University community.

It is a fun event that showcases exciting business concepts & start-up ideas coming out of Columbus.  There are some truly talented people out there and we hope to help them raise the funds they need to be successful.  Click the link below see what all the buzz is about!

http://wakeupstartup.com/blog/

January 2, 2012

Here is a nice article that can help you organize and manage your campaign for maximum success!

These tips will help focus your message and get the crowd behind you–click below to learn more!

How to Run a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

December 30, 2011

UFunded’s Top 10 Tips for a Successful Campaign

1. Create a video. Use a webcam, smartphone, tablet or camcorder to film your video. The video doesn’t need to be long or professionally done but it will definitely increase the chances of getting UFunded. The most successful campaigns have videos that are anywhere from 1-5 minutes and really explain your cause.

2. Make it personal when setting up your campaign. People want to know the people, issues and importance of your campaign so this is your chance to shine. Once you create your video we will place it on our YouTube channel to help promote your campaign and get you added exposure.

3. Set a realistic fundraising goal. Explain how much money you need and what it will be used for. Giving visibility to the needs of your campaign will excite and motivate your Funders. There is no penalty for exceeding or falling below your goal. You can always run a follow up campaign in the future.

4. Have a sense of urgency with your campaign and your goal. Set a deadline and sprint to the finish! Campaigns are 90 days or less on UFunded so stay at it and make it happen!

5. Give peace of mind. UFunded is a 100% safe and secure site. No credit card information is shared with Campaigners or UFunded. Your protection is our priority and UFunded does not store any credit card information.

6. Share your campaign with social media tools. Your campaign video will go on our YouTube channel. Make sure you get the word out by sharing on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Social media is an easy and effective way to get the word out and go viral.

7. Keep your Funders updated on your Campaign’s status. Remember they cared enough to give originally so keep them in the loop! New YouTube videos, Facebook posts and Tweets are great ways to engage your Funders.

8. Give awesome Funder Incentives. These incentives can give the perfect inspiration for more giving. The incentives can be simple and thoughtful like a thank you note or personal phone call. A business can offer a discount on a product or service. Artists can create unique pieces for Funders. Doing Funder incentives is optional, but the most successful campaigns use them to help motivate supporters.

9. Spread the love! Follow through on Funder Incentives. We’ll make it easy for you and compile a list of your Funders to help you organize their cool gifts. Even if you don’t create Funder Incentives still thank your supporters for helping make your campaign a success.

10. Enjoy the moment and share your passion! You started a campaign for a worthy cause, so dive in and make the most of it. Once Funders see your passion, devotion and hard work they will support you. UFunded can help U Make it Happen!