As published on Technorati
Let’s say you’ve got a great idea. Something like a better mousetrap, but better. Like a better, safer, bicycle tire.
You need money and you need guidance to bring it to market. Go to Kickstarter and you can work on getting the capital. Then what? Holy cow, I’ve got orders to fulfill!
That’s the scenario Crowd Supply is looking to address. The company is the first crowdfunding marketplace that connects project creators with the necessary services they need to successfully develop, sell and ship their products. The company positions itself as the true turnkey solution between concept to fully operational.
Here’s the thing. As entrepreneurs, start-ups and businesses develop the innovative new products through crowdfunding sources, they’ll soon discover something’s missing in the equation. There needs to be a bigger product development strategy in place, and that needs to be part of the deal. Funding is just the beginning, execution and profit pays the bills.
Execution is what Crowd Supply’s banking on as the missing component to this more connected, more social, more crowd-influenced world of ours. The company provides new companies the ability to operate and perform like big box retailers, delivering on orders through shipping,fulfillment and management.
Staffed with engineers and scientists, all with extensive product development experience, Crowd Supply aims to differentiate itself by allowing entrepreneurs to work directly with project reviewers and experts. The company removes those barriers, as well as what it calls “arbitrary rules” about what types of projects competitors we will accept and in what form (i.e. Kickstarter has ‘no pet projects’ and ‘no home improvement projects’ and ‘no renderings’ rules).
“We offer project creators direct access by phone or email to the people who are reviewing their projects,” Lou Doctor, the company’s founder, explains, “and once a project hits it’s funding threshold, we’ll release funds immediately instead of waiting until a 45 or 60 day campaign closes.” The way it works, entrepreneurs submit a project to Crowd Supply. The Crowd Supply team will then reply with concrete feedback, both if the project is accepted or not. Accepted projects will be posted on the site (as with Kickstarter, Indiegogo) and the project will raise money.
Successful projects will remain on the site past their fundraising window. To give you an idea, these are three projects Crowd Supply will be launching this month:
- Reactor by Gridcase: iPhone Case With a Built-In Hand-Crank Battery Charger.
Why it’s revolutionary: Bringing power to the people. A necessary accessory for the busy, mobile device-dependent developed world, the Reactor guarantees that iPhone users will never lose power when they need it, especially when they are on the move and cannot stop to plug-in. The Reactor serves a durable, lightweight case for your iPhone 5 and has built into it a hand-crank charger, eliminating the need for bulky battery packs, which themselves would also require charging. It eliminates the risk of losing power in emergency and everyday situations by providing free, human power exactly when you need it, without bulk or cables, regardless of weather, time of day or power grid access.
- Asylum by Bicycle Design Labs: A High-Performance, Go-Anywhere Cyclocross Bike With Road/Cross Geometry Built for the Most Discerning of Riders
Why it’s revolutionary: The Asylum bridges is the ultimate cross bike in terms of the terrain capabilities, weight, and handling. While there are other fine carbon fiber bicycles on the market, the design of The Asylum – which is handmade in the U.S.A. – offers an entirely new level of performance. From the disc brake to the PF30 bottom bracket; the tapered head tube and molded-in chainstay disc brake mount that actually strengthens the rear triangle, no other bike puts these elements together to optimize for speed, durability and portability.
- Lit Tires by Bike Soles: Ultra-Reflective Bicycle Tires
Why it’s revolutionary: Unlike common commuter tires, which have limited visibility even from the side, LIT Tires are highly reflective and visible from nearly every angle, enabling drivers and other bikers to see riders any time, day or night. Perfect for novice and experienced riders in bike-heavy areas, LIT Tires will be manufactured in Europe and will cost approximately $35/tire or approximately 40% the price of leading brands
Good Products and Good Exposure as an Advantage
Why Does All This Make Sense If You’re a Digital Marketer?
Good product + satisfied consumer = excellent social content. “Social content” the factor that can take your concept from idea to Susan Boyle-like stardom seemingly overnight.
We haven’t seen this before in business. What it means for the entrepreneur is lower barriers to entry, and a level playing field. So delivering on product fulfillment, to begin with, can be the difference between make or break for a new company. The company that delivers a solid product, can enjoy what I call the “Unencumbered Enthusiasm Cycle.” Barriers removed by technology, enthusiasm for a well-developed product can spread unencumbered.
Going back to the “better mousetrap” point, almost half of all bicycle fatalities happen in twilight or nighttime conditions. Bicycle lights are a must-have safety accessory, yet, they only provide front and rear visibility, and are subject to theft and dead batteries.
That’s the mousetrap. Crowd Supply is supporting the potentially much better one.
Its incubator company, Bike Soles, has partnered with a major European bicycle tire producer for the manufacture of its new line of LIT tires that illuminate while riding. “The cost of production molds exceeded our budget, so we decided to turn to crowdfunding to raise the necessary funds,”said Jason Start, Bike Soles General Manager. “Crowd Supply was the logical choice, since they offer a complete solution that also handles pre-orders and fulfillment. The new tires offer visibility and protection without added cost or weight over conventional commuter bike tires.
Were Bike Soles waiting around for full funding before delivering on anything, buzz, interest, and brand credibility would be lost. Being able to fulfill on orders in and around the process of fundraising gives the brand a steady presence.
Going back to the Enthusiasm Cycle and the phenomena we call social media, one pair of these tires in the hands of an enthusiast changes everything. He brings his cousin over. The sister-in-law joins with a beta-cam, and enthusiasm gets contagious through digital channels.
Does that make a difference? You bet. Good idea, and good backing that helps you deliver on it can make the difference. And so few “idea” people are balanced with the manufacturing know-how to deliver on product. That’s what Crowd Supply is betting will make the difference.
Just follow today’s buzz about the new hand-crank iPhone charger to see it in action. Turn a good idea into a good product and it goes social. This, because people naturally share good ideas and good products with one another. Social is the new currency of marketing, and content is the currency of social. So having a new idea actually produced and distributed by a crowdfunding source that does more than just “fund,” gives the budding entrepreneur a healthy advantage.