Monday, 17 September 2012

Crowdfunding Bristol's Community Bike Cafe

Whether it be as a means of transport or to keep physically fit, cycling is enjoying something of a renaissance in the UK. This revived interest in pedal power has particularly taken hold in Bristol making it the first cycling city, which has inspired an idea for a community cafe for cyclists. The project, Roll For The Soul, aims to provide a cafe and social hub for cyclists, not only serving quality refreshments but acting as a one stop resource centre to promote and support cycling in the city. The project has turned to crowdfunding to help raise some of the necessary funds, through the UK based platform Crowdfunder.

Roll For The Soul (RFTS) is the idea of Rob Wall, a former lecturer in transport psychology (for which  he also has a PhD) and project manager for Sustrans, the UK's leading charity for promoting alternative day to day travel which includes cycling, which due to the rise in fuel costs as well as concerns for the environment is becoming increasingly popular. As well as financial and environmental concerns, the recent surge in cycling has in part been driven by a need to become physically fit inspired by success of British cyclists in pro-racing events such as the Tour de France and the London 2012 Olympics. 

As well as a cafe or resting stop for weary cyclists, serving quality Fair Trade refreshments, RFTS main aim is to support and promote cycling in Bristol, by providing a plethora of resources which include, repairs service, workshop tutorials and skill sharing as well as limited sale of refurbished bicycles and accessories. The hub will also welcome non cyclists in an effort to promote cycling as fun, healthy, and inexpensive, answering questions and offering support where need. It will essentially be a place cyclists can call their own, and completely non-profit orientated with any surplus revenue going towards promoting cycling in the city working with various organisations.

The project needs £90,000 to cover working capital as well as year one operational costs, of which only £12,000 will be sought through crowdfunding to help pay for kitchen equipment, seating, and cash registers. The project features on the platform Crowdfunder, based in Exeter. Those who donate will receive an array of rewards which include an assortment of RFTS merchandise such as postcards, pin buttons, T-shirts and exclusive prints, as well as an invitation to the opening party with food and drink provided.For those who donate £300 or more, a life time membership offering 10% discount along with a promise to be treated like royalty. The campaign has just under 40 days to raise the necessary funds and to date has received £5,500 in donations. 

For more information and to make a donation click here to visit the project's Crowdfunder page.

Image Credit; tejvanphotos

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Can Students Take Over Kickstarter?

The power of the crowd has already helped many businesses and organisations (large and small) secure funding and/or quality ideas and designs with impressive results. Crowdfunding in particular has become the preferred tool for fundraising where traditional avenues are still proving impossible to access or simply not delivering essential funds needed. The benefits of crowdfunding, however are limited to businesses and organisations. Students who normally rely on government funded organisations, such as the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in the US or the Arts Council England, should consider looking to crowdfunding especially at a time when such organisations are facing severe funding cuts.

An infographic produced by the team at, a platform that provides information on a variety of online business degrees, illustrates the successes and benefits of crowdfunding, that students might find interesting.

Kickstarter Infographic

A higher pitch success rate, ease of access, a wide variety of categories with even eccentric ideas receiving full funding (e.g. the Robocop statue), the future may well see students taking over Kickstarter.  

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Playing Host to UK's First Crowdfunding & Social Collaboration Conference

There is no denying that crowdsourcing and open source collaboration is growing in prominence here in the UK. Crowdfunding and open innovation in particular are becoming increasingly popular, yet the concept of Web 2.0 collaborative solutions are still a fairly new concept. In order to help with the challenges presented by current economic austerity measures, UK crowdfunding platform PleaseFund.US will be hosting a crowdfunding and social collaboration conference on 26th September 2012 at Somerset House in London. The event will focus on how essentially crowdsourcing and other forms of web based collaboration and consultation can help bring great ideas to life.

PleasedFund.Us was set up by entrepreneurs, James Bailey and Tarkan Ahmet, and launched in August 2011 (same time as the Gazette). The idea for the platform came about from difficulties encountered trying to raise money for their ideas a common hurdle facing many fledgling start-ups. Over the past year the platform has partnerships with various creative organisations such as Big Society Network, Nexters, and IdeasTap, with the shared aim of helping creative projects secure that much sought after funding. 

The conference, hosted in tandem with two of their partners the Big Society Network and Nexters, aims to explore the rise of crowdsourcing, in particular crowdfunding, and how the principles and technology can be used to breathe life into ideas that would otherwise remain in limbo by the limits of traditional methods. Representatives from PleaseFund.Us and Seedrs will talk about crowdfunding covering equity and non-equity fields, and open panel discussions will be held by various groups including Sky Arts, StartUp Britain, Ideas Tap and Spacehive.
Crowdfunding is one of today's hottest buzzwords in the tech world, and it is exploding in popularity. Financial hurdles are just the tip of the iceberg for most ideas though. This is a chance to look at alternative ways that can fuel and help support ideas, both for individuals and organsiations. -  James Bailey, Co-Founder of PleaseFund.Us
Since launching over a year ago, the team of PleaseFund.US have witnessed a variety of creative projects find a lifeline through crowdfunding including smartphone apps, documentaries and theatre productions. The platform's success stories will be discussed at the conference, highlighting the effectiveness of open source collaboration through social media. The event will start at 6pm and is free to all those who wish to attend but spaces are limited. For more information click here for location details and to book your place. 

Image Credit; Oscar Berg