Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Crowdfunder Nets Biggest Funding Total for Local Football Club

Crowdfunder has helped a local Manchester football club exceed an ambitious crowdfunding target and netting the UK based platform its biggest project to date. The club, FC United of Manchester sought just £26,000 from supporters for the cost of a community centre but after a two month campaign secured over £50,000 to meet further expansion costs which include a fully fitted commercial kitchen.

FC United of Manchester was founded in 2005 and is currently playing in the Evostik 7th level Premier Division. Located in Morton, north of the city of Manchester, the club receives funding and support from fans and members who also run the club. The Broadhurst Park grounds in Morton sought expansion for a commercial kitchen and function room. The club decided to raise the funds through crowdfunding in the hopes of garnering fan support and chose Exeter-based Crowdfunder to facilitate the campaign. Since it was founded in November 2010 Crowdfunder has helped raise £1.7 million for over 2000 community projects, social causes, businesses and start-ups.

The club's crowdfunding campaign, called "Kit-it-Out" initially aimed to raise £26,000 to help pay for the building of a function room that would act as a community centre. The facility would be available to local people and club members alike to host functions, volunteering committees and social gatherings with access to be provided seven days a week. Within one month of launching, the campaign exceed its funding target which was subsequently extended to £20,000. The extra funds were proposed to pay for the the fitting of a commercial kitchen. After two months the revised target was exceeded with 872 pledges raising £51,395 and for Crowdfunder, the biggest funding total for a single project to date.
“It has been an exciting time watching the FC United campaign launch and become so successful. This project is one of our most brilliant examples of how communities can come together to change the future for something they believe in. Crowdfunder and it's supporters, Plymouth Uni and NESTA have enabled this fantastic group of people to achieve something incredible. It's not just about the startling amount they fundraised - it's about the legacy for the community and the proof for grass-roots communities across the UK that together - they can change the world."Phil Geraghty, Managing Director of Crowdfunder
The crowdfunding campaign was far more successful than anticipated enabling FC United to build its new facilities. It is hoped that the community centre will serve as a central hub for the clubs community and volunteering activities that will help an economically deprived area of Manchester. The club will be open to local people as well as members to promote sport participation and education courses in the area. 

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Crowdfunding Paves the Way For Solar Paneled Roads

The need for alternative cleaner renewable energy in the wake of the continued escalation of climate change has seen many ideas through crowdsourcing come to fruition.  Solar Roadways is a new start-up established to develop and implement solar powered panels to pave the roads of America. This innovative road surface technology, which aims to provide safer roads and also harness power from the sun to provide homes and businesses with clean sustainable energy, has proven successful with small scale test. Now the Solar Roadways looks to raise $1,000,000 through the crowdfunding platform IndieGoGo to develop large scale prototypes.

Solar Roadways is the brain child of engineer Scott Brusaw and his wife Julia, a trained counsellor. An electrical engineer of for over 25 years Brusaw developed an idea of creating safer roads SMART roads that would perform a number of invaluable functions. Each panel would contain 120 LED lights that would act as visible road markers and signs. These would be safer and clearer especially for night time driving, and even warn of impending dangers and prevent accidents. The heat generated by the panels would keep the roads clear of ice and snow making the roads safer. The panels would also have alongside secure cable corridors which would provide safe storage for power and data cables illiminating the need for overhead cables. The ultimate purpose of Solar Roadways however is to remove the dependency on fossil fuels by providing clean energy to homes and businesses as well as infrastructure that would power electric (possibly driver-less) cars.

The first small scale prototype was completed in 2010, a 12 by 12 foot road panel made of poly-carbonate plates instead of glass with no solar cells. The panel was tested indoors to illustrate how it worked. Once the details had been configured a larger scale model complete with solar cells, was built. This second phase panel was big enough to cover a car park and endured all manner of stress testing such as load traction and impact resistance of the glass. The successful tests attracted the attention of the US Federal Highway Administration who subsequently provided two phases of funding to Brusaw for larger prototype development. The remainder of the funds needed is being sought through crowdfunding.

Solar Roadways has less than 10 days to secure $1,000,000 target and has already garnered nearly $650,000. In exchange for donations, supporters will receive a variety of rewards including named acknowledgements as well as a variety of merchandise such as t-shirts, mugs and solar panel pendants. Ultimately the Solar Roadways project is more about a genuine desire to further the advancement of clean and sustainable energy through solar power. For more information about the project and to make a donation click here to visit the project's campaign page.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

New Start-up To Use Co-Creation for Ethical Product Development

A new UK start-up is looking to the collaborative process of co-creation to develop high quality beverages that would be in keeping with the ethical values of society. Agora developed by two young entrepreneurs, has announced the launch of its first co-created product called 99% Guiltless a raspberry and mint flavoured water beverage devised by the company's collaborative community. 

Agora was founded by two young entrepreneurs, Allan Szymczyk and Jan Verwijs. Initially it started off as a student project to explore the potential of crowdsourcing in creating a business in which people could participate in every major area from conception to creation. Whilst studying at the Hult International Business School, Allan and Jan initiated a trial run from the school's San Francisco campus. Consulting with other students the project resulted in two smoothie variants which were sold on campus and the profits donated to charity. Following the project's success Allan and Jan decided to transform it into a business venture in the UK and crowdsourced the product's name, Agora, the Greek word for market place. 

The official website for Agora was launched in January 2014 and collaboration on the company's first product began almost immediately. After sourcing ideas from Agora's members as well as consultation with industry leaders, the efforts led to the creation of the company's first product, raspberry and mint flavoured water that promises to be healthy and packed with flavour. To reflect the ethical nature of the company and its product the name 99% Guiltless was chosen. It promises to be free of sugar, additives and calories.

A market study for 99% Guiltless is currently under-way with the initial flavour of raspberry and mint having already been selected by the community. On this basis various flavour houses have been consulted for samples in order to create around 70 different flavour variation from which 11 were selected. These are currently being trialled with a view to reducing the number to five of the most popular samples. Taste testing sessions are to follow combined with a concept check or study that will survey 100 people and include initial designs for the product's bottle and label. Agora aims to begin production upon completion of the market study. 

When to comes to multinational soft drink manufacturers, controversy that calls the ethics of that company in question never seems to be far away. Whereas major companies are all focussed on making huge profits for their shareholders, Agora promises something that its consumers can trust; a brand that is ethically and democratically produced with potential customers as its creators, having a say in what makes up the finished product. The democratic quality of co-creation which Agora has built itself on looks to show how co-creation and crowdsourcing, can not only build a profitable business but also, like the Hisbe supermarket, embody the ethical values society demands from its businesses. For more information and to become a part of the community click here to visit the Agora platform.