Thursday, January 24, 2013

fabulous crowdfunding event!

Boston Looks So Good From Cambridge!
Last night's Crowdfunding Innovation 2 -- a special Mass Innovation Nights event -- featured successful crowdfunders, folks kicking off crowdfunding efforts, great food from Anna's Taqueria, music from RadioBDC, and the awesome view of Boston from Microsoft NERD. Muchas gracias to Anna's Taqueria, Microsoft, Metropolis Creative, Yelp, Cambridge Trust Company, RadioBDC, and TRB Design for supporting Crowdfunding Innovation.

Innovation Nights Sign
Right off the bat, I knew this was a Mass Innovation Nights event, not because Bobbie C and her megaphone greeted people, but because I met a guy wearing a banana suit.  He wins Best Costume of Crowdfunding Innovation 2, beating out the guy with electric blue pants and tie (see background of sign photo above :-)).  Fresh Truck got my attention for sure, but not just because of the banana outfit. What project could be more worthwhile to fund than bringing fresh produce to all of Boston's neighborhoods with a retrofitted school bus? Social impact! Environmental stewardship! Biodiesel!

Fresh Truck Guy in Banana Suit -Accessible and Affordable Fresh Produce to Everyone
I enjoyed talking with the folks from Seeding Labs about funding scientists in the developing world to conduct research through equipment donation, training, and network building - particularly the initiative to  help improve food security in Ghana with genetic research on the types of corn grown in West Africa. We also talked a bit about seed saving and about the lack of genetic research on timber crops (in my IDRI fundraising identity I'm wicked into talking about conifer genetics). And, in an obligatory family reference, one of my girl scientist nieces did some work on sanitation in Ghana with Engineers Without Borders so I perk up when I hear about projects in Ghana. By the way, science rocks! Scientists rock! Girl scientists rock hard!
Seeding Labs
 As I moved from the Seeding Labs table toward the Gorilla Doorway Playgym table I caught this great action shot. Air gym! The Gorilla Doorway Playgym ties with the beaker from Seeding Labs for Best Prop.

Demonstrating the Door Gym

SqueeDogs caught my eye immediately. This looks like a fantastic Facebook game!  A puppy private investigator solves mysteries, finds goodies, and saves puppies. The best part is that it helps real life puppies too! Cerise sold me on it. I can't wait 'til it comes out. By the way, I can't figure out how she pegged me as a cat person who also likes dogs.

Cerise Posing with SqueeDogs Screen
My favorite product of the night, narrowly edging out SqueeDogs, was Shea Radiance, body care products that also create economic opportunities for rural African women.  The sample of pomegranate Shea Butter cream that came home with me is really helping with the winter skin in this weather (it's wicked cold here, in case you're reading this in some warm place).

Shea Radiance
I liked Socrademy's  personalized education system and their whiteboard diagram.

When I turned around to check out USpin -- smart group and place matching with a concierge twist -- I spotted Ricky Orng from Lowell! I am now convinced that Ricky is everywhere I go. I also spotted a fantastic hat, so made the acquaintance of Leora, wearer of the hat.

Me with Leora and Her Hat -- Photo by Ricky Orng

The Ubiquitous Ricky
It was so great to see people from Lowell at this event, not only the ubiquitous Ricky but also Sopheak from FOB Lifestyle + Apparel and Lydia from Mill City Grows. Lots of wonderful stuff is happening in the Merrimack Valley, especially in Lowell. Boston/Cambridge folks might be pleasantly surprised when they check it out.

By the way, I'm told Ricky really liked the chips.

I didn't get to every table, of course. I did get to the MilestonePod  table to find out about their little device that attaches to your shoe to track your running and walking  mileage. I missed Cellanyx and  Uth Faction though.
Zack from MilestonePod
I learned lots from the panel of successful crowdfunders from Bow&Drape, TechSandBox, and Founders Less than Three moderated by Mike Morisy from The Hive.

Moderator Morisy

Founders Less than Three, Bow and Drape, and Moderator Waiting for TechSandbox to Join Them
My head was spinning with all the insights into how important video is in the crowdfunding pitch, the need for engagement throughout the campaign, and how projects seeking crowdfunding can help each other out. It was also interesting to hear that a lot of folks chose platforms other than Kickstarter for their campaigns.

Contender for Best Hat from RadioBDC
I checked out RadioBDC, which I have not yet listened to, and picked up some programming info so I know when to listen. Also, one of the RadioBDC team posed a definite challenge to Leora in the Best Hat category.
RadioBDC Crew
Fantastic frequent participant, Unreal Candy, was there with some free delicious treats too.

In case you wondered, there has been at least one previous banana suit at a Mass Innovation Nights event.

So, now for the official decision on Best Hat, which y'all have been holding your breath for... Best Hat of Crowdfunding Innovation 2 goes to Leora!

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