Category Archives: Crowdfunding Campaigns

$150 Million: Tim Draper-Backed Bancor Completes Largest-Ever ICO

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Coindesk | by Stan Higgins, Alex Sunnarborg & Pete Rizzo | Jun 12, 2017

An initial coin offering (ICO) for a blockchain project called Bancor has set a new industry record, raising approximately $153m in ether, the native currency on the ethereum blockchain, as part of a crowdsale that concluded today.

Data shows a smart contract connected to the sale had collected more than 390,000 ether by the time it ended at 18:00 UTC, an amount worth $152.3m at current prices. As such, the figure is higher than even the funding raised by The DAO, the notorious failed fundraising project that made headlines last year when it lost the millions of the $152m in investor funds it raised in a similar sale.

Overall, 79,323,978 Bancor network tokens (BNTs) were created as part of the ICO, with the top token holders now possessing 83.96% of the tokens, or 66,601,702 BNT. Fifty percent of the total tokens, or 39,661,989 BNT, were sold to the public, while the remaining 50% were allocated for future use.

The ICO attracted 10,885 buyers, according to available data, with more than 15,000 transactions sent to the address for purchases during the sale. One buyer went so far as to purchase 6.9m BNT, or roughly $27m, in the sale.

See:  Don't miss the Annual Summer Kickoff Rooftop Networking session June 22 @The Spoke Club

Launched in 2017, Bancor, overseen by the Bprotocol Foundation, has been pitched as a platform designed to make it easier for users to launch their own blockchain tokens.

Of the remaining funds, a blog post by the company states token capital will be directed toward partnerships, community grants, public bounties and project advisors.

Issues with the sale

As with past sales of this kind, the ICO was accompanied by reports that the ethereum network faced significant transaction loads, resulting in delays for buyers.

However, the project itself was adversely affected by long wait times on ethereum.

According to the Bancor website, an initial funding target was set at 250,000 ether, though this figure was not hard-coded into the smart contract deployed. As a result, a transaction sent on the ethereum blockchain in an effort to change the contract and limit the crowdsale in length did not work as desired.

Due to network disruption and delays holding up this transaction, the company said the crowdsale ended up continuing longer than initially desired. Overall, it lasted an two additional hours as a result of the delay.

Posts on social media further suggest that at least some users saw transaction issues during the sale. One thread on Reddit drew complaints about transactions being dropped as long as 35 minutes after they were sent to the ICO address.

Some participants who spoke to CoinDesk also said that they had experienced delays in transacting, including one who had issues moving their ethers off an exchange for the purposes of participating in the ICO.

One exchange operator went so far as to argue that the ICO had increased transaction congestion, colorfully remarking that larger ether buyers were disrupting the sale.

Notable investors

Another factor contributing to the frenzy is that, as sale was getting underway, Bancor revealed it had attracted new and notable investors.

Among those announced to be contributing funds was investor Tim Draper of VC fund Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Though new to the ICO space – he previously backed the Tezos project ahead of its yet-to-be-held offering – Draper has invested in a number of bitcoin startups in the past few years.

In 2014, Draper made headlines when it emerged that he had bought 30,000 bitcoins during US government auction, later picking up an additional 2,000 BTC during a second sale. As part of the funding, Draper will also be joining the project as an advisor.

The Bancor sale was also backed by Blockchain Capital, an investment firm that focuses on startups in the space.

According to a blog post published today, Blockchain Capital is making its investment via its BCAP token, which it launched earlier this year.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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Sign of the times: Crowdfunding for scientific research

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Ottawa Citizen | By Elizabeth Payne | June 13, 2017

Eric Fisher is a biochemist who was headed for a career researching heart disease when he abruptly changed course. Now, instead of doing his own research, he has created a crowdfunding platform to help other scientists raise money to continue their work at a time when money for science is scarce.

Labfundr, as the platform is called, is a sign of the times for science funding in Canada.

See: Crowdfunding the Canadian Knowledge Economy

Halifax-based Fisher, who did an undergrad degree at the University of Ottawa and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Dalhousie University, said he was stunned to see the troubles Canadian scientists were facing when it came to getting funding.

Changes in recent years at the country’s main biomedical research funding body, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, have caused turmoil in the research community and left many wondering how they can continue their research because funding dollars are increasingly scarce. CIHR reforms included changes to the peer review system and how funding is distributed, among other things.

“There is sort of a quiet crisis brewing. It really is a huge problem,” said Fisher.

He was interested in the crowdfunding phenomenon, which has been successfully used around the world to raise money for scientific research and engage the general public in science — no small thing in an age of alternate facts and anti-science undercurrents.

In Canada, he found, there was no platform to help launch crowdfunding campaigns for scientific research.

“A lot of countries have science crowdfunding platforms. Canada is a little behind in a lot of ways.”

See: Scientists turn to crowdfunding to help pay for research

In the U.S., for example, the American Gut Project, which studies the microbiome, has been called one of the largest crowd-sourced, citizen science projects in the country.

Fisher calls the project, which has raised more than $1 million and engaged many people in science, the “rockstar” of the science crowdfunding world. In addition to raising money for the research, it involves the public by allowing people to compare the microbes in their gut to thousands of others. Similar crowdfunded, open-sourced gut projects are underway in other countries.

LabFundr launched its first crowdfunding campaign last month — to raise $10,000 for CALIPER (Canadian Laboratory Initiative on Paediatric Reference Intervals), a national study of health indicators in Canadian children based at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital. The money raised will be used to expand a database of blood test values taken from healthy Canadian children to provide medical professionals with a tool in clinical practice.

Healthy blood test values, or reference intervals, are typically used by doctors to determine if a patient is healthy or unhealthy. Such intervals for children and teens are lacking, said Dr. Khosrow Adeli, lead researcher for CALIPER.

“This kind of database will assist pediatricians from across the country and around the world in making healthcare decisions for our children.”

Fisher said crowdfunding can fill funding gaps and might support work that helps researchers later receive major funding. It also helps engage and educate the public about scientific research.

“I think things have evolved and now scientists don’t have the luxury of being able to work in the lab and not talk to the public. The anti-science sentiment is proof of that. Science needs to reconnect with the public – that is almost more important in the long-term than helping to fill the funding gaps, which are absolutely urgent.”

Fisher also said he thinks he can have a bigger impact by creating Labfundr than doing research. “I see this as a way I could have a big positive impact.”

As to whether a shift to crowdfunding means governments will be less inclined to support scientific research, Fisher said the two are not comparable, but crowdfunded projects can complement larger-scale research.

 

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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How to use your blog to fuel startup crowdfunding efforts

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GoDaddy | Ashley Grant | May 26, 2017

Whether you’re attempting to crowdfund an eBook, a documentary, an album release, or some other venture, the goal is the same: You want as many people to learn about your project as possible, and then feel inspired to open up their wallets (er, I mean hearts) to help you fund it. One of the best ways to get the word out about your venture is to blog about it. Using your blog to drive startup crowdfunding efforts could be the difference in making or breaking your fundraising goal.

Start with your current audience, or build one fast

Hopefully, you’ve already been blogging steadily, but if you haven’t, create a blog as soon as possible so you’ll have a place to direct people to learn more about your project. This internet home will be a diary if you will, with behind-the-scenes information and news people want to know.

"You should be blogging at least three to six months prior to your crowdfunding launch. The idea is to whet the appetite of your audience ahead of time so that when you eventually ask for their dollars they will be more likely to give."

It’s like dating in that it starts with a little flirting. Ask for their email address, and message them a bit. People want to get to know you before they financially commit. Then, you have to maintain the relationship by continuing to wow them with your ongoing story. (You don’t just ask them out and never call them again!)

See: The A to Z guide to media relations for crowdfunding

Choose your platform and commence editorial planning

You probably already know this, but not all crowdfunding platforms are created equally. Check out our post on the most popular ones and pick the one that speaks to you. Then, come back here to continue learning about how to blog your way to full funding. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Welcome back! Now that you have decided which crowdfunding platform to use, it’s time to plan your editorial calendar. You’ll want to determine how often you’ll blog, what you’ll write about, and how you’ll promote the posts. (Launching the fundraiser without a blogging plan is asking for trouble.)

Some things to consider adding to your editorial calendar include:

A post about who you are. People connect to people, and they want to feel like they have a relationship with you instead of giving haphazardly to a stranger.

What you’re raising the money for. Duh! You’ve got to explain what this amazing thing that people just have to fund is.

Why you want to make this brilliant thing a reality. As Simon Sinek so brilliantly said in his Ted Talk:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

(P.S. I strongly recommend watching that video before you start blogging about what you’re fundraising for because it gets to the heart of what will compel people to give to you.)

A detailed breakdown of costs. Here’s the thing: If you tell me a clothing line is going to cost $100,000 to launch, I’ll assume you are just money hungry. But, if you tell me that each piece is lovingly handcrafted by a team of seamstresses who spend hours perfecting each element of these outfits, how much the sewing machines cost, and what the money is really being used for, now you’ve made me feel like I’m contributing to a cause, not just your bank account.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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Detecting terrorism financing in crowdfunds poses ‘significant challenge’: Fintrac report

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GlobalNews | | May 18, 2017

Canada’s money-laundering watchdog is studying the use of crowdfunding platforms by suspected terrorists and says in an internal study that the reporting protocol poses a “significant challenge” in trying to identify such transactions.

The Fintrac report, obtained by The Canadian Press through an Access to Information request, says there is a lack of information available in electronic fund transfer reports on contributors to crowdfunding campaigns.

Financial companies, money services businesses and casinos are legally required to submit the reports to Fintrac for cross-border, electronic transactions above $10,000.

That lack of information poses a problem for financial intelligence, “especially when trying to flag individuals supporting a crowdfunding campaign that may be suspected of being (terrorist financing)-related by an investigative authority,” Fintrac says in the November 2015 report.

See:  Anti money-laundering watchdog assessing vulnerability of fintech startups

The federal agency said the reports typically don’t include information on contributors to crowdfunding campaigns because the amounts transferred tend to fall below the reporting threshold of $10,000.

“Terrorism financing and high-risk traveller cases, in particular, most often entail relatively small amounts of money,” spokeswoman Renee Bercier said in an email.

Daryl Hatton, founder of ConnectionPoint.com, a company that runs three crowdfunding websites, said they don’t have to submit funds transfer reports because that is the duty of the payment processors.

“The short answer is that crowdfunding platforms leverage the anti-money laundering systems of our payment processors,” Hatton said in an email.

“We add our own checks on the identities of the people running the fundraising campaigns but trust the much more sophisticated work our partners are doing in this area.”

Hatton said he has removed a “very small number” of campaigns over terrorism financing concerns. The decision to remove the campaigns was made in collaboration with payment processors and was done more as a precaution, he said.

Craig Asano, the executive director of the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada, said it’s important that there are mechanisms in place to detect such transactions.

See:  In Crowdfunding, Who is Responsible for Preventing Fraud?

The Financial Action Task Force, an international organization that aims to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, flagged crowdfunding as an emerging terrorism-finance risk in a 2015 report.

The task force report said crowdfunding platforms are vulnerable to being exploited for illegal purposes because people can mask the true reason for their fundraising efforts.

It also said there have been instances in Canada where people under investigation for terrorism-related offences have used crowdfunding sites before leaving the country or attempting to leave the country, suggesting that they could be using that money to fight overseas. But details of those cases were not provided.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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How to Boost your Crowdfunding Campaign with SEO

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NCFA (About Us) Member Guest Post | May 18, 2017

Many people who do crowdfunding tend to neglect SEO for a variety of reasons. Many prefer to turn to tools like social media and video to attract more visibility. However, SEO can be a very powerful tool as well, and in this article, we’re going to give you a few tips on how to use SEO to push your crowdfunding campaign.

Tags are Still Important

While much fuss has been made about the uselessness of keyword stuffing when it comes to tags, they are still there for a reason. Some methods of old are pretty much irrelevant, such as using a variety of long tail keywords for Meta tags, for instance, tags can be a powerful SEO for any crowdfunding efforts, especially on the local level. Try to use location tags as much as possible so you can appear in searches in your particular region. Also, try to be relevant. If you’re not a non-profit, don’t use “non-profit” as a tag. This might actually do more harm than good. If you’re struggling with tags or keyword research, you could work with an SEO agency to help. However, focus on hiring people that are well versed in crowdfunding; don’t stay local. If you find an NYC SEO company that seems more qualified for this type of project, go for it.

Create a Dedicated Website

You will need a viable website if you really want to get results with SEO. And you shouldn’t cut corners either. Even if this is a temporary project, you could still use the website for launching later on. Make sure that the site is professionally made and that your project is front and center.

See:

Video works very well for crowdfunding, so having a video explaining your project in detail is a great way to get people’s attention.  The site needs to load fast, have a nice clear design and be mobile friendly as well. Also consider investing in an https domain, as they tend to be favored by search engines. Make sure that it is optimized for the right keywords, but don’t overdo it. Keywords should focus on your company’s name, brand name, and products. Also, make sure that it is cross-linked with your crowdfunding page as well, and reference them through any social media platform you're using to trigger social signals.

Optimize your Crowdfunding Page

Your crowdfunding page needs to be optimized and follow pretty much the same rules as your main website. You should do everything in your power to generate organic backlinks to your campaign by releasing good content through the right channels and with sustained social media marketing efforts.

Make sure the keywords you choose are as specific as possible. If you’re funding a solar panel venture, don’t go for generic terms such as “green energy” for instance, as it may include things such as biofuels, wind power, recycling, etc. Use specific terms such as “photovoltaic” or “solar cells” if you want traffic that is as targeted as possible.

As you can see, SEO can be a wonderful tool for crowdfunding, as long as you do it the right way.


The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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What you need to know about launching a Kickstarter project in Montreal

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CBC | By Jaela Bernstien, Roberto Rocha | April 27, 2017

According to a CBC analysis, the majority of Kickstarter campaigns launched in Montreal are tech and video games, but the crowdfunding projects that succeed aren't necessarily what you'd expect.

CBC looked at six years of Kickstarter projects with data provided by Web Robots and HiveWire, two firms that track crowdfunding sites.

Only Kickstarter data was used since it has the largest and most representative sample of Canadian crowdfunding projects.

See: Share your opinion: 2017 Annual Alternative Finance Crowdfunding in Canada Survey

The crowdfunding data sheds light on creative trends in cities large and small, including Montreal.

As far as the total number of Kickstarter projects is concerned, Montreal is the third biggest city, after Toronto and Vancouver.

Montreal is known as a tech and video game hub, and that's reflected on Kickstarter, where most of the campaigns launched out of Montreal are in the tech and video gaming industry.

But not all Kickstarter campaigns actually succeed.

See:  What 10,000 Kickstarter projects reveal about Canada's entrepreneurs

So which projects are most likely to achieve their target fundraising goals?

In Montreal, films performed above the national average: 49 per cent of those launched here succeeded, compared to the 37 per cent success rate nationwide.

"Montreal also outperforms the country in tech projects — the toughest category according to CBC's analysis."

In Montreal, one-quarter of tech campaigns met their funding targets. In the rest of Canada, about 19 percent did.

What makes a Kickstarter campaign successful?

One key takeaway from CBC's analysis of nearly 10,000 Canadian Kickstarter projects was that crowdfunding works best on projects that already have something to show.

One of the highest fundraising goals in Canada that succeeded was for We Happy Few, a video game created by Compulsion Games.

They raised more than $300,000 through Kickstarter.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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What 10,000 Kickstarter projects reveal about Canada’s entrepreneurs

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CBC | By Roberto Rocha | April 27, 2017

smarthalo-velo-connecte-20161127In the last six years, Canadians took nearly 10,000 shots at glory on crowdfunding site Kickstarter.

Only about a third succeeded.

But what are these projects? Which are the most successful? Are there big differences between the creative economies of every city?

Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and FundRazr have changed how creative entrepreneurs fund their passions. No longer confined to traditional sources like banks and venture capital, anyone can get money for an idea provided they inspire enough people to cough up cash.

These sites enable people to donate money to fund a project, usually in return for a reward — for example, early access to a new product, a T-shirt or dinner with the creators. The more one gives, the juicier the reward.

The CBC looked at six years of Kickstarter projects with data provided by Web Robots and HiveWire, two firms that track crowdfunding sites. Only Kickstarter data was used, since it has the largest and most representative sample of Canadian crowdfunding projects.

See:  Christopher Charlesworth, CEO and Co-founder of HiveWire, Joins NCFA's Advisory Board

More than half of all Canadian Kickstarter projects are concentrated in the three biggest cities.

It's generally known that Montreal is a hotbed of video game development, while Vancouver has a rich film scene. These are known industry facts, and the Kickstarter data confirms that bootstrapping creators in these cities also operate in these areas.

But some cities seem to flout stereotypes. Halifax, better known for its music, has more game-related projects than other categories.

Equal parts preparation and perspiration

Not all Kickstarter campaigns have the same shot at success. If you want good odds of making it, try funding a play or a comic book. These have the highest success rates: 60% of these types of projects reached their funding goals.

But if you want to fund a tech idea, the cards are strongly stacked against you. Of all the Canadian tech projects on Kickstarter, only about 20% got the money they asked for, making it the toughest category.

And if you don't reach your goal on Kickstarter, you don't see a cent of what users pledged.

SmartHalo, a multipurpose attachment for bikes, is an anomaly. Not only did the project reach its Kickstarter goal, it did it in 15 hours, and is one of the most successful recent projects based in Montreal.

It had a fundraising goal of $67,000. It raised nearly $540,000.

"Early adopters of technology know that's where innovation happens, on Kickstarter," said Xavier Peich, the business director of SmartHalo. "Getting something that no one else has, it's a compelling offer."

See: 5 Things You (Probably) Never Knew About Kickstarter

How Canada compares internationally

Canada is the third-biggest country on Kickstarter in terms of number of projects. Of the 301,000 projects analyzed, fewer  than 10,000 were Canadian, compared to 245,00 in the U.S. and 25,000 in Britain.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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