Archive | January, 2013

Using Indiegogo to take consumers’ pulse

29 Jan

Using Indiegogo to take consumers’ pulse

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BlipCare, a Chicago-based maker of health care products, is shifting its focus from hospitals to consumers and using crowd-funding site Indiegogo to help. It’s not that BlipCare is depending on donations to determine whether to build its new Wi-Fi-enabled blood-pressure monitor and scale. Instead, the company is using Indiegogo campaigns to test the market and learn more about its prospective customers.

CEO Sukhwant Khanuja tells Crain’s contributor Steve Hendershot about that strategy, and more about the company’s new consumer products — the scale and blood-pressure monitor together cost about $250, compared with $1,500 for BlipCare’s clinical offerings.

 - The blood pressure monitor

The blood pressure monitor


Your blood-pressure monitor campaign already hit its target, but the scale campaign fell well short of its goal. What are you hoping to accomplish through the crowd-funding campaigns?

The consumer market is something we don’t know much about. We haven’t done consumer marketing, so we knew we needed to understand what that customer would really want. That was one reason why we went to the crowd-funding approach— because crowd funding lets you test response before you go and build 50,000 units. At our price point, we need to build in volume, not in small runs. And to go out and build 5,000 units or 10,000 units, we need to know that we’ll be able to sell them in a reasonable period of time. The crowd-funding platform allows us to test that.

What happened was very interesting. Even though we didn’t raise a lot of funding, we got interest from around the world — Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Dubai, Turkey, Malaysia. It created a conversation we had not anticipated. And now companies are coming to us, telecommunications companies like Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon, saying they have all these people who they sell Wi-Fi to, and they could offer our applications to their subscribers to make that business more sticky. So this has opened up very interested channel opportunities for us, and we hadn’t anticipated that. We were planning to sell directly to consumers.

What have you learned about your customers? Who’s going to be these Wi-Fi devices?

There are three groups of people. There’s the clinical market, of course, where doctors are interested in taking care of patients. There’s also the athletic people who like to monitor themselves and keep track of their own health. Those are mostly 20- to 40-year-olds. And that group doesn’t want to buy for their parents, because the parents are still in good health. But the third group is 30- to 50-year-olds whose parents are between 50 and 70 and who are starting to manifest heart failure, diabetes, hypertension and so on. This is the group that buys it for their parents.

Tell me more about the products and vision. What’s the benefit of putting Wi-Fi in a home blood-pressure monitor or scale?

My dad thought I was nuts to do what I was doing. One day when he was visiting, we gave him the blood pressure monitor and discovered his systolic number was not coming down. I took it to a cardiologist friend who said that my dad has systolic hypertension. Often that’s not diagnosed — doctors ignore the systolic number and focus on the diastolic; they assume that the systolic number is temporarily elevated because you had coffee or walked up the stairs. But he had systolic hypertension, which is manifested most commonly in people older than 50. So that made a believer out of him.

Different people have different biorhythms or circadian rhythms. Not everybody has the same lifestyle, and as a result, some people see their blood pressure spike at noon, and for some people it spikes at night. So if your doctor says to take a medication once a day, some people should take it in the evening and some people should take it in the morning. Nobody knows which one is right for them.

We really wanted to bring the answer to the consumer level, and the only way to do it was to put a Wi-Fi radio in the monitor and use home Wi-Fi, because that way the cost is manageable. Previously we had been selling a blood-pressure monitor and also a hub to receive the data which had a modem to send out the data. The cost was always higher because you had to provide the hub and the device.

We learned from our clinical experience that people need to be nudged periodically. They use something for a while and then fall off the bandwagon and need to be brought back. The cost of reminding somebody is quite high. So we put a little beeper in the blood pressure monitor, like a wristwatch alarm clock, and it beeps at you and you can program it on the Web. I gave this blood pressure monitor to my dad, who is not living with me, and then both monitored him remotely and also set it up so if he does not take a reading by 9 a.m. it starts beeping at him.

Any other features in the consumer models that are derived from seeing your clinical products in action?

 - The scale

The scale


We also learned that people don’t have multiple scales in the bathroom. So you have to have a “Guest” button. And you may want your spouse to use the scale, too, but without corrupting your data — so there are two user buttons in both the blood pressure monitor and the weight scale so that your spouse can also use it.

This is all learning from the clinical product, which was built for a single user and never bought by the patient; it was bought by the insurance company or home care agency. But now, we’re really getting into preventative stuff. For $100 or $150 you could buy these as a gift with no monthly fees or extra charges. It’s free for life, and you stay connected.

“Silicon City” is a weekly report on Chicago tech startup news and newsmakers written by Crain’s contributor Steve Hendershot.

Share your ideas and news tips on the local tech startup scene with Steve via email: stevehendershot@gmail.com. Check out Steve’s blog here. And follow him on Twitter:@stevehendershot.

Join Crain’s LinkedIn group for Chicago entrepreneurs.And stay on top of Chicago business with Crain’s free daily e-newsletters.

Follow John on Twitter at @JohnPletz.

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130122/BLOGS11/130129978/using-indiegogo-to-take-consumers-pulse

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smithsonianmag.com- The Psychology Behind Superhero Origin Stories

28 Jan

The Psychology Behind Superhero Origin Stories

How does following the adventures of Spider-Man and Batman inspire us to cope with adversity?

  • By Robin Rosenberg
  • Smithsonian magazine, February 2013, Subscribe

Batman mask

Superhero origin stories help us cope with adversity. (www.halloweencostumes.com)


“Why is every superhero movie an origin story?” complained Entertainment Weekly film critic Adam Markovitz after seeing a trailer for this summer’s Man of Steel—yet another version of the 75-year-old Superman saga. Perhaps we love origin stories, Markovitz suggested, because they “show the exact moment when a normal guy goes from being Just Like Us to being somehow better, faster, stronger.”

I’m inclined to disagree. As a clinical psychologist who has written books about the psychology of superheroes, I think origin stories show us not how to become super but how to be heroes, choosing altruism over the pursuit of wealth and power. I’ve learned this through hundreds of conversations at comic book conventions, where fans have been remarkably candid about their lives and the inspiration they draw from superhero stories.

In one form or another the superhero origin story has been around for millennia: A hero battles “supernatural” forces and returns home “from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man,” as the mythologist Joseph Campbell wrote.

In my surveys of the genre, I’ve found that superheroes undergo three types of life-altering experiences that we can relate to.

The first is trauma, which lies at the heart of Batman’s origin story, in which Bruce Wayne dedicates himself to fighting crime after seeing his parents murdered. In real life, many people experience “stress-induced growth” after a trauma and resolve to help others, even becoming social activists.

The second life-altering force is destiny. ConsiderBuffy the Vampire Slayer, about a normal teenager who discovers she’s the “Chosen One”—endowed with supernatural powers to fight demons. Buffy is reluctant to accept her destiny, yet she throws herself into her new job. Many of us identify with Buffy’s challenge (minus the vampires) of assuming a great responsibility that compels her to grow up sooner than she wants to.

Lastly, there’s sheer chance, which transformed a young Spider-Man, who was using his power for selfish purposes until his beloved uncle was murdered by a street thug. Spider-Man’s heroism is an example of how random adverse events cause many of us to take stock of our lives and choose a different path.

At their best, superhero origin stories inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose. (Wearing a cape or tights is optional.)

Comic book writers could have chosen not to endow their characters with origin stories. (In fact, Batman’s back story wasn’t published until the comic’s seventh installment.) But those writers were keen observers of human nature. And they were able to translate those observations into captivating stories reflecting aspects of psychology that were confirmed by researchers decades later. In doing so, they tap into our capacity for empathy, one of the greatest powers of all.

Subscribe now for more of Smithsonian’s coverage on history, science and nature.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/The-Psychology-Behind-Superhero-Origin-Stories-187938991.html?utm_source=smithsoniantopic&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20130127-Weekender

 


wcvb.com- Stephen King pulls ‘school shooting’ book from sale

28 Jan

Horror writer Stephen King pulls ‘school shooting’ book from sale

King pulls ‘Rage’ from bookstores, online sale

WALTHAM, Mass. —Horror writer Stephen King is seeking to provoke a discussion on gun control and gun rights following the school shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn.

In an essay, he discusses why he decided to pull all copies of his first novel, “Rage,” from sale.

“Of course, it’s about a school shooting, and he talks about a kid who shows up in a school and shoots a lot of his classmates and his teachers,” said Alex Green, owner of Back Pages Books in Waltham.

Green said King, a Maine native who is a gun owner, decided that the plot was too close for comfort.

“I don’t envy him the fact that the world has changed so much that this is now within the realm of reality to the point that four kids who have committed school shootings have been found to own copies of the book,” said Green.

“My book did not break (them) or turn them into killers,” King wrote in his essay.

“They found something in my book that spoke to them because they were already broken. Yet I did see ‘Rage’ as a possible accelerant which is why I pulled it from sale. You don’t leave a can of gasoline where a boy with firebug tendencies can lay hands on it,” King wrote.

King called for three “reasonable measures” to curb gun violence in an essay titled “Guns,” released Friday as a Kindle single through Amazon.

King said he wants background checks on all gun sales and bans on high-capacity magazines and military-style weapons like the rifle used in the Newtown shooting, which killed 20 children and six school officials.

King described a pattern of mass shootings in which anger and frustration give way to political rhetoric before discussions of gun control “disappear into the legislative swamp.”

http://www.wcvb.com/news/local/boston-north/Horror-writer-Stephen-King-pulls-school-shooting-book-from-sale/-/11984708/18296896/-/kduvdn/-/index.html

4 Keys to a Winning Kickstarter Campaign

28 Jan

4 Keys to a Winning Kickstarter Campaign

The top factors that make or break a Kickstarter campaign. Graphic: AppsBlogger

Mention Kickstarter these days and blockbuster campaigns come to mind. There’s Ouya’s blistering $2 million in one day for a new Android gaming console (it’s raised more than $5 million to date), and theNifty MiniDrive, external memory for Apple MacBooks. The tiny storage company is more than 2,000% above its $11,000 goal with 15 days left in the campaign.

But for all the success stories on Kickstarter, there are many, many failures. So what’s the secret to ending a campaign with tall boys rather than tears? Wharton Business School professor Ethan Mollick and social entrepreneur Jeanne Pi examined data from almost 50,000 Kickstarter campaigns. They found four keys to a successful Kickstarter campaign: Realistic goals, timing, a bit of marketing, and strong social media ties.

1. Set a spot-on funding goal — not too big, not too small.

Some Kickstarter goals are so high, they’re laughable, and others are too low to be taken seriously. For the best odds of success set your Kickstarter goal near $10,000. At that size, 38% of projects met their goals, the largest chunk of the campaigns studied. If you increase your goal to $50,000, the odds of success fall to 18%. Aim for $100,000 and higher, and your campaign has only a 7% chance of ever coming to fruition. If you do go big, make sure the product and the team justifies your cash ambitions.

2. Don’t take too long to raise your money.

The average Kickstarter campaign lasts for 30 days, which Mollick finds is a sweet spot for successful projects. Campaigns lasting exactly 30 days have a 35% chance of success. Trying increase your odds of success by giving your project more time actually have an opposite effect. At 60 days, only 29% of projects get fully funded. While the difference is small, Mollick and Kickstarter agree that a longer campaign may signal weakness and a lack of confidence.

3. Produce a slick video to get attention.

The nearly foolproof way to raise money on Kickstarter is to get the attention of the crowdfunding site’s staff. Kickstarter staffers choose to feature campaigns on the site based on, among other factors, how well a campaign was written and if it has a compelling video. The vast majority of campaigns that get featured by Kickstarter, 89%, reach their funding goals.

Even if your project doesn’t get featured, video helps your chance of success, or rather, not having video hurts that chance. Campaigns with accompanying video hit the average funding success rate, around 38%. Those that didn’t have video were successful only 15% of the time. Clearly, video is the right tool to impress the increasingly choosey Kickstarter community. “Funders are looking for a video and a well-written campaign to decipher good and bad projects,” says Mollick.

4. Make at least 1,000 Facebook friends

Facebook Friends of Founders, a term coined by Mollick, can decide if a campaign wins or loses, but only if you have enough friends. Founders with 1,000 Facebook friends or more bump their odds of success to 40%. If you only have 100 Facebook friends there is an 80% chance your campaign will end in disappointment. And you might as well not bother if you have only 10 Facebook friends to your name — the campaign’s success rate is 9%.

Sylvia Marino, one half of the team that raised money on Kickstarter for their women’s smartwatch Bia, witnessed first hand how these strategies can pay off. Marino’s team was a poster-child for Mollick’s analysis.

  • While Marino was after $400,000 in funding, its slick product and the chops of the Bia team warranted the ambitious goal. Bia exceeded its goal by $8,000, showing it was priced right from the beginning.
  • The campaign lasted 40 days, just long enough to get funding without losing steam.
  • Marino and her campaign co-founder Cheryl Kellond put up an energetic video that showed off the watch and the revolution they are trying to sell.
  • Most importantly, they tapped their social resources and built a community of backers.

In the campaign’s homestretch, Marino and Kellond took to Twitter and Facebook as if their future depended on it –– it did. In the last 48 hours of Bia’s campaign, the duo really turned up the dial on social media, sending out updates with detailed instructions on how people could help their project, whether they had already pledged money or not. “We sent out updates telling people to find two friends to pledge or increase their current pledge amount,” says Marino. They also drummed up a few big-spending supporters who matched pledges dollar for dollar. The social push paid off. Bia met its goal a few hours before the campaign closed, and received more than $98,000 in pledges in the last day of the campaign alone.

“Everyone thinks they will reach their goal day one and life will be great, but that doesn’t happen,” says Marino. “You’ve got to work at it.”

http://www.wired.com/business/2012/07/kickstarter/

Vigilante Project- #Comcibooks #kickstarter #crowdfunding

28 Jan

My name is Chris Dickens. My best friend Phil Morgenthaler and I created Vigilante Project back in 2009 as a film endeavor. In July 2011 we started working on the comic book series, releasing our first book The Confessional at the Comikaze Expo in November 2011.

Since then we have released two more books: VP#1 with the help of Kickstarter, and VP Presents: Date Night, a special edition book. Now, we have returned to Kickstarter because we need your help to finish and print Volume One of the Vigilante Project graphic novel.

Check out our mock press conference announcing the return to Kickstarter, and you can scroll down to the bottom for even more videos!

For more about us, check out the exclusive, in-depth interview with Chris and Phil, the creators, talking about Vigilante Project and our return to Kickstarter with Dr. Heather Joseph-Witham of Mythbusters fame.

Our main character is Alvin Gentry. He’s a normal college student with a dark past. When Alvin’s kid sister is kidnapped, raped, and murdered, he initially trusts the police to find the person responsible. As the investigation stalls, Alvin uncovers a clue that could help solve the case.

Ignored by police and with more and more time passing, our hero decides to find the assailant himself. With no special training, experience, or resources Alvin takes on what he calls his vigilante project and sets out to find his sister’s killer. But Alvin can’t just become a vigilante, he has to learn how. What would you do? Where would you start?

Along the way Alvin seeks counsel from a local priest, crosses a local gang with ties to organized crime, and falls in love with his married apartment manager Rebecca. But when Alvin discovers that there is more to his sister’s disappearance than meets the eye, he will take on more than he ever expected, risking it all to save another little girl that is being held by the same man.

VP#1: The Guitar Hero is available to read on our site as a webcomic. Click here to read VP#1.

The Vigilante Project graphic novel will combine books 1, 2, 3, and 4, plus our preview book or Ashcan into one complete collection. When finished, it will be approximately 120 pages long, and in full color.

Our goal is to raise $7,000 to cover production, printing, and expenses for this graphic novel project. Any funds raised above and beyond $7,000 will go toward our stretch goals (see below), and to the production and promotion of future books and graphic novels.

$7,000 seems like a lot of money. However, when you consider the cost and factors involved with finishing the product, fulfilling orders, and shipping rewards, it’s easy to understand how we came to that number. Check out the break down below.

PRINTING: In the interest of keeping our printer’s quotes private, we won’t post a specific quantities or dollar amounts. However, printing costs are the bulk of our target dollar amount. Costs vary based on a variety of factors including the kind of paper used, the type of binding, etc. As you can imagine, the bigger the order we place, the better the price we get. We have made the most logical decision possible to get us enough supply at the best price, but the cost is still sizable.

CREATIVE:Only a portion of the $7,000 will actually go to the creative production of the book. While we (Chris and Phil) are the creators and faces of Vigilante Project, we account for only the writing of the book. We have four artists (Pencils, Inks, Color, and Letters) that contribute to each issue of Vigilante Project. This Kickstarter will cover artist salaries for VP #3 and the VP #1 Epilogue if we hit that stretch goal.

FEES: Kickstarter/Amazon Fees – Roughly 8%-10% of final funding

SHIPPING: The cost of shipping the rewards to our backers can add up very quickly. We had to take these cost of postage and shipping supplies into account as well.

The rewards are listed to the right, but I wanted to take a moment to expound on some of the different levels, and available rewards. After the Kickstarter campaign concludes, if we are successful, we will send you a survey asking for your shipping information and your choice of t-shirt and other prizes.

T-SHIRTS: We have a number of t-shirts for you to choose from. Take a look at our Online Store to see which shirt you might like as a reward.

POSTERS: For this Kickstarter’s poster reward, we have commissioned renowned artist Jimbo Salgado to provide the artwork. Jimbo is an amazing cover artist for IDW and is also the primary artist on their Transformers title. You can check out Jimbo’s work on his Facebook and Deviant Art pages.

CUSTOM CHARACTERS: The Brown Belt level and above offer custom digital commission of you or your favorite characters. We have a team of overwhelmingly talented artists to accomplish this task, and I want to show you a couple of quick examples. The first is of Vigilante Project friend Sarah Reinertsen. We liked this pose but wanted Sarah in athletic wear since she is known as a world class athlete. The other is a commission that we did for a friend to give his girlfriend Heather for Christmas.

Sarah as a comic book characterSarah as a comic book character
The finished product!The finished product!
Heather "the Hammer"Heather “the Hammer”

RICK and SARAH: Our Blue Belt level and above get you signed rewards from Vigilante Project friends Rick Worthy and Sarah Reinertsen. To learn more about how Rick and Sarah are involved with Vigilante Project, click on their names, or on their respective photos below.

Rick Worthy

Comikaze 2012Comikaze 2012

Sarah Reinertsen

WonderCon 2012WonderCon 2012

“Just got Issue #1 in the mail: BEAUTIFUL, just beautiful. A real page-turner. Alvin is BADASS and I can’t wait for Book Two.” – Guy Staats

“The first issue is freakin’ awesome! I can’t wait for more…you’ve renewed my interest in comics!” – Camille Bohmer

“…it definitely delivered. I really enjoyed the first issue, and… I think VP has a lot of potential and staying power.” – Justin Martin of “RSquared Comicz” – Read the whole review by clicking here

“Not often do I get a comic that starts off with a confessional and ends with a gun drawn to a character’s head. The juxtaposition of faith and violence, really grabbed my attention and I enjoyed every moment of it.” – Jacques Nyemb of Comicbooked.com Click here to read the entire review

“Every once in a while I’ll get sent something like Vigilante Project. It’s (something) you know a lot of good people have worked very hard to achieve that also happens to be fun and exciting.” – Ezequiel Gutierrez of Best Geek Blog Ever — Read the rest of the review here

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Forbes- Solar Crowdfunding Startup Lets Ordinary Investors Own A Piece Of The Sun

28 Jan

Solar Crowdfunding Startup Lets Ordinary Investors Own A Piece Of The Sun

This story appears in the February 11, 2013 issue of Forbes.

Future so bright Mosaic founders Billy Parish and Daniel Rosen gotta wear shades. Photo: Eric Millette

Don’t hold your breath, but the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission could finalize regulations this year to implement the JOBS Act, the 2012 law that lets startups raise funds directly from mom-and-pop investors.

Mosaic isn’t waiting. The two-year-old Oakland, Calif. firm already won approval in California and New York to allow individuals to invest directly via its website. The twist is that the investments are loans, not equity, and the money goes (for now) only to new solar power developments. In the past ordinary investors have been shut out of the solar boom, as most projects obtain equity or debt financing from banks and corporations, which lately are not so eager to lend for solar projects.

“Anything that introduces new sources of cost-effective capital is valuable,” says Reyad Fezzani, a former BP executive who is now chairman and managing partner of Energy Finance Company in Manhattan Beach, Calif. In late December he raised $350,000 from accredited investors through Mosaic’s website for a 470-kilowatt photovoltaic array that his company installed on a New Jersey convention center. He says he’s saving 200 to 300 basis points over banks with Mosaic.

Even not particularly green-minded investors might be tempted by Mosaic’s returns of 4.5% to 6.5%, well above CD rates. Residential solar projects tend to have default rates as low as 0.2%.

Meet The Startup Making Snap-Together Office Buildings, Schools And 7-Elevens
California Solar Installer Sungevity Raises $125 Million
First Solar In 1.5-Gigawatt Chile Deal While Google Puts $200 Million Into Texas Wind

“One of the fastest ways to build the clean energy economy is to allow more people to benefit from it,” says Billy Parish, Mosaic’s 31-year-old cofounder and president.

Similar to peer-to-peer financing site Lending Club, Mosaic puts the burden on investors to assess the risks in project prospectuses. If they like a deal, they can get in for as little as $25. No money is transferred if a deal isn’t fully financed. The developer pays back the loan with interest from income generated by the sale of electricity to its customers. Mosaic takes 100 basis points of the interest rate (along with an origination fee and annual platform fees) and passes the rest to investors.

Mosaic is far too small to scare any investment banks, but it can get deals done quickly. Within the first 24 hours of going live in January, Mosaic’s new website raised more than $300,000, including $227,875 for three loans for solar arrays on three affordable-housing complexes that offered returns of 4.5%. Mosaic has now raised a total of $1.1 million for all projects. Parish says profitability is “within sight.”

Anthony Kim, a solar analyst with research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance, questions whether Mosaic can attract a big enough pipeline of investors to fund large solar projects. “For now, I think it’s a relatively niche product,” he says.

The startup hopes to build on its current 7,000 potential investors via social media referrals and by targeting foundations, financial advisors and corporations.

Mosaic board member Marco Krapels, a renewable energy financier with the Dutch bank Rabobank, has his eye on the $17 trillion that sits in U.S. retirement accounts. “If you could put a Mosaic note in an IRA, I think the opportunity is just massive,” he says.

Fezzani says he’s investing his own money in Mosaic’s offerings. “I know many people who say they want to invest in solar, but there’s just been no option before.”

Forbes.com- Crowd Funding for Aspiring Real Estate Moguls

27 Jan

Crowd Funding for Aspiring Real Estate Moguls

Trump Tower

Trump Tower (Photo credit: Chris Breeze)

The market for crowd funding is hot. Thanks in part to the JOBS Act; recent U.S. government legislation that allows for a wider pool of small investors with fewer restrictions combined with the success of companies like Kickstarter. A variety of industry specific crowd funding startups are emerging to take advantage of the opportunities for community organized fund raising.

By far the largest player in the crowd funding space is Kickstarter. Since its launch in 2009, more than two million people have pledged greater than $300 million to projects by individual groups of creators. Kickstarter specifically focuses on “creative projects” from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, games, fashion, food, and publishing. A prime example is Pebble, an infinitely customizable e-paper watch that has raised more then $10 million using Kickstarter’s crowd funding marketplace.

Unlike Kickstarter that focuses solely on creative projects, a new group of up-start companies are attempting to fill the void in funding opportunities within niche market segments. FundersClub allows accredited investors to make early stage investments in curated startups recently raised a $6 million VC round. Another is CircleUp, which is tackling crowd funding for retail companies has recently raised $1.5 million in their angel round and claims to have funded five food companies to date.

Yet another emerging sector for crowd funders is that of commercial real estate with several companies attempting to fill the void. I recently had the chance to catch-up with the Jilliene HelmanFounder and CEO of Seattle based RealtyMogul.com. She describes the service as “insider access to pre-vetted real estate investments.”

The concept of Realty Mogul is fairly straightforward. Users of the service pool money with like-minded investors to make commercial real estate investments that are otherwise difficult to access. Investors can invest as little as $5,000 for a slice of an investment. Each real estate investment is tied to a real estate company that deals with the hassles of “toilets, tenants and trash.”

Helman notes that a lot of the investments are in the so-called “rehabilitation” of real estate properties. Anyone who’s ever watched one of the fix-and-flip “reality” TV shows will recognize the concept. Essentially Realty Mogul provides the ability to bring together investors who are interested in short term real estate investments without the risk of doing the actual renovations. The funds raised go to professional contractors and real estate development firms who are financed from the crowd funds raised with average returns anywhere from 5-20%.

Realty Mogul isn’t alone in seeing the opportunity to apply crowd funding to the real estate space with startups like Fundrise.com, Collaperty.com and New York-based Prodigy Network also putting its own spin on the concept. InColombia, Prodigy has recently crowd funded a building called BD Bacatá that will be the nation’s tallest. About 3,100 investors kicked in $171.8 million (COP308 billion) of the $239 million needed to build the 66-story skyscraper in downtown Bogotá. Investors can also buy and sell shares through a resale program, which functions like a secondary market. Other companies like Fundrise provides “shares” of various real estate investment for as little as $100.

Helmen is unfazed saying that she believes the market to be a massive opportunity with more than enough room for several players. According toIBISWorld, the global real estate market is estimated at more than $5.2 trillion. Without question it’s a huge opportunity for those able to tap into it. More-over with an average annual rate of just 2.8% in 2012 many commercial real estate investors may begin to look for ways to reduce their risk factors while maximizing their yields. Crowd funding appears to be on the cusp of solving both problems.

Realty Mogul is in the midst of closing its first round of outside venture funding and is currently part of the TechStars accelerator program. It’s definitely an interesting space to watch.

 

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/reuvencohen/2013/01/25/crowd-funding-for-aspiring-real-estate-moguls/