Thursday, February 26, 2015

An Electrifying Crowdfunding Campaign

Sondors eBike

Sondors eBike (source:crowdfundinsider.com)

Sky News devotes some time every week to look at which crowdfunding campaigns are hot in the popular social media streams. One of their top picks is a campaign that exceeded £2.2 million since it was launched, and is expected to make a few more bob before closing on the 3rd of March 2015. This campaign is not only trending, it achieved over 4,000% more than what it set out to, long before the closing date. A trending crowdfunding campaign is every budding entrepreneur's dream; a campaign like this is like winning the entrepreneurial lottery.

The company

The company consists of two American entrepreneurs, an industrial designer and surfer called Storm Sondors and his partner Jon Hopp. Not much is known about Jon besides him being a 'manufacturing design genius'. According to Indiegogo the team decided that Storm Sondor's name is too cool not to name the product after him. Jonathan Chaupin is the man behind the crowdfunding campaign.

The product

The Sondors eBike is punted as the world's most affordable electric bike. It is a gorgeous piece of kit available in a range of colors. Riders will apparently be able to travel up to 20 mph for up to 50 miles per charge, and it takes around 90 minutes to charge the eBike's lithium ion battery. A relatively lightweight bike at 55 lbs, the Sondors eBike is all-terrain and is due to make its eagerly awaited arrival in May 2015.

What makes this eBike special

Although there are many other electric bikes around, the intrepid team claims that the Sondors eBike is unique because it is a top quality product, despite being a lot cheaper than other market offerings.

Cheap? Just how cheap is this funky electric bike?

The Sondors eBike is available on Indiegogo for a donation of £453 or for £1,182 for a family pack of four bikes. I wouldn't mind a family pack for myself, one in every color, thank you!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

3D Printing - 'The Non-Investable' Wave is Coming to Shore

The new kid on the block is the 3D printer
The new kid on the block - the 3D printer
A modern-day marvel in 1439, the Gutenberg printing press is a dinosaur in comparison to what we have on the market now. Technology moves so fast that our home printers are now Wi-Fi enabled, compact, fast and movable and our office printers look like space-ships and work 'in the cloud.' We have dye-sub printers, inkless printers, super-high resolution printers and super-fast printers. The new kid on the block is the 3D printer. Although 3D printing has been around for about two decades, nobody really knows this and there is a reason why it is only now gaining a toehold in the industry – money.

Investing in Tomorrow

There has been very little activity in the private sector when it comes to investing in 3D printing, possibly because of the calculation methods used by private investors. Hardware companies come up as capital-heavy and this is an instant deterrent, making 3D printing companies 'non-investible.' Investment strategists also hesitate because the business development of 3D companies has a longer than usual lead-in time, which in turn leads to a lack of revenue. Luckily crowd-funding is filling the gap and paving the way for the future.

The Future is Here

Prosthetics, mechanical parts, customisable gifts, measuring jugs etc. The possibilities are limitless. Current investment trends show that this is an industry about to boom, despite its lacklustre performance among private sponsors. Deal sizes are increasing as is interest from public investors. General Electric plans to bring 3D printed parts into commercial aircrafts by next year, and HP has announced that the first HP 3D printer is also due to be launched around the same time.

Multi-dimensional Prospects

While crowd-funding campaigns will likely continue to be the lifeblood for the enterprising startups hooking up with 3D printing, it is only a matter of time before the other industry giants like Epson and Canon get on the bandwagon along with HP. The growth potential is colossal and it is going to be exciting to watch it take shape and expand.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Does Your Startup Have the Power to Disrupt?

If so, Richard Ji wants to hear from you, and probably give you large amounts of money. A former tech industry analyst at Wall Street's Morgan Stanley, Ji took half a dozen of his colleagues and co-founded an investment company in Hong Kong. They called it All-Stars Investment Ltd. and have since been raising impressive amounts of cash for enterprising start-ups. Don't rush off to give Richard Ji a call just yet though... All-Stars is very selective and is known to take on only what they call 'category leaders/killers,' loosely translated as startups with the power to disrupt. According to Ji their focus is on late-stage prospects, instead of companies still finding their feet in the growth stage. “These companies have a disruptive product or business model, and they are the winners of tomorrow” he said.

know where to place your bet

China's Apple, Alibaba etc.

After 11 years in the industry Richard Ji knows where to place his bets. As the chief investor of the Chinese smart phone makers Xiaomi, Ji did not disappoint the company now known as 'China's Apple' and worth US$45 billion after only three years of operation. The company sings his praises and is entrusting him with continuing its fundraising drive. Other high-tech investments include the online fashion merchant Meilishuo, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and taxi-hailing app Didi Dache. What do all these companies have in common? Besides being technology driven, apparently they are all 'category killers' and 'winners of tomorrow.'

It's all a bit hush-hush, but moving ahead fast anyway

Richard Ji declined to divulge the identity of his investors. The only mysterious clue was that part of the vast sums of money come from top Asian corporations and the rest from influential business leaders in the financial, consumer and IT industries. He also wouldn’t reveal how much more money he hopes to raise.

Since raising impressive investments seems to be a walk in the park for Ji, the challenge will be to expand internationally and take on technology investors from all over the world – which I believe is on the cards.