Friday, 8 November 2013

Research File: Crowdfunding Pots

Crowdfunding, also known as crowdsourcing, is a way of getting resources for a great idea. If your business needs equipment then this is as good a way to attempt as any. The advantages are that it should take less time in paperwork and planning than any grant application but it is totally dependent on how good you are at promoting your needs to those who might wish to help you. 

Prediction: It is a field that needs more ‘suppliers’ immediately as once others cotton on to what it’s about there will need to be more people providing it to cope with requests. I have no doubt the diversity of such schemes will only increase.

Requests are precisely how it works. You say what you want the money for. The crowdfunder collects the money for you and if it raises the money in the time you set (including the crowdfunder’s fee) you get the money for your project, equipment or resource.

I doubt it’s viable for staffing or premises, but who knows maybe someone has or is trying such a thing. It is also extremely prone to crowdfunder scams with companies setting up pretending that they are raising money for you but in fact just using your ideas to raise money for themselves. What the regulations are to prevent that happening I have no idea.  Only one way to find out if it works though and that is to try it. Being primarily Arts based the equipment required for WildeHeads are of that ilk but for other enterprises it might be a conveyor belt or a garden shredder, the choice is yours.

What to do:

  1. Research for the best price you can get for what you need to buy.

  2. You add on postage packaging and the fee for the crowdfunder.

  3. Then you write down what you need money for and why and make it sound great. ("Houston, I could have a problem here" but I'll just do my best).
  4.  Send your idea off to the crowdfunder, not forgetting to stipulate how long people have got to make their donations into the kitty.
The crowdfunder sees if it is something they want to promote for you and then starts advertising for you.
If you have a website then you can give your customers and target audience regular updates on money raised so far until the deadline hits and you hopefully have the money (or equipment) you want.

Crowdfunders come in a multitude of sizes with different rates, some more suited to the arts, leisure and sports than the sciences or more conventional businesses; but for items which cost less than £5,000 for small enterprises it seems as good a thing to try as any and it is quick to get a yes or no answer to and... to get started... allegedly.

WildeHeads Crowdfunding  -  Pottery studio equipment

So far for my pottery, I have borrowed other people’s equipment and paid per firing, but that has been time consuming and inefficient and at the rate I work for the volume of pottery items I produce it’s time I had my own studio. This will also help with pottery classes delivered to disadvantaged groups such as those with learning difficulties, the mentally ill and the elderly as I can deliver workshops in community centres but do all the firing of pots at home safely without all the hassle of sourcing suitable venues on health and safety grounds. I’ve enough of that to do with the basic materials themselves and all those procedures as it is! Pottery involves chemicals and dust... lots of dust as my sitting room knows only too well!

It also would be handy for me as a potter to enable me to produce products to sell to enable me to write a second book on pottery with lovely illustrations, my first is available through (see pic to the right). For those interested in such matters, it took a year to write due to all the practical demos and photography required, by contrast the first draft of the play, also on sale via took me six weeks (+ over ten years research). Neither will be perfect, but in time errors make them more valuable as first editions... allegedly.

In many cases, do not have to give anything for the money raised, but if you can give something it might well help, so think in terms of discount vouchers and other incentives for people to give you your funding.

Above is a pic of unfired gifts that funders will get from me for their generosity. Limited edition I see as a must in this case, not least because I don't wish to be making the same thing all my life as it tends to hamper diversification. For other enterprises factory lines are crucial, hence conveyor belts can come in handy. What funders will not get is the finished pot until after I have my kiln as they cannot be finished without it.

Please note: the crowdfunder is the enterprise that collects the donations, the actual funders are the people who invest or make donations which, one hopes, will one day turn into future regular investors and/or clients so think of them as buyers.

The Crowdfunder is responsible for collecting the money and the contact details and ensuring I make and send all those pots or I’ll be in legal bother which I could do without.

If you order a pot of mine, there is no refund policy just because you don’t like the colour. If it gets broken, you had better be able to prove it as my pots don’t break easily unless someone has been careless with them. In other words be sure you want it first. Pots are like celebrities – they never look quite the same as they appear in a photo – when it comes to people on telly they appear to be even more peculiar in real life or so I've found so far! Er, yes... moving on...


Funds Wanted: The total I need without the Crowdfunder’s fee and postage and packing is £2,000 so with a little more research and mathematics the estimate is approximately £2,500 in total.
Timescale: I’ll give it until April 2014 to see what money I can raise and if it works.

Tally ho, let’s see what happens.

15 Crowdfunders

Below is a list of just a handful of possibilities in alphabetical order, there are more, but not that many... yet. Choose carefully which of them match your funding needs, your project and above all, your way of working. If they’re any good they will adapt their customer service to suit your needs unless they are simply not the right crowdfunder for that idea; in which case, move on and try another but also get advice on how you are wording things and if it's a viable idea. Not all crowdfunders charge a fee, but be careful as they may want something else. Do not get annoyed if these links do not work, they did at the time I wrote this and I take no responsibility whatsoever for the business practices and methods of those listed. I hope they play fair.

Below are a couple of links to explain things a bit further so now you know as much as I do. Would I could donate some funds myself... maybe next year I will be able to. As ever if you need more links, use your preferred search engine and tap in 'crowdfunding' or 'crowdsourcing' and for links to videos do the same via You Tube.

Oh, and the eggs themselves. I've decided to make 100 of these. Designs will vary as they are all worked as individual pieces; the final glaze and firing will determine that they all originated from the same fair hand. Each egg will have to undergo two firing processes, each of 24 hours each (including cooling time), it's a wonder that that anything survives 1300 degrees just once really. Of course, you DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE AN EGG, you can just donate toward WildeHeads first kiln and pottery equipment.

Now all I have to do is decide which crowdfunder to pick to go with.


You might wonder why I choose not to just sell the eggs and the reasons are:

1. There is no guarantee I will reach the right donors without the marketing might of an established crowdfunder
2. Hopefully the process will generate more interest in WildeHeads' activities
3. The full price of each egg would be considerably more
4. I'm just curious to test drive the crowdfunding process anyway - one prefers to speak with first hand experience!

Play nicely and good luck to all who try this (including me!)