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Great News For SME’s: Innovation Funding of £19M Announced

New Funding To Develop Innovative Ideas

Just in time for Christmas, Innovate UK has launched an innovation funding competition to support small and medium-sized firms to develop new and innovative ideas.

To compete for a share of the £19 million fund, projects must demonstrate significant innovation that will lead to new products, processes or services in any sector.

The Rules…

Projects must last from six months to three years and have total eligible costs of between £25,000 and £1 million. The deadline for applications is 28 February 2018.

Why Apply For Innovation Funding?

We’ve talked about the importance of innovation many times. To survive and thrive, it is vital to stay ahead of the curve – and the competition. Whilst change can be scary, companies almost always benefit financially from the successful launch of a new product, brand or service.

And once innovation is placed at the heart of a business, it permeates into a company culture and creates an entire organisation of innovative thinkers. This staves off inertia and virtually future-proofs against failure.

Need Some Help Submitting Your Application?

For us, innovation means the pursuit of opportunity. It means identifying ways in which a business can find new revenue streams or service new audiences.  It doesn’t always have to be a physical product, or even especially technical — sometimes it’s as simple as just finding a different way of working.

Our aim, like Innovate UK’s, is to make innovation accessible to everyone, not just companies with huge R&D budgets.

BEAF’s bid writer has successfully secured millions of pounds of innovation funding. If you are thinking of submitting an application, but you’re not sure where to start, then get in touch.

For further information and to apply, click here.

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Kickstarter: An Introduction to Crowdfunding

So… what IS crowdfunding anyway?

Crowdfunding has been a buzzword in the startup industry for years. In the early 2000’s however, it existed mostly in the realms of a fairy tale – whilst the IDEA of funding a project through multiple small donations by many was realistic, there was simply was no practical way of making it happen.

Until Kickstarter.

Started in 2009 by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler, Kickstarter was launched to ‘help bring creative projects to life’.

Originally aimed at the arts and creative industries, Kickstarter was successfully used to fund films like Veronica Mars, publish books such as “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls”, a book series aimed at young girls, and even brought to life a ‘Mini Museum’, a project in which genuine rare specimens and curiosities were artfully arranged and encased in acrylic for display purposes – a project that spawned two follow-up Kickstarter campaigns and raised more than $3.2m in the process.

 

Nowadays, anyone with a good idea (or bad – potato salad anyone?) for a business or product can have a go – as long as it is a project with a clear goal that will “eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it.”

Technology projects, in particular, are increasing in popularity, though their success rate still lags behind other, more popular, project categories like Games and Design.

Having said that, the two highest-ever funded campaigns were both technology projects: Pebble Time, a “Smart” watch, and The Coolest Cooler, a souped-up integrated coolbox, which raised, respectively, over $20m and $13m each. 

 

Ok, how does it work?

On Kickstarter, a project will be launched for a set duration, typically 30 days, in which backers (any would-be investors) can pledge money towards a project, in return for a reward. This can be anything but is typically the product you are trying to get off the ground or something linked to it. For instance, if your Kickstarter is a book, you’d offer a copy as a reward. You can also create multiple reward tiers, for instance, a signed copy or a book with a bespoke cover, or multiple copies – the higher value the reward, the higher the pledge amount should be.

Before launch, a funding goal is set. This can be any amount but should be the minimum amount required to bring the project to life.

Because Kickstarter is an all or nothing platform  –if you don’t hit your target, you don’t get anything– careful consideration should go into the funding goal. Too low and you might not raise enough to make your idea a reality and honour your rewards to backers;  too high and you might end up with nothing at all for your efforts.

Who can use it?

Anyone can launch a Kickstarter project and use of the platform is free. However, Kickstarter takes 5% of any successfully funded projects and there is an additional fee of between 3-5% for card processing. There are no charges for projects that don’t reach their funding goal.

Why is it good?

Apart from the obvious, where it negates the need for a loan or a single outside investment, Kickstarter can work incredibly well as market validation for a product. Not only will a successful Kickstarter do wonders from a PR point of view, but it will also open many doors to retail and getting your product on a shelf without having to spend a fortune on marketing.

And as the platform is free, it’s a relatively low-cost entry threshold.

That sounds great! Why doesn’t everyone use it? 

As with anything, there are drawbacks and pitfalls to using Kickstarter. Whilst relatively low-risk in terms of upfront finance required, it can be a real time-stealer. Investing a considerable amount of time into something for it then not to succeed, can be demoralising, to say the least.

With that in mind, here are a few things to think about before you dive in head-first:

Rewards:

The median (most common) pledge amount is $25. Low-value rewards are allowed, but it will take more backers for to get you to your target. On the flip side, higher cost Rewards may prove too much of a threshold for most backers – with any Kickstarter there is still an element of risk and many may feel that a higher spend isn’t worth that risk.

So, before you start, do your homework – how many backers will you need at your average reward level to reach your goal? How have other, similar projects fared?

Funding goals:

The funding goal most associated with Kickstarter success is $10,000 – 38% of projects successfully reach this target. The rule of thumb is that you should set your goal at the minimum end of what is required. In general, a lower target makes more sense that a sky-high one. Psychologically, people like backing winners and a (seemingly) unattainable goal can be off-putting. And, once a funding goal has been met, future backers have the added guarantee that if they back the project, they will receive their reward — assuming of course that the project creator can fulfil their promises.

Marketing & PR:

Whilst the quality of a product offering will certainly influence the likelihood of Kickstarter success, the blunt truth is that almost no Kickstarters succeed without some form of pre-launch marketing and an advertising budget. In fact, we recently spoke to an agency recently who will no longer take on any Kickstarter campaigns, if there is no advertising spend available.

Only 36% of projects on Kickstarter actually reach their funding goals. To give yourself the greatest chance of success, give yourself enough time and be prepared to spend some money on marketing.

There are lots of agencies out there that will promise the earth, so make sure you do your research and find one that fits your budget and objectives.

Want to know more?

We recently ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign for a client, which was over 300% funded at completion.

If you’re looking for some help with a crowdfunding campaign, or simply want some advice, get in touch!

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Hiring: Social Media & Marketing Executive (Update: We Hired!)

Update 15-June 2017: We hired!

We are very pleased to announce that we’ve found an extremely qualified social media manager called Kerry, who will be joining the BEAF team imminently!

Look out for a proper introduction soon.

BEAF Is Hiring!

We currently have an exciting opportunity for a social media & marketing executive/manager, to look after our internal social media platforms as well as assist with any required marketing activity.

Ideally you have some marketing experience and a real passion for social media – any copywriting/blogging experience would be a HUGE plus.

You will be accountable for the day-to-day management of BEAF’s social media activity across various platforms which you will ensure are planned and executed effectively.

A brief overview of your responsibilities:

  • Tactically plan and implement social media campaigns to achieve strategic marketing aims and objectives.
  • Coordinate the research, writing and editing of social media content for all platforms.
  • Use analytics tools to monitor performance and make recommendations for improvement.
  • Measure the impact of social media on the overall marketing effort.
  • Monitor industry trends and activity in digital marketing in order to identify best practice and make recommendations to the business and introducing new and innovative solutions where appropriate.
  • Take photographs and video to support social media campaigns and arrange photo shoots as required.
  • Curate, write content (where applicable) and send of the BEAF monthly newsletter

Currently we think this would be a part-time position (approx. 2 days in the week), but we believe there is scope for this to grow into a full-time position.

We offer flexible hours and the option to be home-based if desired.

Freelancers/contractors welcome!

Interested? Get in touch by emailing nik@beaf.com with a copy of your CV.

 

Low-key innovations: Ohoo Edible Water
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Less Is More: How These Low-Key Innovations Are Making A Difference

 

Innovation Here, Innovation There….

Innovation is a term that gets bandied about rather willy-nilly. Seemingly ever other business now has an innovation arm, or at least someone with the title Innovation Manager. Or, more worryingly, ‘Innovation Guru’ – up there with Digital Prophet or Fashion Evangelist in terms of awful business titles.

Business titles aside, it’s clear that ‘innovation’ is the buzzword du jour.

For many, innovation brings to mind huge technological game-changers, like the latest advances in AI, or self-driving cars. And it is almost always associated with sky-high R&D costs.

Low-Key Innovations

To us, innovation is a much more simple concept. It simply means creating something new, a product or service, which really adds value. It is innovation FOR and BY everyone, and does not necessarily involve huge budgets or the latest cutting-edge technology. 

To illustrate, we have compiled a list of our current favourite low-key innovations.

We say “low-key” because we know that lots of time, energy and money have gone into developing these products and we don’t want to diminish that, but simply acknowledge 
that they are not trying to re-invent the wheel. They are just incredibly useful, and quietly and efficiently doing an amazing job.

1. Sugru

Here at BEAF, we’re always slightly puzzled that this mouldable glue isn’t more of a household name. Time Magazine named listed Sugru alongside the iPad as one of the top 50 inventions of 2010 (the iPad was number 34, Sugru was number 22!). So what does it do? Well, almost anything. It can be used for fixing, making and improving stuff, will stick to almost any surface, moulds like play-dough and then cures overnight into a durable silicone rubber. Our favourite application (so far) has to be the iPad mount for the kitchen (pictured).

 

2. THINX

Not to be confused with slimming pants of a different variety, THINX is billed as ‘Period-proof underwear that keeps you dry & leakfree’ — and reviews suggest that it does exactly that. We really like that this product, much like Mooncup, offers a viable alternative to environmentally-unfriendly tampons and sanitary towels, and that the brand uses images of women of all shapes and colours. Moreover, we LOVE the idea that there is a product out there that could have real impact in Third World countries, where some women struggle to get access to even the most basic hygiene products – something that is already firmly on THINX’s radar.


3. Ooho

Water you can eat — and drink, obviously. These edible bubbles of water are geared to provide the convenience of plastic bottles, while limiting the environmental impact. It’s made out of plants and seaweed, biodegradable in 4-6 weeks (just like a piece of fruit), edible, can be flavoured and coloured, and has a shelf life of a few days. Most importantly, Ooho is cheaper than plastic and produces 5x less CO₂ and 9x less Energy vs PET.

With some issues to work out around packaging (the edible membrane means that if Ooho was to be sold in stores, it would need some kind of other external packaging, somewhat negating its “packaging free” mission), Ooho is currently only available at events. It will be interesting to see how far they can take it.

 

4. Nimuno Loops

Nimuno Loops

Random mind-blowing fact: there are 86 pieces of Lego for every person on the earth.
So, if you are going to create a new innovative product, it makes sense for it to be Lego-based. That is exactly what the founders of Nimuno Loops must have thought when they created the ‘original toy block tape’, which transforms virtually any surface into a base for the little coloured bricks. Smashing their original Indie-Go-Go target by a whopping 20109% and raising over $1.6m of funding at the time of writing, there is now even more good news for the product. Last week, leading global toy and consumer products manufacturer, ZURU™ announced the Company had signed an exclusive licensing agreement to manufacture, distribute and market Nimuno Loops. (Although we suspect heads have rolled at Lego for not thinking of it themselves!)

 

5. Lucky Iron Fish

Lucky Iron Fish

Does what it says on the tin: it’s a fish made of iron. Much like the Life Saving Dot, which claims to combat lack of iodine in Indian women through a Bindi Dot,  the (less controversial) Lucky Iron Fish was created to fight against iron deficiency, which affects nearly two billion people worldwide. One Lucky Iron Fish provides up to 90% of the recommended daily intake of iron, it’s completely safe for any age and reusable for up to five years. The fish is simply boiled in any liquid or broth-based meals and, best of all, at a price-point of $25, it’s not cost-prohibitive. In Cambodia, they have seen amazing results with clinical trials showing that regular use of the fish reduces the prevalence of anaemia by up to 46%.

Honorary mention: Doodle Track Car. It won’t save the planet, but it sure will make your kids happy (and in theory buy any beleaguered parents five minutes’ of peace…).

The lesson in all of this? Decide to be a Nimuno Loops and stay one step ahead of the LEGO’s of the world. Stop sitting on those ideas for products you’ve had in your head for years, and get them into reality.

And if you’re not sure where to start? Get in touch – we are really good at this stuff.

New Year, New Offices!

The Growth Hub

BEAF are moving into some lovely new offices! We always liked the Google offices in London, we searched high and low for some office space which reflected our creative culture and found it!

Come check out our new space and we will take you for a tour. Come in the summer for a meeting and you can enjoy Mojitos in the sunny courtyard with us :).

All the best for 2016.

Love,

The BEAFles