Thanks to the devastating economic effects inflicted upon Millennials, it's possible that we could see a complete collapse of the family unit.
There used to be a saying that the American Dream was 2.5 kids, a dog and a house with a white picket fence.
Those days are gone...
Since when has something that was good for one or a few ever been good for everyone?
A college degree is great, but is it necessary for everyone, and at what cost (literally) are we willing to pay for this social experiment? Is it $1 trillion, $2 trillion, $5 trillion?...
The Internet changed everything.
Stay-at-home moms are earning a living on Etsy selling handmade crafts, teenagers are out-earning their parents by partnering with brands to promote their products on Vine and Instagram, and entrepreneurs are earning a living by creating digital products online. These aren't your typical Silicon Valley techno...
Millennials messed up and as a result they're paying the price.
Here's a few unfortunate facts about Millennials:
At the end of my freshmen year I dropped out of college.
It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
It all started in 2004. I had just graduated from high school and I was looking forward to going to college. Like millions of other kids I...
We are living through the greatest resurgence of art and creative expression ever known to mankind, and I am so glad to be alive to watch it unfold.
The creative vibe that has fused with entrepreneurship in recent years has never taken place before and never on such a large scale. Just think about the things that we consume our free time with: eBooks, apps, mobile games and gadgets. These products have reinvigorated the human mind and taken us to places we've never been before, and the inventors and entrepreneurs behind these products now have the freedom and flexibility to think and create without limitations.
Ten years ago, you'd only be able to fund these business ideas with the aid of an investor or some other 3rd party entity. Thanks to the Internet, creativity and entrepreneurship has been democratized. No longer do big corporations and venture capital firms hold the keys to opportunity. Nowadays, if you have a good idea and the fortitude to execute on a business plan, it's now possible to take your product direct to the consumer and ditch the middle man. This represents a re-birth in creative freedom that not even the renaissance era could touch.
A leading example of this movement comes in the form a product called the 3Doodler. You may have heard about this neat gizmo. It was a Kickstarter project launched in February 2013. To date, it is the 24th most funded Kickstarter project of all-time. It's also worth noting that this gadget raised $1 million on Kickstarter after its first day live.
The 3Doodler is a 3D printing pen that allows your imagination to soar in any direction. Unlike a 3D printer which confines the user to a rigid architecture, the 3Doodler allows the user to literally take creative expression in the palm of their hands and move the magic pen in any direction; left; right; up or down. People of all ages and backgrounds are fans of the 3Doodler and the amount of applications this nifty pen is being used for is absolutely incredible. It's been used for home repairs, 3D art, gardening, home décor' and so much more.
Beyond the fun and creative freedom the 3Doodler provides, is a story of a team of genius inventors and entrepreneurs.
I had the opportunity to interview Daniel Cowen, co-founder of the 3Doodler, where he shared the story behind the success of the 3Doodler as well as encouraging words of wisdom for aspiring inventors, entrepreneurs and crowd funders.
What inspired the creation of the 3Doodler?
"One of the core characteristics of WobbleWorks, 3Doodler's parent company, is the desire to take an idea and make it into physical reality - whether that be a new product, process, or design.
This was the essence of our work prior to 3Doodler, when we were using 3D printers to rapidly prototype our own ideas and inventions. We frequently used our own 3D printers for that purpose. One day, 3Doodler's co-founder Pete Dilworth was watching his 3D printer printing away when it made an error. This meant there was a gap in the print, which normally means having to start from scratch again. It struck Pete that the process would be so much quicker and "freer" if he could take the item off the print platform, fill in the gap, and put it back on to finish the print. So he did just that, placing the parts of the 3D printer in a handheld form. The first iteration created was what we called "the teacup", which was an extruder with a handle (it worked horribly, but it did work).
The team then added to this, creating a unique cooling mechanism and evolving the 3Doodler to the pen-like form you see today. It's a simple idea, but one that hadn't been done before - creating a 3D printing pen. A pen is such a powerful tool; there is no quicker way to sketch out an idea, and its universal accessibility means people instinctively know how to use and manipulate them.
By placing the power of 3D creation in such a simple and accessible form, more people who previously may not have considered themselves makers, creators or even artists will become exactly that, and the 3D printing industry will continue to become more and more accessible for the everyday consumer. The birth of the 3Doodler was created out of a shortcoming in the industry, and the need to find a solution."
Why did you decide to seek funding on Kickstarter as opposed to seeking funding from investors or other more traditional sources?
"We'd all been fans of Kickstarter for some time and we have all backed several projects. There were several ways we could go to get 3Doodler off the ground, including licensing to a larger company, getting investment, or crowd funding.
After exploring all the options we had, we felt passionate enough about 3Doodler to go at it alone, and confident enough in our idea to believe that we could build a community around it. Kickstarter's reputation, screening system and user-base made them an obvious choice. It meant that we could nurture our invention with people who would develop and progress the idea with us, rather than inhibit its evolution.
The birth of the 3Doodler was only possible because we opened out our idea to the right community. Crowdfunding helped us reach unimaginable heights, and also meant that we didn't have to cede our concept to anyone else's control.
Arguably, inventions can hit a brick wall when taken under the wing of a much larger company or investor, as there can be a discrepancy between their vision and the vision of the company's founders. But in the era of crowdfunding, anything is possible for people who have ideas and motivation, but lack the right resources. Backers are out there waiting for you; and can not only financially support your project, but become an integral part of it.
We have gained so much from working with Kickstarter and our backers, and it's allowed us to build a product, a community, and a longer-term business. It provided proof of concept and marketability much earlier than would have traditionally been the case."
Many crowdfunding campaigns have difficulty gaining traction. Did you do any marketing or promotion to draw more traffic to your campaign?
"We had an overall idea of what we wanted to achieve and we prepared for over three months in anticipation of launch. This included giving press and bloggers a heads up early on, and carefully planning out what we would do if launch didn't go as hoped. We got into the fine details of what we'd do on social, how we'd use our updates to spur momentum, and even had some fun stunts planned mid-campaign. When things took off at the pace they did most of those plans fell by the wayside (largely due to lack of time and a change of focus), but the planning still helped a lot and some of those ideas came back to life later on. There were staples that we stuck to though, for example our work with some of the fantastic wire-artists on Etsy - that really helped frame for people what the 3Doodler could be used for and gave them a strong reference point.
And we're also lucky enough to have had enough people behind the project to create buzz and excitement. Reaching out to people early is always a great way of getting people on your side ahead of launch!"
To review the full Q&A interview with Daniel Cowen, visit: icanbesociety.com/3Doodler
Michael Price is the author of "What Next The Millennial's Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the Real World" now available at whatnextquest.com. Watch the trailer below:
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Invention and innovation is what makes America great. The ability to see a problem, work towards resolving it and sharing the resulting product with all of mankind is why I fell in love with entrepreneurship. It's about the constant pursuit of pushing mankind forward that makes me feel all gooey inside.
Thanks to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, anybody with a good idea and enough backers can bring their invention or innovation to the market. This makes me so happy to be alive right now. Just seven years ago this wasn't possible. Before crowdfunding, if you had an invention you had to go through the tedious process of raising capital from investors or licensing your patent to a larger business to bring your product to the market. This was a tremendous risk because without sales an inventor wasn't able to prove the concept. Thanks to crowdfunding that's all changed.
Innovation is a word that describes the 3rd most funded Kickstarter project most appropriately. It's also the coolest Kickstarter project ever. The Coolest is a multi-purpose cooler developed by inventor Ryan Grepper.
"Ever since I can remember I've noticed inefficiencies and had fun thinking about how I might solve those problems. I've always viewed the world through that lens. My two biggest loves are spending time with family and friends and the great outdoors. I've used coolers my whole life and this product is everything I wanted in a cooler. It was a personal passion. I loved it myself and then when I started showing it to friends and family they had such an enthusiastic response that I thought I might be onto something."
The Coolest is unlike anything you've ever seen. It's the Swiss Army knife of coolers. This cooler has everything!
Beyond the allure and "cool factor" of the Coolest, I was even more intrigued by Ryan Grepper and his story that brought the Coolest from a simple idea to becoming the 3rd most funded project on Kickstarter. What's even more interesting is that the Coolest almost didn't happen. It was initially launched on Kickstarter last November but failed to meet its $125,000 goal. It missed the mark by $22,812. As of the writing of this article the Coolest has raised $8,286,568 proving that if at first you don't succeed, you can dust yourself off and try again.
Icanbesociety.com chronicles the stories of Internet elite's like Ryan Grepper, who have turned their passion into a lucrative business. I had the opportunity to interview Ryan, where he shared his story and encouraging words of wisdom for aspiring inventors, entrepreneurs and crowd funders.
What were your business goals and objectives for your Kickstarter campaign?
"I simply wanted to reach my funding goal of 50,000 dollars. That was what I considered the minimum amount I'd need to move the idea forward."
Why did you decide to seek funding on Kickstarter as opposed to seeking funding from investors or other more traditional sources?
"Kickstarter, and crowdfunding in general, offers great opportunity for creators and inventors. The traditional model often involves ramping up for production before a single sale has been made. Kickstarter allows you to minimize your risk and place your idea directly before your potential customer much earlier and for less cost. If enough people are willing to vote for your idea with their wallet you know that there is real interest in your concept. If you don't hit your goal you can either re-evaluate and adjust as I did after my first Coolest campaign or move on to the next idea."
Many crowdfunding campaigns have difficulty gaining traction. Did you do any marketing or promotion to draw more traffic to your campaign and what do you think is the most common misconception about crowdfunding?
This is actually my second Kickstarter campaign for the Coolest. When I launched my first campaign for the Coolest last November I thought that if you started with a good enough idea people would find it and success was inevitable. Perhaps many people may feel that way.
When the campaign failed I took a hard look at what went wrong. I did not give up. I saw that there was interest and I hoped that with a few strategy changes the Coolest could be a success.
Here's what I learned:
1.) Kickstarter is a very visual medium. I needed to advance the design of the Coolest prototype to best showcase my vision. I advanced the design and am thrilled that folks are connecting with it.
2.) Time of year really does matter. It sounds obvious now, but launching a product when backers are most likely to be receptive makes a difference. I thought we could appeal to tailgaters and Christmas shoppers in November, but that did not work. Re-launching in July has been perfect because people are in the frame of mind to consider a cooler.
3.) It's critical to develop a following before the campaign. I was encouraged that there were people who showed interest in the Coolest and we worked hard to nurture and grow that excitement in between our first and current campaign. By the time we launched we had a core group of interested backers and I can't believe how that excitement has grown. I am beyond grateful for every single backer.
If Kickstarter or a similar crowdfunding platform like it didn't exist, how would this have impacted your ability to bring the Coolest to the market?
"Crowdfunding allows inventors to test their ideas quickly and see if they resonate with potential customers. Without crowdfunding I would likely have tried to approach a large company to license it from me, which would have been a real challenge without proven customer interest in this new category of a cooler. I likely would have just enjoyed my personal prototype and moved on to an easier invention to license."
To review the full Q&A interview with Ryan Grepper, visit: icanbesociety.com/coolestcooler
Michael Price is an entrepreneur and author of What Next? The Millennial's Guide To Surviving and Thriving in the Real World endorsed by Barbara Corcoran of ABC's Shark Tank. An advocate of ideas for radical change, he has received critical acclaim for his lessons in education, career, entrepreneurship and personal...
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