Crowdfunders of the week: Smart fabric, colouring for grownups and a 'speed bump' for Superfood Shakes

Crowdfunding. How did we ever raise money before it? Here are Idealog’s favourite crowd-courting contenders of the week.

Footfalls & Heartbeats

Smart-textiles firm Footfalls & Heartbeats has developed a clever process for manufacturing a knitted fabric that has the ability to measure pressure without using any in-built electronics.

Why would you want to do such a thing?

Such a fabric can be used to produce intelligent compression bandages for diabetic ulcer prevention, compression garments for athletes, respiratory vests for cystic fibrosis sufferers, and even seat fabric which tells you when your passengers are getting sore bums.

The company has just launched a public share offer through My Angel Investment and is looking for between $250,000 and $750,000 (part of a wider $2 million capital raising, representing 21 per cent of the company’s shares).

“This tech is really under the spotlight because of the internet of things,” says Footfalls & Heartbeats CEO, Daniela McKenzie.

Image: Footfalls & Heartbeats CEO, Daniela McKenzie

“It’s an ‘electro-conductive fabric’ or a yarn that’s been coated with stainless steel or silver powder that can give you a sense of whether the fabric is being stretched or compressed.”

“Our process uses nanotechnology and textile structure which allows the fabric to generate minute electric signals, without the need for embedded wires or electronics - the fabric itself is the sensor.”

McKenzie describes the technology as “disruptive but not expensive”, allowing manufactures to create smart textiles using traditional knitting techniques without any change to the manufacturing processes.

“There are other people that have an intellectual protection position in this space,” says McKenzie, “but if there’s another product in the market that does this, I haven’t heard about it.”

Currently $13k of Footfalls & Heartbeats’ $250k goal has been raised, with 20 days of the campaign left.

Adult colouring books

No, not that kind of ‘adult’ colouring book.

This Kiwi crowdfunder is based on the premise that busying the hands can calm the mind, and what better way to do that than with the ultimate busywork, colouring in?

Created by businesswoman Maree Glading and artist Cat Fawcett-Cornes, ‘Drawing on Mindfulness’ is a collection of 65 detailed pencil drawings waiting for your Crayola, interspersed with mindfulness quotes to well-and-truly get you in the meditative mood.

At the time of writing this, ‘Drawing on Mindfulness’ has raised $3,082 of its $15,000 target, with a healthy two months still to go.

Complete Kids Nutrition

The way the topic is usually covered, one could get the impression that crowdfunded campaigns are a ‘sure thing’.

Not so. Running a successful crowdfunding campaign is harder than it looks.

That’s what Complete Kids Nutrition’s Megan Dixon has been finding out with her recent PledgeMe campaign promoting her company’s Superfood Shakes.

Dixon’s experience shows that Facebook likes, enthusiastic feedback from customers and media interest doesn’t necessarily translate into crowdfunding success.

“Even though we’ve got a lot of loyal fans, the campaign hasn’t immediately taken off,” she says.  

“Crowdfunding is still a relatively new concept and I think perhaps people might still be a bit hesitant to support a traditional business start-up, rather than a charity.”

“In terms of promotion we’ve been working really hard. We’re in nine New World stores and in a lot of other places, so we’ve been promoting the campaign with stickers on the packs, we’ve sent sample packs to ‘mommy bloggers’ and media outlets, and have received some really good feedback. More and more people have been posting to Facebook and liking our page and the media has been contacting us and wanting to do giveaways. That’s been a great branding exercise, but hasn’t really promoted the crowdfunder.”

“While it’s certainly flattering when someone gives you a thousand dollars because they’re behind your product, and it’s great to have people who are passionate about what we do, we just haven’t managed to reach enough of those people.”

Dixon says that part of irony of the situation is that even though the crowdfunding campaign may not ultimately be a success, there are knock-on effects from the process that are already becoming apparent.

“It’s been a worthwhile exercise in itself,” she says.

“If we don’t reach our target, that will be a shame, but we’ve been able to reach a lot of people in the right places, we’ve had some good meetings, and we’ve been creating those relationships that we can build on from here. It all has some kind of traction. It’s all expense that can be utilised in some other way.”

“It’s a learning process. It only makes you stronger and makes your business have a bit more substance. [Crowdfunding] is an innovative way of marketing, so there’s always going to be a little bit of trial and error.”

“We just have to keep going, just like we’ve always done. We’ve invested too much to turn back. This is just a little speed bump.”