In 2003, Simon moved to Ireland having spent the previous 20 year working in the UK. Originally from Hong Kong, Simon worked in the catering industry for most of his life, with little or no entrepreneurial experience. His decision to move to Ireland was driven in equal parts by his love of the country and by his perception of Ireland having a supportive entrepreneurial and innovative business culture. He was convinced that Ireland would provide a very good environment in which he could explore and develop his innovative business idea. Over the subsequent years, he began focusing on turning his idea into reality. Deeply concerned about environmental issues and fascinated with “the power steering in his father’s truck”, he poured his passion and energy into making a Super Bicycle. The main component of the SuperCycle – called SuperWheel – would be environmentally friendly and would give the user the ability to convert human power (weight) into energy that would improve cycling efficiency. It relies on an innovative technology entitled Weight to Energy Conversion Technology (WTECT). The key component of the SuperWheel is made up of two innovative mechanisms: the external springs and the internal drive. The combination of these two systems can generate additional energy to assist pedalling and provides the only alternative to assistive cycling with a battery. SuperWheel project commenced in 2014. Over the next two years, working with two Irish colleges – Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) and Dublin City University (DCU) – and with grant funding in the form of an Innovation Voucher (the Innovation Voucher scheme was developed to build linkages between public knowledge providers (i.e. higher education institutes, public research bodies) and SMEs. Innovation Vouchers worth €5,000 are available to assist a business to explore a business opportunity or problem with a registered knowledge provider) to the value of €5000 from Enterprise Ireland, Simon achieved a design breakthrough with the first initial prototype KM1. Subsequent ongoing development and testing with researchers in DCU and a licensing agreement on the EasyPedal with a local engineering company resulted in the computerized evaluation confirmed the benefits of the new idea – that by using 10kg active weight, the system generated a moment ranging in the size of 7.3 to 7.8 Nm that is more than 30 percent energy efficiency improvement over a standard wheel.
This case describes the motivation, challenges, and opportunities the founder of an innovative cycling product experienced as he attempted to use crowdfunding as a platform to establish and grow his business idea. The case begins with a brief overview of how the entrepreneur came up with the idea and the journey from product concept to product launch. The decision to crowdfund the idea is explained and the challenges and opportunities in trying to navigate the crowdfunding arena are explored; from selecting a suitable crowdfunding platform to the launch and management of the final campaign. Despite the fact the campaign failed to raise the funding target, the media coverage from the crowdfunding campaign led to a number of significant business avenues, which ultimately helped launch the product onto the marketplace. The case examines these events and closes as the entrepreneur reflects on the lessons learnt from the experience and his advice going forward to anyone considering crowdfunding. This was his first crowdfunding campaign and as the launch date approached, Simon was very aware that the marketing material and product information vital to the successful launch was not sufficient to attract the necessary backers. According to Simon “The Product design at the time was very basic, and lacked a convincing and wow factor”. Plus, there was a lack of pre-launch marketing campaigns. According to Simon the marketing campaign should have started “at least a few months before the crowdfunding campaign”. This is consistent with research which suggests that to succeed in crowdfunding, entrepreneurs need to invest in and prepare seriously before launching a crowdfunding campaign In July, a serious accident soon after the pre-launch event held in DkIT caused a major disruption to the pre-launch crowdfunding campaign. An avid cycler, Simon was cycling close to College Green in Dublin, and had a serious accident, caused by a collision with a tram track. “I broke my arm in three places”, Simon recounts and “I needed surgery” and “was off work for a while”. In fact, Simon was off work for three months. The impact of all this, was that the SuperWheel crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, which was initially set for September, was delayed to November, one of the worst times for crowdfunding campaigns. With little pre-campaign preparation caused by the surgery after the accident
This case study examines the experience of one entrepreneur who attempted to crowdfund the money required to commence production of his innovative product. Due to an unforeseen accident the campaign was unsuccessful financially, but the nonfinancial gains resulted in the company securing pre-order sales which eventually enabled the entrepreneur to commence production and successfully launch the company. The key takeaways from this case can be summarised as follows. There is no doubt that entering the world of crowdfunding is challenging and takes time, determination and a specific skill set. In the words of this entrepreneur “there are so many unknowns”. According to Simon, crowdfunding involves a huge “learning curve” and requires “[…]considerable time, skills and commitment. It takes considerable time to build trust between backers, developing a good image of the product, promotional skills andto understand details of costs and components and manufacturing and the logistics process”.
A key takeaway from this case study is the potential crowdfunding offers innovative start-ups. The case is supported by earlier research that the funding gap technology based businesses can be mitigated by crowdfunding. Moreover, the non-financial benefits associated with this funding platform in terms of market feedback and validation cannot be underestimated. As it documented in this case analysis, the crowdfunding campaign ultimately led to the company securing licence agreements on a global scale.
International Journal of Management and Applied Research, 2021, Vol. 8, No. 1 Received: 23 October 2020 ISSN 2056-757X Revised: 21 December 2020 Accepted: 6 January 2021 https://doi.org/10.18646/2056.81.21-001
A Case Study into the Motivations, Challenges and Opportunities in Crowdfunding: An Entrepreneurial Perspective Chun Yan Wang, Kate Johnston, Maeve Caraher Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland