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Stop with the kitschy and give us stuff we need


Dear Crowdfunders,

Welcome to Social Source's annual New Year's Letter! Sorry it's a bit late, but you understand how these things go. Insert happy face-Champagne bottle-Dollar Sign giphy.

The purpose of this letter is to dispense the few bits of wisdom I've gleaned while observing your industry over the past year.

Please accept these nuggets free of charge as you continue to dream up new, inventive ways to be entrepreneurial in 2017.

Let's begin with a few products to ditch: No more growlers or growler cozies. And no more food trucks — with the possible exception of Filipino food. We could get behind that, and my mother-in-law has a great recipe for empanadas. Just IM me if interested. {img:139476}

No more rolling, roving or mobile anything. Last year we saw a roving paper-making studio and insect zoo. Chances are that if it's a viable business idea people will come to you. No more trailers that serve as retail spaces, for that matter. But I did rather like Polish, the nail salon in N. Portland that was funding on Kickstarter and set up shop in a vintage Aloha trailer on N. Leavitt St.

In the realm of fashion, design us no more high-tech raincoats for people — or our pets. Bicycle commuting jackets most especially. We all know that a cheap, waterproof poncho, a bike burqa covered with strips of reflective tape suffices for riding in the rain.

There are a few markets that aren't saturated. There's still more room for cat things, for instance. Remember the Portland-made LICKI Brush? COURTESY: LICKI BRUSH - Want to lick your cat? Apparently lots of people did as the Licki Brush raised more than $52,000 on Kickstarter to bring the silicone tongue to market.This device lets you lick your cat, as a cat actually wants to be licked. It was huge, and even made it on to the Jimmy Kimmel Show. Or was it Jimmy Fallon? Whatever. Husband and wife team Jason and Tara O'Mara of PDX Pet Design raised $52,179 on Kickstarter in July to bring this big silicone tongue to market.

As Portland loses its nice, polite city rep in favor of something a little more grown-up and unsavory, we smell opportunity. So think personal devices to keep your belongings safe from scammers and thieves. Note the tremendous success of OTTOLOCK by Wilsonville-based OTTO Designworks. They raised $352,425 to bring their bike lock — a Zip Tie on steroids — to market. PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTOS - The OTTOLOCK (LEFT), made in Wilsonville, also went viral, blew past its $50,000 goal and raised $352,425.This bike lock is light, tight, and can't be cut with bolt-cutters. Thieves can't stand it. The lock blew past its fundraising goals and then some, raising $352,425 of its $50,000 goal. A total of 3,231 backers raised $282,583 in the campaign's final days, and surpassed its fundraising goal by a mere 700 percent. About the size of a dog collar, the lock will retail for approximately $50. It's flexible and small enough to be coiled to a 2-inch diameter and stored away in the smallest pouch or saddle bag.

Coloring books were trending last year but enough already. Ditto with coding books for kids. There's plenty of time to learn this later. Better perhaps to teach that kid to play piano. No one ever regrets learning to play piano.

Tastes like crickets? Charles Wilson reached a successful $25,000 Kickstarter campaign last February to get his Cricket Brownie Mix PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTOS - Charles Wilson convinced enough people that his Cricket Brownie Mix (the flour is made from crickets) was a great gluten-free idea and reached his $25,000 Kickstarter goal.off the ground. The chirping musical insects once only good for camping and ringtones, now make for darn good eating. And not just in Asian countries like Thailand, where whole crickets are served as bar snacks, but in health food stores such as S.E. Portland's Know Thy Food, where intrepid eaters can buy gluten-free cricket flour, oatmeal and flavored powders made to add to smoothies or baking. Wilson is continuing to launch new healthy cricket-based products. Crickets are high in protein with naturally high levels of Vitamin B 12, iron, calcium, and Omega 3s and 6s. Yum.

Managment gurus love to say you're no entrepreneur until you've had your epic fail: Former Intel executive Brian Ostrovsky crowdfunded on Indiegogo to bring a new wearable tech project to market called BabyBit. The battery powered sensor snaps onto a baby's clothes and alerts the working mom if baby travels outside approved zones or locations with their caregiver. It lets her know when drop-offs between caregivers occur or (Whoops!) if you leave baby in a car that's too warm to be safe. This device, developed through Jaguar Land Rover's Portland-based Tech Incubator, needed a longer test-drive. While we understand how hard it is for a new mother to return to work, spying on nanny probably won't help. I can see why Babybit only got to 41 percent funding. Now it lives on at babybittech.com in startup limbo.

Spying on birds on the other hand, makes a lot of sense. We want to watch them when they aren't looking, as they eat, play, and hatch. Even Portlandia fatigue won't kill our love for it. Observe the success of a kid from L.A. who now lives on Sauvie's Island in a houseboat. Who's laughing now? He developed Bird Photo Booth, a wireless bird-activated camera tucked inside a bird-feeder. This project justifiably went viral by bringing into the world something novel that also brings a bit of joy.

Happy New Year! We're already 2.74 percent of the way!

Contract Publishing

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