Somehow it’s week 5

When we firstly started to identify what would be the most valuable crowdsourcing and crowd funding ideas, we believed that it would be within finding funding through investors. We further researching into this though Micro Ventures which is an equity crowd funding website offering investment in the early stages of companies. Micro Ventures connects accredited investors with start up companies and is the only major equity crowdfunding website that is broker dealer registered by the Financial Industry Regulation Authority.[1]

Furthermore, we briefly looked into the idea of trying to find grants for the Tiny House community. We relayed this information to shorty via (what should have been a hangout call) skype call and found that the community much preferred the idea of trying to find grants through the government in the United States. We only very briefly looked into this idea prior to our call, but have further researched into this possibility using Programs & Services for Communities & Nonprofits (http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/programs-services-communities-nonprofits) ,where we have found a few examples. Here they are listed:

  1. Rural Community Development Initiative Grants. This program provides funding to help non-profit housing and community development organizations support housing, community facilities, and community and economic development projects in rural areas. http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-community-development-initiative-grants
  2. Housing Preservation Grants. It provides grants to sponsoring organizations for the repair or rehabilitation of housing occupied by low and very low income people. http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/housing-preservation-grants
  3. Community Connect Grants. This program helps fund broadband deployment into rural communities where it is not yet economically viable for private sector providers to deliver service. http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/community-connect-grants
  4. Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program. The primary objective of the RCDG program is to improve the economic condition of rural areas by assisting individuals and businesses in the startup, expansion or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses through Cooperative Development Centers. Grants are awarded through a national competition. Each fiscal year, applications are requested through a notice published in the Federal Register and through an announcement posted on grants.govhttp://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-cooperative-development-grant-program
  5. Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. Provides loans and grants to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) to: Provide microloans for microenterprise startups and growth through a Rural Microloan Revolving Fund and provide training and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and micro entrepreneur. http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-microentrepreneur-assistance-program

In addition to this we have further expanded on more solutions to aid solving our NGO’s problem of financial stability. We have decided to further our ideas of tourism as this was the preferred solution to be used by the community. More specifically we want to look into using part of the land in the community as somewhere to either rent out plots of land to other tiny house enthusiasts for a varied time period depending on the preference of the customer or having pre built tiny houses to rent out, again for which ever preferred amount of time.

We have also been looking into creating ‘offices’ as part of the community which can be rented out by businesses or individuals as a unique working space presented in nature and a tiny house. The project we researched to gain some insight to this idea was KantoorKaravaan.

Launched in the Netherlands in June 2015, KantoorKaravaan is a mobile office service that provides rural working spaces. Designed by Dutch firm The Tipping Point Foundation, the caravan-style offices are made from vintage mobile homes and come equipped with WIFI, composting toilets, couches made from recycled jeans and solar-powered coffee machines. Rental prices are flexible, with the occupant asked to pay what they can afford. Further discounts are also available to individuals invested in projects and activities relating to the sustainability and conservation (areas in which KantoorKaravaan is interested).

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What is KantoorKaravaan? KantoorKaravaan offers you a workplace in the middle of nature, an experience combining your professional life with the exciting and inspirational sphere of wilderness. Designed as a mobile off-grid workplace, the KantoorKaravaan sets up camp at various locations in the countryside. What does it offer? Fully equipped with Wi-Fi internet access, a coffee machine, and other work-related necessities, you can simply bring your laptop and complete your daily work without missing the cosiness and comfort of a relaxing holiday-trip. Kitchen, compost toilets, solar panels, singing birds, and stunning nature guaranteed! Do I just work by myself? That’s up to you! For groups and communities, the KantoorKaravaan offers tailor made facilities which can be used for conferences, brainstorming sessions, leadership programs, workshops, and much more. What else? Tired of working behind the laptop? Just step out into the wilderness, go hiking, plant a tree, or chop wood for tonight’s campfire. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the nature around you to its full extent. Can I afford it? You definitely can! No worries if you are short on cash, we appreciate any kind of value that adds to the maintaining of the KantoorKaravaan. In other words, the more you do for projects and activities related to the KantoorKaravaan and the natural location around the camp, the less you need to pay in cash. [2]

As you can see we have been very busy this week from working through crowd sourcing and funding through various methods of research and refinement. Additionally we have finally clarified what the primary reasons are to create a solution to our NGO’s problem. So here is our image to summarize our past week.

Source: Tubler
Source: Tubler

Thanks for reading! You can watch our Skype meeting with Shorty here. Please leave us some feedback, we would be appreciate it a lot 🙂

Tiny Innovators

The World Wide Web… What we’ve been up to on week 4!

For this week we have been furthering our research and branching to looking at technical stewardship and how technology and social network trends could aid the Tiny House Community. We also collected together our NGO’s community activities and representing this information through a spider graph.

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So in our spider graph we have 8 points, each one represents an activity which we use in our work. Our scale works from 1 to 6, with 1 being the least important to 6 being the most.

Open ended conversation gives us information about what our NGO wants from us, and gives us advices on our future move, also such conversations can help us with making a right decision on our way to a successful project, that’s why we rated it 3 out of 6.

Group meetings as well as projects are the key and most productive points of our activities, because they help the team to reach a common decision, we discuss and brainstorm on different topics. We rated group meetings 5 out of 6 and projects 6 out of 6.

Social platform is one of the most important activities, because it is the cheapest and fastest way to gather loads of information and present to the majority of network users. It gives us a great opportunity to compare our NGO to others that are similar and is also a great source of ideas! We rated social platform 5 out of 6.

Relationship is a factor which helps team members to understand each other better, it is important to understand the dynamics of a relationship in order to strengthen your bond with one another, but it isn’t the most important factor that may affect the project, and that is why we rated it 2 out of 6.

Context is everything. Without context you can’t communicate effectively. When your message is delivered in one context, but received in another, it is likely leads to miscommunication. We rated it 2 out of 6.

Clients give us a lot of information about the NGO needs and what their ideas are to reach a better result, however in our opinion the most useful source of information is still the internet, that’s why we rated client information 4 out of 6.

Expertise gives us a deeper look on what we have done and what we need to get done, it actually doesn’t improve teamwork at all but is a really helpful activity if we want to have a better result which will suit our NGO`s needs.

Of course there are a lot of other important activities, but we have chosen the ones that we use most of all and that we believe are the most important, and with this our strategy of work will probably and hopefully lead to productive results!!

From this we concluded that the Tiny House Community should initially start by creating a website. We were told last week by our point of contact that they do not yet have a website.  We believe that this is the first way to begin being present on the internet and becoming known by others through a virtual presence. In addition to this, a website would create a page where the public could access the community on another platform.

Furthermore, we believe that any solutions created for assuring the community is financially sustainable would benefit massively from a website. In regards to tourism whether it be property rental, a ‘campsite’ or a workshop, a website would be almost a necessity with the ever increasing use of the internet. Additionally, our social entrepreneurship (we’ll explain what this is later on) idea of using renewable energy would also benefit from a website creating a page to express what the community is about and what it has done (if it goes down the renewable energy path.

Further down the line after we have the website up and running we would then advise the tiny house community to expand further on to Facebook, Instagram, potentially Twitter and to create a blog page. We would primarily focus on Facebook due to it being the widest used social media platform. Using these different networks would enable updates on what the community is doing, using pictures, text and videos which would help to get the community known by others and collectively aid in becoming financially sustainable.

After presenting this information to Shorty we gained some extremely useful feedback. Even though she agreed with our ideas about social network trends and a website, she informed us that the community was not yet ready for an expansion over social platform due to not yet being able to properly manage it. Along with having a website would be better considered when they have a market and have a better understanding of what the community is going to do. After discussing this with Shorty we have decided to change our focus on to how to help the community with finding sponsorship and investors.

Finally, we mentioned earlier about social entrepreneurship and how it related to a few of the solutions we had created as the idea of social entrepreneurship is clearly relevant to us as this kind of system would fit our NGO´s needs.

“Social entrepreneur: /noun/- A person who establishes an enterprise with the aim of solving social problems or effecting social change” [1]

Social enterprise is a relatively new term in the field of entrepreneurship.  Social entrepreneurship is not only practiced by nonprofit companies but also by entrepreneurs who want to take social responsibility. The success of a social enterprise is not valued by the profit it generates, but by the social effect it provokes. [2]

We have gained a lot new information this week and had a few set backs with our ideas and thoughts. However, now we are aware what we need to elaborate on and will show you this over the coming weeks! Keep updated and check our comments below as we’ll be adding bits of information every now and then when we come across it!!

Tiny Innovators

[1] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com

[2] wirtschaftslexikon.gabler.de