It feels strange to be asking for money. For a “donation”. But it is what people are doing, with considerable success, thanks to the explosion of online crowdfunding. If social media has disruptively democratized information and empowered a globalized citizen voice, crowdfunding has disruptively empowered the crowd in supporting startups and entrepreneurs.
So, we’re giving it a try. Here are the factors that got us to this point.
The New Nautium App
We’ve just passed the one year mark living on our sailboat Ingenium and cruising the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific coast of Mexico. The learning curve on everything that needs to be done, the maintenance that is required on the boat to keep us safe and prevent bigger problems down the road is daunting. It was the search for a way to capture, track and organize the very important data we need to be safe and share with others like our captains’ log, maintenance details, inventory details such as which bin and where on the boat, trip planning and more that prompted the development of the app we’re now calling Nautium.
We searched the app stores thinking that surely someone had already built what we knew we wanted. We found a cool app to track where things are on the boat (that’s the inventory piece), and another one that has several different to-do lists. We couldn’t find anything that was relational – that would connect the dots behind the scenes – so that when we enter, for example, our use of the generator it would trigger a reminder at the appropriate point that the oil needs to be changed. So we started to build a system for ourselves. To address our needs. Nearly a year of building, coding, and testing, using FileMakerPro, we realized we have something that would benefit other cruisers, other mariners, other people whose lives involve boating and water.
From Personal to Public
We’ve done just about everything we can ourselves to get a viable prototype of Nautium, and we have one in FileMakerPro. It works, but it’s not a platform that lends itself well to the mobile environment and it’s not Android-compatible. We’ve shared it with a few other cruisers and are asking them to use it and give us feedback. But in our search for quotes to turn Nautium into a slick multi-platform tool that will make the world a better place for mariners, we need to up our game.
Quotes for professional development of a commercial-worthy app that would be functional on IOS and Android and Mac and PC range from $60,000 to $240,000. And that’s U.S. dollars. We understood we’d want to use a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds so that the pros could to do that work for us before we could launch for the public. What we didn’t know is that we’d need an MVP, or minimum viable product, in order to properly prepare for the big crowdfunding campaign. And THAT was going to cost us about $15,000. U.S.
Oh, The Money
We are not wealthy people. On the contrary! Ingenium and everything on it represents everything we own. We work hard for every dollar that comes in and we have no “cruising kitty” to fund our lives. We love the freedom and the control and the confidence that comes from making our own way. But we do not have the financial capacity to get a slick-looking MVP so that we can play with the big boys of the crowdfunding world and attract enough investors for the full app development.
So here we are, with a GoFundMe campaign that aims to attract just enough support to get us the important minimum viable product. We launched that campaign December 16, and are very excited and grateful for the first donations that came in over that first weekend. But we still have a long way to go. We’re patient, and diligent, and we’ve learned enough about ourselves and about life to know that sometimes you simply need to swallow hard and ask for what you want.
We’d love it if you would support our campaign.