I’d like to say I’m venture capitalist.
Or at least pretend to be one.
I’ve backed just a total of 96 startup projects via Kickstarter and Indiegogo. If you count the additional six projects that I pledged funding to but didn’t succeed, that’s 105 companies that I’ve invested in.
Although, I think I need to reclassify my activity as a “hobby” instead of an “investment.” Naturally, I’m not getting a part of the company, and essentially, I’m just pre-ordering. But it still is a major risk.
If it was a true investment, I would go broke – the number of these projects that actually DELIVERED (ahem, Instacube) is 51 projects. Though, keep in mind 14 projects are still in progress….so that really brings my delivery percentage to 62%
Of those that have delivered, I am DELIGHTED with only 21 of them. That makes my success rate 25% so far.
Still, I love my hobby.
It’s a delight to back people’s dreams and be a part of an invention!
There’s one I’d like to introduce to you, because it has the potential to change the way people use the wok.
This is Glen. He’s the inventor of the WokMon, a steel ring that can sit on any gas/butane/propane stovetop burner.
WokMon will allow you to go from wimpy fire to Chinese restaurant crazy flame!
Those are photos from Kenji of Serious Eats, who tested out a prototype of the WokMon.
Better yet, here’s his video:
Isn’t that insane?
Intense fire is what makes “Wok-Hei” which is literally “the breath of the wok.” It’s what makes Chinese restaurant stir-fries so damn delicious.
The high heat allows chefs to quickly caramelize the ingredients, giving the resulting dish a naturally smoky, umami flavor. Cooking this way ensures that the thinly sliced meats are crisply toned on the outside, and incredibly tender on the inside.
Restaurant wok stations are equipped with special burners that allow for 125,000 BTUs and higher. Our home stoves have a measly 15,000 BTUs (unless you have a high-end appliance, like Viking or Wolf).
How the WokMon Works
The WokMon’s unique shaped ring directs heat to the middle of the wok and allows for airflow to be funneled to the source of the flame. More oxygen to the flame means bigger flame.
Last week, Glen emailed me, introducing his invention. I emailed back, excited to help. Asian cooking! Crowdfunding! It’s my kinda thing.
Glen sent over a test unit, which I received a few days ago.
I had fully planned on testing the WokMon at home on my portable butane burner (my kitchen has no gas — pout). I won’t bore you with why I couldn’t proceed – let’s just say, a comedy of errors on my part. Couldn’t find my cast iron wok, butane cartridge empty, blah blah blah.
It’s just as well, as my Kenji’s review is just stellar and more thorough than I could have done (I need one of those fancy infrared thermometer thingies).
My Thoughts on the WokMon Project
Because I’m recommending this product to you (I’m not getting anything out of supporting WokMon, other than I hope you back the project so that it can be funded!) – I wanted to give you my honest thoughts.
- I’m bummed I couldn’t test out the WokMon with real cooking. My seasoned, cast-iron wok is somewhere on this 5-acre property. I just don’t know where. Since we’ve moved here 3 years ago, I haven’t used that wok – I have an electric burner. I do have several non-stick woks in the kitchen, but they wouldn’t be able to handle the heat that the WokMon produces.
- I was able to find a full butane canister and turned on the portable burner with the WokMon. It was very clear that the flames were being directed towards the middle, towering high above the burner a good three inches. I trust Kenji’s testing. He’s a good guy and very thorough.
- If this project is successful, the WokMon will change how we cook Asian food! More heat = better flavor. It will also cut down cooking time to just a couple of minutes. My Mom wants one!
- At this point, with having backed nearly 100 projects, I consider myself a crowd funding expert from the backer side. What I love about this project:
- Glen would like to have it manufactured in the USA.
- Price point of $42 is great for a product that produces amazing results like this.
- I love Glen! He’s an inventor at heart. Such a creative spirit.
- Of course, the WokMon is an impressive product. It works!
- I’m familiar with Indiegogo, Kickstarter, GoFundMe. Crowdzu is brand new. Like so nearly all of their pages have “Coming Soon” as of this morning. I can’t find much information about their company. I can’t find a list of successfully funded projects – or even a list of current projects.
A quick search online yields little information too. I see that they launched July 2012 through press releases, but that’s about it.
- I asked Glen why he didn’t choose Kickstarter or Indiegogo. He explained that both had rejected his idea a couple of years ago. I don’t know of the specifics, but I would bet my bottom dollar that Glen now has a better product, better plan. This would now be a perfect project for Kickstarter.
- I think if Crowdzu would have had more experience, they would have advised Glen to simplify his crowd funding campaign. The pledge rewards are confusing and there are just too many choices.
What Glen needs is to sell WokMon! Not cleavers, chopsticks, woks or cookbooks.
I do like smaller funding options (not everyone wants a WokMon but would still like to support the project), and a couple of options are great. However, the long list of campaign rewards is very confusing.
- There are so many factors that go into whether or not a project will be successful. One of them is the target fundraising amount. The WokMon is set at $200,000. Meaning, if Glen doesn’t get at least $200,000 in pledges, the project will not be funded.
That’s an incredibly high amount to raise. They currently are around $20,000 in pledges.
I would have set the target amount much lower. However, I understand from reading the WokMon information that Glen would like to manufacture in the USA and that is the minimum amount he needs to do so. I would gladly pay double the price of WokMon if it could be made in the USA.
Did you know that crowd funding these days involves hiring a professional public relations or marketing specialist? That’s because inventors know that the key to a successful campaign is getting press. This is sad, because most people can’t afford to hire PR people. But…it’s reality. Unless you have a project that just goes nuts on social media naturally. I love those kind of projects the best.
Another common theme amongst successful projects is a slick intro video. It’s silly – but this is the currently formula that works. For a $200,000 campaign, it’s pretty much essential.
My hope is that Glen reaches his goal. It’s a game-changer in the industry…and it’s affordable at less than $50 for a WokMon! If it succeeds, FANTASTIC!!!
If the goal isn’t reached, I hope that Glen doesn’t give up. It’s a product that deserves to be made and available to us wokking fans 🙂
Go to WokMon campaign page and back the project! (and tell your friends about it!)
I was one of those who pledged for a Wokmon with great excitement. Going on three years now and I have yet to receive anything–including any communications about status.
At one point, I think over a year ago, I received a reply to one of my many emails to Glen–saying the Wokmon was still in progress.
I am disappointed. Not only by the lack of communication but also because I was really looking forward to using it. Every time I stir fry I am reminded.
Lauren – me too! I did reach out to Glen this summer – and he told me that the Wokmon project is still in progress.
It’s been a year and I don’t even get any communication form wok-mon on progress. I think I’m just out the money! This is the only funding effort that hasn’t come through with the product or refund.
Has anybody received any thing form this guy???
I haven’t heard anything either! So frustrating. I emailed him just now. Hopefully he will respond.
Carla – I emailed Glen and here’s our convo:
Hi Glen – any updates? I have readers asking me if I’ve heard from you, or if you had just taken the money and ran. Please give update.
Glen Lee to Jaden
Gosh, no. I am in China factory. Will be posting an update.
The wok-mon was supposed to ship six months ago. No updates have been posted on Crowdzu in three months. The last “revised” ship date was February 2015. It’s now April 2015. I’m pretty sure this product is dead and Crowdzu is a scam.
Tom – wow, I had forgotten about this. I’ll reach out to Wok Mon.
Very cool ideas! The summer is a great time to be creative with some of these things!
Tried to pledge but getting an error from that site. Sigh. Wish it was on Kickstarter…
I am one of the co-founders of Crowdzu and I would like to apologize profusely because our website was down briefly at the time you were trying to make your pledge. We fixed the issue as soon as we became aware of it and everything is back up and running now.
Twitter had their “fail whale” for years and Facebook has gone down a couple of times in recent memory including last month. If you think Kickstarter is up all the time, please take a look at the comments section here: http://www.isitdownrightnow.com/kickstarter.com.html. Obviously, as a new startup, we cannot avoid some teething pains.
You can check with Glen Lee, the WokMon’s inventor, who commented above in reply to Ken, about why he went with us and ask him about all the services we offer our crowdfunders which goes far, far beyond a couple of canned form emails and featured campaign status. If the crowdfunder is willing to put in the work (and Glen surely is), we are willing to work very hard alongside him.
Please do try to pledge again. If you face any issues you can email email@example.com. You can also get in touch with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your understanding and patience. – Stella
Also anytime you alter the original BTU output of a cooking device or appliance you void the warranty and the safety certification thus any destroyed residences, personal accidents or resulting deaths that occur using the Wokmon become the full responsibility of the user and Wokmon unless Wokmon receives a safety certificate from UL or CSA to its use and application. I see the lawyers lining up for this one and many lost retirements, houses and all possible income.
You are not the first to bring your future concerns about the WokMon.
In my claims within my US patent and in my campaign, BTU output remains the “same” but WokMon recycles wasted gas back towards the center to a gentle broad flame. By redistribution of gas flames, you effectively increased the power to the wok(where it counts) without additional BTUs. You seen the prototype flame, however production model design would’nt be a “towering inferno”. I worked on this idea design not to burn down kitchens and homes.
During my research and due diligence prior to patent the WokMon. I did explored the process of certification with UL/CSA and other governing organizations within the scope this device. I made sure there would not be any road blocks that would potentially derail my idea. If necessary made changes to conform to their guidelines.
CSA guidelines are quite simple: Don’t mess with their plumbing at all. period. You can’t interfere in anyway with gas lines.
I am satisfied that the WokMon conforms to CSA requirements. Kenji Lopez’s(MIT man) lab review. The WokMon will have the proper warnings, labels and directions for safe use. Its not a toy and should be treated with respect like any other cooking apparatus. Plus will have product protection and liability.
Yellow orange flame too much air and no heat. Blue flame high heat. Rated BTU of stove is all you are going to get.
Ooooo, I read about this on Serious Eats too and it sounds sooooo cool.
My cousins own a few restaurants in Honolulu and having worked in them as a child know that good food taste good with wok hei in them. I like to buy one to use at home seem like a good investment.
Wow, you weren’t kidding about all the options on this crowd source. It doesn’t look like he’ll meet his goal. Only 3 days left and only 17K pledged so far. Looks like a great idea though. I’d give it a try!
I wish he is able to find funding for this project too!! It will be great if it reduces time and enhances flavour!
Interesting. Reading this, I’m immediately reminded of the wok stand that my grandparents used to have. It looked like a small crown and they set it on the stove whenever they cooked with their cast-iron wok. It balanced the wok on the stove as well as focusing the heat.