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!)