The story so far
Posted by Blip Central on behalf of Blipfuture
This post is to bring together and summarise the key points from previous posts on the Blipfuture campaign to save Blipfoto. Please do point anyone that is unaware of Blipfuture to this post as a starting point.
There is more detail below, split into the following sections:
- What’s going on? A summary description of the crowd funding campaign to save Blipfoto.
- What is the plan? A more detailed look at what Blipfuture’s proposals are.
- How are we doing?
- Who are Blipfuture CIC? This explains who the key people behind Blipfuture are.
- How do I support the crowd funding? Details of the sale of shares and donations.
- How else can I support Blipfuture? Details of what we’re looking for from you all.
For more information about Blipfuture please also visit the crowd funding page. You’ll need to register as an investor to see the full documentation, but note that registering doesn’t commit you to investing.
Remember, we will only be able to do any of this if the crowd funding is successful. The total currently stands at £93,453.39, which is 52% of the way there.
What’s going on?
The current owners of Blipfoto are offering the community the chance to buy the Blipfoto site and its branding. They approached a group of members in October 2015 and after some discussion it was agreed by that group to raise the money through a crowd funding campaign. Four members from that original group were asked to take the plan forward. If successful, Blipfuture Community Interest Company (CIC) will run the site in consultation with the community. See more about what makes a CIC special later. For the crowd funding to be successful, we need to raise £180,000. This money will cover a payment to the owners, pay off the set-up and crowd funding costs and provide the working capital to keep the site running while we establish the ongoing membership payments with the community.
What is the plan?
If the crowd funding is successful, the community will take ownership and control of Blipfoto, including the use of the name and the original brand, through the Blipfuture Community Interest Company (CIC). A Community Interest Company is a special type of not-for-profit company designed to operate for the benefit of a community. The purpose of a CIC, as laid down by the CIC regulator, is to ensure that the company works directly in the interests of the community. This gives a voice to everyone in the community, not just shareholders, and the company directors are legally obliged to work in the best interests of the community as a whole. You can find out more about community interest companies on the regulator's website.
We need to ensure that the site operates at a sustainable level, and we will need to raise enough money through membership fees to pay the running costs (projected to be £120,000 per year). We can also run some of the operations at a reduced cost, with only a single staff member budgeted for and community volunteer help (plus technical help to keep the site and mobile applications running). We have various financial models that we’ve used to model what the membership levels would need to be, but crucially it will depend on the member numbers and membership take-up. As an example, it would be about £32.50 per year if everyone who posted in November 2015 (3698 users) paid an equal amount. However, free memberships have always been a part of Blipfoto. We have not committed to membership pricing or structure as it is something we intend consult on with the community. The community should have a say in this since it will be so crucial to success.
If we raise £180,000 a very significant portion of that is working capital so we fund the running of Blipfoto while we put in place the new paid membership scheme. Some of the funds raised will go directly towards buying Blipfoto. We expect the deal to buy Blipfoto will include a combination of cash, shares and long term payments.
The crowdfunding campaign runs until 1st March to help us raise as much as we can and give Blipfuture the best possible start, but we need to go back to the current owners around 11th January to review progress and if we and they are confident that the crowdfunding will succeed we will start detailed negotiations. If the existing owners are not confident of success at that time we are likely to lose this opportunity, and Blipfoto is likely to close.
How are we doing?
Currently we have raised over £92K from 936 people who have pledged. Over 1600 people have registered on the crowd funding site so that they can access the detailed information we have provided.
We know that 3,614 journals have had at least one post since the 1st December 2015 and our efforts are focused on making sure everyone in this number is aware of what is happening. Changes are being made to the banner so that it is more visible on the site and we will be emailing all current and recently lapsed users with an update and request to get involved.
As we have previous said, we need to go back to the current owners around 11th January to review progress and if we are all confident that the crowdfunding will succeed we will start detailed negotiations. If the existing owners are not confident of success at that time we are likely to lose this opportunity, and Blipfoto will close. Equally we, as the Directors of Blipfuture, must be confident that there is sufficient commitment on the part of the community to support both the crowd funding and the ongoing running of the site, with income raised primarily through membership subscriptions.
We are at a point where every penny counts, and every pledger counts – the more people we see pledging the more we have confidence that the site has a sustainable future (even if you only pledge the minimum of £10).
We have had a number of great suggestions and ideas sent to us. We have already considered grant funding and also reached out to past businesses with connections.
Unfortunately, the timescales we are working with means that help from this quarter is extremely unlikely. If we can acquire the site with sufficient funds to run it for a few months it will allow the opportunity to explore these ideas further. That doesn’t stop you as individuals on the site investigating your ideas on behalf of the community. It will very much be in keeping with the approach we want to develop, the community working together for a common aim. Some enterprising members have already done this and we are extremely grateful for their hard work. If you develop possible opportunities, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regrettably, we can’t do everything people suggest. We are very focussed on the immediate priorities for the site and all of our time and energy is going into this area.
Who are Blipfuture CIC?
The directors of Blipfuture CIC are a team of four ordinary blippers: Annie Andrews (of AnnieAndChris), Bob Hamilton (Earthdreamer), Graham Colling (GrahamColling) and Ian Stevenson (Cyclops). We all have regular day jobs (and daily blips to get!), with useful skills for this venture.
Until October 2015 our only involvement with Blipfoto was the same as you, as blippers. In October we started to look at setting up Blipfuture together, after an initial approach to a group of community members by the current owners. We were unable to refuse because we care deeply about the site and believe in this community. We are not taking any payment for this effort, and have made our own pledges as part of the community.
How do I support the crowd funding?
To support the crowd funding there are 2 ways to contribute: share sales within the UK/EEA/CH, and donations in other parts of the world. This split is because of the legal fees and complexities involved with setting up share selling in multiple countries – it would have simply cost too much. Donations are every bit as important to the crowd funding as the share selling and we will be consulting the whole community (including donors) on major decisions.
The minimum investment for a share (or donation) is £10. Importantly, when you pledge to buy shares or to donate, no money will be collected unless we reach the target.
We do know that not everyone will be in a position to invest or donate and that’s fine: if the crowd funding is successful we still want you to be a part of Blipfoto. Whatever you decide to do, you are important to the community and we would like you to keep blipping with enthusiasm. Of course, if too few people invest or donate then the crowd funding is unlikely to succeed and Blipfoto is likely to close.
You can check to see what you have pledged by logging in to the crowd funding site, clicking on your email address (top right of the screen) and selecting ‘your pledges’. If you want to increase your pledge you do the same thing and there is a facility to make a new investment, just underneath your previous pledge(s).
We strongly recommend that you read all of our plans on our crowd funding site to understand our proposals in detail. If you do want to get messages or questions to us then please do so via the crowd funding site, using the ‘Ask a Question’ button on the home page. Alternatively, email us at directly at email@example.com. We will do our best to respond as soon as we can, we want to help sort things out if you are having problems.
How else can I support Blipfuture?
The main thing we ask is for you to keep Blipping with enthusiasm. If you can respectfully spread the word about Blipfuture that’s great – we need people to know this is happening. Please do bear in mind that people will not want to feel pressured into giving money, and everyone must make up their own mind about whether to invest.
We’d also encourage you to inform friends and family who visit your journal. They might not be members, but may well be happy to contribute so as to be able to keep checking in on your life! Please don’t wait until the end of the campaign to offer your support. It's important that pledges are made as early as possible.