Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

WHAT WOULD YOU DO: Recently designed in Asheville, the Lever Gear Toolcard has all sorts of everyday uses, from opening cans and boxes to popping the top off a Hi-Wire lager or Highland Brewing Co., IPA. Photo from Lever Gear's campaign page

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise start-up capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable Western North Carolina crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd.

Lever Gear Toolcard

The Lever Gear Toolcard is designed to pack utility while respecting pocket real estate, inventor Mike Scully says in his campaign video. It’s a wallet, bottle opener, screwdriver, ruler, box opener and 30-something other tools in one, though the 420 stainless steel gadget is only the size of a credit card. “I founded Lever Gear to design products that solve real problems, look great and will last forever,” says Scully, an industrial designer and mechanical engineer who launched the business with his wife April. The lightweight American-made Toolcard is TSA-compliant, since its blade is not on an outer edge, and it comes in multiple colors. “You won’t notice it until you need it.” Scully has already quadrupled his goal of raising $12,000 by Tuesday, April 12, for production, but backers can continue to pre-order Toolcards until the deadline.

The Mark

After lead character and chemist Aiden accidentally mars his girlfriend’s face, leaving a hand-shaped mark on her cheek, his guilt manifests into a tumor of the same form, explains writer and director André Mileti. “Believing it to be an unfortunate relapse of his past struggles with mental illness, Aiden dismisses it,” Mileti says. Around that time, he makes a discovery that could restore his significant other’s cheek (and his own peace of mind), and undertakes an amateur operation on her. “But things don’t go quite as planned,” according to the filmmaker. Set in Asheville, the independent short film’s fast-paced plot explores “the connection between the mind, body and spirit, as well as the personal responsibilities we have in the lives of the people we love,” Mileti says. He plans to partner with local creatives to bring the story to fruition and aims to raise $2,900 by Thursday, April 14, to cover production costs like sound, lighting and other equipment, meals, props, special effects, gas, Kickstarter rewards and fees, and more. Funds raised beyond that will go toward entry at film festivals and improved production.

Bamboo Bicycle jig systems

“Over this past year I have been developing a Bamboo Bicycle Making Workshop for small community-based groups in the Asheville area,” Mason Cooley writes on his campaign page. “The concept here is to bring mobility to individual kids through a creative design and engineering process that ultimately is about learning life-long skills around self-reliance and passionate inquiry.” In his mission to involve more youths, Cooley wants to make a batch of 10 reusable jig systems, which are used to make safe, high-quality bamboo bicycle frames. He’s already got a prototype, so his goal of raising $550  by Sunday, April 12 (which has been met) will be used to purchase tools and make multiple jig systems at roughly $30 each.

Image from Cooley's campaign page
Image from Cooley’s campaign page

Send your crowdsourcing campaign news to kmcreynolds@mountainx.com. A limited number of campaigns will be highlighted each week, at Xpress’ discretion. Campaigns must be locally based and should represent a current project with an achievable goal. Conditions are subject to change. Read about more Western North Carolina projects here.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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