Ulule : A crowdfunding platform for unique and original projects

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Ulule is a crowdfunding platform based out of Paris. They specialize in funding “unique” projects. “I have the impression (but I could be wrong) that we pay particular attention to the uniqueness of each project. There are as many questions as projects, and we work hard to try to respond to every case as best we can, whilst maintaining a functioning unity for all our users (project owners / supporters). That is done on the projects themselves, but also before they are finalised and with side-projects too. This is why we created Ulule Vox (http://vox.ulule.com/), a message board for exchanging tips and plans even before the launch of the project. During the first few months of Ulule's existence we learnt a lot, and we are preparing new services to be more relevant for different types of projects.

The other originality resides in our international vocation: Ulule exists in English and in French, and is open to payments from 180 countries. We are preparing for the launch of new languages and think that a multi-themed platform like Ulule can only make sense as an international service (even if it certainly remains useful for national or very local projects).” says the founder Alexandre Boucherot . YourStory talks to him about the crowdfunding platform and some of the “unique” projects that have been funded on the platform.

Introduce yourself and Ulule

I'm Alexandre Boucherot, I started working in the web 15 years ago and I created Ulule with Thomas Grange, 10 years my junior but who has nonetheless a lot of experience, notably in web publishing. Before launching Ulule, we were both part of one of the first French and international media groups. With Ulule, we want to explore the possibilities of crowdfunding (it's a relatively new concept, especially in Europe) and offer a service which is both simple and useful for project owners.

Since the launch in October 2010, 60 projects have already been funded. And it just keeps progessing faster and faster! So our first hypothesis was right: crowdfunding has attracted interest, and most importantly it helps concretizing new ideas and fresh projects. We are now concentrating on improvements that can be made to the service, and the launch of a second version of the site.

Tell us how the platform works

The platform works on a pretty simple principle: any project owner, whatever the nature of his project, can create a page on Ulule presenting his needs, his calendar, his budget and the rewards he hopes to offer to supporters. Once this page is online, Ulule's visitors can support a project financially, but also promote it by spreading the word amongst their different networks. If they support it financially, they will only be charged if the project reaches its requested sum. If the project falls short of this, it's a blank operation: no one pays.

Several consequences of this type of funding: project owners maintain control of their project (there are no royalties or shares involved; the rewards system allows a more personalised and exclusive access to the project) ; beyond the financial aspect, Ulule enables the project owner to test his idea or product, and to gather a fan base; the principle of "all or nothing" allows him to work on the realistic outcome of the project, and adds an educational dimension by creating intermediate objectives for the project owner as well as supporters.

What was the idea behind such a social platform? Who is it aimed at?

The initial idea was to use the power of social networks for the promotion of new ideas and projects. So we have two publics: the project owners (who can be individuals, nonprofits or businesses) and the supporters, who in their large majority represent a community interested in this type of initiative, whether they be artistic, humanitarian, technological... Ulule is multi-themed (which is another originality with regard to certain specialised platforms) and the public is thus potentially quite big and diverse. But without a doubt, it has one common desire: to make good things happen.

Tell us more about some of the projects that have used Ulule

Sleepbot

http://www.ulule.com/sleepbot/

It's the story of a designer and a programmer who weren't sleeping enough. The bags under their eyes continued to grow, and, whilst discussing their severe exhaustion, it came to them: an application enabling you to calculate, quantify and manage your slept debt. They began to work, without any experience in the development of applications, and to unite (with difficulty) the material around their subject. Seeking funds to purchase the necessary materials to create their application, Jane and Edison were among one of the first project owners to use Ulule. And with success...Since the launch of their application on Android, Sleepbot sits on the throne of the top 10 Android Market health products. They also have an impressive press review, including an article on LifeHacker. The new version is soon to come.

North Atlantic Row

http://www.ulule.com/north-atlantic-row/

90 days. 2700 nautical miles between Québec and France. The courageous Mylène will soon face one of the most fearsome oceans known to navigators; and she can't wait! The journey will take a grand total of three months, during which time Mylène will be all alone on her little rowing boat, eating, sleeping, navigating...and of course rowing her heart out! Mylène needed financial support to purchase two satellite telephones and a waterproof laptop, so she will be able to update her blog and keep in touch with family and friends. Fortunately she has surpassed her requested sum, so she has some extra dollars to buy some coffee...and lots of it! She will also be tracked by a positioning system, so you can follow her progress directly from her website.

A Parallel World

http://fr.ulule.com/a-parallel-worldthe-exhibition/

SheiTan needed funds to finish his documentary film about the "Sikerei", native people of an island in Asia. He has lived in the heart of these people before, and thanks to the generosity of the public, he has raised almost double the amount required to make a second trip. He will follow the Sikereis' daily lives, interviewing them and gaining their trust. The government wants to push this endangered people out of their territory and into government villages, then sell them to big exploitation palm oil companies. This film will hopefully serve to educate people about these people who live completely cut off from the world, in perfect harmony with the jungle that surrounds them. Above all, it will be an escape from our all too false world, a world where human values have been lost.

Visit Ululu here : http://www.ulule.com/