Scrap Metal and The Crowdfunding Industry: Why One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Successful KickStarter
Originally Published Sep 2014 on www.Feex.com
I’ve written in the past about how crowdfunding should open itself to alternate ways of funding projects (using sweat equity, bartering, and even virtual reality) but the idea of getting scrap metal into the mix…I’ll admit it first. It’s just weird!
Nevertheless, I must continue forth. I’ve thought about it. It makes sense, and I want to tell you about it….. Here’s the idea.
While crowdfunding is popular, and a lot of people participate in it, most are still on the sidelines. Sure they look at your campaign, but they’re stuck with one sad thought: ‘That’s great, but I don’t have any money’. (For example, the recent 13 million dollar campaign for The Coolest Cooler was impressive, but just think how many people watched it wondering who has hundreds of dollars to spend on a cooler?)
That’s where scrap metal comes in; it’s the money that the vast majority of us doesn’t have.
Even if your car payments, phone bill, rent, and grocery bill have brought you two steps away from poverty wretchedness and ruin, chances are you still probably got some junk metal laying around…or you saw some on your way from work sitting on the side of the street on trash day.
1. The Size of the Scrap Metal Recycling Market:
Scrap metal is a 50 billion dollar industry, and there are thousands of businesses across the US who rely on recycling metals like steel, iron, aluminum as their main source of profit. (It’s actually is more sought out in other countries, especially those that are growing, like China.) Nevertheless, there is profit to made from it here in the US, and scrap metal can be found on any side of the highway, in an alley, on top of trash in dumpsters, or in any garage in America; it’s just sort of waiting there for you.
2. Nonprofits Are Already Doing It:
In my life, I’ve seen at least one library advertise on the radio to donate aluminum cans to their cause, and here is a scrap metal drive I found advertised on the internet to raise money for Habitat For Humanity (A Nonprofit that helps people build their first homes). http://www.montgomeryserves.org/toolkits/habitat-humanity-scrap-metal-drive
If nonprofits are doing it, why not crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo? This is especially true for people who are crowdfunding for serious things such as paying medical bills or building their first house, etc. Friends and family would be all over their neighbor’s scrap on garbage day if it meant helping out close relations in a big way.
3. Scrap Metal Companies Have Local Advertising Budgets:
Every crowdfunding campaign needs advertising. If your local scrap yard had reason to help you promote your project, like profiting from your friends and family bringing scrap to them, they would likely use some of their advertising budget to help you out.
4. Scrap Metal Basics Are Easy to Master:
- The heavier the better: Scrapping makes the most sense by the truckload. Heavy metal items such as cars, camper-trailers, and farm-equipment are the easiest way to make money fast with scrap, but you can otherwise create a collection and then bring in all-at-once in a big truck-load.
- Separate out the more valuable metals: Computers have gold on some of their components, cords are usually made of copper, and you can sometimes extract and sell appliance motors for a higher price than random metal.
- Only take what’s worth the time: If a piece of metal is wrapped in plastic or other debris, and you have to spend a ton of time separating it and cleaning it, you have to ask yourself something: Is it worth the trouble? This question comes up a lot when you’re looking inside of appliances for metal.
- Little bits of metal add up: Don’t throw away things like screws and other little scraps as you take appliances apart. Just put them aside, and, before long, you will one day have a heavy bucket full of metal.
- When and where to find scrap metal: You can scour the street corners on trash day, ask your friends and family for junk appliances and other metal items, look for free offers on craigslist, or just go on a walk and keep your eyes open.
- How to turn pro: Watch videos to learn how to scrap special appliances and other items. Also, learn how to market yourself as a scrap removal service on craigslist, in the phone book, and on flyers, etc. Many people are willing to let you haul their scrap since it’s just in their way.
5. Scrapping is fun, and it Puts You in Touch with Your Trashy Side
Although it can feel daunting at first, it’s actually a lot of fun to keep your eye out, like a treasure hunt, for scrap metal. Also, it’s a great feeling when you cash in your load that you can make some extra money while saving the environment. It also puts you in touch with your own trash; it can make you realize how much is waste on a daily basis in America.
However, don’t take it from me. The only proof you ever need to know how much fun scrapping can be is this hilarious and fun video of my favorite youtube scrapper (i.e., my hero) John the Scrapper. He has a colorful personality and the best North Michigan dialect and accent I’ve ever heard…
One man’s trashski is another man’s treasure…ski? Oh yeah! (Warning: Language used is NSFW) :
Conclusion: If Not with Scrap Metal, Crowdfunding Still Needs to Find Other Ways to Raise Money
I love crowdfunding, and I’ve been studying it and practicing it for years (I wrote the very first industry report on crowdfunding, and I have 3 successful campaigns under my belt). Nevertheless, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. Equity-crowdfunding was an exciting development (since the JOBS Act) that has been stalling for many years now. Also, sweat equity is a promising option that has yet to materialize. (In addition, there are a few more experimental options that I’m actually currently working on building myself, stay tuned.) But, the wait has been brutal, and I won’t lie; i’m almost ready to give up on equity crowdfunding.
But, no matter what alternatives there are for donation-based crowdfunding, it’s obvious that they are needed because when cash is the common denominator (and the only motive to obtain it is appeals for donations and the promise of quirky rewards), you’re leaving a lot of people out of the loop.
Let me know what you would like to see from crowdfunding in the next few years in the comments below.