The First Week of our Kickstarter

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FrankKickstarter-640-480One week ago, we launched our Kickstarter campaign, Bring Frank N. Foode™ to Life! The outpouring of support has surprised and delighted us, and we can tell that our readers and supporters are excited, too. Indeed, some of you have been waiting for a long time, and the obvious evidence for this was the instant and rapid influx of pledges on the first day of the campaign. We raised $4,631 from noon to midnight, and the enthusiasm we saw on twitter, facebook, and on the blog was phenomenal! In the six days since the first, we’ve almost doubled it to $8,535! (Now $8,670 at time of publishing)

You know what this means? We’re running a 30-day campaign, and after just 7 days, we’re within reach of our goal of raising $10,000. When we reach this total, then that will guarantee that we will have enough funds to make 500 Frank N. Foode™ plushes, and Kickstarter will enable this project to be funded. When that happens, everyone who has backed us will assuredly get their chosen reward, and anyone who contributes to this campaign after we reach our primary goal will know that they will get their rewards before they donate. Will that be the end of it? No!

Reaching the funding goal is just the beginning. When we hit $10,000 we will announce our Stretch Goals – new levels that if we reach them it will enable us to offer more awesome items, like an exclusive T-shirt that says “I brought Frank N. Foode to Life!” based on our awesome Kickstarter campaign artwork, and more plush produce such as a Hawaiian Papaya, Indian Eggplant, or a Florida Orange. We have thought carefully about what additional crops and concepts in genetics and agriculture that we can represent with a new character, and our backers will get to vote on which one we will create. When the Kickstarter is over, we’ll present the case for each crop and let you decide which one you think will be the most important.

Moruga
2,000,000 Scoville Heat units?! Frank is shocked by the Moruga chili! (growing on the plant behind him)

To show my devotion to this project, I will also put myself on the line. I don’t know about you, but I like spicy food. Sometimes a little too much. Last fall, I had access to some ultra-hot chili peppers, the Bhut Jolokia, which rate at about 1 million on the Scoville heat scale. (A jalapeño is only about 2,000 on the same scale) That’s really hot! I mere tiny sliver of one of these peppers can spice up a whole dish. I thought, what if I were to offer to eat a whole one on camera and put it on the blog for everyone to see?

Well, maybe 1 million on the Scoville scale is not enough. Pictured here is a Moruga chili pepper, which clocks in at up to 2 Million on the Scoville scale! When the time is right, I will announce a stretch goal that will be for everyone, even if they have not contributed. If we reach this stretch goal I will eat a ripe Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chili pepper on camera and post the experience online. I’m serious, and I want to make this happen. I want you to see what plant genetics – and the community of people who gather here to talk about plant genetics – are capable of. (Kids, don’t try this at home. I’m a scientist.)

More Rewards!

61QLHbc9w9LAs I write this, about 150 Frank N. Foode plushes are spoken for, and a whole host of books have been taken. Tomorrow’s Table sold out overnight, so we’re offering more copies, and we also added Pandora’s Picnic Basket to the lineup as well. There are still copies left of The God Species, Denialism, S3, and The Infinite Resource, so if you’ve been itching to read one of these books, you can’t miss this chance to get one – and almost all of them have been autographed! In fact, I just got our copies of Denialism in the mail, sent directly from the author, Michael Specter.

A couple of our highest-tier rewards have also been selected. Two lucky backers will get a Golden Frank N. Foode™ plush that I will make myself, and I’m really happy about the chance to make these plushes! There are plenty of the Silver Franks to be had – none have been claimed yet, but before this campaign is over I’ll tell you a little more about what backers who select these rewards will really be getting. There has been a call for a fashion show so I can show off my sewing talents and how I will make these really special gifts.

FarmersLifeWe’ve also added a farm tour to the lineup. Most of our rewards are things that we can ship to you, but some such as the dinners with our science bloggers, are location-specific. (One dinner has already been claimed!) Now, for any of you folks living in or around Indiana, you can take a special hands-on tour of Brian Scott’s farm during any time of the year you choose. Want to plant some seeds, or jump on a harvester? If you can get yourself there, you can have that chance.

I would also like to highlight another reward which I really hope some people will be able to get: An overnight stay for two at the fancy and sustainably-managed Hilliard Bruce Winery on the Southern California coast, complete with a tour of the vineyard and winery, and a dinner as well. Because we really want you to have the opportunity to have this experience, we reduced the pledge amount from $400 to $300 for the Valentine’s Day holiday. If you want to win some major romance points you might want to give this a second or third look.

LoveFoodFinally, just in time for Valentine’s Day we have a special interview with Bobbie Marie Gregg, who was Miss Tennessee International 2011, and who is now becoming a registered dietitian. We will also be taking her photo with Frank N. Foode and you can get it as a special reward right now in our Kickstarter campaign.

So Many Thanks

First, I want to thank our backers. Wow, you have really impressed us with your enthusiasm, and I feel really pleased that you want to be a part of this, and I’m also really happy that it looks like you will be able to get your rewards. We’re almost there, so if we can push it over the limit than you’ll be getting them for sure! Tell your friends.

Next, I would like to thank our fellow bloggers who have told their readers about our Kickstarter. Each of you have, in your own way, told the World what you find valuable in what we do, who we are, and what this Kickstarter campaign means to you.

Pharyngula: The cuddliest artificial genetic mutant ever
Celestia’s Caricature Blog: Putting My Art where my Heart Is
BioTechNow Blog: Bring Biofortified’s Frank N. Foode to Life!
Skeptical Vegan: Help Bring Frank N. Foode to Life!
Sleuth 4 Health: GMOs Can be Fun!

(Did I miss any? Let me know and I will add them in!)

silver
The only GMO that will ever be a Silver Bullet!

These blog posts have inspired us to hold a community contest during our kickstarter, for something really special. We’re not sure yet what the prize will be, but if we have any of the special Silver Frank N. Foode plushes left (so far that looks likely) I would like to offer that as the prize for this contest. (If it sounds like y’all would like to win this, I’ll take it out of the Kickstarter so it will be available as a prize for sure.) What will it take to win? Write a great blog post about us and our Kickstarter! We’re going to let our community vote on who wrote the most awesome blog post about our Kickstarter, to give you a chance to get something fantastic just for helping us generate a little buzz. The winner will be selected entirely on how awesome your blog post is, and -not- on how many backers you happen to send our way! Write as many as you like, and they will all be eligible to win.

Finally, I would like to thank our contributors who have answered the call and are stepping up the posts for this whole month. The more people we can bring here to learn about and discuss the science, the more people who may become inspired to join in! Without you, there is no us!

I’m excited, and I hope you are too. Right now, we’ve got $1,330 left to raise to clinch the deal and start the next phase of this Kickstarter. With 21 days to go, there’s a lot more fun ahead of us!

Follow Karl Haro von Mogel:

Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.