Tuesday, 24 June 2014

One Direction Member Helps Launch Crowdfunding Project for Local Football Club

Louis Tomlinson, member of boy band One Direction helped launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for Doncaster Rovers football club. The campaign was launched by Tomlinson on 19th June 2014, along with the club's former chairman and businessman John Ryan through the UK platform Crowdfunder looking to raise £2 million believed to be the largest UK crowdfunding campaign to date. Fans of the club and football supporters in general are being asked to pledge their financial support to help reach this ambitious target, which if successful will help with the club's growth and development.

In addition to being a member of one of the most successful UK music acts, Doncaster born Louis Tomlinson of One Direction is also an avid footballer, and plays for the Doncaster Rovers Reserves as a defender. In an effort to better support the club of his hometown Tomlinson has partnered with John Ryan the former club chairman to form the Tomlinson/Ryan trust. The goal of this to trust is to support and develop the club in helping realise its ambitions on the field to achieve Premiership League status,  develop its schools as well as youth and charity programmes, and grow the club's brand and supporter base. The campaign through Crowdfunder will use the money raised to help make all these dreams, plus many more, a reality. 
By setting up the Trust, launching the crowdfunding campaign with crowdfunder.co.uk, and putting our own money in, we are making it clear to Doncaster Rovers supporters, and the general public, that we are planning to give the club the support and resources it needs. As its previous Chairman I am still totally committed to developing an exciting future for the club. The objectives of the trust provide a roadmap to make the club an even greater success. I am very pleased to join forces with Louis to make this happen. It’s an exciting moment for Doncaster RoversJohn Ryan
The Crowdfunder campaign, #FANSUNITED will use the funds raised to help the club achieve all its aims, to grow not only as a nationally recognised Premiership League club but also expand onto the global market. The trust has already pledged a six figure sum to show its commitment to the project and to encourage fans and supporters to pledge. In exchange, donors will receive rewards that include club merchandise and limited edition items as well as varied levels of club membership giving those who pledged a say in the running of the club. The crowdfunding campaign has 30 days to reach its funding targets so to learn more and make a donation click here to visit the Crowdfunder page.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Crowdsourced Service Provider Secures Second Round Funding For Expansion

Textmaster, a leading provider of professional crowdsourced services has announced securing €1 million in a second round of funding for expansion plans. The latest investors which include Alven Capital, eFounders, and Cédric Siré co founder of one the largest digital media groups, Webedia. These latest round of funds will be used to expand Textmaster further into the European and Asian markets.

Founded in 2011, Textmaster has grown into a platform providing professional services which include translation and content writing to proof reading, for a variety of business ranging from SMEs to multinational corporations, including Google, in a variety of industries. These include e-commerce and manufacturing to communication and mobile app developers making up 5000 customers from over 50 countries. Textmaster helps its customer develop their online presence and grow internationally with services that are available through a wife range of formats including an API as well as integration with Microsoft office and Wordpress. 
This new round of funding will enable us to invest in our technology and pursue our international expansion in Germany and Asia. Our shareholders' support and the arrival of Cédric Siré allows us to continue our growth and prepare for a third round of funding before the end of the year. - Thibault Lougnon, CEO TextMaster
The three new investors include big names in Textmaster's key fields of investment, startup support and digital media. 
  • Alven Capital is an independent venture capital firm with an extensive portfolio of retail outlets, hoteliers and broadband providers. 
  • efounders is a startup studio that helps SMEs and SaaS startups develop their business ideas by acting as co-founders providing advice and resources. 
  • Cédric Siré is the co-founder of Webedia, one of Europe's largest digital media groups. Since launching in 2007 Webedia through its variety of news outlets has created a monetized digital business which in 2012 saw it's revenue increase by 80% to €20 million. 
The inclusion of Cédric Siré as an investor should particular be advantageous to Textmaster given that as co-founder of Webedia, Siré helped build a business to such a large scale in the highly competitive and unpredictable digital content market. The success of Webedia through these efforts caught the attention of Fimalac, an international investment group who recently purchased Webedia which will become part of a leading internation group in the fashion and entertainment media.

Image Credit; Simon Cunningham

Saturday, 14 June 2014

[Review] Oculus

Stars; Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane
Director; Mike Flanagan
Writers; Jeff Howard and Mike Flanagan
Running Time; 104 Mins  
Release Date;  13th June 2014

Eleven years after the brutal slaying of their parents, two siblings return to the family home to unearth proof that a malevolent supernatural force was behind their deaths.

Avid horror fans will not necessarily find anything new or original in this supernatural thriller. Malignant spirits occupying household items, possession and hauntings as well as blurring of principle players' realities have been the staple of films such as British horror anthology From the Beyond The Grave (which featured a ravenous mirror), The Shinning, and of course any of films within the Amityville series. However this is still a high quality film worthy to be included in the horror genre.

Howard and Flanagan's script makes many a nod to the classic films mentioned above as well as a few others. The script never detracts from the plight of the principle players Kaylie and Tim Russell (Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites respectively) keeping the audience's attention right at the centre of the story. The added feature of having both the current efforts of the two siblings play out  concurrently with flashbacks from their parents' unfolding before the viewer, add an extra dimension and depth to the story leading to its tragic inevitability. Personally the film is lacking in an abundance of leap-out-of-your seat scares yet this works to its advantage. There is plenty of chills and eeriness maintained throughout by playing out events from the characters' viewpoints and as their sense of reality becomes more skewed so too does the audience. The sometimes quick second flashes of "inventive" deaths add the necessary shock value but it is never overly explicit or lingering with gore kept to a simplistic minimum. The outcome is fairly predictable with an ending that whilst might have some viewers open jawed is nevertheless satisfactory and in keeping with the overall feel of the story.

The tightly plotted script and atmosphere are bonded with strong performances from the principle leads. Thankfully Oculus is not overburdened with too many characters who become surplus to requirements keeping such players like Kaylie's fiance Michael Dumon (James Lafferty)and Tim's psychiatrist Dr Shawn Graham (Miguel Sandoval making a welcome return to the big screen) functional. The rest is left to Gillan et al to add the visceral gravitas that lies at the film's core. Gillan  proves here as she did in Doctor Who that she has the strength and presence as well as natural thespian ability for a leading role and brings the most poignant aspects of Amy Pond to Kaylie along with (aside from one or two slips) an effective American accent. Thwaites as the more timid Tim conveys all the fear ridden vulnerability of a man who's journey of recovery after the terrible ordeal of his past threatens to send him hurtling down into the abyss of his troubled psyche once more. The younger Kaylie and Tim played by Annalise Basso and Garret Ryan revel in the roles and do well to emulate aspects of their senior counterparts.

Stealing the show however, and showing some real versatility are Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane as the ill fated parents Marie and Alan Russell whose brutal demise is revealed in the flashback. Sackhoff's role as mother and wife is in direct contrast to her more well known kick-arse parts in Battlestar Galactica, 24 as well as going toe to toe with Vin Diesel in Riddick. Sackhoff rises to the challenge and is convincing as the maternal figure, her vulnerability and genuine sense of terror adding to the chilling feel of the film. In contrast Cochrane, best known to television audiences as Tim Speedle in CSI Miami, has gone from likeable crime scene investigator to a likeable family man turned psychotic killer. Cochrane's performance of a man who gradually descends into madness is so chilling it rivals that of Jack Nicholson The Shinning.

Despite lacking some genuinely scary moments Oculus promises so much more, an edge of the seat supernatural thriller that puts the audience into the thick of unfolding events. Tension and chills throughout, Oculus keeps viewer attention firmly on the screen and refuses to let go until the end. It is essentially the film that makers of Paranormal Activity and The Last Exorcism should be envious of and aspire to emulate.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Crowdfunding Sustainable Energy Through The Power of Music.

Can the vast amount of energy generated from musical performances on some of the biggest stages be harnessed and used to create a sustainable form of electricity? This was the question asked by Sudha Kheterpal, percussionist with the world famous South London band Faithless The question led to the development of SPARK  a percussion instrument that converts energy into electricity. Leading the call the to "Shake Your Power" Sudha is looking to develop a full prototype to be distributed to countries with little or no sustainable power and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help make this happen. The campaign, which went live on 10th June 2014, is looking to raise £50,000 in 30 days.

Sudha Kheterpal has spent over 20 years as a percussionist, 15 of those years with the band Faithless, playing to packed out arenas all over the world. During that time, she has often wondered if the immense power and energy generated during those performances could be harnessed and put to good use. Sudha carried out extensive research into kinetic energy, which in physics refers to the energy built up through acceleration, or the energy of motion. Kinetic energy is maintained until there is a change in speed. Using this as a starting point Sudha then researched the various harnessing techniques to determine which was the best way to build and maintain kinetic energy and how that would transform into sustainable power. Working with designers and engineers, Sudha developed the first prototype for a musical instrument for harnessing that kinetic energy. 

SPARK is a percussion instrument, a prototype shaker that converts the energy from shaking into electricity. The device contains a magnet which moves through the centre of a copper coil, or solenoid. This induces a current of electricity and as the magnet slides through the coil repeatedly back and forth, it charges up a rechargeable battery. The energy produced by SPARK is then stored allowing it to be used at any point of the day or night.  It also has a USB port that will enable the user to plug in a light or charge up a mobile phone instantly or at a later time. If shaken for 12 minutes SPARK can produce and store enough energy to provide light for one hour. The initial prototypes were tested in parts of Kenya with little or no form of sustainable electricity and have proven successful in providing safe lighting through some of the more dangerous areas, particular for women and girls where rape is prevalent. They have also provided vital means for charging mobile phones to maintain important communications in rural areas for contact with family as well as obtaining essential medical, retail, and banking services.

The funds raised through Kickstarter will be used to develop the prototype into a finished product, manufacture and distribution, and development of assembly kits to enable users to build their own SPARK. In return, donors will receive a variety of rewards including personal acknowledgements, limited edition merchandise, invitation to an intimate performance by Faithless, percussion masterclass with Sudha and of course their very own SPARK prototype. The need for alternative renewable energy sources remains a vital one in the light of alarming increasing in the effects of climate change and SPARK provides yet another means to provide essential energy that is good for the people and the planet. Beyond that it can provide a greater sense of interdependence and uniting of people and communities, and connect people through the universal and uplifting power of music. Click here for more information and to make a donation.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

[Writer's Blog] That First Sale Has Finally Arrived

During the past five years since I decided to embark on the turbulent journey to writing stardom I have received some payment for the work I produced. Whether it was share from advertising revenue or "beer money" compensation for writing and editing services I could honestly call myself a professional writer. Yet it never felt like a real job not necessarily because of the low earnings but there was no way to gauge the value of the work produced, until yesterday. An article I wrote nearly two years ago and posted to a content website (see the sad little blue box to the right) was purchased along with the full rights for it to be used as the buyer saw fit. This is not a ringing endorsement of the content platform but after calming down from the elation I felt which kept me floating on a cloud through much of the night, I appreciated the importance of never giving up.

The article that was sold covered the topic of how crowdfunding was changing the face of publication for authors, publishers, and agents. It was written as an all encompassing guide to crowdfunding and the resources available for struggling writers and the middle men who felt their livelihoods threatened by its increasing popularity. I had hoped it would be a quick sell and after posting it on Constant Content searched for more articles to post. It remained my only article until recently. This sudden interest in an old piece of work represented a milestone for me because not only was I paid for my work (£26 which isn't to be sniffed at) but presented me with a true validation as to the quality of my work. For those who are unaware Constant Content invites authors to produce articles and post them on the site for purchase. There is a little vetting procedure to go through and articles have to be approved before they are included in the catalogue. Interested parties can purchase the usage rights that would only enable them to reproduce the article on another platform, or full license which permits them to edit and alter the piece (or even sell it on) as they see fit.

It is unlikely I will come across my post at all, let alone in any recognisable format amongst the many articles on a similar subject. The fact that somebody was willing to part with money to purchase my article, one that they could have researched themselves says much about its quality. Writers very often lose confidence in their abilities for many reasons or no reason at all, and so the inability to publish or sell articles can be daunting although I like to think we take these setbacks in our stride. So you can imagine the little happy dance that ensued when I received the email confirming the sale of my article and all its rights along with the payment notification. Yet there is more to learn from this than just being good enough to sell written work.

Of all the lessons jobbing writers learn and pass on to the next generation is that of patience and perseverance. Whilst I have plenty of the latter, the former has always eluded me. I wonder how many people who strive to achieve a goal, whether it's academic, athletic or just the indomitable struggle to get out of bed the second the alarm rings, give up part way. So it follows that the dream has died and the end goal lost in the fog of defeat without even knowing how close they came to hitting that all important milestone. Writing is a talent that few have and the rest learn but all have to develop through hours and hours of hard graft. If like me you are a goal orientated writer looking to reach the path of making a sustainable living then let me pass on what I have learnt; patience is paramount but persistence is key. There are no guarantees to succeed and to never quite reach that goal will sting but the pain of regret because it is too hard or you're not being paid enough will last longer in time and intensity.

Image Credit; Pixabay