Wednesday, 12 December 2012

CrowdsUnite Helping to Make Choice in Crowdfunding Easier

Crowdfunding as an industry has grown exponentially with hundreds of platforms currently waiting to help project owners secure that all important start up funds from the ever generous crowd. Whilst there is greater choice beyond the more recogniseable names such as Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, the difficulty has arisen from the being to choose the right one from so many. CrowdsUnite is a new website recently launched to act as a one stop comparison site for the crowdfunding world providing information, reviews and articles on as many of the available platforms as possible. Project owners hopefully will be able to determine based on the information provided, the platform most suited to their venture.

Launched in October this year CrowdsUnite was devised by Alex Feldman, a graduate of New York University (NYU) with an MBA in Finance, Entrepreneurship as well as a BS in Computer Science & Mathematics. Over the last eight years Alex has worked with financial giants such as Barclays Capital and Lehman Brothers spearheading an assortment of key IT developments. The idea for CrowdsUnite was derived from having spent considerable time monitoring the growth of crowdfunding along with numerous discussions with industry leaders from which he identified a gap in the market for the provision of information on crowdfunding service providers.

With the help of friends and interns Alex maintains the data held on CrowdsUnite and each day is looking to expand this online library of crowdfunding platforms. Each one listed is placed into appropriate categories of debt, equity, reward or donation based platforms. Visitors can view information about the platforms such as whether it is an all or nothing model, which countries it operates in, and projects suitable for the platform. These are then rated and reviewed by passing visitors with experience of those platforms, and those not yet rated should contain relevant articles to help make an informed choice. The platform is also open to those looking for the right kind of project to support.
Right now we are focusing on uniting users with the best possible crowdfunding platform that they qualify for. We want to add every single crowdfunding platform no matter how small it is to our listing. We want that in the future when a person or a company decided to raise money they won't think of a bank first but instead think of going to CrowdsUnite and finding debt, equity, reward, or donation platform that they can use. - Alex Feldman, CEO/Founder CrowdsUnite
CrowdsUnite is a full time occupation for Alex, and for users there is no charge for using the service. The ultimate goal is to make the platform self sustaining and since launching has garnered positive feedback and considerable interest from industry leaders. CrowdsUnite has enjoyed significant support from New York's Soho Loft, a prominent organisation specialising in hosting events on all aspects of business and finance, who have signed as the site's partners. With so many crowdfunding platforms emerging following recent legislative changes as well as growing interest in alternative funding in the wake of the financial crisis CrowdsUnite has the head start in building the biggest library and comparison platform for crowdfunding service providers. 

Image Credit; Ganderssen 1

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Help Write the Next Crowdfunding Book

Crowdfunding is taking hold in the UK rapidly with more organisations using it for commercial and charitable purposes, finding a lifeline where traditional forms of funding and investment are not available. Plans for a new book about crowdfunding have been announced by Modwenna Rees-Mogg, founder and CEO of Angel News, one of Europe's leading news service for the investment market. Research is currently underway and Modwenna is calling on anyone involved in crowdfunding to take part in a survey that will help shape the book.

Angel News was founded by Modwenna in 2003 initially as a hobby project. The idea came about after having identified a gap in the provision of investment news, specifically information about companies involved in funding rounds which left investors with little knowledge on the progress of their investments. Since then it has grown into a leading provider of information on over 1,800 rapidly growing businesses, as well as promoting investment opportunities to its network of angel investors and venture capitalists. Angel News also holds events every two months on hot topics surrounding the investment culture including exit strategies, as well as preparing the perfect pitch. 

The survey is aimed at those who are or have been involved in crowdfunding, specifically project owners, crowdfunding service providers or platforms, and investors who have donated to projects. To take part and help shape a potentially insightful and informative UK publication on crowdfunding, click on the following links;
Early participants could be in with a chance of winning a free copy of the book with around 150 to be awarded, that is fifty copies to the first fifty people who take part in the surveys. The book is as yet untitled and currently undergoing research. It is however billed as being a book written by the crowd for the crowd.

Image Credit; Alex E Proimos

Monday, 26 November 2012

Marketing Tips For Your Crowdfunding Project

So you have an idea for a project whether it be a business idea, an invention or a great way to help a charitable cause. What is lacking is the necessary funds to make the dream a reality. The banks are reluctant to loan the money and enticing investors is harder due to the current financial climes so crowdfunding becomes the potential financial lifeline for the project.

Crowdfunding in principle sounds straight forward; post a project online and invite the crowd to make a donation that will help fund the project, with a promise of some exciting rewards to follow. However, as previously reported on the Gazette there is much for a project owner to consider before embarking on the crowdfunding venture that could make or break their campaign. These include laying the groundwork, building up interest through regular & social media, as well as regular updates and promotion before the deadline for reaching the target has expired. Ben Hamilton of Pleasefundus presents some watertight marketing tips for your crowdfunding project.

Image Credit; Howard Lake

Saturday, 17 November 2012

UK Artist Aims for Third Crowdfunded Album Success

Acclaimed British musician and artist Tallulah Rendall is once again looking to crowdfunding to help produce her latest album. Having enjoyed crowdfunding success with her first two albums, the latest entitled "The Banshee and The Moon" looks set to follow in their success. Unlike other artists, who use crowdfunding platforms,Tallulah is raising the funds needed directly through her website, offering supporters a plethora of rewards including an invitation to a one off studio recording session in which the crowd can not only watch but also participate in the recording process.

London born Tallulah is the daughter of John Rendall, famous for buying a lion cub from Harrods in 1969 then releasing it into the wild, and high profile Marketing & PR consultant and author Liz Brewer. Tallulah is a graduate of Manchester University with an honours degree in Latin American Combined Studies, American Liturature and Film. In 2006 she used crowdfuding to finance her first EP "Without Time", which was released to critical acclaim. Following on from that success, Tallulah once again took to crowdfunding this time her first album "Libellus in 2009". Unlike digital downloads and standard CD compilations, "Libellus" was released with a seven inch hardback book featuring an assortment of photographs and artwork by various artists. This set the format for her subsequent crowdfunded 2010 album "Alive". Tallulah's work has earned praise from the likes of musician Jools Holland and prominent newspapers such as the Evening Standard and Daily Mail. 

"The Banshee and the Moon", Tallulah's third album will be produced by Danton Supple who has worked with Coldplay, Kylie Minogue and Amy MaDonald. Crowdfunding once again will play a big role in financing Tallulah's latest album, however unlike other artists, she will be using her own website through which supporters can pledge their donations. The use of her own website means that no extra funds are needed to cover percentage costs levied by crowdfunding platforms. This leaves all the money raised to be spent on producing the album, which will not only be presented in hardback but feature Tallulah's own artwork and short stories. She is looking to raise £18,000 by the end of the month and to date has already reached 50% of her funding target. 
A third album is more expensive as new levels are reached and aspired to. To keep the costs realistic we decided, having firmly established the trust and the relationships, and proved herself as an artist, with stamina and commitment, we would keep the amount needed relatively the same by not raising a percentage in commission required by a site. - Melanie Gow, Manager and Mobile Photographer
In return for their donations, starting from as little as £10, supporters will receive a variety of rewards including various limited edition merchandise as well as digital copies and even signed limited editions of the album itself. For those who are able to donate significant sums supporters will be rewarded with an acoustic performance by Tallulah for £750 either at their home or venue of choosing, a concert at any chosen venue (£1,500), or even a song written for those who pledge £2,000. As well as funding, Tallulah is inviting supporters to pledge £100 for which they will be rewarded with a ticket only invitation. The studio event will offer ticket holders an opportunity to see how music is recorded in all it's maddening wonder. Supporters can simply observe and learn or participate in a recording. The event will be held on 17th December 2012 by which time Tallulah and her crew should be midway through recording and will be happy to provide an update on the project.

Since her debut EP Tallulah has been hailed as a performer who breaks boundaries which is evident in both her artwork and music. Through crowdfunding, she has not only succeeded in getting her work out to audiences without going through the conventional recording and studio companies, but has engaged her audience through the collaborative power of crowdfunding allowing them to be more than just listeners. For more information on the project and how to make a donation click here to visit the site. 

Image Credit; Melanie Gow  

Thursday, 8 November 2012

[Gazette Profile] AdultXFund; Crowdfunding for The Adult Industry

The latest industry hoping to reap the potential rewards crowdfunding has to offer is the world of adult news and entertainment. AdultXFund was announced at xBiz EU, the adult industry's leading international digital media conference held in London September this year. The fledgling platform offers owners of adult themed projects resources from which to crowdfund their venture and revolutionise the adult industry for the digital world.

AdultXFund was set up by JCaz Limited, a UK based company owned and operated by Jason Maskell with over 14 experience specialising in adult content for digital media. Working within the global adult industry, JCaz has overseen the development of a range of products and services including Mobile Apps, DVD production & distribution, as well as the use of social media. The idea for AdultXFund was devised when JCaz was approached by various interested parties looking for alternative funding for a variety of adult projects. After Jason undertook extensive research of an assortment of relevant forums and platforms, it seemed that there was little interest within the crowdfunding community for this type of project.

The platform is open to any adult orientated projects including publications, websites, mobile apps, as well as film projects, and uses the all or nothing crowdfunding model. In return for 6.5% of the total funds raised, AdultXFund provides project owners ,through their extensive contacts within the industry, with advice and support for those looking to develop projects for the adult market, as well as a strong, secure and professional platform through partnership with Grow VC. There are also plans to offer additional marketing services for an additional charge. Projects featured on AdultXFund to date include a digital adult magazine and a production company looking to combine adult content with MTV style videos. Interested users can sign up and follow the progress of these projects as they move closer to launch.
We really want the public to be able to invest and take equity in adult projects that excite and interest them. - Jason Maskell, Founder AdultXFund
Controversy has often engulfed the adult industry with regards to its effects on human behaviour and society, as well as the concern over the distribution of illegal content. AdultXFind is open to any form of adult content whether it be news outlets, soft core or even hardcore content. It stresses however, the need for project owners to ensure that their venture is legal within their country of business, and offer support and advice to clear up any confusion as to legality.

The adult industry is not to everyone's liking yet it is still one that is very much in demand. Like any other industry it  has endured difficulties in this increasing turbulent financial climate.   AdultXFund looks set to open up the market to purveyors of adult content allowing opportunities for potentially exciting and innovative projects that could change the way the industry operates.

Image Credit; Copyright AdultXFund All Rights Reserved. Enquirers to .

Thursday, 18 October 2012

UK Charities Step Up For Crowdfunding Challenge

National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has launched a crowdfunding challenge inviting charities from across the UK to compete against one another in fundraising efforts. Launched in September, the Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 NCVO has pitted ten UK charities to better engage their communities and supporters as well as learn about how crowdfunding is revolutionising fundraising for the third sector here in the UK.

The challenge is operating in partnership with Buzzbnk, the London based crowdfunding platform that connects potential financiers with project owners for a variety of charitable and social projects. Other supporters of the challenge include; CAN Impact, an organisation that offers business support in social enterprise; Sho-net Systems provider of cloud based computer operations, and Anne Strachan of CrowdfundUK dedicated to providing information, resources and support on the use of crowdfunding within the third sector.  
So many organisations are looking to change how they raise money, especially those who have been reliant on grants. This challenge is a great way to generate learning and resources for charities while having lots of fun and raising money for some great causes. - Ros Jenkins, NCVO
Participating charities use the Buzzbnk platform to raise money through crowdfunding, and have until November to reach their funding targets. The venture is aimed at engaging communities as well learning and experimenting with the crowdfunding process. Projects featured in the challenge include;

  • Latch (Leeds) -  using unemployed volunteers the project hopes to raise funds to help refurbish an empty house to create a home for a homeless family.
  • Gateshead Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) - one of many organisations hit by austerity measures, the CAB hope to raise funds for a self-help touch screen console enabling full access to information and resources to help people tackle their problems.
  • Aston Mansfield (Newham, London) - a sleep over project for children from deprived areas, to help build their social and emotional developments whilst giving parents some respite. 

Throughout the challenge,  NCVO will be monitoring the participants' progress bringing them together to share their knowledge at the organisation's Sustainable Funding conference to be held in November. The charity that displays the most learning and sharing during the challenge will be awarded £1,000 by CAN Impact. Click here for more information and a full list of the participating charities.

Image Credit; liewcf 

Monday, 17 September 2012

Crowdfunding Bristol's Community Bike Cafe

Whether it be as a means of transport or to keep physically fit, cycling is enjoying something of a renaissance in the UK. This revived interest in pedal power has particularly taken hold in Bristol making it the first cycling city, which has inspired an idea for a community cafe for cyclists. The project, Roll For The Soul, aims to provide a cafe and social hub for cyclists, not only serving quality refreshments but acting as a one stop resource centre to promote and support cycling in the city. The project has turned to crowdfunding to help raise some of the necessary funds, through the UK based platform Crowdfunder.

Roll For The Soul (RFTS) is the idea of Rob Wall, a former lecturer in transport psychology (for which  he also has a PhD) and project manager for Sustrans, the UK's leading charity for promoting alternative day to day travel which includes cycling, which due to the rise in fuel costs as well as concerns for the environment is becoming increasingly popular. As well as financial and environmental concerns, the recent surge in cycling has in part been driven by a need to become physically fit inspired by success of British cyclists in pro-racing events such as the Tour de France and the London 2012 Olympics. 

As well as a cafe or resting stop for weary cyclists, serving quality Fair Trade refreshments, RFTS main aim is to support and promote cycling in Bristol, by providing a plethora of resources which include, repairs service, workshop tutorials and skill sharing as well as limited sale of refurbished bicycles and accessories. The hub will also welcome non cyclists in an effort to promote cycling as fun, healthy, and inexpensive, answering questions and offering support where need. It will essentially be a place cyclists can call their own, and completely non-profit orientated with any surplus revenue going towards promoting cycling in the city working with various organisations.

The project needs £90,000 to cover working capital as well as year one operational costs, of which only £12,000 will be sought through crowdfunding to help pay for kitchen equipment, seating, and cash registers. The project features on the platform Crowdfunder, based in Exeter. Those who donate will receive an array of rewards which include an assortment of RFTS merchandise such as postcards, pin buttons, T-shirts and exclusive prints, as well as an invitation to the opening party with food and drink provided.For those who donate £300 or more, a life time membership offering 10% discount along with a promise to be treated like royalty. The campaign has just under 40 days to raise the necessary funds and to date has received £5,500 in donations. 

For more information and to make a donation click here to visit the project's Crowdfunder page.

Image Credit; tejvanphotos

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Can Students Take Over Kickstarter?

The power of the crowd has already helped many businesses and organisations (large and small) secure funding and/or quality ideas and designs with impressive results. Crowdfunding in particular has become the preferred tool for fundraising where traditional avenues are still proving impossible to access or simply not delivering essential funds needed. The benefits of crowdfunding, however are limited to businesses and organisations. Students who normally rely on government funded organisations, such as the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in the US or the Arts Council England, should consider looking to crowdfunding especially at a time when such organisations are facing severe funding cuts.

An infographic produced by the team at, a platform that provides information on a variety of online business degrees, illustrates the successes and benefits of crowdfunding, that students might find interesting.

Kickstarter Infographic

A higher pitch success rate, ease of access, a wide variety of categories with even eccentric ideas receiving full funding (e.g. the Robocop statue), the future may well see students taking over Kickstarter.  

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Playing Host to UK's First Crowdfunding & Social Collaboration Conference

There is no denying that crowdsourcing and open source collaboration is growing in prominence here in the UK. Crowdfunding and open innovation in particular are becoming increasingly popular, yet the concept of Web 2.0 collaborative solutions are still a fairly new concept. In order to help with the challenges presented by current economic austerity measures, UK crowdfunding platform PleaseFund.US will be hosting a crowdfunding and social collaboration conference on 26th September 2012 at Somerset House in London. The event will focus on how essentially crowdsourcing and other forms of web based collaboration and consultation can help bring great ideas to life.

PleasedFund.Us was set up by entrepreneurs, James Bailey and Tarkan Ahmet, and launched in August 2011 (same time as the Gazette). The idea for the platform came about from difficulties encountered trying to raise money for their ideas a common hurdle facing many fledgling start-ups. Over the past year the platform has partnerships with various creative organisations such as Big Society Network, Nexters, and IdeasTap, with the shared aim of helping creative projects secure that much sought after funding. 

The conference, hosted in tandem with two of their partners the Big Society Network and Nexters, aims to explore the rise of crowdsourcing, in particular crowdfunding, and how the principles and technology can be used to breathe life into ideas that would otherwise remain in limbo by the limits of traditional methods. Representatives from PleaseFund.Us and Seedrs will talk about crowdfunding covering equity and non-equity fields, and open panel discussions will be held by various groups including Sky Arts, StartUp Britain, Ideas Tap and Spacehive.
Crowdfunding is one of today's hottest buzzwords in the tech world, and it is exploding in popularity. Financial hurdles are just the tip of the iceberg for most ideas though. This is a chance to look at alternative ways that can fuel and help support ideas, both for individuals and organsiations. -  James Bailey, Co-Founder of PleaseFund.Us
Since launching over a year ago, the team of PleaseFund.US have witnessed a variety of creative projects find a lifeline through crowdfunding including smartphone apps, documentaries and theatre productions. The platform's success stories will be discussed at the conference, highlighting the effectiveness of open source collaboration through social media. The event will start at 6pm and is free to all those who wish to attend but spaces are limited. For more information click here for location details and to book your place. 

Image Credit; Oscar Berg

Thursday, 30 August 2012

PifWorld Enabling The Crowd to Change the World Their Way

In the digital age crowdsourcing has proven to invaluable in helping local communities as well as the developing world. Crowdfunidng, microfinance, design crowdsourcing, open innovation, and microvolunteering have all helped the global community overcome an assortment of obstacles. The latest platform looking to rally the crowd for an altruistic call to action is PIFWORLD which describes itself as "a tool to change the world - your way". Whether it be volunteering time and resources, or donating to an assortment of projects, PIFWORLD is the newest one stop crowdsourcing centre designed to help make the world better through the power of the crowd. 

PIFWORLD prides itself as a rally for mass activism and a gateway to democratising of altruistic projects through the power of the crowd. For more insight about PIFWORLD click here to read Crowdsourcing the gateway to netizenship by Mesfin AAragaw.

The platform is open to anyone who wants to get involved either as individuals or as part of various teams, and can donate time and/or money in a variety of ways. These include;
  • Crowdfunding/Microfinance; PIFWORLD supports a number of projects across the globe whether it be building a well for access to clean water, seeking alternative green energy sources, tackling HIV and AIDS, and rebuilding family homes. Each project has a funding target and can be supported either by a one of  donation or through fund raising activities.
  • Fund raising; Many charities enjoy the support of PIFWORLD teams and individuals including the world renowned human rights watchdog Amnesty International. Interested parties can great a "just giving" style fund raising page to help raise vital funds for the charity (or project) of their choice. 
  • Volunteers; The message of PIFWORLD to the crowd is simple; change the world your way and those who wish to volunteer their time and resources can do so in a number of ways. Many projects and initiatives need people who can spare the time to help with various jobs, and those who are able can search through PIFWORLD. Opportunities also exist for field workers to provide regular updates to supporters on ongoing initiatives as well as bloggers and reporters to provide news stories. Bloggers in particular are invited to take part in a major crowdsourcing initiative to create a database of rare species as well as rare and unique habitats around the world. 
So whether it is donating time, money, or skills, PIFWORLD provides the crowd with a plethora of opportunities to get involved. Visit the PIFWORLD site here to find out how you can join an increasing crowd of netizens and change the world your way.

Image Credit; James Cridland

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Crowdsourcing Call for a Dystopian Short Film

The innovative aspect of crowdsourcing in film making is being put to the test by a group of British film students for a futuristic drama. The film, 2050 is the brainchild of Brighton-based student Ricarda Saleh and tells the story of a captured member of an underground resistance movement by an oppressive government. The story will not only unfold on the screen but feature scenes and back stories through a variety of social media platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Pinerest and Instagram. Ricarda and her team have invited the crowd to participate and help make the movie by voting and suggesting aspects to be featured in the finished project. 

Written, produced and directed by Ricarda Saleh, 2050 is the story of Xia (played by Ricarda), a member of an underground resistance movement who is captured by a agents of a brutal government regime. She is interrogated and tortured for information about her fellow resistance members and contacts but Xia refuses to co-operate. Their methods clearly having failed thus far, Xia's torturers inform her that she has until midnight to co-operate or be prepared to suffer an even worse fate. As she is left to make her decision Xia suddenly finds herself reflecting on her past, happy memories of friendship, beauty and tranquillity. The deadline looms ever closer and soon Xia will have to make a decision.

Although crowdfunding has played an integral role in helping independent films see the light of the cinema screen, renowned projects such as The Age of Stupid in 2009 starring the late British actor Pete Postlethwaite, very few have actually called on the crowd to collaborate with the film makers to influence content. The exceptions have been the Ridley Scott produced Life in a Day (and the follow up production Britain in a Day) as well as the Vimeo sponsored Star Wars Uncut. Ricarda's production 2050 draws inspiration from such productions to involve the crowd in determining various aspects of the finished film. To date the crowd have helped chose costumes to be used and even helped decide on names for the principle characters. 
2050 is part of a new generation of film making: user generated cinema. Crowdsourcing is going to revolutionise the film industry. Audiences want to get involved in the film making process. We decided to crowdsource our short film and create a cross media story to experiment with these new storytelling techniques - Ricarda Saleh, Writer, Director, Producer 2050
The latest call is to provide what promises to be the most chilling and pivotal moment in the film. During Xia' s incarceration as the deadline is about to expire, a voice from nowhere suddenly announces her time is about to run out and that in order to avoid the terrible fate that awaits her Xia must co-operate. The crowd is invited to submit a voice recording of the announcement (see video below for instructions). The voice should be synthesised and/or enhanced to give it a futuristic and eerie sound, indicative of a tyrannical and brutal regime of a futuristic dystopian world. The recording should then be uploaded using SoundCloud. However just as Xia has only a limited time to save herself so does the crowd to participate as recordings should be submitted within three days. For more information about the project, including cast & crew as well as further updates visit and like 2050's Facebook page.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Crowdopolis 2012: The World is Not Enough

The Daily Crowdsource's much anticipated crowdsourcing event, Crowdopolis was held on 19th July 2012 in Los Angeles. It was aimed at companies looking to learn more about crowdsourcing and how to incorporate it into their daily operations. The event featured break out sessions looking at practical uses and guides as well as networking opportunities, and guest speakers from various companies and crowdsourcing service providers. The Gazette is honoured to feature the insights and observations on this event by guest blogger Ville Miettinen,co-founder  and CEO of Microtask.

Until recently, no one would have thought to turn to James Bond for lessons on the future of industrialised society or how to cure cancer. 007 is a talented fellow, but not someone we would have associated with forecasting economic transitions or the science of cancer. (Q and his team of R&D experts on the other hand…) That all changed at Crowdopolis, 2012. Presentations by Lisa Kennedy, James Rubinstein and Professor David Alan Grier revealed that when it comes to crowdsourcing, even absurd movie stars have insights that can help solve the world’s problems. (Confirming once again the ideas expressed in Team America: World Police.)

As you might have guessed by now, Crowdopolis this year was a fascinating event, with an impressive line-up from the crowdsourcing industry and associated experts. In total 16 different speakers gave presentations, focused on lessons learnt from their experiences with crowdsourcing projects. I was delighted to be amongst them.

Lessons learnt using moles to crowdsource 4 million tasks

If you have ever had anything to do with moles, you will know that they are not very good at reading old newspapers. In fact, with their terrible eyesight and poor attention to detail, moles are the last animal you should ask to help digitise hard-to-read newspaper text. Yet, as I discussed at Crowdopolis, moles – or at least video games involving them – were extremely good at encouraging volunteers to donate their time to help the National Library of Finland digitise its old newspapers. The project, called Digitalkoot, has so far involved over 100,000 volunteers, demonstrated the power of crowdsourcing when combined with gamification, and proved that you can never have too many buzzwords in one sentence.

Innovation and enterprise

From the people I spoke to and the talks I attended, I think the prevailing theme this year was the potential crowdsourcing has for innovation and larger enterprises. Sharon Chiarella from Amazon and Kirsten Kuehl from Nokia both focused on this, and gave some real insights into how big business can benefit from the crowd’s creativity. As I mentioned during my presentation, in the future I believe we will increasingly see larger corporations making use of the crowd for jobs that can be broken down into microtasks and completed online.

Judging by the buzz during the event, I think everyone enjoyed themselves as much as I did, and came away with new ideas about the future of our fledgling industry. One thing was certain: If you are involved in the crowdsourcing industry Crowdopolis 2013 should be on your calendar.

Ville Miettinen is a serial entrepreneur and computer programmer from Finland, and is the co-founder and CEO of Microtask, a platform that incorporates crowdsourcing as a means of carrying out various tasks online. Since it was founded in 2009 it has grown into one of the leading providers of on-line crowdsourced labour with offices in Helsinki and Tampere, as well as San Francisco. Ville also offers his thoughts and knowledge on crowdsourcing as one of the Crowd Leaders for The Daily Crowdsource

Image Credit; The Daily Crowdsource - All Rights Reserved

Monday, 6 August 2012

Bigger and Badder; A Crowdfunding Success Story

The advent of crowdfunding has offered a financial lifeline to many industries during this turbulent economic crisis. In particular, at a time when the major Hollywood studios are geared towards mainly remakes and sequels, independent film making has also received a helping hand from crowdfunding. Thanks to a successful campaign, the creative force behind British horror film Bigger and Badder are close to seeing their dream project become a reality. 

Bigger and Badder (previously featured on the Gazette) is the brainchild of writer and director Richard Wantuch. The film tells the story of Pete, a package boy under the employ of the nefarious Trevor Deacon. When his first delivery goes disastrously array Pete has to answer to his boss and soon learns that there is more to him than meets the eye. Pete must convince his boss as to the events of that night or learn just how big and bad Trevor can be. The film is essentially billed as Brighton Rock meets The Howling blending the best of British gangster movies with a good dash of Gothic horror. 

When producers Paul Banner and Laura Carter joined the project it was already in the early stages of development. The crew were made up largely of freelancers and volunteers happily working for free. However there was the still the issue regarding the costs of the special effects and make up. Richard Wantuch proposed the idea of using crowdfunding to help with those costs to the producers who readily agreed. After extensive research into the various platforms available, Exeter based Crowdfunder was chosen. Paul Banner explains;
We felt Crowdfunder was the right platform to raise our required funds. Although seemingly lower key than Kickstarter, IndieGoGo etc. its ease of use and user support made it the logical choice.
The campaign was launched on Crowdfunder at the beginning of December with the goal of raising £500 within thirty days. Rewards that were offered in exchange for a donation included copies of the film (DVD & Blu-Ray), limited edition merchandise, acknowledgement in the credits, and credit as an Associate Producer credit. For a one off donation of £250 as well as the rewards, a one off original cast of "Wilbur" the film's lynconthropic star was offered. After a tireless promotion drive via the Crowdfunder platform it proved a successful campaign with £525 raised in total, more than sufficient to meet the costs. 
I was confident we had a product people would want to invest in, we had the resources and the contacts in place to keep our investors rewards from breaking the bank and most importantly I felt that if we worked hard enough on our profile, pitch and promotion we could raise the funds to bring the film to life. 
The sum raised might seem meagre even for a short film however the project is very much a labour of love for Wantuch and his crew of volunteers. Producer Paul Banner brought his experience of working on projects with virtually a zero budget to the fold keeping location costs at bay taking advantage of some of Birmingham's more grimy areas. The city itself is awash with talented individuals who were willing to volunteer their skills for the experience of working on a filming project. In addition to skills, props and equipment were loaned and donated. Keeping the project within its tight budget was vital for the team as a sign of respect to the crowdfunders and it was felt that to seek further funding would undermine that respect. 

Whilst other projects are either still in search of further funds due to unexpected costs or were unsuccessful, it seems like the team behind Bigger and Badder were able to keep within the parameters of their pitch. For the team crowdfunding proved to be an invaluable experience and has done more than just provide key finances to make the project possible.
It democratises the whole process with the added bonus of creating an audience before you've even rolled the cameras.
Bigger and Badder is currently in the final stages of post production. Once the film is finished and screened before the cast and crew, priority will be given to distributing the rewards to the donors. The aim is to then arrange for screenings at various film festivals whether they be international events or based in the UK. There are also plans to find a suitable platform for on line distribution and exhibition.  

Acknowledgements; Thanks to producer Paul Banner for his help and insight.

Image Credits; Plaural Films All Rights Reserved

Monday, 30 July 2012

Open Innovation Project to Sponsor Somerset Business Awards

Businesses form the county of Somerset will be competing in this year's Somerset Business Awards. The awards organised by the Somerset Chamber of Commerce recognizes the success of local businesses who have shown extensive profitability, growth and innovation. Businesses compete for a variety of awards sponsored by local businesses and this year will the see the return of the Collaborative Innovation Award sponsored by the Open Innovation Project. 

The Somerset Business Awards is an annual event aimed at acknowledging the achievements of local businesses. The event, currently in its eighth year recognizes the successes of businesses across the country helping to raise their profile and encouraging the growth of local start-ups. There are numerous categories for the Awards and competing  businesses can enter as many categories as they like. The event is organised by the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, a leading business support group for businesses and entrepreneurs within the county. The organisation works in partnership with other groups to help offer support and guidance to established and up & coming businesses within the county. 

With the advent of Web2.0 and crowdsourcing, businesses will be able to fight for recognition of their collaborative practices with the Collaborative Innovation Award. Sponsoring the award is the Open Innovation Project a partnership between Plymouth University, Somerset County Council and the Somerset Chamber of Commerce. The aim of the word is to recognize and promote the best practice and benefits of collaboration. The project is also aims to increase innovation level within the country hoping to improve Somerset economic prosperity.
We will be looking for two or more companies collaborating innovatively and demonstrating mutual benefits, including factors such as one or more of the firms introducing innovation to their business, a new or different way of working, an organisation with increased revenue or reduced costs thanks to collaboration, or a business that can provide evidence of where collaboration is a key part of how the organisation will operate in the future. - Roger Hall, Plymouth University
The Somerset Business Awards are open to any business type of any size. Applicants can submit to be considered for as many categories as they like. These include New Business of the Year, Energy Efficiency and Skills for Growth. Those applicants that are looking to enter for multiple categories will need to submit separate applications to meet the individual criteria. The awards will be presented at a black tie event to be held on 16th November 2012. For more information and to submit an application click here to visit the site.

Image Credits; Plastered T-Shirts

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Crowdfunding Helps with Community Affected by Aurora Shootings

After  hearing reports of the shootings at a cinema in Aurora Colorado, two local entrepreneurs set up a crowdfunding campaign for a relief fund. Roger Toennis and Alex Montoya approached chose the platform to help raise funds to help victims' families and survivors recover from a devastating attack that shocked a nation and the world. 

On Friday 20th July 2012 a gunman walked into Century Cinema in Aurora Colorado, during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. The gunman opened fire killing 12 people and leaving 50 others seriously injured. Since then police arrested 24 year old James Holmes and has appeared in court accused of the shootings. As the authorities begin to build their case against Holmes and other begin the debate on revising gun control legislation, those affected try to come terms with aftermath. For Toennis and Montoya the crowdfunding campaign is one close to home since they are both residents with Montoya having been raise not far from the cinema where the shootings occurred. 

The Aurora Relief Fund aims to raise $20,000 within 60 days. The funds will be used to help with the cost of medical and travel expenses for survivors, as well as the cost of of building memorials. With the exception of processing fees, all funds raised will go to the community affected and will not be taking their usual percentage. 
"I am happy to help raise money for such a good cause. I hope that this effort helps the injured, and the families of those who were taken. Our team members were some of the project's first supporters." - Rod Turner, Co-founder and CEO was launched in May 2012 with the goal of changing the face of crowdfunding by blending commercial projects with altruistic campaigns. The Aurora Relief Fund is part of the revolutionary changes looked to bring about. For more information and make a donation click here to visit the Aurora Relief Fund campaign page.

Image Credits; Beverly & Pack

Monday, 23 July 2012

Latest FundaGeek Portal Focuses on The Community

FundaGeek, the technology and scientific specialist crowdfunding platform has launched its latest portal this time helping fund community projects. The Community Support Funding Portal is aimed at helping projects that normally rely on government funding schemes securing much needed funding. Whether it be environmental programs, construction, or leisure and education, crowdfunding can serve as a viable alternative to government funding as well as a more effective means to generate much needed awareness.

The portal is open to a variety of community projects from whole communities, special groups and even individuals. Libraries and museums can use the portal as well as benevolent funds to help disaster victims and protest groups. The portal works like any other crowdfunding model with a call for funding being posted, with a funding target, offering rewards in exchange for donations. Like other portals within the FundaGeek  platform supporting non-profit altruistic projects, the Community Support Portal does not employ the all or nothing model, allowing projects to keep any funds raised at the end of the campaign. 

At a time when austerity measures are being imposed by local and national governments schools, colleges, educational resources and support organisations struggle to keep vital services afloat. FundaGeek's Community Support Portal offers another lifeline for to prosperity. For more information and to submit click here to visit the portal. 

Image Credits; Parker Yo

Monday, 16 July 2012

Crowdfunding Project Enables Supporters to be Published Writers

There are many considerations to a successful crowdfunding campaign, the most important being the quality of the rewards on offer. For his latest literary project, Canadian writer and film maker Daniel Perlimutter has launched Unwritten Masterpiece, in which the reward for making a donation invites supporters to get involved in writing the novel. Depending on the amount pledged, supporters can suggest an object to to be featured or even determine how the book ends. 
Third from left Daniel Perlmutter
Based in Toronto, Perlmutter is predominantly an independent film maker, his most prominent work being the 2010 feature-length comedy Peeperswhich he co-wrote. He has since co-founded Automatic Vaudeville, a film studio through which he has released a number of short film. Perlmutter was recently the recipient of the Governor-General’s mentorship award, pairing him with comedian and American Pie star Eugene Levy. The details of the novel for Unwritten Masterpiece are not known since much of the core elements of the book will be determined by the donating crowd. The project offers anyone who always aspired to publish instead of perish to make a contribution that could be stocked in bookshops and e-book sites. It is also a prime example of the collaborative nature of crowdsourcing, essentially allowing donors to be more than just a passive financial supporter.

"I think crowdsourcing is incredible. I think it makes so much sense being able to really cut out any middle man and just have a direct relationship between an audience and a creator. It’s a fantastic thing. - Daniel Perlmutter"

The campaign featuring on IndieGoGo is looking to raise $6,000 within 30 days to cover essential costs including hiring an editor & designer as well publishing and marketing expenses. Anyone who makes a donation can contribute to the novel depending on how much is pledged. For as little as $15 supporters can choose an object to be featured in the story but for those looking to have more of an influence (and with the money to spare) can donate $1,000 to determine how the story will end.

Other features that supporters can contribute to include, a key plot point, write a sentence, name a location or even the novel's title, although there are only a limited number of such rewards. Any contributions should not infringe copyright nor contain any derogatory and offensive material. For more information click here to visit the project's funding page.

Image Credit;
Canadian Film Centre

Friday, 22 June 2012

India's Leading Crowdsourcers Jade Magnet Release D├ębut Annual Report

It has been a very busy two years for the team at Jade Magnet, India's first and most prominent provider of crowdsourcing services. The site has grown from a fledgling startup to one of the most internationally recognised crowdsourcing services, and is reflected in the company's first annual report. 
Based in Bangalore, India, Jade Magnet has established operations in the US states of California and Texas. Recently it has partnered with a UK crowdsourcing company to provide cost-effective creative solutions for UK SME's. It has also received recognition from its peers having been nominated for the Manthan Award which recognises South Asian businesses for their quality e-Content and creativity in the digital market. 

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Sunday, 17 June 2012

[Gazette Profile] New Platform Paves Way for Jewish-Centric Crowdfunded Projects

Whilst two platforms already operate to provide crowdfunding services for Jewish projects, a recently launched site, Jewcer has already helped raise significant sums taking over the mantle of helping Jewish projects find a voice and financial support through the power of the crowd.

Jewcer was founded by five friends Ziv Ben Tzour, Moriya Blumenfeld,  Amir Give'on, Naomi Leight, and Shira Shimoni, having identified a gap in Jewish-centric crowdfunding when similar platforms appeared to be dormant. After pooling their own money together to fund the site, Jewcer was launched in March 2012. The idea behind the platform was inspired at an event hosted by BINA, the young professional division of the Israeli Leadership Council aimed to help better connect local Jewish-Americans and Israelis with Israeli focused foster programs. The Jewcer team believe Jewish crowdfunding can take connectivity a step further by enabling Jewish and Israeli communities to get their peers more involved and to make donations to vital projects through crowdfunding.

Any project with a strong Jewish connection can be submitted for consideration to be posted on Jewcer for funding. Although the founders intended to target a US based young cosmopolitan market, Jewcer will accept any Jewish project from around the world with work under way to better facilitate international transactions. The platform operates the traditional all or nothing model which aims to motivate project owners to work harder in convincing the crowd their project is worthy of funding. 

"Our personal mission with Jewcer is to change the way projects get funded in the Jewish community and in Israel — basically connecting people to projects, connecting people to people.”  - Naomi Leight, Co-founder Jewcer
Since launching, Jewcer has already helped various projects reach and even exceed their funding target, raising overall the sum of nearly $40,000 from over 500 donors. Projects that will come to fruition thanks to crowdfunding include a film entitled The Hummus Wars, a comedy tour that will raise money for charity whilst helping to promote a more positive image of Israel, a program that aims to combine biblical readings with Yoga exercises, and a Jewish brew pub and performance venue. One project that is gaining prominence is the Israeli Ambassador Program aimed at helping teenagers to become more knowledgeable about Israel and go on to act as ambassadors in the positive promotion of Israel focusing on US/Israeli relations. The project has already been funded with 22 days remaining. 

For more information click here to visit the Jewcer platform.

Image Credits; Jewcer (Copyright; All Rights Reserved)

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

NineSigma Launch First Open Innovation Social Media Platform

One of the leading providers of open innovation solutions, NineSigma has launched a new platform aimed at streamlining the innovation process. The platform, NineSights, was launched on 5th June 2012 and is the first open innovation social media hub that looks to better connect innovation providers with solution seekers from all sectors and industries.

Founded in 2000, NineSigma has been a provider of open innovation services long before it became standard practice across most industries, and has set the standard of how open innovation is practised today. NineSigma has helped companies from a wide range of industries including blue chip clients such as Kraft, Philips, and Unilever engage with the open innovation process. Thanks to open innovation, NineSigma clients have been able to solve immediate challenges as well as integrate new knowledge into their operations and overall, improve their financial performance. NineSigma boasts the largest community of solution providers and a comprehensive database of established innovation solutions.

NineSights came about following an extensive survey of professionals across different industries indicating something missing in the provision of open innovation services. The survey revealed a need for a more extensive innovation programme to meet both the needs of solution seekers and provides. NineSights is free to use and enables innovation seekers to post briefs with details of their requirements whilst providers can easily submit details of their technologies and proposals. The NineSigma team will take steps to ensure that both seekers and providers are properly vetted. 
"We have listened to our clients and solution providers who told us that a social media enabled platform where quality trumps quantity is what the world needs right now. As a result of this unique platform, organisations are able to make better connections faster and thus accelerate time to market." - Andy Zynga, CEO Nine Sigma
The NineSights platform, currently in Beta format, acts as a supplement to NineSigma's existing service offering users a more streamlined innovation environment. Solution seekers from all sectors be it commercial or non-profit will have access to a carefully selected pool of innovation experts including inventors, entrepreneurs, and researchers. The new service looks to be in keeping with NineSigma's mission to help organisations build and embrace a culture of innovation whilst developing its vast community of skilled innovation providers.

Image Credit; Opensourceway

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

ImageBrief Campaign Crowdsources Unseen Images

The latest campaign from crowdsourced image provider, ImageBrief, takes a different route in the search for numerous and unique quality images. To launch the campaign, a short film entitled "The Lost" was made to inspire photographers to search through their catalogue for lost or forgotten images and allow them to be found and made available for all to enjoy.

The campaign was devised by Whybin/TBWA Auckland in partnership with the production talent of Flying Fish. The short film premiered at the New York Photo Festival which also marked the launch of ImageBrief's US operations. According to ImageBrief, approximately 12.5 million photographers around the world have captured over 60 billion images, many of which have been filed away and possibly lost or forgotten. 
"This is a visual, inspirational film that was carefully crafted to appeal to our highly visual target audience – photographers. One of the key drivers for the success of this business is the quality of the photographer base we recruit; hence this campaign is a key element in our overall marketing strategy.” - Stephen Pearson, Marketing Director, ImageBrief

The film looks to increase ImageBrief's community of talented photographers to meet the demands of its increasing image buying customer base, and is an indication of how the platform continues to challenge conventional web based image providers. As well as providing its customer based with an extensive crowd of talented photographers and a vast array of images, ImageBrief also allows photographers to earn a living selling their images to high profile clients. For more information visit the ImageBrief website.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Crowdsourced T-Shirt Design on Sale to Support Women and Girls

A partnership of two major charities and a leading crowdsourcing design platform, have announced the winner of their crowdsourced t-shirt design challenge. Humanitarian organisation CARE along with the Bill & Miranda Gates Foundation and Threadless, in partnership with each other for the first time, will produce t-shirts featuring the winning design with all profits from the sale to be donated to CARE helping its continued fight to lift third world communities out of poverty.

Since it was launched in 1945, CARE has spent the last six decades helping women and girls out of poverty. The organisation has empowered women to better help themselves and their communities promoting social justice, emergency response and tackling hunger and climate change. Through community-based efforts CARE is focused on helping women and girls to fight poverty head on by creating improved education, health and economic opportunities, and last year it helped over 122 million people in 84 countries. Alongside CARE, the Bill & Miranda Gates Foundation has worked along similar lines tackling poverty both in the US and developing nations with a firm belief that every life has equal value. 

The contest was launched in conjunction with one of the leading providers of crowdsourced designs, Threadless, which regularly runs such challenges which then feature on the site's line  of clothing, bags, and other accessories. Chosen designers receive a cash payment as well as acknowledgement of their work, with the artists names featured on the products. The CARE T-Shirt Design Challenge called on the skills and talent of its crowd community to submit a design with empowering women as the theme. After considering over 100 submissions, the work of Shahaf Gurevich entitled "A Mother is a Daughter is a Mother..." was declared the winner. 
A Mother is a Daughter is a Mother...' was the runaway favourite because it so beautifully evokes the strength of mothers and daughters. CARE focuses on empowering girls and women because our experience has shown us that they have the power to transform families and communities. Whether by learning how to take part in a Village Savings and Loan program or as part of a maternal health training, women can join forces to change their lives and their communities - Helene Gayle, CEO & President of CARE
Shahaf's winning design is based on the principle that all mothers are daughters and that many daughters go on to become mothers. Since mothers want only the best for their children, empowering the daughters of today is the key to shaping a brighter future, free from poverty. The T-shirts featuring design will be sold through Threadless for $19.50 (£12.60) with 100% of the profits being donated to CARE. The T-shirts are available in a variety of sizes for both men and women, so if you would like to buy a t-shirt that will aide a worthy cause then click here to chose your size and make a purchase.

Image Credit; Threadless (Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved) via PR Newswire