Conference Crowd Engagement – 5 Learnings to Consider

pitneybowes_o
In an earlier post I’d written about how corporates have leveraged crowdfunding. While corporates have been finding ways to engage with the innovation-led community online more productively, they somehow haven’t been able to engage effectively during offline events and conferences.

In a recent article I’d written on Entrepreneur Magazine, I share my experience on how conference organisers can offer much more to their delegates and partners. Inline with those shares, here I’m sharing how corporate brands can also prepare themselves to get the most out of their audience engagement. Some learnings:

a) Multitasking Galore
While the audience and crowd at event would also be multitasking, listening to sessions, attending workshops, visiting booths and networking, it’s essential to identify your target audience and also understand when and where to engage them during the conference. The best time would be during the conference breaks and when they’re on the move.

b) Better Connectivity
It be better to also not interrupt them and start demo-ing/selling and or just engaging with those at your stall, but to find it easy for the crowd to view and understand your product/offering without any human intervention. A good wireless connectivity platform or even a link/app can facilitate this.

c) Conferences for Learning
The question here is how do you enrich your audience even more, is there something new your can share with people around? Today’s event delegates, especially those from the millennial generation use events as a way to discover and learn new things. Look at the crowds at MakerFaire events, who are wow’ed with new discoveries.

d) Know Who are Attending
Half the job is taken care of, if one did a pre-event research on the profile of the audience attending the conference. Based on the attendee segments one could find their audience and reach out to them accordingly.

e) Share Expectations in Advance
It’s also useful to interact with the event stakeholders and organisers to understand and see what one could expect as takeaways from the event. This would be useful, especially if its the brand’s first time at the conference.

While brands continue engaging via online platforms, offline is a medium that could provide quality leads and a good ‘return on investment’ if one planned their offline engagement strategy well.

Crowdfunding with Cryptocurrencies

(Image source: bitcoinhub.co.za)

(Image source: bitcoinhub.co.za)

This month we take a look at some of the platforms offering crowdfunding through cryptocurrencies.

We expect blockchain funding to slowly but surely compare to VCs or Kickstarter-styled funding into ideas and startups, in the coming years. The future of crypto tokens will however depend on its reliability, clarity and legality in the various jurisdictions that it can be used and transacted.

For the uninitiated, cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that uses a peer-to-peer system such as bitcoin. They are digital currencies in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency as well as verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a centralised authority or bank.

According to Coinstaker’s definition: Crypto Tokens represent a specific value and each cryptocurrency token embodies a tradable good.   This means that crypto tokens can be used to represent a share in a company or can be used as central committee voting rights. They are often used to raise funds in a crowdsale (A Crowdsale is a new way to use cryptocurrency technology to issue tokens that can represent shares or equity in a company).   With the year 2016 having seen more than US$ 200 million worth of cryptocurrency investments raised via Initial Coin Offering (ICO is an unregulated means of crowdfunding via cryptocurrency).

Here are some news updates on the topic:

Singapore-based FundYourselfNow.com platform is set to enable future project creator to raise funds for their campaigns in Ethereum and Bitcoin by 2018. (Ethereum and Bitcoin are cryptocurrencies that use the Blockchain technology).

According to the CEO of FundYourselfNow, Jack Ser: With the recent mainstream acceptance of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, we want to build an ecosystem that offers entrepreneurs an alternative funding raising platform for their product, with minimal technical and marketing knowledge.

There are more developments happening, those from other online platforms that help connect crowdfunding and cryptocurrencies such as Tokenly to those companies creating their own cryptocurrency like StartCOIN. According to the people behind StartCOIN, they aim to be the first stable digital currency created to promote and support crowdfunding. 

The bottomline in cryptocurrency-based crowdfunding is how compelling the end-users find it to pledge their support to campaigns. In the coming months we will be sharing more updates with you on this developing space. Tell us what you think about the latest forays into cryptocurrency and crypto-token crowdfunding.

Engaging Crowds beyond Crowdfunding

Crowds can be engaged not just during crowdfunding campaigns, but also productively during offline activities. Here are some of the areas where crowds have been and can be engaged to generate value.

Startup Pitch Events
Gone are the days where only a select few validate startups presentations. Today it is important to know what other stakeholders think about a product’s potential – they may include domain experts, peers and potential customers of the product too.
crowdsfromeverywhereSports Stadium Activities
Be it at team sports or individual sports events like the Wimbledon, keeping the audience sharing comments, insights and learnings can keep them engaged with the matches. This will also help the organisers drive traction to the event and keep conversations going.
sports_crowdDuring Music Concerts
Now this may not be the norm, but music lovers and concert-goers can also be engaged on songs and lyrics. Just like how one would dedicate songs to people during a karaoke evening or a live-show at a pub, concerts too could crowdsource dedications.
concert-crowdsEngagement at Political Rallies
Today, both offline and online networks are being taken advantage of to amplify messages to larger audiences. From Twitter trends to posts trending on Facebook, online media are playing an important in peoples getting to know of popular movements.
rally_crowdWhat are the other areas where crowd engagement is being pursued? Let us know in the comments below.

VR Crowdfunding: Are You Game?

Ever since VR (Virtual Reality) headset Oculus Rift’s crowdfunding campaign success on Kickstarter, followed by its acquisition by Facebook Inc., the space has taken off like never before. Many a gaming companies have leveraged crowdfunding platforms to directly get VR enthusiasts and avid gamers support VR initiatives.

At a recent VR workshop and pitch event in Bangalore, people with backgrounds such as film-making, animation, interaction design, sound engineering, 3D gaming, human resource development, psychology, etc got together and came up VR projects. The projects included those in exploring art, addressing mental health, inspiring moonshot ideas, bringing social causes and historic narratives to the fore.

The event’s participants also shared some of the areas where VR can be beneficial:

  • Tourism & Hospitality
  • Defence & Learning
  • Construction & Real-Estate
  • Disaster Response
  • Sports & Fitness
  • Automobiles
  • Advertising
  • Film & Theatre
  • Celebrity Engagement
  • International Relations

The events conclusion on the ‘Future of VR’ based on the insights received on Crowd Product was:

The future of VR would be multi-sensory (involving multiple senses, besides eyesight), with mass teleportation (being at places without any physical movements required) and being part of 3-dimensional experiences. These will help business leaders and policymakers explore, learn and create better experiences for audiences.

Let us know in the comments if you’re interested in VR Crowdfunding.

Recent Reads on VR Crowdfunding
1. Kickstarter Alum Oculus Pulls the Plug on Virtual Reality Shop Story Studio (source: crowdfundinsider.com)
2. Zero Latency Shoots For Multiplayer VR Arcade Network With 24 Locations In 2017 (source: uploadvr.com)
3. Grazer VR glasses ExChimp reaches crowdfunding goal (<German> source: futurezone.at)
4. This VR Camera Is the Size of a Smartphone and Designed for Anyone to Use (source: Inc.com)
5. Virtual Reality in India: A Closer Look (source: via LinkedIn post)

Sharing Economy vs Crowd Economy = Access vs Purpose

Image source: virgin.com

Image source: Virgin.com

From the times when large banks and the government machineries exuded trust and confidence in people to today’s era where renting homes and lending money to complete strangers – the trust economy has slowly but surely shifted to the side of the sharing economy.

While the likes of Uber and Airbnb are rendering ownership of objects obsolete, it’s the efforts behind the building of ‘trust’ that’s fuelling such lifestyle changes.

There’s a compelling TechCrunch article by Adriana Stan, which also mentions about the metric of trust and building up trust beyond just customer reviews. Everything about people will be measure, right from our influence, social following, work connections, etc, will also provide one with our ‘trust score’ – something like the ‘credit score’ that banks and traditional ‘trust’ institutes are built upon.

Inspired by the shares by Epi Ludvik Nekaj and his Crowdsourcing Week series where he elaborates on the 5 Ps (People, Purpose, Platform, Participation, Productivity) of the Crowd Economy.

In his piece he mentions about how the foray of the web and mobile networks, have facilitated increased collaboration and cooperation. Defining:

The crowd economy is a dynamic ecosystem of productive people who participate through a platform with a purpose to achieve mutually beneficial goals.

Based on deep dives and experiences with both forms of economies (Sharing vs Crowd), here are conclusions in 3 points:

  1. The sharing economy’s foundation is ‘Trust‘, while in the crowd economy, it is ‘Collaboration‘.
  2. The key driver of the sharing economy is availability of ‘extra Resources‘, while in the crowd economy it is availability of ‘extra Knowledge‘ that’s fuelling its growth.
  3. Commerce‘ focused organisations have best leveraged the sharing economy, while ‘Impact‘ focused organisations have made change with the virtues of the crowd economy.

Power of the Crowd

wevolunteersAs part of an event by the Digital Empowerment Foundation India, we were introduced to startups that are into spaces such as Crowdsourcing Votes, Volunteers, Food and more. Is Crowdsourcing the way forward to solving global challenges?
Check out some of these startups and let us know what you think of them.

Crowdsourcing Votes
Change.org – A platform that seeks support for petitions directed towards policy-makers in an effort to create a true democracy.

Jaago Re – A cause marketing initiative launched by Tata Tea in 2008 to raise awareness for issues around Indian general elections, citizenship and social causes.

Greenpeace – An activism platform for campaigns dedicated to protecting naturally available resources like air, water and forests to prevent the dangerous impacts of climate change, nuclear power and modern development.

Jhatkaa – A campaigning organisation committed to building grassroots citizen power in effective and innovative ways to engage citizens to hold corporate, cultural and government leaders accountable.

Crowdsourcing Volunteers
Youngistaan Foundation – One of India’s largest networks of volunteers that is committed to making a difference in the community by helping those in need.

iVolunteer – A social enterprise that brings together volunteers and organisations to share time, skills and passion to promote social development.

Bhumi – An organisation that provides youngsters a platform to serve the society and bridge the gap between the educated and the uneducated by educating and mentoring children from orphanages, slum and village community centres across the country.

Crowdsourcing Food
Robin Hood Army – A volunteer-based initiative that crowdsources surplus food from restaurants and makes it available to the less fortunate people.

Annakshetra – Another volunteer-based organisation that targets ceremonies, functions and parties to procure surplus food and make it available to the needy.

Crowdsourcing FinTech Stories

(Image source: venturebeat.com)(Note: FinTech is a term used for startups into Financial Technology)
6 Types of Businesses You Can Start With Almost No Cash

1. Personal creations
2. In-home services
3. Repair or skill based services
4. Consulting
5. Resale
6. Micropreneurship
Read more

4 Reasons Why an Online Business is the Best Investment You Will Ever Make
1. Offers incredible scalability
2. Provides limitless freedom
3. Low overhead and high margins
4. Access to a worldwide market
Read more

5 Fintech Startups To Watch In 2017
1. Metromile – Offers pay-per-mile insurance and a driving app
2. Cadre – Capturing large pools of capital required to fund major commercial deals
3. Stash – Managing your investments via smartphone
4. Tilt – social network built around money
5. Cross River Bank – Marketplace lending
Read more

What Is Your Probability Of Raising Funding?

Our Favourite Crowdfunding Stories of 2016

(Image source: Ernest Barbaric)

(Image source: Ernest Barbaric)

The Supreme Court Brexit case only happened because of crowdfunding – and you won’t have heard of the people who did it
When you volunteer in a legal aid clinic, you see how many people aren’t able to access justice because of a lack of funds. Crowdfunding bolstered the Brexit case and has even been used by cleaners to bring their own employment tribunals to court. Read more
Source: The Independent Online

How crowdfunding multiplied our career options
Luckily, it’s getting a little easier to change careers no matter how old you are, or where you are in your career. In today’s increasingly connected world, the tools you need to prepare for your journey are much more accessible. Indiegogo campaigners, for example, are doing it all the time. People of all ages venture outside of their “careers” to pursue their passions. What usually starts as a side-hustle often becomes a full-time job. We started Indiegogo for that reason exactly; we wanted help people make their dreams a reality, regardless of their age, the size of their bank account, their gender, or their race. Read more
Source: virgin.com

10 aspects of crowdfunding campaigns worth mentioning from a rookie’s point of view
1) Don’t announce your campaign’s launch date until it’s completely set up
2) Make sure you can deliver what you promise
3) A campaign is stressful
4) Try to build a fanbase
5) Announce your campaign loud and clear
6) Keep in touch
7) Don’t rely on promotion services
8) Speak to your tax consultant
9) Stay true to yourself and keep on top of your project
10) There’s other important stuff apart from the campaign
More details Source: Indiewatch.net

What are the most important points to remember while making a crowdfunding pitch video?
What are you crowdfunding?
Why are you going for crowdfunding?
Why do people need to back you?
What are they getting in return? (Applies to reward-based crowdfunding)
Showcase your previous works or recognitions (Important if you are an artist)
End note with CTA
Make sure there is a smooth flow in the video and that you connect all these points.
Your video should not just be interesting enough to watch but should also encourage the viewer to fund your project. That’s the whole point of making a pitch video!
8 Tips On How To Make A Killer Crowdfunding Pitch Video! Source: ZingoHub Edge

Creative Projects Crowdfunding

This month we go back to the roots, to the origins of the concept of Crowdfunding. The whole idea took off when a music band unable to travel and play to an audience saw their fans fund their expenses. Since then not just music projects, but several other ventures leveraged this medium of reaching out to the crowd to realise their goals. Here we take a look at the creative categories in crowdfunding with a recent example from Kickstarter.

Art

Beautifully Nerdy Deep Space Paintings & Prints
Deep-space oil paintings & fine art prints, featuring breathtaking galaxies, nebulae, and black holes. Art for awesome nerdy people. See More

Comic

Theatrics – The Graphic Novel
A Broadway actor’s world crumbles when he’s mugged, beaten up and left for dead. Some would despair, but Rudy has an idea.. See More

Crafts

Wildlife Toys-Animated Hardwood Toys since 1978
Animated wood toys that engage a child’s imagination with out overwhelming them. See More

Dance

Get Hyped!
Get Hyped is creating a culture of estatic joy through our first event: a 70’s & 80’s themed ROLLER SKATING DANCE PARTY! See More

Fashion

Citee: map T-shirts and map posters
Map T-shirts and map posters showing detailed cities all over the world – now with over 230 locations. See More

Film & Video

ANDY: The Untold Story of Andy Irons
Andy Irons, 3-time world champion surfer who lived at the extremes of emotion, chased success only to be faced with challenges on shore

Music

DRIVIN’ IT DOWN!
Full-band, Revved-Up, Electric Blues & Roots Album by Justin Johnson

Photography

Beauty of street vendors
A photography book filled with amazing pictures showcasing the diversity in colors and the life of street vendors in Hanoi. See More

Publishing

Darwin’s On the Origin of Species
A picture book adaptation of the classical On The Origin Of Species. Great for children and grownups! See More

Theater

THE HUNT
An adventurous new production, The Hunt blends dance, immersive theater, and witch hunt hysteria in a reimagined Salem. See More

Let us know what are the other categories of Creative Projects you think are suitable for crowdfunding.

Crowdsourcing Startup Discovery

matrixpartner2-collage1In the past couple of months there have been several startups that have been discovered by Crowd Product’s peer-driven community-supported efforts. These pitching startups have been validated by those ranging from investors and industry leaders to potential customers. Here are some of the startups that pitch to a large audience, received feedback and validation, and won:

MindIQ – Business On Chat

An Artificial Intelligence company in the B2B space, MindIQ is a plug and play ‘Chatbot builder platform’, which helps businesses get on to any conversational platform in just a few minutes. The conversational platforms here include Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram and Slack.

PiBell – Smart Doorbell

PiBell achieved a rare feat by receiving a full score from the meetup’s audience. A product by PiOctave, PiBell is a small doorbell that enables video surveillance and aims to move people from just recording video surveillance to reacting live to situations.

Sensy Smart Remote

The remote enables one to personalise their favourite TV shows, channels, actors and movies, all with a simple voice search. The Sensy app aims to revolutionise the way people interact with their television sets.

You can find more recent startups that have been validated by audiences and won startup pitching competitions. Have any interesting startup to add, do share here.