A look at popular crowdfunding associations

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A lot has been said about the need to build communities around emerging technologies, including disruptive concepts like ‘crowdfunding’. These communities comprise of enthusiasts, including the early-adopters, who together help create traction and an aura of interest around the disruptive idea.

Another important player(s) in propagating the interests of an idea and one that generally emanates out of a community of early-adopters is an association. Professional associations are those that work towards promoting the best interests of the profession- be it spreading awareness about it to the public (through events, training and other medias for sharing learnings), influencing legislation among authorities for the better, or just contributing time, money, resources or expertise to help the concept move forward and realize some of its objectives.

For new entrants, these associations can be boon for they can be go-to-point for getting contacts and information about the technology’s forays globally and in particular regions. Here we look at some of the popular crowdfunding association and what they do:

 ACFIA (American Crowdfunding Investment Association)
Based out of New York, the association seeks to helps provide its members with information, resources and other services to promote informed investments of small businesses using crowdfunding.
Contact:  +1 (518) 234 9599, (646) 543 3701; info@acfia.org

CAPS (Crowdfunding Accreditation for Platform Standards)
This program is powered by Crowdsourcing.org and supported by an advisory board of leading crowdfunding platform operators and industry experts, CAPS is designed to protest investors and fundraisers by promoting best crowdfunding practices globally.
Contact: Dr Kevin Grell, CAPS Program Director. kevin@crowdsourcing.org

CFIRA (Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Advocates)
Setup in the US after President Obama singed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, CFIRA also has an advisory board comprising of  leading platform operators and industry experts. It works with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and other stakeholders to establish industry standards and best practices in crowdfunding.
Contact: +1 (512) 502 5833; joy@leverage-pr.com

CfPA (Crowdfunding Professional Association)
US-based, this association formed by crowdfunding experts who worked on its legalization in the US are keen to serve as a watchdog to ensure the crowdfunding industry develops in a transparent and credible manner.
Contact: +1 (207) 288 0428

ECN (European Crowdfunding Network) 
Founded in 2011 and based out of Brussels, the ECN pursues various activities like promoting European crowdfunding innovations, transparency in the ecosystem to reaching out to regulators and government authorities to further the cause of crowdfunding in the region.
Contact: info@europecrowdfunding.org

FPF (Financement Participatif France)
The association of over a 100 years has been into existence to represents finance companies to funders or projects and regulators. In 2012 the association forayed into crowdfunding and now works closely with crowdfunding platforms and other stakeholders in France.
Contact: http://twitter.com/fin_part

UKCFA (United Kingdom Crowdfunding Association)
The association promotes crowdfunding as a valuable and viable option for UK-based businesses to raise capital. Its members and supporters work closely to develop the community further and provides them with contact information of relevant authorities and information resources.
Contact: info@ukcfa.org.uk

NCFA (National Crowdfunding Association) 
There are global crowdfunding chapters which looks at promoting the interests of the crowdfunding community in their respective regions. Some active NCFA include ones in Canada and India. There is also the NLCFA whose focus is the American crowdfunding market.

There are trans-continental efforts also being developed to help the growth of crowdfunding world-over, however it needs to be noted that since each region has different laws and regulations, localized associations for crowdfunding make more sense.

These are just some of the popular crowdfunding associations, if you need more information or have something further to share, do let us know.

Cheering Crowdfunding Events this April

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Along with a host of articles, expert advisors, planners, solutions providers emanating from 100’s of crowdfunding platforms around the world, there are various events (conferences, workshops, meet-ups) that are advancing the capabilities and growth of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing all over the world.

This April these are some events we will be keeping track of:

We will be following insights from these crowdfunding events and more. We are also keen to touch base with attendees and event organizers to hear of their learnings and experiences. Apart of these, this month we will organize a some smaller crowdfunding meet-ups at emerging crowdfunding destinations. Stay tuned to hear more.

Let us know if there are other similar events and we would be happy to connect with you and help you spread the word.

Shoot Worthy Crowdfunding Videos: 3 Tips

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Use flexible camera equipment
By this I mean those cameras, smartphones and other video equipment that can be easily:
a) Portable, to carry and shot at locations
b) Enough memory to store amount of video shooting
c) Transfer files and convert into file formats

Explore your possible funders profile
This helps you create content that would be of interest to your target audience, funders in this case. They can of these different categories:
a) Family, friends as well as friends of your family and friends
b) Ordinary individuals who are passionate about your product/service
c) Investors who are interested in your idea and waiting for more validation

Understand the dynamics of content creation
How an audience consumes content is an ever evolving and learning experience. No more are length essays luring, not as much as:
a) Visual content, with pictures and graphical illustrations
b) Quirky and contextual messaging inline with current trending topics
c) Data interpreted in smart graphs and in an ordered manner

Concluding, my 3 point CN recommendations are:
# Create a compelling storyline of the product/service with an emotional quotient.
# Back your thoughts around the product/service with interesting data and visual-appeal, and here something like a videographic can help.
# Once the first video has been created remember to give your project constant buzz through updates – by creating more newer and better content on a regular basis, and sharing it across various networks.

You might also want to read this article on: How To Plan A Successful Crowdfunding Video Pitch.

 

Life Hacks Crowdfunded

Through crowdfunding, 2013 has seen the fruition of several life hacks – and we’re not talking about biggies like 3D Printing or massive IoT (Internet of Things) projects. Simple and custom product ideas to make one’s environment better and life even cooler. Here’s a look some products that caught our eye via sources (mashable, fastcompany, etc) –

$$$ Two issues bike enthusiasts would love to address is making biking effortless and finding a way to retrieve it if stolen. Thanks to ‘FlyKly Smart Wheel’ app’s motorized wheel and bike GPS these issues are more than taken care of, and there’s more.

$$$ 2013 has been a year for the tablets, with folks across all ages and societal strata taking to it. However one pain point with tablets, with it not being a phone-sized or the size of a laptop is finding an optimal stand to place it. MiStand seems just the ideal stand for tablets, check it out.

$$$ Mac charger change, is an ominous sign for a busy Mac mover, and at times a scary reminder of the cost of having one’s charger breaking. Having recently bought a replacement charger for a relatively exorbitant sum, personally I recognize the need for a life hack to avoid another cord breaking episode by investing in something like Sugru – a self-setting rubber fix. Python cord is a somewhat similar self-setting silicone rubber but more specific and tested for a Mac charger. These solutions could go some way in reducing stress.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxukQMPr9xo

$$$ Ninja Sphere, not any other little life hack project, is an IoT (Internet of Things) platform that lets one control and keep track of the state of all their devices intelligently without a need for taking out a smartphone device. This open source project opens up many possibilities to keep track of homes – be it appliances or even loved ones. Just the kind of product many would want to learn more about.

$$$ On a cold new year’s night, snuggled under a thick bedquilt and blogging away, there’s an ergonomic challenge to address – one that could avoid bouts of back pains due to the poor posture. With Slate’s portable laptop desk, one can get mobile again with laptops and not miss the comforts of a desk. Plus the ultralight weight and strong bamboo can also absorb heat from devices. Now this is a cool life accessory.

Crowdfunding Diversity

At any given point, 1000s of campaigns are pursued across 100s of crowdfunding platforms. From micro-financing, donation-reward crowdfunding to equity-based ones, a range of projects & from across locations are communicated via social media. Here’s a look at the diverse range of tweets in 1 hour-

http://storify.com/vinayd/crowdfunding-diversity

From the above select tweets on crowdfunding spanning just one hour, one is intrigued by diverse range of projects. From causes such as therapy grants for autistic children and students relying on crowdfunding to fund their studies to bringing transparency in lotteries and a local say in real-estate development – crowdfunding is leveraged for a diverse set of initiatives.

Then there are differences in funding amounts, from relatively small goals with family and friends contributing to massive funding projects like the space sim game that has attracted $31 million and counting from over 300 funders. Along with conventional projects there are also unique campaigns, one like the interactive augmented reality app, after the developer, inspired by Nikola Tesla, was keen to bring the famous scientist back to life through this project.

The one hour of tweet shares in crowdfunding have also seen campaigns based on real-life incidents – be it the recent Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines (a project here to crowdfund researchers to study the incident and work on better disaster management for the future) to anti-nuclear film based on Fukushima nuclear aftermath. While still on Asia, which is arguably among the most diverse of regions – there are analysis on why crowdfunding is slow in picking up across SE Asia and China, and on another on why it makes real sense for the Middle-East – a culture which prefers equity over debt funding.

In this short duration, Twitter has also seen crowdfunding communication in multiple languages, including in Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese and Romanian. On the midnight of December 01-02nd skimming through my Twitter feed in India, little did I expect such variance in crowdfunding tweets and in such a short span of time. This seems to be an indicator of the global phenomenon of crowdfunding, and how one can expect an assortment of many more stories via the crowdfunding route.

Exploring Crowdfunding Depth

Crowdfunding Options for Employees
Companies like IBM are looking at crowdfunding to fund some of the best ideas from employees.

How it works: The company gives each of its employees a budget of $100 and encourages them to use it to support each others’ projects. The company proposes more variations to its internal crowdfunding experiments. (More on HBR Blog Network)

API to Handle Crowdfunding Orders
Startup ShopLocket launches a pre-order platform that aims to bridge the gap between crowdfunding and product shipping.

How it works: The ShopLocket API can be integrated into an existing setup to help to create and manage clients’ products and orders – right from pre-orders to a full shopping cart. (More on Tech Crunch)

Crowdfunding to Make Babies
Prospective mothers who are unable to conceive can now receive support via a fertility treatment fund.

How it works: Healthy and successful mothers who participate in the program will need contribute $50 per month for a period of 10 months. It’s founder, and PayPal cofounder, Max Levchin has put in $1 million of his own money to kickstart the fun. (More on The Next Web)

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CN Flashback & Future

This month we celebrate the one year anniversary of Crowd Navigator. A roller-coaster ride it has been! From keeping pace with the latest crowdfunding developments to getting hands on with some action-packed crowdfunding projects, the year has seen us become more social, technological and at times economical too. Here we share Crowd Navigator’s timeline since the inception of its idea to various monthly spotlight. And finally we also give you a sneak-peak into the future of Crowd Navigator.

FLASHBACK (Template: Resumup)

FUTURE (Template: Mindmeister)

Thank you for your support and interest. Stay tuned for more excitement.

Spring In Equity Crowdfunding

This Month, it’s a year since President Obama signed the landmark JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, one of the bills that’s set to introduce Equity Crowdfunding. This legislative changes will allowing any member of the public to invest in startups, currently possible only through a regulated IPO (Initial Public Offering) process. The new piece of legislation is expected to be used as a model for the rest of the world as well.

The US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) was to have had the regulations in place by end December 2012, the stipulated 270 days since the passing of the bill last April. Now way past the deadline the SEC still continues to deliberate on the regulations, leading to some citing SEC could possibly overdo the legislation in its conservative approach – which defeats the purpose of the bill. However recent developments, especially the SEC’s ‘No-Action’ letter to a couple of firms have showed its keenness to easy regulation and enable funding from a larger pool. Here’s what the letter would mean:

So with Equity Crowdfunding expected to boom later this year, it’s time to look at what Crowdfunding thought-leaders have in mind. Many will be in Boston at the Thomson Reuters’ Innovative Investing Symposium 2013, an event part of the JOBS Act first anniversary. Among those present there will be promoters of Equity Crowdfunding legislations across the world, including those from Italy – which could ace the US with its legislative changes and implementation. We shall keep more than an eye on these and various other crowdfunding developments across the world. Feel free to reach out.

Crowdfunding Bandwagon: Can Singapore Sing Aloud?

(Image: GatewaySingapore.com)

South-East Asia with its near 6 million population sure has the crowds on its side, and with places like Singapore comparable to any top business city in the world, it’s but a surprise that crowdfunding hasn’t seen more activity.
Singapore has seen considerable progress recently, and leads the crowdfunding market in South East Asia. In my short search I came across a handful Singapore-based crowdfunding platforms. They include:

Crowdonomic – Launched last Month, Crowdonomic is a donation-reward type of crowdfunding, a la Kickstarter. There still seems a long way to go going by crowdonomic’s current traction and as pointed by Asian web innovation site e27, ‘building a marketplace of startups and backers is not easy’.

ToGather.Asia – Startup by two National University of Singapore (NUS) Business school students and supported by Singapore’s YES! Start-up’s grant, this donation-reward crowdfunding site has some successful crowdfunded projects to its credit.

Cliquefund – The crowdfunding project describes itself as  a’community patronage platform for startups’ where funders, or ‘patrons’ as they call it, receive coupons in return for the funding. These coupons can later be used for availing services, product purchases, events or even equity as told to the news site TechinAsia. It hopes to endure its community engagement beyond just the project funding.

There are others Singapore-based crowdfunding platforms mentioned on Quora – 8squirrels, Firecracker and Spark Facility. However none of these have seen any recent activity.

While crowdfunding’s here to stay, it’s still early days to predict which business model will be most effective in Singapore. Further Singapore with its congenial financial climate and investment opportunities as well as its high incomes, could become a hotbed for equity crowdfunded projects. It will be interesting to find out what local entrepreneurs have to say on crowdfunding. Watch this space to know more.

Emerging World Crowdfunding – India

Cited as one of top 10 emerging technologies by MIT Technology Review, crowdfunding has lived up to its expectations in 2012 – right from discovering the myriad possibilities it offers beyond just creative projects (e.g. for market research, as a precursor for VC funding, and how it can even save white Rhinos from extinction) to the actual realization of many success stories.

Infact there’s been a tremendous push across the West for its implementation – motivating its leaders to ease laws to crowdfund small businesses (equity crowdfunding) and Gold Rush‘s predicted for 2013. With crowdfunding on turbo in the West, lets look at its progress in the East and the emerging world. Crowd Navigator over the next few Months will look at the crowdfunding scenario in SE Asia, India and China. This post’s on India.

India has seen a massive crowdfunding success story many years before the actual the term was coined. Without getting into ancient India, an example from the more recent past would be the ‘rags-to-riches’ story of the Reliance Industries founder Dhirubhai Ambani. His then small yet growing textile business was crowdfunded by communities across the Indian state of Gujarat. In 30 years Reliance Industries had become 60 billion dollar business and is still growing strong. Here’s a scene from Dhirubhai Ambani’s unofficial biopic ‘Guru’-

While the above idea was sold on a physical platform (see speech to investors from the same film) and not through today’s internet-based crowdfunding platform, nevertheless there have many similarities between the approach then and some of today’s relatively smaller success stories on crowdfunding – selling an dream, gaining people’s trust and building a compelling case for its funding.

Today’s India with its huge market and human capital has moved on from the license raj regimes of the past (still more’s needed), becoming a popular destination for global business and other investments that have identified opportunities. Its crowdfunding forays however has been restricted to micro-financing category projects, and the occasional donation-reward funding category.

There haven’t been success stories of Indian entrepreneurial projects through crowdfunding yet, but looking at the global trend of easing funding laws there are reasons to remain positive. Plus India has on its side the human capital, many of them capable of small investments, and several business opportunities.

A handful of crowdfunding platforms have indeed cropped up – Pik A Venture, Funduzz, YoLaunch, Pitchhike, Fundmypitch and Wishberry.in – however most of them are still under beta. Considering the volatility of the crowdfunding platform space, as well as the reach and flexibility of global platforms, there’s going to be some competition in this space. Moreover in today’s open-source world, individuals or companies can easily self-start their own platform and or seek infrastructural assistance from experts.

The bottom-line though is, crowdfunding in India is here to stay.  Get in touch if you need more information.