Revel in the crowd funding era4/2/2014
There has never been a better period in all history than present day to be an idea guy. No matter if you have zero coding, engineering or sales skills, the information age is ripe for creative people to brainstorm game-changing ideas and find the right people and funding to make it happen. Sure, 40 years ago Steve Jobs co-created Apple Computers with no programming skills, but would Apple exist today without his Apple conspirator Steve Wozniak and seed funding from multimillionaire Mike Markkula? Think of all the Jobs-like geniuses who never came to pass because they weren’t surrounded by the right supporting cast?
Today, two elements fuel the dreams of the would-be Steve Jobs among us: social networking and crowd funding. Before the advent of online social networking, it was practically impossible for unknowns to connect. Unless you, your friends or your colleagues could personally program computers, your dreams of tech innovation were most likely dashed. But now online forums such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus — even Craigslist — provide a venue for idea generators to meet and work with creators.
Still, connecting with people who are properly skilled is only half the battle. Finding the necessary capital to create and scale-up an idea to market is just as important. While many tech giants find success through venture capitalist and angel investor funding, a surprising new crop of innovations are coming to market with funding direct from interested consumers. Sites such as Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Rally, USEED and Patreon provide a platform for inventors and content creators to raise funds directly from consumers in the marketplace they hope to enter.
Crowd funding success stories include Occulus Rift, a virtual reality device manufacturer and Facebook’s most recent billion-dollar purchase, and the Android operating system gaming console Ouya. Local projects that have raised funds via crowd funding include a short films by the Iowa Filmmakers and various musical artists.
Part of the reason crowd funding is so exciting is it includes the consumer in the creation process. So, when a Kickstarter campaign is successful and a product starts to ship, the consumer can hold up his or her crowd funded widget and proudly proclaim, “I made this happen.” CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.