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An interview with Dan Marom, co-author of The Crowdfunding Revolution

An interview with Dan Marom, co-author of The Crowdfunding Revolution

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure to have a chat with Dan Marom, co-author of The Crowdfunding Revolution. He will be skyping in during our event at Social Media Week Glasgow taking place on the 28th of September at 5pm. The event will be live streamed too.

 

Hi Dan, thanks for taking the time to do this interview, really appreciated. You’re probably a person as well known and well published in the crowdfunding area as anybody, so we really appreciate your time. Tell us a bit about your view of crowdfunding.

Thank you for the kind words. One of the first things to note about crowdfunding is the nature of it is purely social. Kevin Lawton and I recently finalized the second edition of our book, “The Crowdfunding Revolution”, where we wrote a chapter dedicated to the idea that crowdfunding is the new “Like”.  I am of the opinion (albeit a provocative one), that companies who are looking to be “liked” on Facebook are doing yesterdays work. Why? Because “liking” a company is a passive way to engage, whereas crowdfunding is active engagement. Individuals can pick and choose the brands, initiatives, and entrepreneurs they care about, and invest in them. It is a more sophisticated and active form of engagement, engagement, and the social effects are what count.

We would echo those feelings entirely. It’s quite a profound connection that you make when you invest and you offer a level of binding to the brand and organisation or to a project in a way that is much stronger than buying a ticket.

Yes, absolutely. I find it extremely fascinating, and it is my honour to participate to Social Media Week (Glasgow), and to crowdfuture (Rome) in October to talk about this.

It will be our pleasure to have you there. When is the book actually due to come out?

The 2nd edition is forthcoming soon (this December) by McGraw-Hill.

Looking forward to that. Where did you meet Kevin Lawton, the co-author, and what prompted you to write the book in the first place?

It’s actually a funny story–despite writing a book together, Kevin and I have not yet met in person. In the book’s introduction, we discuss the global effects of crowdfunding and the manner in which the age of the internet has changed the way we interact, and we are a living, breathing example! Kevin and I are live 15,000 miles from each other, we have never met, and yet we are writing the second edition of our book! Our story is a testament to virtual cooperation.

Three years ago, while I was looking for an exciting issue to write a Phd thesis about, I wrote several pages and started to interview academic researchers. At the same time, I thought that I should write a popular science book, so I started approaching and interviewing different thought leaders in the field.  At that time, many of the current platforms were in their infancy, but I had the opportunity to interact with the different parties involved. Then I happened upon a blog post Kevin authored about trends, was intrigued by his material, and then one thing led to another and we decided to write the book together. Kevin is a fantastic guy, very smart, and is a true thought leader in this field.

That’s amazing and it’s a great testament to what’s possible now with these technical platform that are available to us (and giving that SMW’s main global theme is empowering change through collaboration there is a wonderful example of it, it’s fantastic).

Going back to the book, when writing the second edition, you must have seen quite a few changes in the 2 years since you did the first edition. Have you updated it at all and what would be the key things that are different now from when you first published? 

That is a great question. We wrote the book in mid 2010, so the landscape has changed in the past two years. The second edition has several updates. First, integrated the latest milestones of the crowdfunding scene. Second, we added several chapters that are focused on the funding campaign, with best practices, suggestions and pointers to make the book more practical.
When we started to interview the major players at the beginning of 2010, the overall crowdfunding market was very small. We have gone a long way since then and the book illustrates the metamorphosis both companies experienced.
All in all, I think that most of our predictions were actualized and we illustrated some of the future trends that we are seeing now.

The thing that I think will make huge difference is that whilst equity crowdfunding has been possible in the UK for some time with Crowdcube leading the way, and Brewdog, a Scottish craft brewery, that raised 3.5 million in equity share sales through crowdfunding, in the States this wasn’t legal. But now if the JOBS act becomes permissible then clearly there will be a massive burgeoning of the take up and popularity of equity based crowdfunding platforms.

Absolutely. Over the past three years, Kevin and I have been involved in several groups working on the regulatory aspects. We are optimistic the JOBS act will transform crowdfunding from a trend to the industry standard. While it will take time, and there will certainly be challenges, I think it will happen. I am also interested in the regulations aspect of crowdfunding. Kevin took a leading part at the work on the JOBS act, and we anticipate the SEC regulations will be impactful on the future of crowdfunding in a positive way.

I think you’re right. (A law firm here in Glasgow just launched their own equity based crowdfunding platform, it’s really starting to take off over here too.) The thing that I find fascinating is that much of this equity based crowdfunding will be first round, so the traditional capital market will get involved at the second and third round funding. I’ll be really interested to see if and how these traditional capital market players will come get to grips with the fact that they’re second-round investing in a company that has already sold 10 per cent of their equities to people that are out of their traditional environment.

Great point. I believe hybrid mechanisms are the future. The crowd itself will find it hard to succeed with a start-up company or any other initiative alone without some institutional money, and the classical financing intermediators are currently resisting to any change. There is  tension between these mechanisms, and I think we will see a lot of change in the next five years. There are no alternatives to these hybrid mechanisms. It is also a major business opportunity, and has serious potential to be a gold mine. The bridging between financial institutions to crowdfunding platforms and players could be a significant area of growth in the near future.

Thank you very much, Dan. 

Social Media Week Glasgow – The Report

Social Media Week Glasgow – The Report

As many of you know the first Social Media Week 2012 has just taken place with London as the UK host city and as part of that we attended and delivered an event on Thursday evening called Socially Scotland, alongside Inner Ear and KILTR. The event was in part sponsored by McClure Naismith and made all the sweeter thanks to the generosity of Tunnocks, WEST Beer and the Ayr Brewing company. Our sincere thanks to you all.

Our part in the evening was to give an overview of the scope and impact of Social Media Week 2011 in Glasgow.

The curation of an event like Social Media Week is a significant undertaking. Even though it is a crowdsourced event, and most of the events are created by participants, there is still a great deal of time, effort and worry involved in making it happen.

When we started the process of pulling together the Glasgow end of that with our colleagues at New Media Corp pretty much no-one we spoke to had heard of it despite it already being a colossal global presence. This meant that when we were speaking to potential sponsors and partners we had to do a lot of explaining. What was particularly challenging was to explain that we had little idea who would take part, the number of events, the nature of event hosts, because of the crowdsourced format. Most similar events are highly targeted and base their offer on a highly defined set of characteristics. Social Media Week is not like that and what has gone before may well not reflect the nature of the next iteration. So for those that did get on board, it was a leap of faith and we salute their courage and vision. None regrets it. Some that didn’t probably do.

That said, we felt it was well worth trying to understand a bit more about what happened last September. Who came, what they covered, and capture for posterity some record of a week that for us will remain long in the memory and stand as an endorsement of something we are very proud of, as should all those people that made it happen.

To do that we collated a good deal of quantitative data, ran a review evening for some more qualitative feedback, and completed the delivery of some legacy projects for Creative Scotland that formed part of their investment in the week’s success.

We have drawn that material together into the form of a report that we now share with you, because it was your week as Alan Bisset put it in the promotional video.

We hope you enjoy the report, find it interesting, share it, comment on it and look back as fondly as we do to “That Week” in September 2011.

It’s Social Media Week again!

It’s Social Media Week again!

Feels like yesterday that Glasgow was buzzing, tweeting and talking all about Social Media Week 2011.
Now it’s time for another SMW! From this morning to Friday, another 12 cities, including Tokyo, Singapore, Hamburg, Paris, and NYC are going to live the wonderful experience that Glasgow lived six months ago. The UK hub this time will be London, and we wish all the best to the amazing team at Chinwag who are coordinating things in an excellent way!

After the great time we had last year, we thought we couldn’t really miss SMW this time. Even if good part of it will be livestreamed, we wanted to be part of it again as close as we could, that’s why we’re going to London this week, with some of Social Media Glasgow partners.

We will be at the Hub Westminster this Thursday, the 16th of February, from 6pm for  Socially Scotland, a collaborative event with twintangibles, Inner Ear & KILTR to celebrate the impact of Social Media Week in Glasgow and Scotland’s growing digital community, highlighting some of the creative output from schemes initiated during Social Media Week Glasgow, and reviewing the growing opportunities developing in Scotland.

We will share some of the highlights of the week and present the projects and initiatives born as spinoffs from SMWGla. We will also unveil some interesting figures and stats regarding Social Media Week Glasgow: who attended, what sectors were most represented, what the hot topics were, and so on. Here’s a taste of it, some voxpops from the SMWGla review night we organised last November (thanks to the great Inner Ear team):

Creative content communications company Inner Ear will talk about some of the projects they showcased during Social Media Week, including the company’s long running alternative, underground music internet radio station, Radio Magnetic and new streetwise audio walking tours producers Walking Heads. They’ll also present the results of a collaborative spinoff from SMW Glasgow: Spokenherd, a crowdsourced audiobook.

Kiltr, the rising niche network for anyone with an interest in Scotland, will take the opportunity to meet its members and discuss the latest developments of the network including the forthcoming launch of version one.

Scottish craft beer, generously offered by WEST brewery and Ayr Brewing Company, and ‘Scotland’s flavourite’ tea cakes and biscuits offered by Tunnock’s, will be available throughout the event.

Socially Scotland will be a networking opportunity for all Scots in London and for anyone interested in Scotland to get a flavour of what is happening North of the border.

The official hashtag for the event is #smwldngla – Please use it to connect and network!

Join us, be part of it again!

A look back at Social Media Week Glasgow – Interview with Tim Wright

A look back at Social Media Week Glasgow – Interview with Tim Wright

– Why did you put in the bid for Social Media Week to happen in Glasgow?
For a number of reasons. The format of SMW is a very interesting concept of how to put together a conference, it aims to change the way we run conferences in the future, it is essentially crowdsourced so the format of the event was appealing to us because it was addressing some of the changes and effects that come with the collaborative models that Social Media enables. But more important than that it was to have a platform that allowed us to broaden the debate on Social Media to touch on a variety of subjects, and take the story or take the message to a wider community that Social Media is having a very profound impact on society, economy, and culture. We felt that Glasgow – and by extension Scotland – has a strong digital community, it is very digitally engaged and it has a history of innovation in many fields which is becoming apparent in the way Social Media is being exploited in Scotland. It was time that Glasgow got recognition for that alongside these other international cities that were bidding at the same time, and it was also right and appropriate that Scotland got representation; the only other time this event has come to the UK it was in London, so we felt that it was time that North of the border got some recognition as well.

– So was Social Media Week Glasgow a success?

It’s not entirely for me to say whether it was a success, it‘s really for others to judge, because it is very much a shared event, it’s crowdsourced in the sense that the vast majority of the events that were put on through the course of the week were originated by people who came forward, wanting to put something under the umbrella of the larger event. It was a shared experience and I have my personal views on whether it was success, but fundamentally is whether the community feels that it was a success, and thus far almost exclusively all of the feedback has been very positive. We had more than 100 events taking place through the 5 days, in a lot of different locations and one of the aspects of the pitch that we made to crowdcentric in our bid to bring SMW to Glasgow was that we would offer tremendous diversity, and I think we achieved that by bringing events that were taking place addressing consumer products, fashion, media, healthcare, really really diverse range in terms of the subject matter, but also the format, the size and scale of these things, so some were quite small events, some were very large events with a significant number of people attending. So I think in all of those cases we achieved more than we actually set out to do, we were more diverse than we could have possibly wished for; we certainly delivered more events than we expected when we initially intended to put the event on and I think that the reception that we received and the amount of coverage that the events received has been almost exclusively positive. There’s always one or two but on the whole I think pretty much everybody says it has been an extremely good and useful experience. Doesn’t mean to say that we wouldn’t change it if we had the opportunity to do it again of course, we would, that’s how experience works, but on the generality I think it has been an almost exclusively positive experience. Certainly for us: on a personal level and from the twintangibles point of view I think we would view it as entirely positive, if challenging and demanding at times in actually making it happen, but it was a privilege to be involved.

– Any personal highlights for yourself?

There are a number of highlights for me. I particularly enjoyed Jeremy Gilley’s presentation to open the event. His was a very inspiring story and it’s something that it’s often forgotten about how you can use these communication platforms for really significant and world changing initiatives and he’s very much testament to that, so that was an inspiring piece to kick off the day. The Nokia vending machine was a lot of fun, I didn’t actually win anything out of it, but ten people got phones, it was a lot of fun seeing people queuing up with the expectation of getting a phone and getting a chocolate bar instead, but that was fun. I really enjoyed both the wine and the beer events for obvious reasons but also because I think they were quite innovative. The intention was to demonstrate how social media brings producers and consumers much closer together and it was quite technically challenging to make those things happen but they went very well so I enjoyed those a lot. The Government involvement and the Government endorsement of it by the attendance of ministers but also by them putting on their own event was a highlight, because it represented some recognition that what we do had attracted the attention and the endorsement of those bodies. But the undoubted highlight for me was Don Tapscott. I said when I introduced Don on the Friday as the closing keynote that when we initially thought about bidding to bring SMW to Glasgow who would we ideally have on the list of events through the week, who would be the speakers, and it was one of those brainstorming events where you can put anything you want no matter how absurd on the table; and at the top of my list was Don Tapscott and we just laughed at the idea that we could get him involved with SMW Glasgow. And by the wonders of social media and the connectivity and the willingness and collaborative spirit that goes with that we managed to get Don Tapscott to do the keynote address, and for me that was an enormous privilege to be able to introduce him but also to have the opportunity to put questions to him, it was fantastic, and couldn’t have wished for anymore so it’s certainly my highlight.

– Where is the future with SMW Glasgow?

We want to try and build on the legacy of this iteration of SMW that took place in Glasgow. The event itself as you will probably know is now taking place twice a year because the demand from cities to actually get involved with this is growing all the time, so there are no guarantees that even if we were to bid for it we would necessarily be able to bring it back to Glasgow. Therefore our immediate focus is to build on what took place through the week and I think that most of the organisations that took part in Social Media Week are also looking to do that. We know that the next iteration of SMW is taking place in February 2012 and London is one of the participating city for that. So we will probably try and run some follow-up events as part of that to highlight Glasgow participation this year. We also know that the organisation crowdcentric in NY were extremely pleased with what took place in Glasgow and the fact that outside of NY we had more events than any other cities participating in SMW ever, which is a tribute to Glasgow. I think they were very impressed by the way that developed and how the city engaged with it so I think that if we were to bid to make it happen again in Glasgow then we would have a sympathetic ear in NY. But our focus at the moment is to build on what we achieved this time round with a view to considering whether we wished to do it again in Glasgow, and if we do what format that would take.

– Would you like to round up with a closing statement?

We pulled it off. It was a pretty ambitious thing to take on. Some people thought we were a bit crazy, I think we thought we were a bit crazy when we were first going for it, but it has been a tremendous success; it has been a wonderful thing to be involved with, we met a lot of fabulous people, made friend with people that otherwise we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet. I think it has kicked off some terrific initiatives off the back of it, and I hope it’s giving a lift to the digital community in Glasgow and Scotland generally but also allow Glasgow and Scotland to get some international well deserved recognition so all in all very pleased, tick, v. good, gold star as far as I am concerned.

The interview was realised by Cameron King, @CameronKing, as part of the SMWGla podcast series available on iTunes and Podomatic. [transcript]

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