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Friday
Mar022012

CROWD-FUNDING & PRIZES: INNOVATION IN FUNDING INNOVATION. (Week's best posts)

If you follow my Twitter feed (@nickdemartino), you will have seen a distinct tilt towards news and stories that explore new fundraising models for start-up businesses and creative projects. How do we stimulate innovation? It's a question I am obsessed with, and so with fair warning, I'll be taking a dive into the topic over the coming months. 

But First: Speakers (including me) were announced this week for two upcoming conferences. : Henry Jenkins' Transmedia Hollywood 3 on April 6 at USC in Los Angeles and WyrdCon, June 21-24 in Costa Mesa CA.

CROWDFUNDING, COMPETITIONS & START UP CULTURE

See why serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis calls AngelList and Kickstarter "the two most important startups in the world." This is a manifesto on disruptive fundraising models, and, notwithstanding the author's posturing, is a really interesting dive into why the "wisdom" of the crowds should justify risk by all, not just a select circle of "investors." 

Just this week, AngelList launched a tool that could lead to the standardization of pitch decks for startups. Why? "Most investors (and journalists) receive hundreds of pitches every month, so finding (as he says) crisp yet complete ways to express your startup’s vision, impact, traction, and so on can be the difference between going on to success or finding yourself in irrelevance."

Of course, the Kickstarter model is itself an innovation -- donors do not get equity like traditional investors, and yet, millions of dollars have been raised for a dizzying array of projects. And, indeed, for-profit businesses may turn to the crowd-funding model. For instance, here's a post that urges start-up businesses to consider crowd-funding their capital needs.

And recently CrowdBackers launched to bring Kickstarter-style crowd sourced financing to the world of early-stage start-ups. 

Meanwhile, with three $M-plus projects in just the past month, Kickstarter is on a roll, entering its growth stage that success brings. More projects need to understand how the modle works. Here's a useful tip sheet on how to launch campaigns in Kickstarter (and smaller crowd funding site IndieGogo)

Even more interesting is this post that analyzes the performance of different Kickstarter "perks" in raising money.

A completely different model for stimulating innovation or novel solutions is the cash-driven competition or prize, examined in some depth in a NY Times piece just this week..

The Knight Foundation has been running its "News Challenge" online for several years, a variation of the competition model for innovation in news and journalism in the digital era.  This year the foundation has restructured, with the first of three cycles launching now through March 17. Even if you are not working on an eligible project, the model for stimulating solutions through competition is fascinating.

Entrepreneurs of all stripes will benefit from the launch of Cofounder.tv, a video-based learning site comprised entirely of talks from investors and founders. The site is a passion project by Rony El-Nashar, a VC at SeedStartup, according to this post at Arabnet. 

Finally: These models argue for the democratization of innovation, but Jon Gertner's piece in the NY Times reminds us that the centralized corporate research model, as epitomized by Bell Labs, produced an astonishing volume and range of innovation during much of the 20th Century, much of it forming the foundation for innovations that we see today.

THE MEDIA-TECH BIZ

The battle of prognosticators over whether cable TV is collapsing or thriving continues with posts that flat-out contradict each other. You decide. My friend Seth Shapiro debunks five theories on the death of cable TV on Media Shift. "Goodbye Cable TV" is Business Insider's story, occasioned by 2.3 million cancelled subscribers since 2010. Which of course is contradicted by Paid Content's post entitled "Cord Cutting Can Wait," triggered by a surge of nearly 350,000 new subs in Q4. You decide!

Meanwhile, the future of cable TV, as I've written, is better use of data. Check out Mark Phillip's app, called "Are You Watching This?" or RUWT, which points to a future that leverages viewing and channel data in service to nice audiences, in this case, sports as a bellweather category that could impact all of TV

All you ever wanted to know about Twitter (perhaps), in this exhaustive profile from Business Week. One of our smarter digerati, Brian Solis, offers his thoughts on the "state of the Twitterverse," c. 2012.

All Things D interviews YouTube chief Salar Kamangar. 

The Guardian offers a very nice overview of "how apps have taken over the world" since Apple created the platform in 2007. 

Henry Blodget deconstructs Apple's financials to see what it would take for Apple to go to $1,000 per share.

"Why Are Harvard Graduates in the Mailroom?" asks Adam Davidson, as he explores the "lottery system" of labor economics, and worries that the whole economy is shifting to this cutthroat model with no Plan B.

Broadcasters sued Aereo, the start-up that brings over-the-air TV to the Internet. It took less than 2 weeks.

CONTENT AND TOOLS

Congrats to Moonbot, the Louisiana based animation startup that won the Oscar for best animated short film, "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," a form of which also debuted as an engaging iPad app. Venture Beat interviewed Brandon Oldenburg, a partner (and Oscar winner). I met Brandon at the Dallas Video Fest and have been so impressed with Moonbot's strategy for sustaining creativity in the new digital marketplace.

If you're a Godard freak (me), you won't want to miss these remixes of his classic Alphaville. Thanks to Anne Thompson (@akstanwyck), whose commentary is a lovely lecture in itself. 

ZED.To is an 8-month immersive narrative adventure chronicling the end of the world in Toronto, currently raising money on IndieGoGo.

Transmedia LA members have launched the "Miracle Mile" ARG, which will roll out this spring and summer. The first draft of a storyline has been posted on FB here, though the group is by invitation only. 

Meghan Gargan discusses "what Facebook's Timeline means for Transmedia"

Graphicly is a publishing platform born to support the needs of graphic novels. With the tools and especially analytics it has developed, the company is now expanding to other types of books. Take a look at the value proposition.

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