Navigation
NICKDEMARTINO on Twitter
PAST BLOG POSTS

DIGITAL MEDIA FROM THE INSIDE OUT: My focus is digital content -- production, distribution, collaboration, innovation, creativity. Some posts have appeared across the web (HuffPo, Tribeca's Future of Film, The Wrap, MIPblog, etc.). To receive these posts regularly via email, sign up for my newsletter here.

Entries in crowdfunding (3)

Sunday
Apr292012

CATCHING UP (Pt. 2) - CROWDFUNDING

My hiatus is over. What follows are four "catch-up" posts in which I attempt to review thought leadership on four topics I'm tracking right now (Start-up Culture; Crowdfunding; Storytelling and Transmedia; and Video/Distribution). PART 2 presents some interesting links about the crowdfunding phenomenon.

Kickstarter has definitely turned a corner, not only in recognition and effectiveness, but in scale and revenue. The crowdfunding site is on pace to generate $300 million in funding this year, according to this post by Ben Popper at Venture Beat. 

Not everyone is a believer, however. "Are Kickstarter Investors Idiots or Geniuses?" turns a skeptical eye towards the crowd-funding phenomenon.

Kickstarter and IndieGogo are well-known crowd funding sites, but there are many more, lovingly detailed in this excellent "Crowdfunding Wiki.  I'm not entirely sure who generated all this great content, but I learned about it from Karine Halpern, @TransmediaReady Agency & Studio

One of the amazing things about the crowdfunding movement is its diversity. It's impossible to determine what the "crowd" will want to fund until the creators enter the market. As a result there are a lot of posts that offer advice on how to optimize one's chances on Kickstarter, like this  "25 Best Kickstarter Tips for Creative Students" The site Bachelors Degree Online is offering tips for student creators interested in Kickstarter, but the advice is good for anyone.

We are going to see a LOT of posting about the launch of equity crowdfunding in the wake of the passage of the "JOBS Act" that loosens regulations on small investors in start-ups, among other provisions. By far the harshest critique of equity crowdfunding I've read is Daniel Isenberg's post "The Road to Crowdfunding Hell" in the Harvard Business Review. 

Next Up: "STORYTELLING & TRANSMEDIA"

Tuesday
Mar272012

CROWDFUNDING, ACCELERATORS, START-UPS: OH MY!

Ten days ago I posted a piece on my blog that analyzed the need for an incubator for entertainment start-ups (A version was also posted on Tribeca's Future of Film site and on TheWrap.com)

The fascinating feedback I received was punctuated all last week by the unfolding of a related drama -- US Senate passage of the JOBS Act (Jump Start Our Business Startups), a law designed to allow start-up businesses to raise investment capital from virtually anyone, unconstrained by most of the current regulations. Efforts like a petition created by Angel List helped corral support. 

The law passed, tweaked with certain safeguards in the crowdfunding provisions. Many consider passage a miracle, given that there was opposition from the Securities and Exchange Commission, public interest groups and others who fear an avalanche of fraud. One observer from within the investment community even called the bill "a train wreck." 

Espect existing crowdfunding sites like CrowdfunderWeFund, Symbid, Peerbackers and Sprowd to pivot their models. Expect an onslaught of new crowdfunding sites. Expect a ripple effect through the start-up and investment ecosystem. 

For instance, Slated.com raised $2 million in a Series B round just this week. Slated is sort of an Angel List marketplace for film finance, with productions and investors meeting. For now, investors must be "qualified," but with the passage of JOBS Act, it will be interesting to see what happens. 

Some have compared Slated with Kickstarter, which has certainly played the starring role when digerati need to explain how "crowd-based" markets might work. Funds raised for films and other projects on Kickstarter are donations --- no strings attached, especially no equity in the property or company.

The JOBS Act will flip that model on its head, allowing equity to be acquired by a vastly larger body of investors than is currently possible. Even so, Kickstarter is already having a huge impact on film funding, with an estimated 10% of the recent SXSW slate had funding from the site.

CROWDFUNDING AND ACCELERATORS

Crowdfunding for the equity markets is likely to further stimulate the surge of early stage start-up incubators and accelerators that we have seen in recent years, and will likely morph some models away from focus upon a narrow group of VCs and angel investors. 

Moreover, if a true and open marketplace evolves for broad public investment in start-ups, consumer-facing content start-ups could benefit. "Average" people may find a company producing a digital media property more understandable than a specialized tech startup. 

In which case, an incubator for show biz should be even more desireable a week after I wrote about it!

In the meantime, here are some factoids gleaned in the week since my post went live:

  • A new "start-up academy camp for Media Innovations called "Media Camp," was launched by Turner Broadcasting during SXSW. I spoke with its director, former Apple technologist David Austin, who told me that MC's focus us early-stage tech companies working on problems that would impact the broadcasting business in general, and Turner in specific. The unit is premised on the assumption the start-up and VC culture simply don’t understand the media business – the revenue flow, importance of rights, business models, etc. The accelerator's boot camp helps startups understand the media biz. Applications can be submitted theough April 16 for the summer session. 
  • MovieLabs, the Hollywood-backed R&D center in the Bay Area does not invest in start-ups, but VP Kip Welch told me that they do informally confer with start-ups, investors, incubators and the whole Silicon Valley ecosystem. While a big chunk of the unit's budget is piracy-related, MovieLabs supports standards and research in metadata, identifiers, and other technical issues that make consumer media work better. 
  • New hybrids emerge all the time: for instance the MIT Open Documentary Lab: it seems to be part think tank, and part incubator for filmmakers and hackers. 
  • Not everyone loves the incubator idea: “Most incubators are cultivating a garden of startups that are dead on arrival,” said Kendall Wouters, a Cleveland-based entrepreneur and investor. He suggests that incubators fail to assess the market potential of ideas that entrepreneurs bring to them. As a result, companies won’t make it through the dreaded “valley of death” -- the time it takes to identify a sustainable and repeatable business model. 

ONE MORE THING...

Transmedia Hollywood 3 is coming up on April 6 at USC --  organized this year around the topic "Rethinking Creative Relations." I'll be on a panel moderated by Henry Jenkins called "Creative Economies: Commercial vs. State-based Models", along with Morgan Bouchet from France, Sara Diamond from Canada, Christy Dena from Australia, Jose Padhila from Brazil,  

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.