Thursday, September 30, 2010

Crowdsourcing: Turning customers into creative directors

by Fiona Graham - Technology of business - reporter, BBC News

"The office building doesn't look so good from the outside, we don't need it to, so the rent is lower, but inside it's really nice." Ning Li is's 28-year-old CEO, and we are at the company's London office, on the 11th floor of an unremarkable Notting Hill office block. is an online-only furniture retailer, so there's no danger that customers will drop by. The company is six months old and already approaching profitability, with revenue doubling month on month, despite relying on word of mouth rather than marketing. The Union Jack Piggy Bag from The company imports 80% of stock from China, and sources 20% in the UK.
But this is a furniture business with no warehouse - and no inventory. Instead, products are "crowdsourced". This is how it works. Visitors to the website are encouraged to submit their designs. The best of these are worked up into prototypes, and posted on the website. Registered members of the community vote. The most popular pieces are then available for pre-order - made in China, shipped by container and delivered directly to buyers from the port.
The designers are paid nothing upfront - but receive 5% royalties on successful designs, which Li maintains is above the industry average. Ning Li: "What we think is good for the consumer doesn't matter - it's what the consumer thinks is good that matters."
To Learn More Click Here

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Concept in Crowdsourcing: Introduces Incentivized Innovation and Feedback Platform Fit for Any Budget

Huntington Beach, CA (PRWEB) September 27, 2010

IdeaOffer ( emerges from limited testing stages with a brand new set of features and big plans for late 2010 - early 2011. IdeaOffer has added to the original concept of crowdsource with rewards-for-ideas and now with new "Create a Survey" functionality. IdeaOffer has recently introduced team building ( and is set to begin team and individual competitions, along with a new referral bonus (, free creation of projects via sponsorship (, a new option for creators to make idea submissions into a public discussion, and a multi-stage contest series ( all aimed at taking IdeaOffer to the next level and building a very active user base in preparation for the next stages in development set for late 2010 - early 2011.
IdeaOffer is a platform for businesses and individuals seeking fresh ideas and perspectives or feedback and other data from survey responses to obtain them from one web resource by allowing them to create projects on IdeaOffer and to offer a cash prize which the crowdsource community then responds to with the prospect of winning the prize for contributing the best idea or most useful response. In describing IdeaOffer, Dan Cummins, CEO of IdeaOffer, said, " is the platform for crowdsourcing innovation and feedback. Any individual or any size business can use IdeaOffer to entice creative ideas and fresh perspectives by funding a prize they can afford."
IdeaOffer has begun aggressively pursuing growth by adding the ability to create teams, to compete in frequent team and individual competitions, to receive referral bonuses for helping to build the community, and with a new multi-stage contest culminating with a grand prize drawing for two iPads (64 GB, WiFi) upon reaching 20,000 users.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Producer Ken Davenport to "Crowd-fund" Broadway Revival of Godspell

Like the high-school drama teacher asking parents to chip in for costumes and lights, producer Ken Davenport is hitting up the masses for his new show—only instead of playing in the gymnasium, this one will try for Broadway. And if the show is a hit, those masses will turn a profit.

On Wednesday, Mr. Davenport announced a plan to bring "Godspell" to Broadway by raising small payments from hundreds of investors—what he calls the first-ever "crowd-funded show."

Davenport Theatrical Enterprises Producer Ken Davenport is attempting to bring 'Godspell' to Broadway.

The $5 million production would require a minimum contribution of $1,000—a fraction of the $10,000 investment it usually takes to break into the typical Broadway production, he said.

"I've always felt that there are people all over the country and all over the world who want to invest in Broadway shows but they don't know who to talk to and they don't want to risk a high amount in the beginning," Mr. Davenport said. "This experience allows me to go out into the world and say, 'Hey, if you're interested, you can talk to me, I'm here. It's not a private club.'"

Mr. Davenport said he launched the idea with "Godspell" because of the musical's message about the value of community. He said he also wants to convince investors that Broadway can be used in the same way as the stock market.

The project is partly an appeal to investor egos: Mr. Davenport noted that backers will be called producers and see their names on a poster "prominently placed" outside the theater. A website,, will invite investors to post their photos with their hometown and a quote. (The site currently features an image of a brick wall with the promise, "YOUR NAME HERE.") Everyone gets a button that says: "I'm a Broadway producer!"

"It's lunatic, but it's not dumb," said longtime producer Manny Azenberg, adding that small investments mean lower expectations. "It's like going to the track—you know you're going to lose, and if you win, it's thrilling."

Mr. Davenport, a 38-year-old New York producer with a well-read theater blog, plans to find his backers through an online campaign. Once onboard, investors can offer opinions, but Mr. Davenport said they will not have the power to make creative or business decisions.

No theater has been secured for "Godspell," which played on and off Broadway in the 1970s. The current production, which Mr. Davenport wants to stage next spring or summer, will be directed by Daniel Goldstein and choreographed by Tony Award nominee Christopher Gattelli. Auditions are set to begin this week.

Mr. Davenport, whose credits include Off Broadway's "Altar Boyz" and Broadway's "13" and "Oleanna," said he has gotten documentation from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission permitting the venture.

Bob Boyett, a veteran producer who worked with Mr. Davenport on "13," called him "brilliant" for attempting to build a new generation of theater investors while establishing an early network of support for his show. But he added that having so many investors could engender administrative challenges, such as having to update hundreds of people on the show's finances.

"There's definitely going to be some producers…who say, 'Oh my, that's an awful idea to have all those people around," Mr. Boyett said. "But I think Ken is capable of managing that."
To Learn More Click Here

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Two’s company, three’s a crowd conference: CrowdConf 2010

By Ville Miettinen, September 1st, 2010

It has never been easier to keep in touch and informed with the world around us. With email, newsfeeds and Twitter, the problem today is too much information, rather than too little.

Even so, I’m a firm believer that there is no substitute for good, old-fashioned face time. Actually meeting people in your field, having a chat and swapping contact details is still the best way to develop your ideas and grow your business. The problem is, of course, no one has the time to constantly travel around the place meeting people. Everyone is far too busy reading their news feeds.

Mingling with the crowd
This is why all of us at Microtask are so excited about the first annual crowdsourcing conference, CrowdConf, which is being held in San Francisco on 4 October.

In attendance will be researchers, technologists, outsourcing experts, legal scholars, and artists from all over the crowdsourcing world. Along with the all-important mingling, attendees will hear from a list of guest speakers that reads like a who’s who of the crowdsourcing and human computation industry. This list includes Jeff Howe (who first coined crowdsourcing in 2006), the bestselling authors Tim Ferriss, Jonathan Zittrain and David Alan Grier, and the CEOs of some of the most exciting new crowdsourcing businesses such as Crowdflower, Samasource, Keniks, uTest, Odesk, LiveOps and Victors and Spoils.

In addition to the guest speakers there will be a series of peer-reviewed presentation tracks and technology demonstrations. Topics for discussion include the past, present and future of crowdsourcing, quality assurance and metrics, social and economic implications of crowdsourcing, task design and worker incentives, as well as innovative projects, experiments, and applications. Basically, everything we talk about on this blog.

If the future of the working world sounds like something you might be interested in, don’t miss out (tickets are still available). Exactly what we end up talking about is of course anyone’s guess, but what is clear is that the ideas and relationships that this inaugural conference fosters will play an important role in shaping the world in years to come.

Microtask is a proud sponsor of the event, and both our CTO Otto Chrons as well as yours truly will be attending in person. If you’re visiting CrowdConf, please come and swing by our booth. And if you really don’t have time to make it, don’t worry too much – at least there’ll be plenty of blogging, vlogging, texting and tweeting to fill you in on what you missed.

To Learn More Click Here

Why slaying dragons guarantees you win big in business

by Peter Shallard
Post image for Why slaying dragons guarantees you win big in business

This post connects the dots between fire-breathing lizards and a psychological issue that holds entrepreneurs back from their biggest goals.
I’ve wanted to write a post about dragons for a long time. Weird as it sound, dragon’s fascinate me. Not in the lame dungeons and dragons way either. By the time you’re done reading this post, dragons will fascinate you too. I guarantee it.
The dragon is a universal legend. Almost every human culture’s mythology makes a mention of dragons. It’s astounding that, while our cultures are so vastly different, this one myth is so consistent across the globe.
The dragon myth exists in Chinese, Indian and every European culture. The scaly beasts are also known for the same infamous characteristics, no matter where you find them.
Beyond the wings, fire breathing and general serpent-like appearance, dragons have a reputation for:
  • Guarding vast treasures
  • Being violent and vile tempered
  • Being wickedly persuasive (yes, they speak!)
  • Instilling fear in puny humans
  • Being ancient
Tolkien’s dragon Smaug, from The Hobbit, is probably the ultimate representation of the dragon in modern literature. Ancient Smaug guards a fantastic treasure, insidiously erodes Bilbo’s confidence and violently terrorizes a town of innocent people. As dragons go, Smaug checks all the boxes.
I’m an entrepreneur. Why do I care?!
Good question. Unless you’ve been living under a cave for the last year, you’ve probably heard about Seth Godin’s book Linchpin. I’m a huge fan of the book because it introduces the concept of the “Lizard Brain” – the part of our brain that unconsciously creates fear.
Working with the Lizard Brain is a big part of what I do. If you hang around this blog enough, you’ll figure out that I talk about overcoming fear quite a bit.
Here’s the thing about the Lizard Brain:
  • It comes between you and the vast treasures your entrepreneurial career could bring you
  • It can be violently abusive and self critical, torching your confidence
  • It is the most persuasive part of your inner consciousness. It pulls emotional strings and blackmails with psychology.
  • Creating crippling fear is it’s favourite extra-curricular activity
  • The Lizard Brain literally is ancient, it’s the oldest part of our brain we’ve inherited from our reptilian ancestors.
If you’ve ever wondered why dragons are such a widespread myth then wonder no more.
Dragons are the ultimate antagonist of the oldest stories, serving as the final obstacle between the brave hero and his ultimate prize.
The dragon metaphor is present everywhere. Our ultimate succumbing to the lizard, driven by serpentine persuasiveness, begets original sin in the world’s most famous creation myth. In fact, the King James bible uses the words “serpent”, “dragon” and “devil” interchangeably.
Dragons are the story of our Lizard Brain. They’re a cultural metaphor for the darkest, most destructive part of ourselves. They are a representation of fear itself.
Entrepreneurs are the dragon-slayers of the 21st century