Thursday, October 28, 2010

Detroit gets big share of Kickstarter micro-grants

Kickstarter may be a well-known buzzword in the Internet startup world, but it's also becoming well known in Detroit. And for good reason.


Idealists like Noam Kimmelman, Tom Nardone and Ellen Donnelly flock to Detroit, eager to lay claim to what they see as a blank canvas for urban renewal.

Their projects are creative, artsy and altruistic -- but not quite fodder for traditional grants.

So each has turned to , a global micro-granting Web site for art, film and creative projects. The three are among a dozen at any given time in metro Detroit asking the world for chunks of $25 or $50 to fund projects in their quest to fix the city. Donors have given thousands of dollars, so far, to local art-as-renewal projects.

It's a phenomenon the Brooklyn-based company is seeing only in Detroit.

"There's a groundswell of people all over, saying, 'Let's save Detroit,'" said Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler. "It's seen as a kind of wild west for art."

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Donors Save 'Blue Like Jazz' Pic

By MIKE FLEMING | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 10:49am EDT

Most films don't tap into moviegoer wallets until they reach theaters. But Blue Like Jazz, an adaptation of Donald Miller's faith-based book, waged a 30-day campaign that raised $346,000 from 3900 supporters. That allowed the film to overcome a budget shortfall and begin production yesterday in Nashville. Marshall Allman (True Blood) plays the lead role of Miller, Tania Raymonde (Lost) and Justin Welborn (The Crazies) also star. Steve Taylor is directing. The dough was raised through, and the flm's backers claim it's the largest crowd-sourced creative project ever. The book is about the author's spiritual journey and the donation campaign started when the author blogged that the movie version of his book would be placed on indefinite hold because an investor fell out for $250,000. Two fans, Zach Prichard and Jonathan Frazier, created a grassroots save-the-film campaign by launching One of the film's backers agreed to match the amount raised if it got to $125,000. That backer will match the $346,000. That gives the filmmakers an extra $450,000 that will be used for extra shooting days. The total budget of the film is under $5 million. These donors won't get their money back, but there were other incentives. The director has personally called around 300 of the donors so far, and between shots, will be logging phone time until he completes over 1000 thank you calls. Many donors will receive "associate producer" credit, which could mean the end credit roll will be longer than usual. But the filmmakers said the donors saved the movie.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Is crowd-funding the future for documentaries?

While fundraising websites offer documentary-makers a novel way to finance projects, the concept has its flaws

by Kate Bulkley

Crowd-funding was pioneered by the maker of climate-change documentary The Age of Stupid, Franny Armstrong, above, raised £1.5m through the web Photograph: Spanner Films

In the face of broadcasters squeezing budgets, many documentary-makers are looking to "crowd-funding" sites, such as IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, to raise money for projects, instead of relying on commissions. These sites enable film-makers to advertise projects in the hope of attracting investors and generate revenue by taking a percentage of the money raised.

Some of the websites have a social betterment agenda at their core, which suits the ideals of many documentary-makers. But not everyone believes that crowd-funding is the answer to tighter broadcaster budgets.

"I think that these are exciting models of co-operative funding with everyone working together and the film-maker engaged with communities and their audience throughout the entire production," says Charlie Phillips, director of Sheffield Doc/Fest's MeetMarket, where documentary-makers pitch their projects to potential funders. "But I also realise that there are a lot of documentary media-makers who want someone on high to give them a pot of money and send them on their way."

Crowd-funding was pioneered by film-maker Franny Armstrong who, over several years, raised £1.5m through the web for her 2009 film The Age of Stupid, about climate change. Armstrong did this on her own site but now sites dedicated to crowd-funding are popping up all over, including two new sites in the UK, and

Social networks

"The whole concept of Do It Yourself is a little bit aged," says Slava Rubin, founder and CEO of IndieGoGo, an early pioneer of crowd-funding whose site launched in 2008 and today hosts hundreds of documentary films looking for funding. "Today raising money is about finding your influencers, tapping your social networks and doing it with others."

IndieGoGo is not limited to raising funds for film, but Rubin says that documentaries are particularly ripe for crowd-funding. "In documentary film-making there are a lot of bottlenecks in terms of decision-making, raising enough money and distribution, so the world of the internet where you can democratise funding is a good solution."

Rubin believes the crowd-funding model is only at the beginning. "Over time crowd-funding will get stronger and stronger and even traditional ways of raising money will want to tap into this demand for research and audience-building as part of their investment."

For documentary-makers the lure of web funding can be irresistible, particularly for films with a difficult social agenda. Tapestries of Hope, a documentary that investigates the sexual abuse of young girls in Zimbabwe, raised $23,000 (£14,500) on IndieGoGo from 81 funders. "The money raised on IndieGoGo helped validate demand for the film," says Rubin. "Because they had identified an audience they were able to secure a 100-theatre theatrical release."

For film-maker Emily James, who was an executive producer on The Age of Stupid and has made films such as The Luckiest Nut in the World for Channel 4, crowd-funding makes sense for her film Just Do it, which is about civil disobedience. "Crowd-funding was sort of an act of faith because I think there is an audience for this film and I think they will put their money where their mouth is. So I guess it is partly wilful optimism and it is also about what we want to achieve in terms of restructuring the funding in our industry," says James.

Matching funding

James has built her own site to raise funds for Just Do it. So far the web has pulled in £2,500 (she has raised another £21,000 from grants and two private donations). James hopes that a matching fund grant she has secured from the charity arm of Lush, the soap products company, will kickstart more giving online. "We have found that building the sharing tools ourselves on our own site has been harder than we thought," admits James who was keen to keep all the donations rather than pay a third-party fundraising site a fee. "In hindsight we might have made a different choice," she admits.

Like many documentary film-makers, James has often had her pitches turned down by broadcasters. "There are about eight people in the UK who can greenlight a film and I don't think they are always rights about their decisions," says James. "You end up getting a lot of lowest common denominator stuff because that's what millions of people will watch in one viewing on television but not all films are suited to that. If you have a slow-burn film or a niche film crowd-funding is really exciting because it offers another way to make your film possible."

Crowd-funding may fill a gap in financing for documentaries but Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, sounds a cautionary note: "Just because a lot of people click through on a website doesn't mean that crowd-funding is a more democratic way to get films financed," says Fox. "If I believed that then I would have to believe that the winner of X Factor is the best singer in the world.

"I also think that gaining an audience before you make a film gives you an advocacy audience but it ignores your role as a documentary film-maker to create a new audience for new ideas. I also like to believe, idealist that I am, that the people who are commissioning documentaries know something about documentaries, so they can overrule the crowd," says Fox. "I think it is important that films get made about things we have never heard about and crowd-funding is mostly about orthodoxy, so the films that the crowd will go for are the ones you would expect about climate change and child abuse, for example, and not the thing you've never heard of."

To find out more attend the Crossover Summit at Sheffield Doc/Fest on Wednesday 3rd November

Buzzbank Innovative investing

Buzzbank will be a new entrant to the crowd-funding scene when it launches in November, but its co-founder and chairman, Michael Norton, is an old hand at the charity-giving game. His view is that the technology of the web is pumping new life into global giving by marrying up a wider variety of projects with a much bigger pool of potential backers.

"The website won't raise you money," says Norton, who at 68 has more years of experience in the industry than many internet entrepreneurs have had birthdays. "You have to raise the money yourself, but the technology certainly facilitates it."

Norton founded the Directory of Social Change in 1974, the UK's biggest provider of information and training on charitable giving, and was a founder of Unltd, a UK social entrepreneurs charity.

He has big ambitions for Buzzbank as a means to engage the public in fresh ways. "I hope that we can build up a constituency of people who are committed givers. That way we can launch new projects non-stop."

Typical to other crowd-funding sites, Buzzbank takes a percentage (5%) of the monies raised for a project as its fee. The backers of Buzzbank include Norton's own charity, the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action, as well as several others including the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Tudor Trust and the Wates Foundation. These and several individuals have put up startup funding of £400,000.

Unlike some other crowd-funding sites, Buzzbank is focused on raising crowd-sourced finance for social ventures, including documentary films that have a social impact. In the case of documentaries Norton advises that the "best thing to do is to start with something quite modest that will build your crowd".

One film that will be on Buzzbank is Leave to Remain, directed by Bruce Goodison, which is about asylum seeking in the UK. This is a serious topic but Norton says that one of the "perks" is to be an extra in the film if you give £50. "We have to get away from just pure finance. It has to be about engaging people in doing things together," says Norton. "We are also interested in people having fun with their money and being involved in the projects."

Raising Money for Digital Projects, a workshop featuring Michael Norton is part of the Crossover Summit at Sheffield Doc/Fest on Wednesday 3 November

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crowdsourced New York Apartment Pushing Limits

Analysis by Alyssa Danigelis Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:52 PM ET

Downsizing isn't a scary word for Graham Hill. It's a crucial one. The Treehugger founder recently bought a tiny apartment in New York and instead of moving right in he's asking the public for ways to transform the small space into a high-tech, low-impact home.

Hill's new project is called Life Edited, and it grew out of his observation that American homes have grown larger on average in the past 50-plus years, from 1,000 square feet to 2,300 square feet. We're like the punchline from George Carlin's comic routine about stuff. Having more stuff hasn't made us any happier, either.

The 420-square foot apartment is located in the Red Hook neighborhood in Soho, New York. When introducing the project at the Pop!Tech conference in Maine, Hill told the audience that he's hoping to transform it into a little jewelbox, one that's tiny, ultra-green, high tech and even luxurious.

Hill's project is an attempt to green his own living space and also to expose the public to great ideas. Many in the green industry don’t actually live very green lives, he notes. "You can sell an idea if you're actually doing it yourself," he told me. "In the green area, people say we don't want to be preaching to the choir. I think we can only be so lucky as to have a really strong choir."

In general, design contest work tends to happen in private. Most of the creative process never sees the light of day. To avoid that, Hill is crowdsourcing the designs for everything from a hideable kitchen and folding bike space to robot cleaner storage and efficient lighting. He's got an impressive, but not impossible, list of requirements. Design submissions open on October 27.

"The neat thing about crowdsourcing in this particular platform, people are encouraged to submit their designs early," Hill says. During the comment period, visitors to the site can see other people's ideas, give feedback, and the designers can tweak their submissions up until the deadline on January 10, 2011. The best entries won't just get recognition -- sponsors that include Cisco, Jovoto, Voltaic Systems, and Strida are offering more than $70,000 in cash and prizes.

To Learn More Click Here

Unilver announces winner of largest-ever effort to involve consumers in content creation

Partnership with MOFILM invited budding and established film-makers to produce short films for top brands – from Axe to Vaseline; Grand-Prize winning film premieres at London Film Festival

UNILEVER, in partnership with MOFILM and the London Film Festival, are excited to announce the grand-prize winner of the Unilever Consumer Creative Challenge at this week’s London Film Festival. Judges awarded Ryoko Kawanishi the grand prize for her film, The Melody of Skin, created for the Vaseline brand.

A judging panel of peers, film experts and industry leaders selected the overall grand-prize winner from the 13 shortlisted videos – one for each of the participating brands. The winning film, Melody of Skin was chosen from among the brands’ entries and premiered at the London Film Festival last night. Ms Kawanishi will receive £7,000 and the grand-prize-winning film will feature in an upcoming Unilever marketing campaign.

Competition participants were invited to make a film for one of thirteen international Unilever brands. To watch the winning entries for each brands use the gallery below or follow the links: Axe, Ben and Jerry’s, Close up, Dove, Walls, Knorr, Lifebuoy, Lipton, Rexona, Snuggle, Sunsilk, Surf and Vaseline.
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Crowd funding the unemployed to create the Unemployed Corporation of England

Part 1: UCOE

Crowd sourcing the unemployed to create the Unemployed Corporation of England

by James de Rin

With all the talk of austerity and cut backs in the UK and the USA I thought it might be good to pitch a crowd funding idea I have been mulling over for months now. It’s only an idea so don’t freak out. Let’s research how many people are unemployed in the UK. The answer according to Google is 2.45 million. So let’s say we crowd source the unemployed or crowd fund the unemployed in the UK. We ask all the unemployed to put in 1 pound. You say they don’t have any money, probably true but I’m only asking for 1 pound. So say all of them put in 1 pound we would have 2,450,000 pounds in a fund. Let’s call it the Unemployed Corporation of England (UCOE). Now let’s buy some real estate. Let’s buy a pub for say 150,000 pounds, there are currently 1,000 pubs for sale in the UK. Let’s then employ a portion of the unemployed to fix it up and pay them. So now the fund called UCOE owns a building it paid 150,000 for what is then revalued at 200,000 and we rent the rooms in it for 560 a week and we turn the pub into a Starbucks for 5,000 a month and the shop into a charity shop called Trash for 3,000 a month. So now we have all these revenue streams for the fund. And so we do it again and again. And then the politicians hear about it and they say we will match funds for UCOE. And so we have twice as much money as we had before. We have created employment and an asset fund and made a profit that goes back into the fund. What do you think? How many unemployed in the USA?

Email: with your ideas, comments and suggestions. Should we do this for real?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kickstarter has collected more than $20m in pledges

The Q&A: Perry Chen, Kickstarter
Oct 22nd 2010, 16:48 by More Intelligent Life, H.D. | NEW YORK
ARTISTS in need of paint money once had to rely on the largesse of benefactors. But social networking and new models for supporting creativity have turned the web into a modern horn of plenty. Kickstarter, created by Perry Chen, Charles Adler and Yancey Strickler, is the largest website dedicated to crowd-funding creative projects. People use the site to pitch specific project ideas, usually using a short self-made video, and aim to collect a target amount of funding over fixed time period, usually about a month. Because the process is free and open to anyone with a project that fits under the company’s inclusive set of guidelines, the diversity of ideas on display is wild.

Kickstarter has collected more than $20m in pledges for people in creative fields such as music, film and design, and has also found success among innovators in food and other areas. Perry Chen, a co-founder of the site, talked to More Intelligent Life about why Kickstarter works and what it means for a growing community of DIY artists.

Kickstarter is a start-up based in New York. What kind of influence does the city's culture have on the company?

Well, I'm born and raised in New York. I’ve lived between New York and New Orleans for the last 16 to 17 years. Other than having a little dream of having a New Orleans office one day, we’ve never considered having it anywhere else. I met Charles and Yancey, my two other co-founders, in New York. New York is also our biggest location for projects. There is definitely a Downtown-New York-Brooklyn creative community that is very much a part of who we are, and also helps us grow out of New York.

What makes Kickstarter different from other crowd-funding platforms?

I wonder if people really know what the definition of crowd-funding is. Or, if there’s even an agreed upon definition of what it is. We haven’t actively supported the use of the term because it can provoke more confusion. In our case, we focus on a middle ground between patronage and commerce. People are offering cool stuff and experiences in exchange for becoming backers of a creative project. People are creating these mini-economies around their project ideas. So, you aren’t coming to the site to get something for nothing; you are trying to create value for the people who support you. We focus on creative projects—music, film, technology, art, design, food and publishing—and within the category of crowd-funding of the arts, we are probably ten times the size of all of the others combined.

You must receive a huge number of proposals a day. What’s your selection process like?

I would say we receive between one or two hundred new proposals a day, and we have a whole team of people who personally read every single one of them. They will either grant permission to start their project, or give helpful tips, or sometimes say that Kickstarter is not the right place for that specific project. There seems to be a bit of mystery around how our process works, but we’re not making any kind of aesthetic judgments about the quality of the music, or photography, for example. When we decline a project, the overwhelming majority of times it’s because the creator has ignored our guidelines. The system is open. We just ask to have a quick conversation with you beforehand. I don’t even know of the last time we rejected someone who wanted to make a film or record an album. For the most part, if you read our guidelines and your project fits, you’ll get a yes. We’d love it if everybody had a Kickstarter project. I believe that everyone has some kind of creative project that they think about—whether it’s something small they’d like to do over a weekend with friends, or it’s the film they’ve always wanted to make, whatever. Our goal is to meet everybody at his or her level.

Once funded, are creators obligated to report the progress of their projects? Does accountability to the crowd of backers seem to be a source of concern or motivation?

Just like eBay or Etsy, you are obligated to do what you say you’re going to do—fulfil the limited edition, or create the event or experience that you promised to create—in exchange for someone opening their wallet and backing your project. The interesting thing is that these projects are funded by dozens, hundreds and in some cases thousands of people, but it is never completely anonymous. Within those backers are friends, long-time fans, family members, classmates, people in the gardening club with you. So there’s already a social fabric that’s brought into Kickstarter. The accountability is strengthened because those people are there. When you haven’t finished your book, your friends will buzz in your ear. So it’s two things really: the number of people—a large number of people holding you accountable, and the fact that some of those people are people that are close to you. I think it’s stronger than a feedback system based on scoring, which is not to say those things don’t have value. They do. But we’ve found that this [approach] is so unbelievably powerful.

In a recent study about philanthropy at UC Berkeley, psychologists found that people became more generous when exposed to empathy-eliciting video. What kind of role do you see video playing in Kickstarter’s success?

Video is so primal. When you can hear a person talking about the project, and can see his or her passion, it is unbelievably powerful. I don’t want to make it seem like projects without a video fail. Video projects have higher success rates, but we’ve had amazingly successful projects that don’t include video. What’s important is having a critical amount of supporting material. Without video, maybe you’re linking to your website or portfolio, or maybe you have a strong base of fans or connections within a community. What’s great about video is that it allows you to connect especially with people that don’t already know you. It’s an amazing introduction. So, it’s a more important component for people who want to reach new audiences.

Diaspora, a new open-source social network, has been Kickstarter’s biggest project to date. Their impending launch has been well publicised. What kinds of pressures exist for a business that is crowd-funded?

Well, Diaspora is an interesting project. In general, we don’t allow the funding of businesses. There are food trucks and iPhone apps, but we consider those projects. The creation of a business is an extremely high-risk, long-term event and I think it’s something that we’re staying away from. But Diaspora really fit for us because it’s an open-source project. They had a spectacular amount of press, the kind most people would kill for. Most projects are hidden away and that’s one of the things that attracts people to Kickstarter. It’s not just about the funding; it’s also a way for people to spread the message about their work. I'm not sure whether the number of backers really matters. But the important thing is the expectations that they’ve set. If you go out and create something and say that you’ll give it your college try, I’d like to think the people who supported you would be happy with that. People are quite reasonable when you’re clear about what you’re setting out to accomplish.

Is there potential for Kickstarter to become a place where people come to discover talent, like on YouTube? Any Justin Biebers yet?

No Justin Biebers yet. But apparently, from what I hear, studios and agents have been adding us to lists of sites to check out when looking for talent. And we’re definitely not opposed to that!

Are there any Kickstarter projects that you’re really excited about right now?

There are a few. One is still in funding called Eyewriter. There is a well-known graffiti artist who is now paralysed after being diagnosed with ALS. So a group of people have collaborated to create this head-mounted, eye-tracking device so that he can write digital graffiti with his eyes. They’ve already exceeded their goal of $15,000, but still have a few weeks to go. Another project that just finished raising funds is called Musopen. They are recording and releasing free music without copyrights. They set out to raise $11,000 and ended up raising close to $70,000. The idea just spread like wildfire.

This last project ended back in June, but is especially close to me because of my relationship with New Orleans. It’s called Grassroots Mapping of the Gulf Oil Spill. For one reason or another, it was very difficult to get aerial photos of the spill. So this guy, Jeff Warren from MIT, created a kit for taking pictures using kites and balloons. The software he created pieced together all of the photos, creating an evolving map of the oil spill.

What’s next for Kickstarter? Has the ‘crowd’ pointed the business in any surprising directions?

There are always surprising categories of new projects—very creative open-source software and hardware, and lots of food projects. In general, we’re trying to keep doing what we’re doing, and just doing it better. And in the next year, we should hit $50m pledged through the system, which will be a huge milestone for us.
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Backpack promises to charge batteries on the go

By Laura Bly, USA TODAY

While I greet much of the travel gear that crosses my desk with a yawn, I'm intrigued by something that hasn't even been manufactured yet: A TSA-friendly, $130 backpack from Trek Support with a built-in, rechargeable battery that lasts up to seven hours and can power up to three USB gadgets at once.

The nylon backpack features a clamshell design with a large main pocket for a laptop (up to 15" ) and outer pockets for smaller gadgets. Padded nylon boards and mesh pockets help keep everything in place, but the bottom of the bag is the real star, says "It contains a rechargeable battery that will charge your gadgets while you're about. Running out of juice? Just plop your bag down and plug it in and not only will the battery recharge, but the entire backpack will work as a power strip." U.S. travelers will be happy with the TSA-compatible design: It doesn't require you to take your notebook out at checkpoints; just unzip the pack and lay it flat on the conveyor belt, adds

The catch? It's offered by Quirky, a year-old start-up that crowdsources the design of new projects and promises to actually manufacture them when they get enough pre-orders. Would-be customers have to give their credit card numbers and commit to buy a product for a pre-sales price; the card isn't charged unless and until the product hits the market. (According to a company spokesman, just over a third of the products it has featured have actually been manufactured/produced.)

While this backpack is far from ideal - the weight isn't specified, and it looks like there wouldn't be room for much else besides a laptop and the battery pack - I sure like the concept. Readers, what's your solution for keeping multiple gadgets charged and organized while you're on the road?
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SpecWatch launches crowdsource competition analysis!

Crowdsourcing work: Labour on demand or digital sweatshop?
By Fiona Graham

...Brave new world?
As companies such as 99designs and their main competitor CrowdSpring flourish, the backlash has also grown.

Websites including and Specwatch have accused companies of exploiting designers and devaluing the profession.

They say designers are producing work on a regular basis with no guarantee of payment, and claim that the payment on offer is far below market rate.

The members are anonymous. Specwatch, an anonymous collective, monitors design competitions, flagging up contests where, they claim, no award was made, and instances where the winning design was plagiarised.

Mr Harbottle says that the community does effectively self-police, but that the company is doing what it can to stamp out intellectual property theft.

"If it was really bad we'd probably just ban them instantly. The thing that's important is to keep on top of the community to stamp out that behaviour, it's not acceptable, it's actually illegal."

The controversy goes beyond the design community.

When professional networking site LinkedIn started suggesting that people listed as translators might like to help with a crowdsourced project to translate sections of the site "because it's fun", the fallout from incensed professionals resulted in the setting up of a LinkedIn group protesting the move.

Education and experience is vital to ensure strategic design work, which also requires collaboration between client and agency, says Debbie Millman, president of the US association for professional designers, the AIGA, which has around 20,000 members.

You wouldn't go into a restaurant and ask for five different meals and only pay for the one you like. Why should it be ok to work with designers that way?”

Debbie Millman, President, AIGA "Once you take that partnership away then what you're really asking for is work that is unstrategic, that is created in a silo of not having any real education about what the client is looking for, and not being able to collaborate on ideas or inspiration", says Ms Millman, who is also president of design company Sterling.

"I feel that when you crowdsource work, it's really not about collaboration of large groups, it's really about power, because you're taking away all the power of the designer to be compensated for their work, for their skill, and I don't see in anyway how that's collaborative. I think it's abusive."

Pro-spec commentators argue that the work benefits designers, by helping them build portfolios but Ms Millman is scathing about this.

"If somebody is looking to build their portfolio, perhaps they could offer their services pro-bono to an organisation that's really going to be able to help them. It's an imbalance of power.

"You wouldn't go into a restaurant and ask for five different meals and only pay for the one you like. Why should it be okay to work with designers that way?"...
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Poptent raises $3M for crowdsourced video

Network of filmmakers have a hub for finding advertising projects that actually pay
Financial trends and news by Ronny Kerr October 21, 2010

Poptent, a social network for video creators formerly known as XLNTads, has raised a $3 million Series A round of funding, led by by MK Capital partner Yair Landau. The company also hired Andy Jedynak, a Poptent board member, as its new CEO.

The Los Angeles-based community is a place for video creators to build and display their portfolio, collaborate with other creators and actors, and, perhaps strangest of all for the amateur LA filmmaker, make money in video by creating commercials for advertisers and brands.

Companies post an assignment to Poptent, users on the site accept the assignment and submit their creation before the deadline, and then the company selects as many winning submissions as it likes.

Here’s the latest example of a project assignment from Intel, which already 50 people have accepted:

In our newest assignment, Intel is looking to purchase at least two :30-:60 second video that will build awareness and excitement around ultra-thin laptops featuring Intel® Core™ Ultra-Low Voltage (ULV) processors. Ideally, they’d like people passing this along to friends and family, with the end result of having consumers purchase these computers for their computing needs while on-the-go. Intel will purchase at least two videos for use, and their creators will each receive $5,000, a total minimum purchase of $10,000.

Sounds like a boon for budding filmmakers, who want to earn money using their skills, and for major brands, which want to cut costs and advertising expenses.

“As audiences consume ever more video online, advertisers need a high-quality low-cost way to reach them,” said Landau. “Poptent has cracked the code on successfully crowdsourcing commercial video providing its producer community great opportunities to generate highly original video for major brands.”

With over 20,000 users creating video for the site and repeat customers like Procter & Gamble, Nestle, and Anheuser-Busch, Poptent is already profitable.

MK Capital is a Chicago- and Los Angeles-based venture capital firm that invests in digital media, data center automation, software, and education technology companies at all stages. Previous clients of MK Capital include gamer video network Machinima, mobile location-based platform Geodelic, and digital media producers Generate. MK joins a group of local angels as investors in Poptent, which has now raised a total of $6.8 million.

Poptent says it will use the new funding to continue to grow, make new hires, and increase activity in sales, marketing, and client support.
To Learn More Click Here

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prosper hits 1 million members

San Francisco Business Times - by Mark Calvey
Date: Monday, October 4, 2010, 2:49pm PDT, the San Francisco-based person-to-person lending marketplace, said Monday that it surpassed the 1 million-member milestone.
The service, which some dub the eBay for money, has facilitated $205 million loans among members who bid on pieces of a member’s loan at various interest rates.
“It’s pretty incredible that 1 million people -- a population greater than our headquarters city of San Francisco -- have engaged with Prosper,” said Chris Larsen, CEO and co-founder of Prosper, which began facilitating loans in 2006. “Peer-to-peer lending represents the future of consumer lending, and the tipping point into the mainstream is within reach.”
Prosper has raised $57.7 million in venture capital. Investors include Jim Breyer of Accel Partners; Bob Kagle of Benchmark Capital; CompuCredit; Omidyar Network; Capital One Co-founder Nigel Morris of QED Investors; Court Coursey of TomorrowVentures; and Larry Cheng of Volition Capital.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Unilever announces crowdsourcing success and a new website

By Arif Durrani,, 12 October 2010, 03:46PM

Unilever, the world's second-largest advertiser, is changing the way it markets itself to incorporate more crowdsourcing and co-creation opportunities and to be less "corporate", according to chief marketer Keith Weed.

Speaking at the Guardian Advertising Summit today, Weed, who earlier this year became the first man to be responsible for all marketing, communications and sustainability strategies at the multinational conglomerate, indicated more change was on its way.

Among the things set to get an overhaul is Unilever’s flagship site itself,

Weed said the company would respond to consumers’ wishes for the company to be less corporate and to speak to them in their own language.

He said: "I don’t think that a lot of company sites have realised that their biggest users now are consumers. And we’re guilty as well. Go on to, we’re still very corporate. That will change.

"We’re still very corporate in our face to the outside world, because it is positioned to a financial analyst or a journalist.

"The truth of the matter is over 60% of the people that go to now are consumers and future employees, and we should engage them in that way. So more, certainly on my side, on that."

Talking about future plans for the British-Dutch multinational corporation that owns many of the world's consumer brands in foods, drink, cleaning agents and personal care products, Weed said it was centred around being more "joined-up", both internally and externally.

"It wasn’t so long ago that [Unilever] communications would have been over here, with marketing over there," he said.

" would have been communications and the Unilever corporate brand run by marketing. In a more transparent digital world it has to be joined-up… a more cohesive front."

Weed has already committed to doubling the company’s digital marketing budget during his first year, justified by his simple motto: "We fish where the fishes are".

Today he added: "We will be taking a much more proactive stance in the area of YouTube, Facebook, etc, even at a Unilever corporate level."

One initiative that is sure to shape Unilever’s digital strategy has been the well-publicised partnership with film competition board Mofilm, announced in April.

The crowdsourcing drive to generate short commercial films for 13 Unilever brands was today reported to have garnered 10,000 downloaded briefs by up-and-coming filmmaking talent. This activity has been in addition to crowdsourcing for Peperami and for the successful launch of Dove Men + Care in the US.

Weed hinted that more "interactive" Unilever ads would launch in the UK shortly.

Meanwhile, smartphones were identified as "the next step up, the next big transformation" for marketers. He added: "One factoid I’ll share with you because I love this one, is that there are more mobile phones now than toilets in India."

Weed concluded: "We hear a lot about climate change right now and I would argue that certainly from my perspective, from a brand perspective, the climate has very much changed and the revolution we’re in the middle of is a very exciting time for marketing, and there’s a huge amount of opportunity."
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