Future Human: Kickstarter Economy, Wednesday April 17
Future Human is back at The Book Club on Wednesday April 17 with Kickstarter Economy, in which we’ll discover how crowdfunding websites are mutating creative finance. Tickets are now available from our store, and, as ever, advance booking online is strongly recommended.
If you haven’t attended Future Human before, you’re missing out: we attract London’s best, brightest and most intoxicated for an ideas firework display that has been lauded by the Sunday Times, the Evening Standard, Time Out, Grazia and many other media grandees.
In January, the feature documentary Blood Brother took the Grand Jury prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. That its US $9000 budget was entirely raised using the crowdfunding website Kickstarter was a remarkable yet minor detail in a bigger story: over 10% of all the films nominated at Sundance were funded by the same New York Web company. And it’s not just in film where these tremors are being felt: Publisher’s Weekly calculated that Kickstarter was #2 in publisher revenues for graphic novels in 2012, ahead of DC Comics and behind Marvel. In the same period, Kickstarter generated £7 million for the e-ink watch startup Pebble, distributed over £50 million to indie video game developers and funded the development of city bus stops and civilian space suits.
However, the three-year-old Kickstarter platform is merely the most visible tip of a much larger crowdfunding iceberg. Platforms such as RocketHub, IndieGoGo, Sponsume and Mobscaster similarly realise niche ideas as viable products and connect creative entrepreneurs with a plugged-in subculture of fans and investors. Elsewhere, crowdfunding websites encourage investment in startup equity (Fundable), civic projects (Neighbor.ly) and charitable or non-profit ventures (FundRazr). Despite their varied niches, all of these platforms reframe financial self-interest as activism. In the process, they are funding idealistic cult startup projects that would have been blocked by the traditional investment system, and making investment in human creativity a mass sport.
What are the deeper dynamics of crowdfunding and how can they be exploited? Is the excitement for this new investment culture just a consequence of hype and our collective naivety? And will the ‘consumerisation’ of investment lead to a more complex, unstable market for the creative industries? Joining us to consider these questions are three entrepreneurial stars from the UK’s own crowdfunding and social innovation firmament.
Bobbie Johnson is the founder of MATTER, a journalistic venture that raised US $140,000 on Kickstarter from over 2,500 backers. MATTER offers individual long-form features on subjects across science, technology and the environment, and sells them via digital download at 99 cents each. Members who sign up for premium services receive extras such as author Q&As and audiobook editions. Before founding MATTER, Bobbie was a technology reporter for The Guardian newspaper and the web publisher GigaOM.
Gregory Vincent is the founder of Sponsume, one of the UK’s leading crowdfunding platforms. Their website has helped over 1000 projects access funding over the last three years, connecting project creators with donors from the wider public online. Sponsume aims to fund ‘creative and innovative’ projects across the arts, media, sport, environment, education and technology. Previously, he was a financial analyst for the fund management firm M&G.
Martin Rich is a director at Social Finance, a company that creates financial assets whose performance is tied to ‘socially useful’ outcomes, such as a reduction in child vulnerability or prisoner reoffending rates. They bridge the fields of philanthropy, charity and investment in an attempt improve society, and contribute to what has become known as the emerging ‘fourth sector’ of the economy – the ‘for benefit’ corporation, whose desire for profit is weighed against social ideals. Martin has previously worked across the banking sector for the likes of HSBC, JP Morgan and UBS.
So come and join us as we decode the the secret sauce that adds bite to the most successful crowdfunding projects, and find out why the old guard of angel investors and bank perps are worried about their lunch being eaten by the masses. Kickstarter Economy takes place 7-9.30pm at The Book Club, 100 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4RH on Wednesday April 17, and you can expect a molasses rich blend of disruptive ideas, raucous debates and powerful midweek cocktails. It’s an essential event for creative professionals and hobbyists alike, so don’t miss it!