Opinion: The future is in the crowd

Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer is a senior anthropology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

So, you’ve got an idea for an app that could change the world. Perhaps you have an incredible philanthropic plan. Or maybe you’ve written a script for an earth-shattering film.

If you’re anything like me, you have ideas daily that could (maybe) make a significant impact on a plethora of issues and audiences. How can you turn your ideas into something real?

Traditionally, this involved the arduous process of collecting seed money from private and corporate investors. However, many creators feel that this process bastardizes their ideas and forces the creative process to be stunted by financial interests.

Now, in the digital age, a new funding option has emerged for creative types around the world. Instead of relying on financial assistance from an elite few, the Internet has begun to facilitate funding for projects that are of interest to people, not an investor’s bottom line. This new process is called “crowdfunding” and has already made significant impact worldwide.

Crowdfunding is a revolutionary new way for people to help create anything from a vacation fund for an abused bus monitor to the next big thing in consumer technology. Projects offer rewards for those who donate. The rewards increase in relation to the amount one pledges and can include anything from a special note from the developers to early access to the project’s intended product. Some campaigns even send large donors an invitation to launch parties. These rewards are usually aimed at a niche audience that is passionate enough to give their hard-earned money to strangers on the Internet.

Crowfunding is remarkable because, despite the current economic downturn, sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter generate millions of dollars every month for projects created by people, not corporations. This goes against the paradigm of conventional venture capitalism and places the viability of a creative product or non-profit project in the hands of regular people. In the post-tech bubble age, normal people are empowered by crowdfunding into becoming the engine of innovation and change.

It will be interesting to follow the development of crowdfunding over the next decade to see its long-term impact on capitalism and the creative community. Maybe the next culturally significant consumer technologies (think PCs or iPods) will come from the crowd, not a corporate boardroom.

Over the summer, I had the opportunity of building a campaign. Although my campaign is only in its infancy, the benefits of crowdfunding are already apparent. In the past, my team would likely find it very difficult to raise funds from investors, but with crowdfunding, we are confident that we will secure enough funding for our project.

If you are interested in crowdfunding an idea, research crowdfunding platforms to find the site that is right for you. From there, write a clear and detailed explanation of your project and make a video; submit everything to the site, and you’ll be on your way.

The advent of crowdfunding shines as a testament to the effectiveness of the Internet as a platform for global and local change. At the time of writing, there are over 130 Kickstarter projects managed from Northeast Ohio.

Good luck this semester, Kent State. Dream big, and remember that the technology you use every day can help make the world a better place, one campaign at a time.