When crowdfunding first burst onto the scene last decade it was if a massive weight was lifted. Finally there was a way for all those would-be entrepreneurs with an idea and some moxie to make their dreams a reality.
That’s not how it’s turned out, not exactly. The current state of crowdfunding on the big sites (that’s a relative term, by the way) like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo favor products that are as close to market readiness as possible. This is a plus for perk-focused crowdfunding, but it leaves a certain amount of entrepreneurial energy untapped.
A new platform launching today aims to go after those entrepreneurs, connecting them with each other and the treasure trove of unused patents that are languishing in government sponsored research and development labs. It’s called JumpStartFund.
Before digging into the details on JumpStartFund it’s only fair to point out that they’re not the first to enter into the burgeoning business crowdfunding space. Platforms like Crowdfunder have been launched ahead of the implementation of Title III of the 2012 JOBS Act, which will clear the way for small-dollar equity crowdfunding. The implementation of that law is expected to super-charge the start-up world. Like JumpStartFund, the already extant Crowdfunder is focused on building businesses, not just the one off release of products.
What makes JumpStartFund so interesting, however, are those patents.
"There’s all these patents in federal research labs," said CEO and co-founder Dirk Ahlborn of the site’s parent company JumpStarter, in an interview last week.
"Like NASA, the Aerospace Corp, JPL. The Department of Energy, DARPA. But start-ups either don’t know or it’s really difficult for them to get to them. The U.S. spends 35 billion dollars in research and development every year, so a company like Aerospace gets a billon dollars a year only to do research and development.”
A big part of the site’s goal is connecting these patents with business-minded folks who can get the technology out of the research labs and into the hands of consumers. A kind of Match.com for scientists and venture capitalists.
Ahlborn points out that getting the technology into consumer hands is something the research labs have a duty to do.
"They have congressional mandates that those technologies have to be given out to the public, but unfortunately the mandate doesn’t say how good they have to be in doing it."
JumpStartFund looks to hook in entrepreneurs from the idea level. A would-be entrepreneur can come to the site with either an idea (which costs $10 to list) or an existing patent they control (no fee). From there the site focuses on building a team around the idea or patent.
Unlike, say, Kickstarter the point isn’t to pump up the effort with cash, but to refine the idea and build a company around it. Members of the site who contribute to a project, either by voting or offering up idea, can earn “Advisory Points” which are leveraged against a company’s earnings.
JumpStartFund makes it clear that these “Advisory Points” are not a security, but material rewards for crowdsourcing efforts. The site is preparing for the onset of equity crowdfunding, but this system allows for a way to compensate non-financial contributions as well.
As for the $10 fee for an idea? It’s there to separate out the serious folks from your average Internet prankster. There are, after all, more amusing ways to spend $10 than trolling a crowdsourcing site.
The focus on collaboration means that JumpStartFund isn’t looking for slackavist entrepreneurs. It’s not enough to vote up an idea one year and then count on residual checks in perpetuity.
"We don’t care about the "like" on Facebook," said Ahlborn. "We want an active crowd that really works and helps the company succeed."
Those who want to keep rewards flowing will have to re-qualify every year by taking an active role in the company’s development. Luckily there are a wide range of options for crowdsourced participation, everything from hunting down prior art for patents and contributing refinements on ideas to taking on the role of co-founder of a company.
Ahlborn was particularly excited about the last prospect, and envisions multiple uses for patented technologies coming out of JumpStartFund. Instead of patent trolls locking down ideas, the site wants to encourage more open-source and shared ownership scenarios.
This is another differentiator between the new wave of crowdfunding and what has come before: an emphasis on the underlying technologies.
Ahlborn calls himself a “serial entrepreneur”. German born, he moved to Italy when he was 19 and proceeded to start companies focused on manufacturing. He emigrated to America to start his family, and found himself at the Girvan Institute of Technology, a non-profit, public benefit corporation founded by NASA in the last decade with the goal of commercializing technologies developed by government labs.
It was there he met, Paul J. Coleman, co-founder of JumpStarter and a veteran of NASA. It was at Girvan that the idea of using crowdfunding as a way of furthering the Institute’s charter was born.
Ahlborn speaks of the work as a kind of calling.
"I kind of feel like I wasted a big chunk of my life because I worked on less important things."
There will be a lot of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platforms popping up as the rules around Title III are set down. JumpStartFund’s model, and it’s deep ties to R&D labs, give it a strong shot at being one of the ones to make a big impact in the new Age of Entrepreneurs to come.
Follow Noah Nelson on Twitter (@noahjnelson)
Online PC Gaming store Good Old Games, known by it’s URL of GOG, is shaking up their brand identity (forgive me for using that term) by reaching out to independent developers.
Like digital distribution juggernaut Steam, GOG has been carrying indie games for a while now, but it’s been a sliver of their business. Now they are looking to strengthen their ties to the indie community by establishing a portal for indie devs. Gamesindustry.biz has details like this:
GOG is offering developers an advance on royalties from their games’ sales. They can either accept a 70/30 developer/GOG revenue split without an advance, or take the advance and receive a 60/40 split until the advance is recouped.
If I can put the editorial hat on for a second: I like GOG. A lot. More than Steam if for the simple reason that GOG games don’t have DRM.
GOG has been tiptoeing into the indie business for a while now, and this is a sign that they’re taking the indie scene seriously as a business. More distributions platforms looking to promote indie games is an unequivocal good thing, if only for the fact that competition breeds innovation in these markets.
Follow Noah Nelson on Twitter (@noahjnelson)
lol George Bush’s facial expression is perfect for those of you who were left in the dark.
Hundreds of memes have been created in the aftermath of Kendrick Lamar’s controversial verse on Big Sean’s “Control.” The verse had the internet ablaze, as everyone from rappers to average Joes were talking about Kendrick, the self proclaimed “King of New York”.
“I’m usually homeboys with the same niggas I’m rhymin’ wit
But this is hip-hop and them niggas should know what time it is
And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale
Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake
Big Sean, Jay Electron’, Tyler, Mac Miller
I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you niggas
Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas
They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas
What is competition?”
Some of the memes had me LMAO, so we put a list together of the funniest ones.
Jermaine Cole’s actual response: “Kendrick Lamar’s the truth. But y’all gotta read between the lines. He didn’t diss anybody he mentioned, he dissed everyone he didn’t.”
Kendrick ready to slaughter anyone who stands in his way.
lol never forget, Drake started off as “Wheel Chair Jimmy.”
A lot of rappers have already responded to King Kendrick.
Can anyone else see Drake texting Kendrick after he heard the verse like “Ken, I thought we were friends =(.” lol
Big Sean got murdered on his own joint.
When I discovered Revolt TV a few weeks back, I got really excited because it was being marketed as if it was a television network that would highlight social issues and also showcase dope music. But when I realized Sean Diddy Combs was spearheading the project, I cringed, thinking to myself, “I hope this doesn’t turn out to become another BET”.
Diddy is already known for his marketing expertise, so I was really interested in seeing how he would approach this new venture. He’ll have to make sure that it doesn’t become “Diddy TV,” seeing as how he becomes the face of everything he touches. In order to maintain the “grassroots” appeal the network is aiming for, it would be best if Diddy wasn’t the first thing that came to mind when thinking of Revolt TV.
So far, company reps have already begun the highlighting of social issues. During the Trayvon Martin trial, Revolt’s Twitter feed was flooded with conversation starters that create discussion and spreads awareness.The tweets took a strong stand in support of the Martin family, and went so far as to change their name on Twitter from #RevoltTV to #TrayvonTrial.
Another great awareness building concept from RevoltTV can be seen on itsofficial Instagram page. They put up inspirational quotes from great leaders like Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), Malcolm X, and Nelson Mandela, including this cool one from KRS-One:
The platform has also delivered on the music side of things, already interviewing some of the key players behind Jay-Z’s newest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail. Revolt was also one of the very first outlets on top of all the buzz generated byKendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s “control”. This is where Diddy and his network definitely have the upper hand on other music outlets.
“I would say this journey started me for seven years ago when MTV stopped playing music and that had a huge impact on the future of music,” Diddy told a packed house of industry execs at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. “There was also no place that was covering music in the way that if you follow sports you go to ESPN, or like CNN with news, but with music you were just thrown into the abyss.”
Revolt TV plans on doing way more than just becoming the next MTV. As one of the first networks of the social media age, Revolt TV will be multi-platform, running across television, online, and mobile, and of course, partner with leading social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.
It’s always tough being the first to do anything, and with the shrinking attention spans of our generation, Revolt will either be a model of how to harness the power of the digital age or a how-to guide on becoming the Google Plus of television.
With just four days to go Spike Lee’s Kickstarter campaign for an untitled movie about addiction to blood (but it’s not a “Blacula” remake, he swears!) hascleared its goal of 1.25 million dollars.
It’s been a grind for the legendary director, but the success shows that staying nimble on your messaging feet and staying in the game every day can lead to success. Lee hasn’t even had to divulge that much more information about the film itself, although casting notes and promo images have illuminated some of his vision without divulging any surprises.
THE E3 THAT WAS: NOSTALGIA, ENDLESS ADOLESCENCE
The Electronic Entertainment Expo exists in a kind of ahistorical limbo. Suspended between a nostalgic past and an unfathomable future. Like its host city, Los Angeles, just what E3 is depends entirely upon your point of view. The event exists on multiple levels at once: trade show, PR war and fan festival.
This is the first of two parts, in the second I’m going to get into the vision of the future that managed to leak out of E3 but first I feel the need to address the presence of the past. The ghosts that haunted the Los Angeles Convention Center and environs for four days last week.
More at Turnstyle News
LA Unified to give every student an iPad in deal worth ‘hundreds of millions’–The second largest school district in the country has chosen Apple as the sole vendor for a new program starting this fall. VentureBeat
Google challenges U.S. gag order, citing First Amendment– The tech giant, looking to clear the air in the wake of the PRISM revelations, goes to court. Washington Post
The Creepy Side Of E3– Kotaku’s Tina Amini shares tales of gross behavior at this year’s expo.
Man of Steel: The New American Way– If Superman is the embodiment of America, our projection of values and power out into the wider world, this film reflects back how the world must see us. (Heavy Spoilers.)
XBox One’s Awful DRM Drowned Out Some Really Cool Games– Kotaku’s Jason Schreier gets deep into Project: Spark, the most interesting console game at E3.
Every documentary deserves a freaky GIF.
Watch this disturbing trailer for Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing.