Lisa Gunn Adams, a professor at Kennesaw State University, is working to organize an active, real-time collaboration platform for people working to enhance waterways through crowdsourcing—and she’s crowdfunding the money to do it!
Her new platform, SPLASSH, provides a space where anyone interested in water can learn and share, from those engaged day-to-day in water conservation, to volunteers, researchers and residents of waterways.
On Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at noon Eastern, Lisa will join me for a live discussion about her effort. Tune in here then to learn more.
More about SPLASSH:
SPLASSH is a socially driven network that crowdsources the condition of our waterways. The mission of SPLASSH is to inspire water conservation through awareness by engaging students, citizen scientists, and researchers to share, discuss, connect, and visually consume information about water. SPLASSH is a framework that collects information about water in real-time, allows dialogue, and most of all fosters the building of communities that share an interest in water. SPLASSH accepts all posts about water from anyone who has an interest in, observation of, or concern about water. In essence, SPLASSH is an education and dissemination tool for anyone that wants to share water projects or learn more about the most important resource we have: water. To join the SPLASSH community, just log onto http://splasshdata.meteor.com and share your water project or news.
Adams is an Associate Professor in the Biology Department at Kennesaw State University. Receiving a Ph.D. from University of California, Los Angeles, a M.S. from San Diego State University, and a B.S. from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Adams’ research has involved studying fish, marine and freshwater ecosystems, otters, and coyotes. Upon moving to Georgia, Adams focused her research on watershed studies, primarily water monitoring issues. She is passionate about increasing awareness of the importance of healthy waterways with the goal of inspiring water conservation and the protection of aquatic ecosystems. Adams has published several papers in her field and serves on the board for SECOORA (Southeast Coastal Ocean Observation Regional Association).
Natalia Jidovanu is a photographer who is working to use her art to teach children living in Africa’s largest slum to express themselves more powerfully. Visit her Indiegogo campaign.
Natalia shared some insights about her project with GoodCrowd.info.
What is the social benefit you hope to achieve with or through your crowdfunding campaign?
Through a participatory photography methodology, this project aims to give a voice to the voiceless children of Kibera and their underrepresented experiences and struggles. This is an opportunity for them to get actively involved in the community and to be seen and heard in their society and worldwide. By making photographs of their everyday life, children will develop a life-long skill and learn how to use photography as a mean of communication, advocacy and awareness raising.
Photography will inspire curiosity and creativity, then children can search for opportunities out of their neighborhood or can use their photography and story-telling skills to raise funds for the school or to promote new businesses. In capturing their life within the camera frame, they will be building, image by image, their self-confidence and a greater sense of control over their lives. The project will help children to understand that the life of young people in Kibera is a story worth telling and that there is a place for them, in their community, in their country, in the world. Photography is a universal language and it can also act as a catalyst for greater international involvement and positive governmental change.
How much money are you hoping to raise and why? How much have you raised so far?
We need to raise 7500 USD to cover the following project’s expenses: Cameras and equipment (printer, paper, memory cards); Website for online gallery; Post-production, edition and printing of the photobook; Public exhibition of the final work; Museums and galleries visits – admission and transportation for the children; Project coordination, monitoring and evaluation; Post cards, prints for the reward and shipping expenses.
We raised 305 USD.
Whom are you trying to help with your project and why?
Kibera is the biggest slum in the African Continent and one of the most densely populated places on the planet. Half of the Kiberians are under the age of 15 and there are an estimated 100.000 orphaned children in the slum. A study carried out by Oxfam in 2003 deduced that 37% of children of school-going age were out of the education system altogether, while only 30% of the remaining children were receiving free formal primary school education and the other 70% only had access to a limited education at non-formal schools and community centres. The project aims to provide children living in Kibera with free cameras, photography and story-telling training. Through a participatory methodology, we will teach children to operate the camera as a tool, to interpret images and to understand the power of photographs to take the message, to engage and mobilize people and to advance social change. This is their opportunity to express themselves through the camera lens about their own rights and social inequality.
What rewards, if any, are you offering to your supporters?
- 5 USD – We will personally thank you on social media and your name will be listed on our website as a supporter.
- 15 USD – A postcard featuring a photo from the book with a thank you note written by the children.
- 60 USD – A full-color 5×7 photo taken by one of the participants, complete with their narrative + Five 15×15 cm signed prints from the series.
- 100 USD – A digital PDF version of the photobook sent to your email.
- 250 USD – You will have the opportunity to decide the theme for one of the photograph series in the final photobook + A full-color 5×7 photo taken by one of the participants, complete with their narrative + A digital PDF version of the photobook sent to your email.
- 500 USD – You will have the opportunity to decide the theme for one of the photograph series in the final photobook + 2 full-color 5×7 photos taken by the participants, complete with their narrative + A personal dedication to you in the book + Book with a handwritten thank you message from the children.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
FundingCircle, a British crowdfunding site that provides business loans in the UK and the US that banks generally won’t make has announced a $65 million equity investment, perhaps the single largest venture round in the history of the crowdfunding industry.
The company has indicated that the funds will be used to accelerate growth in existing markets and to explore additional international markets.
According to a statement, the recent funding round was led by Index Ventures and includes existing investors. Bob Steel, CEO of Perella Weinberg Partners and former Under Secretary for Domestic Finance of the United States Treasury, will join the Funding Circle board.
On July 17, 2014 at 11:30 AM, Funding Circle CEO Samir Desai, will join me live from London for a discussion about the round and its implications for the company and the industry.
More about Funding Circle:
Funding Circle (www.fundingcircle.com) is the world’s leading online marketplace for business loans, enabling investors to directly lend to small businesses in both the UK and the US. Since launching in the UK in 2010 Funding Circle has now lent more than $500 million to over 5,000 businesses, and currently lends $50 million per month.
In the US, Funding Circle’s online marketplace allows accredited investors and institutions to invest in small businesses seeking to borrow $25,000 to $500,000 through whole loans or a passive fund. By combining cutting edge technology with industry-leading risk management models, Funding Circle provides small businesses with access to fast, fair and transparent finance and investors with the opportunity to access attractive returns at fixed income risk levels through an online marketplace. In 2014, Funding Circle expects to lend $100 million to American small businesses.
In the UK, businesses can borrow between £5,000 and £1 million, while investors can earn a 6.1%* average return after fees and bad debt. Since launching in August 2010 Funding Circle has helped over 5,000 businesses borrow more than £300 million. Investors include thousands of individuals, the Government-backed British Business Bank, local councils, financial organisations and Huddersfield University. Funding Circle was the first marketplace lender to announce a formal referral partnership with Santander, one of the UK’s leading high street banks.
Samir is responsible for driving the company strategy, overseeing the company’s finances and managing the day to day operations at Funding Circle. Samir has worked extensively in the financial services sector.
Before founding Funding Circle, Samir was an Executive at Olivant, a private equity investor in financial services businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Prior to this, Samir was a management consultant at BCG advising a number of major UK and global banks and insurers on strategy, new product initiatives, and operational efficiency.
Reconceiving Loss, an online resource center for pregnancy and infant loss and healing is working to develop a digital archive to document the experience of loss from miscarriage through to neonatal death. The project is being put together in partnership with the film Return To Zero, starring Minnie Driver (in July 2014 Minnie was nominated for Emmy as the best actress in this film).
The genesis of the project was the stillbirth of the co-founder’s second child in 2005. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. 1 in 160 children are stillborn, and 25,000 die within thirty days of their birth in the US alone. As Co-Founder Tara Shafer explains, “We were fortunate to be able to access resources that helped us navigate this bewildering and lonely loss. Many families are not as fortunate.”
Reconceiving Loss (http://reconceivingloss.com/about-us) invites individuals to participate in a public project to document pregnancy and infant loss. Anyone who has suffered the fear, guilt, loneliness and trauma of losing a child either in the womb or stillborn knows how far-reaching the psychological impact can be. This is a chance to heal through telling your story. Your participation both as a reader and creator is crucial for others. Reconceiving Loss has a number of digital resources to support healing from baby loss. With a goal of just $10,000 USD all donations will help them to provide supportive tools to individuals as they work to develop their own healing narrative. “We hope that in building this archive (growing, publicizing, curating) we will also be able to develop additional supportive materials so that people who participate can receive high levels of care and support as they work through traumatic events.”, explains Shafer.
Speaking in such a public way about something that is almost never discussed and considered ‘socially taboo’ shifts the way in which individuals, and families address and understand those who have experienced baby loss. This crowd sourced Indiegogo campaign is a meaningful and healing way to show support and solidarity anyone impacted (husbands, siblings, and mothers). Donations of any size are welcome and rewards include books, DVDs and even tea. The first 25 people to donate $50 will receive a copy of graphic novel, “Goodbye, Au Revoir, and Slan.” This novel describes the experience of stillbirth through the eyes of a young sibling. For $100 you can get the Return to Zero DVD complete with all bonus materials. This DVD features an extra on the Reconceiving Loss digital archive. Help break the silence and enable everyone to connect through their shared loss.
This project is making a difference for those following a difficult path. “The long-term psychological impact is profound and is still not talked about. …Since we launched the archive, we have received submissions from people who suffered loss decades ago. They have carried it with them in silence they have longed to break.” This project will help many individuals to share their own stories while learning about others. Donate what you can and help break the silence. The biggest perk of all is knowing that you are helping many people now and in the future. Even if you can’t donate – share the links widely. See the links below for more information.
For more information on this press release visit:
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
RockThePost, an accredited investor crowdfunding portal announced this morning its merger with CoFoundersLab, an online and in-person matchmaking network that scientifically builds startup teams, creating a platform with 35,000 startup founders and 15,000 accredited investors where entrepreneurs have raised over more than $65 million. The combined company will be called Onevest.
Shahib Kaviani, CEO of CoFoundersLab and CMO at Onevest, explained the motivations for the merger, saying, “Over the last few years, CoFoundersLab’s mission has been to help entrepreneurs succeed. Once we were able to find a scalable way to bring more compatible teams together we began asking our community of founders what their next big challenge was. With an overwhelming response they shared that access to capital was the biggest need they have, particularly for teams located outside the major startup hubs like Silicon Valley and New York.”
He went on to explain that the team was intrigued by crowdfunding and was considering adding crowdfunding to the business model. Before doing so, they decided to raise their own seed round that way.
Kaviani added, “My research of the industry players led me to choose Onevest (formerly RockThePost) where we were able to meet and close a number of investors that we otherwise would have never met. This was a real eye opener for me and I thought to myself, this equity crowdfunding really works—in fact it is a total game changer for entrepreneurs.”
“After having success raising funds on Onevest it became clear to me that we must pursue this avenue and quickly realized that a partnership with Onevest would be meaningful on a number of levels. Once we learned more about both of our team’s synergies, culture, and broader solution, a merger was blatantly obvious,” Kaviani concluded.
“The best way to ensure that two cultures combine successfully is to validate they are compatible from the onset, making this a material consideration and condition for a deal to close,” noted Tanya Prive, former COO and founder of RockThePost and COO and Founder of OneVest. “The culture of both teams is absolutely aligned and complementary so we don’t anticipate any issues. Our weaknesses are their strengths and vice versa, so it really couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Equity crowdfunding is just now in its infancy. The JOBS Act, passed in 2012, created the industry, only rules for accredited investor crowdfunding have been issued in final form by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC later published draft rules for crowdfunding from ordinary investors and accepted comments on them for 90 days. Final rules have not yet been promulgated.
Alejandro Cremades, formerly CEO and Founder of RockThePost, currently CEO and Founder at Onevest
“Equity crowdfunding is the most exciting and perhaps most significant development in recent history taking place in the capital markets,” Alejandro Cremades, formerly CEO and Founder of RockThePost, currently CEO and Founder at Onevest said. “Undoubtedly there will be wrinkles the industry will need to address as this new avenue for capital flow continues to emerge – but the tremendous benefits will far outweigh any hiccups along the way.”
Cremades concluded with a word of caution about regulation, “However, for equity crowdfunding to really take off and approximate its full potential, it needs to be truly accessible to everyone, and more built around the reality of startup investing compared to initially circulated regulatory standards.”
Erick Brimen, formerly COO of CoFoundersLab, currently CFO at Onevest added, “Onevest is already compliant with applicable regulations as we currently operate in partnership with a registered broker dealer. We will continue to ensure as the industry evolves that we remain 100% above board and fully compliant with relevant laws.”
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering an update to the accreditation standards used to determine eligibility to participate in private securities sales. (Disclosure: Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP has agreed to sponsor my upcoming crowdfunding conference and along with Crowdfund Capital Advisors sponsored the publication of my crowdfunding book in 2013.)
Today’s standards require that most investors in startups, real estate limited partnerships and other investments that are not traded on exchanges be accredited. To qualify as an accredited investor, one must meet one of the three following criteria:
Apart from excluding the primary residence, which change was made in , the financial levels have not been adjusted in over 30 years, meaning that inflation has steadily eroded their original significance, allowing millions more people over time to join the ranks. According to SeedInvest, an equity crowdfunding site, indexing these levels for inflation could reduce the number of accredited investors from 8.5 million to just 3.75 million.
The implications for the nascent crowdfunding industry is significant. Title II of the JOBS Act signed by President Obama in 2012 allowed general solicitation for investors, a change that ushered in what many are calling accredited investor crowdfunding. By allowing entrepreneurs and others to announce via social media and other internet avenues (though not restricted to the internet) issuers can suddenly attract many more investors, often investing smaller amounts than might have been required in the past.
A change in the definition of accredited investors could materially reduce the pool of investors eligible to make such investments, potentially reducing the amount of capital raised by the issuers and the platforms that support them.
In a quick, unscientific poll of leaders in the crowdfunding community for this article, 94 percent of respondents favored a change in the standard that would allow investors to qualify by virtue of education or experience alone, without regard to financial position. Such a rule could be applied either as the only means of qualification, eliminating the financial standards or as an alternative qualification method alongside the traditional—or updated—financial standards.
In the same survey, 50 percent of respondents indicated that there should be no change to the individual income standards and 38 percent responded the individual income standard should be eliminated altogether. Similarly, 40 percent of respondents says that the household test should be left alone and 47 percent says that the rule should be eliminated altogether.
Furthermore, 40 percent says the current net worth test should be left untouched and an equal percentage suggested that the net worth test should be eliminated.
No one thought a full ratchet to correct for inflation would be appropriate, though a few suggested smaller upward increases.
Ryan Feit at podium, Sherwood Neiss, behind at a 2013 press conference
The following 18 reactions are representative of the comments gathered for this article:
This week, SeedInvest is rallying its community to lobby the SEC via social media using a “Thunderclap.”
WASHINGTON, July 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — StreetShares, Inc. announced today the launch of its new online social-lending marketplace with a Veterans Business Campaign. StreetShares.com provides a new way for small business owners to get commercial loans, funded by the direct investments of individuals through an interactive auction. The veterans campaign will aim to help military veteran small business owners obtain commercial loans through the StreetShares marketplace. The opportunity to tell their story directly to investors is especially helpful to veterans, who often face unique challenges when attempting to obtain a small business loan from traditional banks.
StreetShares, Inc. CEO, Mark L. Rockefeller, states: “Every veteran small business owner deserves the opportunity to have their story heard and considered by real investors, rather than a big bank that simply assigns them a number, then stamps rejected.”
Rockefeller, an Iraq War veteran turned finance lawyer, teamed with former Capital One small business lending executive, Mickey Konson, to create StreetShares. The pair noticed that small business owners struggled to obtain business loans – this was especially true for today’s veterans. “My generation of veterans returned home to a lending environment as barren as the Afghan countryside,” said Rockefeller. “Traditional funding sources are no longer serving us the way they served our grandparents’ generation.”
Rockefeller describes StreetShares as “SharkTank meets eBay.” StreetShares allows small businesses to pitch directly to investors, share their personal story, information about their business, and the purpose of the loan. Investor members on StreetShares then bid, in an online auction. Individual investors set both the interest rate they would require in order to back the loan, and the portion of the overall loan they want to provide. The lowest bids are combined into a single loan for the small business owner. StreetShares itself underwrites the application, verifies key information, and co-invests in the loans.
To aid in the Veterans Business Campaign, StreetShares has joined forces with the nation’s leading veterans organizations. StreetShares is currently teaming up with The American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the National Veteran Small Business Coalition, and VetsForward to assist as many veterans as possible in obtaining funding for their businesses. “StreetShares is thrilled to work with these great veterans organizations,” said Rockefeller. “Their support of the StreetShares marketplace will help us spread the word about this important new funding source for veterans of every generation.”
“StreetShares is about giving small business owners access to a new and direct form of funding,” Rockefeller adds. “And about giving Americans an opportunity to invest in our veterans in a real and tangible way.”
About StreetShares, Inc.
StreetShares, Inc. is an online, social-lending marketplace that connects individual investors with small business owners looking for commercial loans. Borrower members (small business owners) tell their story, in their own words, directly to individual investor members. Investor members name the rate at which they would lend to the business and bid as much as they want to back a loan to the small business. StreetShares received $1.2 million during its initial funding round, led by global microfinance giant, Accion International. StreetShares is proudly veteran-owned and operated.
About The American Legions
The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. With over 2.4 million members, it is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans.
About Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
Founded in 2004 by an Iraq veteran, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is the first and largest organization for new veterans and their families, with nearly 300,000 members and supporters nationwide. IAVA is a 21st century veterans’ organization dedicated to standing with the 2.8 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan from their first day home through the rest of their lives.
About National Veteran Small Business Coalition
The NVSBC’s mission is to promote policies and strategies that further participation of Veteran and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses in federal contracting opportunities. The NVSBC hosts the annual Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Symposium (VETS), the leading event devoted to training veterans to participate in the federal government contracting opportunities.
As a social enterprise co-founded by a veteran/spouse team, the VetsForward platform highlights military, spouse and veteran-owned companies within Internet search results. American consumers prefer to buy from these companies, but they don’t know where to find them. The VetsForward plug-in highlights veteran-owned companies when they appear in Google, Yelp & Facebook search results.
Judged by a select group of librarians and booksellers from around the country, ‘The Noise Beneath the Apple’ by author Heather Jacks received the 2013 ‘Book of the Year’ award recently during the American Library Association’s annual conference in Las Vegas.
SAN FRANCISCO, July 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — After nearly four years in the making and a successful crowdfunding campaign to independently publish her first book, Heather Jacks has plenty to celebrate after taking home her first award in the performing arts and media category from the prominent trade review journal, The ForeWord Reviews.
“When I won the award, I was bouncing about and squealing like a little girl!” exclaimed Jacks. “Publishing has evolved and changed so dramatically. It was extremely validating to be so successful as a 100% independent effort, outside the realm of ‘big publishing’. It’s a whole new paradigm in publishing.”
This captivating 200-page hardback is a limited-edition and features stunning black and white photos coupled with 35 intriguing interviews with some of New York City’s most talented street performers—all masters in the art of busking.
“I was moved by their stories—stories which represented the entire globe and the entirety of the human experience,” stated Jacks. “Some had been to jail, had been pimps, had played at Carnegie Hall, been educated in the finest institutions, had traveled the world or had never ventured beyond their island. I realized that we don’t live in a small world but a large room.”
Jacks’ inspiration for the book stems from her childhood growing up on ‘Indian land’ in southern Oregon.
“The seventies were an interesting time for Indians—who had not yet become Native Americans,” explained Jacks. “We had no running water, electricity or indoor plumbing. The Vietnam War had ended, the Cold War continued, Nixon was president, Chief Joseph and Leonard Peltzier were our heroes.”
According to Jacks, this time period was also a time of great change and assimilation and one that attracted war dodgers, musicians, traveling bandwagons of performers, gypsies, outcasts, innovators and rebels onto the reservation.
“They were entertainers coming onto Indian land and leaving us something of value and taking something of worth with them,” recalled Jacks. “I would excitedly await the arrival of each act, anticipating what ‘show’ they would bring, what new music I would hear, what plays they would perform, what dances and magic I might see.”
This launched Jacks’ love for busking–even long after leaving home for New York City for a career as a freelance writer in the music industry.
“This sort of, impromptu, diverse performance was comfortable and familiar and to this day, I still seek it out,” said Jacks. “Having witnessed the loss of a culture—my culture specifically, as a young person, I needed to write The Noise Beneath the Apple®. I wanted to capture a piece of busking culture and history, before it evolved into something entirely different; or was legislated out of existence altogether.”
This limited edition book also includes an eleven track vinyl record. From folk music to a punk number by a band called L-Train, the album features the many sounds of the New York City street music scene. The book can be purchased on Amazon.com or www.TNBTA.com and has since inspired a short documentary.
Tesla Museum Indiegogo Campaign Raised More than $1.3 Million
The effort to build a museum honoring Nikola Tesla took hold on Indiegogo when The Oatmeal’s Mathew Inman raised more than $1.3 million to convert Tesla’s old laboratory into a museum (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/let-s-build-a-goddamn-tesla-museum).
Today, Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk announced another $1 million for creating a museum honoring the father of the electrical age. He joins the contributors from more than 86 countries who supported the initial campaign on Indiegogo.The donation from Musk was made on what would be Tesla’s 158th birthday.
“This is what Indiegogo funding is all about — uniting people from around the world to support an idea they want to make happen together, and then letting that idea blossom in even unpredictable ways,” said Slava Rubin, co-founder and CEO of Indiegogo.
Indiegogo empowers people around the world to fund what matters to them. As the largest global crowdfunding platform, campaigns have launched from almost every country around the world with millions of dollars being distributed every week due to contributions made by the Indiegogo community. At its core, Indiegogo is an open platform dedicated to democratizing the way people raise funds for any project – creative, entrepreneurial or cause-related. The company was launched in 2008 and is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Los Angeles and New York. For more information, visit www.indiegogo.com and follow us at www.twitter.com/indiegogo and www.facebook.com/indiegogo.