Traveling all the way from Jerusalem, Israel, scholar Dan Marom brought his talk “The Crowdfunding Revolution: How to raise venture capital using social media” to the One Spark Speaker Series. “A crowd can make a difference,” Marom told the audience. “Technology can make a difference.”
It was obvious where Marom was going with this; crowd plus technology equals crowdfunding. But before the days of laptops and smartphones, people were crowdfunding in a whole different way. The Statue of Liberty was built using funds from the public who chose to support the project.
Soccer clubs in Europe are owned by their fans – similar to the Green Bay Packers in the U.S., a team owned by its community. President Obama’s second presidential election was successful due to crowdfunding done through his website.
Another success story is the Pebble. Tagged as “the first watch built for the 21st century,” the Pebble team raised over $10 million using Kickstarter.
Marom is a consultant for Massolution, a company based on crowdsourcing solutions for enterprises. In a recent study, Massolution reported that in 2012, North America raised over $1.6 billion through crowdfunding. Europe raised $945 million.
According to Marom, there are four types of crowdfunding; donation-based for philanthropy and sponsorship, reward-based for non-monetary rewards, equity-based that includes revenue and profit-sharing models for financial return, and lending-based including person-to-person and person-to-business lending.
“I am a true believer in the power of crowds,” Marom reiterated.
Local artist Y.C. Lozano, known for her paintings of faceless children and a blue dog, is taking part in One Spark with entry #421. #IMJAX, Lozano’s project’s title, is explained as “a public art project that celebrates the people who make up Jacksonville.” Located in Hemming Plaza Skyway, #IMJAX is an interactive installation where users step-up to a life-size red and white silhouette and scan a QR code with their smartphone. The code gives information on a random person in Jacksonville. #IMJAX aims to combine public art with social engagement and technology, so the people of Jacksonville can get to know each other better and feel a cohesion throughout the city.
An Atlanta-based performing artist, writer and director, Doc Waller proved a high-energy and highly entertaining addition to the One Spark Speaker Series. Friday afternoon found Waller on stage for his “Bottle Up & Explode” talk.
Described as “thoughts on packaging our inspirations and idiosyncrasies into effective, daily weaponry,” Waller opened by telling the audience how mockingbirds are badass and the emcee of the animal kingdom. Not sure where he was going with his comment, Waller wowed the crowd with a 10-minute spoken word monologue.
“You can soak up the inspiration now or wait for it to come around the bend,” said Waller. “Vision is what we’re all about. It’s why we’re all here.”
A self-described “taste tester” who swallows every experience, Waller reminded audience members to take it all in – every facet of One Spark. “Are you getting what you came for? Are you processing the process?” he asked.
Waller talked about his background and how each life event inspired him or stifled his inspiration. An Air Force veteran, Waller started a non-profit in Eastern Alabama to bring the arts to underserved individuals. After about five years, he said he hit a wall and quit.
“I bottled these things [experiences] up and then exploded,” Waller said of his inspiration being stifled while running the non-profit. “You should take something away from everything.”
According to Waller, there are multiple steps to this process. The first being, “Morning Glory,” which basically means people should slow their day down – even if that just means taking a moment in the morning to reflect before starting the day.
The second step to Waller’s process is “Stream of Consciousness.” “There’s not one person in this room who should not be a writer,” he told the audience. This step is meant for people to write down their ideas, inspiration or whatever they take from an experience.
Another step to the process is …
Zombies are in — very in. So “Velvet Road,” a feature film project that follows a zombie disease quietly taking over a small, racially divided community in Florida in the summer of 1964, is one creation that should get some nibbles.
In 2011, filmmakers Jon Shepard and Gustavo Cooper teamed up to create a short film of the same name.
“We have been working on this concept for many years now,” Cooper said. “I came up with the story and Jon assembled a team. We found some visionary investors, pulled a lot of favors and managed to make a 12-minute film.”
The short "Velvet Road" has been screened at more than two dozen festivals around the world.
“We have been very excited about the response everyone has had for the film, which was conceived, written, filmed and first screened right here in Jacksonville and North Florida,” Cooper said.
“Florida has a bloody history of Klan violence that rivals Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia,” Cooper said. “We took real stories of racial violence from Florida’s past to create a lyrical narrative that takes very realistic characters from the period and pits them against a disease none of them understand.”
Aside from Cooper (writer/director) and Shepard (producer), “Velvet Road” features the work of Brian Jerin (composer/producer) and Jon Bosworth (writer).
“We need a lot of money and favors to make this film, but we would also like this community to own part of it,” Cooper said. “This is a Jacksonville story in so many ways. We want Jacksonville to help us tell it.”
Velvet Road (2012) from L. Gustavo Cooper on Vimeo.
One Spark, an unprecedented crowdfunded celebration of all kinds of innovation, launches April 17.
If you haven't made plans to go at some point over the five days, read a few of my reasons to go here, with help from local artist Dolf James and One Spark Executive Director Elton Rivas.
I hope to see you there. Keep an eye on this blog for coverage of the event April 17-21.
For the opening speaker in the Florida Blue One Spark Speaker Series, it only seemed fitting to welcome a local. Jacksonville-based Carl Smith kicked off the series with his talk “Your Money & Your Life.” Smith, owner and founder of local tech-based company nGen Works, took the stage April 18 at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts Terry Theater.
Based on the idea that most businesses are using archaic operating systems in everything from office culture to the bottom line, Smith spent the hour giving a chronological overview of his 25-plus years as a small business owner. Peppered with self-deprecation and plenty of four-letter words, Smith was entertaining and full of energy while sharing his story.
In the beginning of his talk, Smith remembered being at a dinner event with Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, and how he had said, “We could all be millionaires, but there’s that one thing we won’t do.” Smith said Oliver was referring to cheating, stealing and hurting people. Basically, if people would do virtually anything to make a buck, they’d be rich.
For those not interested in squashing the little guy to get what they want, Smith offered words of wisdom on owning your own business, having a happy team, and still creating financial security.
“Money is an exchange of stored energy,” he said.
This proved the meat of Smith’s speech. When someone offers you money, they are asking you to do something in return. This can come in the form of mental or physical stored energy, as evidenced by Smith’s relationship with his grandmother.
“I try not to speak ill of the dead,” Smith said, “but my grandmother was not a very nice person.”
The matriarch came to live with the Smith family and offered young Smith $20 per week to listen to her – literally sit there and listen to whatever she felt like saying, which was usually about …
Creator Regina Edwards was born and raised in Jacksonville but has spent the last 28 years living in Maryland. Having built her background as an educator, she returned to her hometown to make a difference in children’s lives.
Edwards had been working hard for two years developing “Ant DivaMo,” a character that she says will improve life skills for children and teach them how to be organized. Edwards feels children will respond to her message because of her use of bright colors, catchy songs and music.
The “Ant DivaMo” books teach children the importance of everyday tasks like making the bed, keeping up with personal hygiene and eating right. Future proceeds from her “Any DivaMo” books and music will be put back into the project; Edwards has plans for after-school and summer-camp programs as well as themed parties, story-time readings and videos.
Edwards will speak about “Ant DivaMo” 1 p.m. April 19 at the Community First Pitch Deck at Main Street Park.
One Spark creator David Engdahl has been producing laminated plywood sculpture art for 41 years. He exhibits in 21 states across the country.
He has sold his work for upwards of $4,000 in the past. At One Spark, however, he wants to win the money for another reason.
"Anything I make from One Spark is going right back into the Jacksonville art community," Engdahl said. "I've seen the art community grow in great ways over the years, but I want to see more. I know we have it here."
Engdahl's art has a sleek, contemporary look.
He has exhibited his art in four U.S. embassies: Bahrain, Latvia, Angola, and Zimbabwe.
"One Spark is great for Jacksonville, especially for Downtown," Engdahl said. "It gives artists and creators a chance to present what they have created to the people."
One Spark entry #432, “In Search of Sound: Excursions from the Global Underground,” is touted as the first feature-length film about the post-millennial music underground. Produced by the brother and sister team of Brian Parsons and Amber Halford, “In Search of Sound” (ISOS) features contributions from more than 20 filmmakers who filmed over 50 artists and labels worldwide. “There was no single camera crew traveling the world and filming – that would have cost a million dollars,” Parsons explains from the MOCA lobby. “Having people film themselves created a more natural, more emotive response.” The film was winner of the London Underground Film Festival, official selection at the Frame Out Film Festival and official selection at the DORF Festival.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. students place below average in math when compared with students in other countries around the world. Jacksonvillian Stephanie Glen aims to change that with “The Number Hunter.”
A web-based TV program focused on math and geared toward pre-teens, “The Number Hunter” is a 22-minute show broken down into four segments to be shown on YouTube and the show’s website, thenumberhunter.com.
“I knew that I wanted to do something creative with math to make it more accessible for kids,” said Glen, who has a master’s in math education from Jacksonville University and an MFA in creative writing from National University and has taught college-level math for six years. “I’d learned that math is fun and interesting but, unfortunately, the interesting aspects of math are not taught in schools.”
“Half to three-quarters of black ninth-graders in Jacksonville don’t make it to graduation,” Glen said. “We’ve got to do something to address that. Students need to feel what they are learning is relevant. My plan is to visit classrooms as ‘The Number Hunter’ and inspire kids to get interested in math.”