When Fast Company names you one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” (2012), people tend to listen when you talk. So is the case of Ron J. Williams, a Manhattan-based entrepreneur who spoke Thursday afternoon at the Terry Theater as part of One Spark’s Speaker Series.
As CEO and co-founder of Knodes, a tool for finding people in your network who care about a shared cause, and of SnapGoods, a site that helps people to rent and borrow hardware and equipment, Williams brought real world expertise to his speech titled, “How could crowdfunding be any easier?”
“Crowdfunding is the future, but not without you,” Williams addressed the three-dozen-or-so audience members. “The truth of the matter is that we’re all super connected. Did you know that $319 million went through Kickstarter last year?”
According to Forbes, crowdfunding is, “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.” Crowdfunding is the reason creators from all over the world have descended upon Jacksonville to showcase their ideas and projects.
It’s also the reason Williams is totally pumped to be on stage. “It [crowdfunding] is about way more than the money,” he said. “It’s not just the transaction of dollars, but the transaction of ideas.”
In order to create and execute a successful crowdfunding venture, Williams said you should first find your inner circle and share your idea or ideas with them. This could be family members or close friends – anyone you trust. Next, find your audience. Williams called this “your tribe.” These are the individuals you can rely on for emotional and/or financial support.
“These people support you not just because they know you, but because they’re interested in your content,” he explained.
Once you’ve communicated effectively with your inner circle and tribe, it’s time to take your message to the …
Wren Lanier said the key to building a successful business is to just be yourself. The web designer from Richmond, Va., spoke to those in attendance of her One Spark speech "You Won't Change the World by Biting Your Tongue" about the importance of personal authenticity when building a business.
Lanier broke down the criteria for building authenticity into five parts: Honesty, making tough choices, bringing your best self, being your own inspiration and taking action.
Being honest with yourself and others, especially co-workers and bosses, was one of the main points Lanier stressed. She told the crowd that living in fear of what others think of you is not conducive to personal growth. The best thing to do is to just put it all out there.
"You've got to bring yourself," Lanier said. "The more you share yourself, you are less likely to shock people."
She also introduced the concept of Self-regulation, which to Lanier means bringing your best self. It's important to be honest with others and but it's also imperative to a business to have self-awareness, she said. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses but focus on making your strengths stand out.
Lanier told those in attendance to be their own inspiration: Looking at someone else's creativity and judging yourself on it is unhealthy.
"You're never going to achieve brilliance by following someone else's star," Lanier said.
The last point Lanier left the crowd at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts with: Take action. If you don't like the way something is, change it. And if something doesn't exist yet, create it.
"Talk is cheap and talk is easy," Lanier said. "You bring to the world what you want to expect."
“Rat Queen” is the brainchild of Jenny K. Hager, Creator #423. And if you’ve visited the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville during One Spark, then you’re sure to recognize this large-scale rodent installation. Hager’s sculptural series is inspired by the twelve Chinese Zodiac animals – this according to the sign posted next to “Rat Queen” in MOCA’s lobby.
“This sculpture is inspired by a dream where rats are hanging by their teeth from the bottom seam of my gown. If selected for One Spark, the plan is to create the remaining animals in Chinese Zodiac and use them in a parade/performance in Jacksonville (possibly traveling to other locations).”
Hager’s Twitter handle is #ratqueenhager
Local artist Scott Morphew drew a picture of the Virgin Mary kissing Jesus as a baby titled "The Kiss of Life" Feb. 6, 2012. The next day a mirror image of Jessica Cooksey Paulraj kissing her son, Adam, and the story of his rare syndrome were published in The Florida Times-Union.
Jacksonville native Jessica Cooksey Paulraj and her husband, Raja Paulraj, were working as missionaries in a hospital in India when they first met Adam. He was born with Bartsocas-Papas, a rare syndrome that left him with extreme deformities. At birth, Adam had no eyelids or fingers, his legs were webbed together, and his mouth and nose were underdeveloped. The Paulrajs adopted Adam and brought him back to the United States.
Morphew, touched by the resemblance of Jessica and Adam to his drawing and the child's story, entered his drawing to One Spark. He hopes to raise money for the mass production and sale of "The Kiss of Life." Every dollar Morphew receives from sales will be sent to Jessica and Raja Paulraj for their son's medical expenses.
Manning the One Spark booth is Adam's grandmother, Teresa Cooksey. Armed with flyers, she's rallying for votes to help her daughter and son-in-law finance the surgeries Adam needs to grow up comfortably.
Hatchware, the new digital menu application created by We Are Charette, a web design firm based in St. Augustine, allows restaurants to easily update their online menus.
Through Hatchware, customers can place a to-go food order without calling. The new application also allows customers to interact with the restaurant. If you're a fan of a certain item on the menu, with Hatchware, you can share it on Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites.
The menus are always available because they are backed up by reliable cloud hosting. If restaurant owners need to change their menus or add new specials, they can do so via laptop, tablet or smartphone with Wi-Fi.
Two businesses in St. Augustine already utilize Hatchware's digital menu, The Kookaburra coffee shop and Smoothie Fresh.
For more information about Hatchware, visit the website or the company's Twitter page.
Artist Rosemarie Adcock's passion is helping others. She founded the charity Arts for Relief and Missions after an international touring exhibition of her paintings of Russian refugees in the 1990s raised $1.25 million in donations for Russian orphans.
ARM is a charitable organization that incorporates the use of arts and music for evangelism locally and abroad. The organization provides humanitarian relief and has aided projects such as Home For Every Orphan and Russian Ministries.
In order to generate extra funding, the Chapel Gallery Project was started as the for-profit sector of ARM. The gallery contains a variety of paintings produced by Adcock. The proceeds from Adcock's paintings support the work of ARM.
"If we're out collecting donations, I'm not painting," Adcock said.
The Chapel Gallery Project entered One Spark hoping to receive funding to allow Adcock to continue her paintings and establish their very own gallery to display the work. A portion of the profits from the gallery would in turn go to serving the needs of orphans, disadvantaged widows, at-risk children and more.
"We're not your typical farmers … We are the future of farming," That's the slogan of Urban Container Farm, hydroponic gardens made from recycled shipping containers. Urban Container Farm is also one of the many creators at One Spark in Downtown Jacksonville.
For about a year, its owners, Andrea Shaw, Kent Ridley and Staci Chamberlain, have been working on a unique farming system with a controlled environment that grows organic, pesticide-free vegetables. Also, unlike a traditional outdoor farm with just a couple of growing and harvesting seasons per year, Urban Container Farm's regulated climate allows for harvest every week.
One of the most interesting aspects of the farms is that they run themselves.
"Our farms can be controlled from your smartphone or tablet by an app," Shaw said. "The farms monitor themselves, letting you know what they need. They will let you know, say, if your pH levels are too low."
Although only a prototype, one Urban Container Farm has been engineered to produce up to 1,000 heads of lettuce a week. Shaw and the other creators are hoping they receive support to be able to take their vegetable growing device to the masses.
"We would one day like to see them in schools, backyards and behind restaurants," Chamberlain said. "I think it would be great to go out to eat and really have that 'from the farm to your plate' idea implemented."
One Spark entry #701 is Jackie Kuhn’s “Yarnbomb Downtown Jax.” The Neptune Beach resident aims to educate Jacksonville’s population on the international yarn bombing movement – essentially a non-permanent form of street art that places colorful yarn on statues, poles, bike racks and more.
A zombie film that takes place during the Civil Rights era, Velvet Road is filmmaker L. Gustavo Cooper’s One Spark entry #318. Located in the MOCA lobby, Cooper hopes to garner support and funding to make the short into a full-length feature. When asked how the event has been going for his entry, Cooper says, “Some people have been really enthusiastic and some have been weary that it’s a zombie film. But once I describe the story and that it takes place during the Civil Rights era, they get excited.” Velvet Road will be shown Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Underbelly.
As a former mayor of Pittsburgh, Tom Murphy knows a lot about urban development and finding innovative solutions to complex problems.
During his time in office, Murphy took a deteriorating industrial city and transformed it into a technology hub. This, he said, was possible for any city – as long as the people who live there want it bad enough.
A senior resident fellow for Urban Development at the Urban Land Institute (ULI), Murphy specializes in public policy, retail/urban entertainment, transportation/infrastructure, housing, real estate, finance and environmental issues.
For his talk, “The Changing Rules of Community,” Murphy spoke about how the rules are changing and communities need to understand what will help them succeed in the 21st century.
“It’s a remarkable thing that you’re doing,” Murphy told the crowd in reference to One Spark. “You’re empowering yourselves. Wouldn’t you want to see this creativity, innovation and hustle and bustle every day?”
According to Murphy, there are five converging forces cities need to think about such as globalization, climate change, technology innovation, infrastructure needs and demographics. And, he said, it will be the millenials (ages 18 through 35) who will help change cities around America.
“This is a remarkable example of how you bring the forces together to create a 21st century city,” Murphy remarked of One Spark and Jacksonville. “Every city has a choice of what it wants to be. Don’t lose the spark.”