Crowdfunding Comes of Age

Crowdfunding has gone mainstream, but still has plenty of room to grow. Tech Trends takes a look at what the future holds.

Most of us have backed at least one crowdfunding campaign at some point. We featured many success stories on the site and personally even put our money where our mouth is. I mean, who could have resisted getting their hands on the world’s creepiest limited edition troll doll, shaped like Donald Trump? Not me, nor the other 10,000 or so backers that Kickstarter attracted…

As a producer, my own upcoming release with Carrion Films — Borley Rectory — was successfully funded on Indiegogo, and I don’t think we would have been able to complete it — or to build the fantastic community buzz around the film — without crowfunding. So it’s safe to say I’m a big fan of this medium that has opened up an entire new field of possibilities for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and their wonderful crazy ideas.

So last month we gladly accepted an invitation from Invest in Cornwall (the regional council’s economic development initiative) to visit the Newquay Headquarters of, based in an old surf shop overlooking the stunning Great Western Beach. The company was holding their annual Summer Experience and celebrating the milestone of raising more than £40 million for projects around the UK.

The party was not only attended by leaders from global businesses but it also welcomed a particularly special guest, the world’s first flatpack vehicle, the OX, as it finished its tour through Cornwall, stopping at a few of the region’s iconic landmarks along the way — including the Eden Project and Watergate Bay — before launching its own fundraising campaign on the Crowdfunder platform.

By summer 2017 had supported over 90k projects with more than 200 new ones starting everyday and with over £40Million raised to advance those projects. The company now aims to secure over a million users by 2018 and looks set to take on the big boys of crowdfunding such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I chatted to Rob Love, Co-Founder & Chairman of Crowdfunder to hear his thoughts on business in Cornwall and why crowdfunding has become so popular and successful in recent years.

A key member of the groundbreaking team behind TV sensations Big Brother and River Cottage, Rob is well qualified to talk about disruptive media and technology and sees crowdfunding as a powerful force for good in a society that has lost faith in the ability of big government and financial institutions to support us and help launch new businesses.

I then asked him how advances in technology have given rise to crowdfunding, and what additional benefits it can offer to small businesses that would struggle to secure funding through traditional institutions.

Despite the disruptive nature of crowdfunding, it is now interesting to see how forward-thinking mainstream companies are also embracing it. Crowdfunder has brought on board partners including Santander, M&S Energy and Virgin Media Business, who see the potential in crowdfunding to support and grow small business in the UK. I spoke to Julian Borra, Founder of The Thin Air Factory, who works with Virgin Media Business on their entrepreneurial VOOM initiative which combines crowdfunding with entrepreneurship.

Crowdfunder success story What a Melon won the VOOM 2016 award and Founder Olly Bolton enthused about embracing crowdfunding to launch his business:

Crowdfunder is part of an energetic, flourishing tech sector in Cornwall which is filled with entrepreneurial drive and spirit. Cornwall has had twice as many successful crowdfunding businesses than the UK average (40% vs 23%) and the region plays a key part in those local business success stories. Nicola Lloyd, Head of Inward Investment for Invest in Cornwall, said:

The Crowdfunder party was teeming with successful local businesses and talking to Kim Conchie, Chief Executive of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, the enthusiasm for the future of the region was palpable.

Technology writer for FastCo, Quartz, The Next Web, Ars Technica, Wired + more. Consultant specializing in VR #MixedReality and Strategic Communications

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