Power of the Crowd

Modern tools allow enterprises to utilise the power of the crowd faster and easier than ever before. Crowdfunding enables projects and ventures to receive funding through the contributions of many people, usually in small amounts and over the Internet. Crowdsourcing allows organisations to solve problems and innovate by enlisting the input of many people, in person or online.

Rom & Tonik
14Hermann Ørn Vidarsson

Hermann Ørn VidarssonMay 12, 2014

Live Crowdfunding Pitch – Rom & Tonik

As mentioned in our report from the Live Crowdfunding Experiment, we had some success raising equity for Norwegian startups.  But the train has not yet left the station… there is still time to get on board!

To help you take that decision, we will present each pitch from the live event in Trondheim.

First up is Rom & Tonik, with their solution for soundproofing offices, restaurants and other public spaces with their acoustical tiles made from 100% wool.

For more information about, and the opportunity to invest in Rom & Tonik visit their Funded By Me campaign

 

roVsPWA
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 16, 2014

Technoport 2014: Dimension10 develops 3D scanner

At Technoport 2014’s Live Crowdfunding Experiment, the first of its kind in Norway, three promising young tech startups will pitch their company to a crowd of investors. This week we hear from each of the startups in turn. We’ve heard about AssiStep and Rom & Tonik, now we hear from Krister Fagerslepp of Dimension10, developers of a 3D scanner.

What challenge does your product solve, and how is your solution innovative?

Our solution solves the difficulty of scanning living objects by scanning the entire subject at the same time within mililseconds. Our solution is innovative because it’s purpose built down to the software that controls it. Our innovation also lies in the areas of use, and how easily we can achieve an automatic process from scan to result.

Why did you decide to develop this company?

The origin for my project is my interest for immersive technology/Virtual Reality. I developed software for Oculus Rift as well as building my own unit before the developer kit hit the market. The 3D scanner is a result of experiments I did to create characters/avatars for this system. I would say the seed for this project was planted around 24 months ago. However, serious work was not initiated until a while after this.

What have you achieved so far?

Our 3D scanner is working and stable, with generally decent quality. We have developed the software and hardware to control the rig ourselves. However, the quality of scans still need improvement in our opinion. This means mainly that we need to add more cameras and flashes, to get more angles covered.

Where has your funding come from before?

Funding has come mainly from our own pockets.

Why are you seeking equity crowdfunding?

In order to speed up development we need money for things such as more/better hardware and bigger office space. Selling equity seems like a good way to raise funds in this project.

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

We see ourselves having a working scanner system that is simple enough to operate that we can hire almost anyone to operate it. Once this achieved, the only demanding job is occasional software updates and maintenance.  If we can achieve these goals, we have more than enough ideas to pursue in the field that will keep us occupied and plenty of IP to keep us going. We have no doubt that we will never a dull moment, and firmly believe that our companies ability to produce revenue extends far beyond  5 years.

Check out Dimension10’s FundedByMe campaign here!

Want to attend?

Learn more about the Live Crowdfunding Experiment and register for Technoport 2014.

Photo credit: Dimension10 

IMG_7958_2
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 15, 2014

Technoport 2014: Rom & Tonik makes natural sound absorber

At Technoport 2014’s Live Crowdfunding Experiment, the first of its kind in Norway, three promising young tech startups will pitch their company to a crowd of investors. This week we hear from each of the startups in turn. First we heard about AssiStep, now up is Rom & Tonik, a company founded by Mats Solberg and Birgitte Røsvik.

What challenge does your product solve, and how is your solution innovative?

Our product is proven to be one of the most volume efficient sound absorption products on the market. We work towards reducing noise in office and public spaces to improve the working conditions. We are doing this through using natural rough wool as the actual absorbent. This is a whole different way to do it, and the unique felt that we produce in Mongolia is uniquely efficient. We have also developed a modular and very flexible system that allows the user a lot of freedom when configuring their FeltTile system.

Why did you decide to develop this company?

We wanted to start Rom & Tonik because we saw that there was a huge potential market in acoustic solutions for open offices and public spaces. We also saw the need to make use of the rough wool quality that the textile industry avoided in their products. Making use of a raw material that has a perfectly sustainable profile to solve a growing problem in the interior market made perfect sense. We decided to start Rom & Tonik after winning the regional finals of Venture Cup in Trondheim in the spring of 2012. The company was started in October 2012.

What have you achieved so far?

Since then, we have developed the profile of Rom & Tonik, worked intensely with developing our production and distribution line. We have been hard at work with finalizing our product design for FeltTile and finally we launched FeltTile and Rom & Tonik at Designers Saturday in Oslo Sept. 2013. In February this year, we were able to present FeltTile at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, the leading interior exhibition for the Scandinavian market. On a day-to-day basis we are hard at work with selling FeltTile and we have now sold more than 20 projects around Norway.

Where has your funding come from before?

We have received funding (etablérstipend) from Innovation Norway and Seed capital from Ålesund Kunnskapspark.

Why are you seeking equity crowdfunding?

After visiting Stockholm Furniture Fair we got interest from resellers all over the world. Now we want to start testing the Scandinavian market and establish our network beyond the Norwegian market. In parallel we are working with some very exciting new products with a very good supplementary potential to FeltTile. To be able to develop pilot projects with this new product, we will use some of the FundedByMe equity for product development as well.

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

In five years Rom & Tonik is substantial actor in the interior furnishing industry. The organisation has grown a lot, and we are the go-to company for acoustical solutions and soundproofing. We have our products installed in more than 20 countries in the world, and we have contributed to improve people’s working environment in every project we have participated in.

Check out the Rom & Tonik FundedByMe campaign here!

Want to attend?

Learn more about the Live Crowdfunding Experiment and register for Technoport 2014.

Photo credit: Mats Herding Solberg

AssiTech
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 14, 2014

Technoport 2014: AssiStep helps the elderly

At Technoport 2014’s Live Crowdfunding Experiment, the first of its kind in Norway, three promising young tech startups will pitch their company to a crowd of investors. This week we’ll hear from each of the startups in turn. First up, AssiStep – a company created by Eirik Gjelsvik Medbø, Halvor Wold, and Ingrid Lonar. 

What challenge does your product solve, and how is your solution innovative?

One of the biggest obstacles for the elderly and people with mobility issues is stair climbing. It’s one of the most common reasons that people need to move away from their home. At the same time, stair climbing is the most effective training method in your own home, but the consequences from falling can be dramatic, which is illustrated by the 50 casualties and 30,000 injuries from stair falling each year in Norway alone.

If we can solve this problem by adding increased support, increased safety and stimulate people to continue to use their stairs, our users will become more independent, get increased exercise, and continue to live in their own home for longer.

Why did you decide to develop this company?

Through a large number of interviews with users and therapists, we learned  how big the stair climbing problem actually is, and that there aren’t good enough solutions out there today. By creating AssiTech AS, we can make people more independent, and at the same time establish ourselves in a market with a big growth potential over the coming years.

What have you achieved so far?

We’ve established a passionate and ambitious team that really wants to make a difference by creating innovative and user-friendly products. We’ve raised over 2 million NOK in soft-funding. We’ve developed a lot of prototypes, and  at this point are ready to produce the first series of AssiStep. AssiStep is a trademarked and patent-pending product.

Where has your funding come from before?

We’ve raised over 2 million NOK in soft-funding to date, from Innovation Norway, NTNU Discovery, our biggest customer NAV, and the Tekna scholarship 2013, in addition to the equity we’ve put in ourselves. We’re now at a stage where we need to raise private capital, in order to initialise production of the first 60 products.

Why are you seeking equity funding?

Because we know that a lot of people out there really believe in AssiStep, and want to see it go into production. Equity funding makes it possible for ordinary people to make a difference, by becoming a shareholder in a company with growth potential. In order for us to start delivering value to users and customers, we need to raise capital for production of our first 60 products.

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

In 5 years our product portfolio have grown to something more than AssiStep, making use of our strategic distribution partners outside Norway. AssiStep is by then an established product also within markets outside Norway, and should be the natural choice for stair mobility. Our organisation consists of creative people that wants to make a difference by creating innovative products that solve big problems.

Check out the AssiStep Funded by Me campaign here!

Want to attend?

Learn more about the Live Crowdfunding Experiment and register for Technoport 2014.

Photo credit: AssiStep (from left to right, Eirik Gjelsvik Medbø, Ingrid Lonar, Halvor Wold)

CFX
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 11, 2014

Last-minute chance to crowdfund your start-up!

We are excited to announce a last minute opportunity for an exciting new start up to join us at Norway’s first live equity-based crowdfunding event. This follows from the success of Bad Norwegian – one of our original participants – which is now close to reaching its fundraising target.

To take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to pitch to a live crowd of investors at CFX on 29th Apr, just send an e-mail to aleksander@fundedbyme.com by 12:00 p.m. on 15th Apr. In the e-mail, explain in one page who your startup is and what products and/or services you are looking to develop. All participants will also receive free entry and merchandising space at Technoport 2014, and a free crowdfunding campaign on Funded by Me.

Samasource
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 4, 2014

Technoport 2014: Leila Janah on Samasource and social entrepreneurship

At the end of April innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and other technology pioneers will gather in Trondheim for Technoport 2014. In the run up to this exciting event, we will publish a series of interviews with our speakers to learn more about how they are driving innovation. This week we hear from award-winning social entrepreneur Leila Janah, founder and CEO of Samasource.

How would you explain Samasource and how it works?

“Sama” is the Sanskrit word for “equal”. The entire SamaGroup (which also includes SamaUSA and Samahope) was built on a shared vision – that of an equal opportunity world, where people aren’t suffering in poverty simply because they happened to be born in a disadvantaged region. We connect people in need to medical care and to dignified work that enables them to take control over their futures.

Impact sourcing is one piece of this strategy. In simple terms, it refers to the practice of outsourcing labor to disadvantaged populations. So if you’re a large corporation and you’re regularly sending work to business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, impact sourcing allows you to use some of those contracts to fight poverty and improve lives. If only a handful of the world’s largest corporations dedicated 5% of their outsourcing portfolios to impact sourcing service providers, it would make a significant dent in global poverty.

Samasource uses the Microwork model. Can you explain what this is and how it has been implemented?

Think of the way an iPhone, or any peripheral device, connects to a computer. You use an adapter cable that allows the two devices to exchange information. The Microwork model is like a massive adapter cable that allows people in poverty to plug their brainpower into global enterprises. It’s a way of connecting these two groups – corporations and the impoverished – for mutual benefit.

Customers approach us with large data projects that require vast numbers of small human judgments. For example, a company might have thousands of photos featuring pieces of furniture that need to be carefully tagged so that computers can be trained to recognize the shape of a chair, or a couch. We break that project down into irreducible tasks, and set up a workspace for them within our technology platform. These tasks then get sent to our delivery center partners in the field, where members of disadvantaged populations are trained to complete them.

Through the Microwork model, you might see a single mother who’s lived her entire life in a Kenyan slum tagging images for a major international corporation. But what’s truly unique about the Microwork Model as a solution to poverty is the way it invests skills and experience in workers. 89% of our workers either go back to school or find further employment in the formal sector.

Some have criticized Samasource for outsourcing the work of US citizens to other countries. How do you respond to this?

This is a common misconception. The services that Samasource provides to its customers – which include huge global brands like Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn – would in most instances be too cost-prohibitive to complete in the United States. So it’s not as if our workers in Kenya or India are out-bidding Americans for jobs. If our workers weren’t completing these data projects, they’d be completed by a BPO firm or simply not done at all.

With that said, Samasource recognizes that poverty is a global problem, and we’re equally dedicated to fighting it here in the US. I started SamaUSA for this reason. SamaUSA is a domestic program that teaches digital skills to low-income community college students, and helps them to find work on online job platforms like Elance and oDesk. SamaUSA is running in three California community colleges already, and we’re poised to scale the program through the entire country.

Do you have plans for scaling up the impact sourcing model further?

A solution to poverty is only viable if it affects a significant number of individuals, and Samasource has always targeted women and youth who support multiple dependents for this reason. We want the wages we pay to positively impact families and invest new capital in entire communities.

But we’re just one participant in a growing trend, in a fledgling industry. Right now, we’re trying to use our influence with large corporations to support the entire impact sourcing space. We believe that we can scale this model collaboratively, by compelling major brands to commit part of their outsourcing portfolios to any number of impact sourcing service providers.

Have there been any technological challenges associated with outsourcing work? What does the future hold for this?

The lack of reliable Internet access in the developing world has been a significant challenge. One of our model’s limitations is its inability to reach populations that are off the grid. In a lot of remote areas, infrastructural investments must be made before the Microwork Model can be applied and people can be recruited.

We’ve had great success, however, when those infrastructural investments have been made. We’ve partnered with Oxfam Novib and a number of other international NGOs on a project called Internet Now! that’s bringing Internet access and computer-based work to rural areas in northern Uganda. This region was devastated by the country’s civil war and never recovered. Many people there still live in huts, and walk miles every day to collect safe drinking water from public pumps. But with our partners ALIN and Inveneo, we’ve set up solar-powered, Internet-enabled centers in three rural Ugandan communities. The people there may not have running water in their homes, but they’re getting paid to complete computer-based tasks for huge global brands. It’s amazing.

What have been your main triumphs and tribulations as a social entrepreneur, and what advice would you give others? 

Samasource has now reached over 20,000 people through the wages it pays to workers. I consider that a colossal triumph, although it’s just the beginning of what we hope to accomplish. Experiencing the spark of inspiration as a social entrepreneur – that “a-ha” moment when I get an idea that I think can help people – is exhilarating, but that moment is the start of a long, arduous journey toward real impact.

When raising money to get Samasource off the ground I heard “no” from a lot from potential funders. I’ve also faced people who think I have no business being in the tech industry as a woman, and as a woman of south Asian descent. But I’ve also been lucky to find kindred spirits who are just as excited as I am about using technology to change the world.

The most valuable advice I’ve ever heard comes from Silicon Valley leader and investor Ben Horowitz: “Don’t quit.” Especially in the tech world, where successes can become obsolete within the blink of an eye, it’s crucial to a have an inner voice simply telling you to keep going, keep refining, keep striving.

Want to hear more?

Leila will speak at our A Tool For Change session at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we shed light on how innovation and entrepreneurship can change the world. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

Image credit: Samasource.org

Shareable.net
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 2, 2014

Technoport 2014: Lauren Anderson on the game-changing power of collaborative consumption

At the end of April innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and other technology pioneers will gather in Trondheim for Technoport 2014. In the run up to this exciting event, we will publish a series of interviews with our speakers to learn more about how they are driving innovation. This week we hear from Lauren Anderson, Community Director at the pioneering shared economy organisation Collaborative Consumption.

1. How would you explain “collaborative consumption”?

We describe collaborative consumption as the reinvention of old market behaviours such as bartering, lending, swapping, trading and exchanging – but this time they’ve been reinvented for the Facebook age! Social, mobile and location-based technologies are enabling us to share and exchange all kinds of assets now – from physical stuff to less tangible things like time, skills and space – on a scale and in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even 10 years ago.

2. How is collaborative consumption disrupting existing models of doing business?

We are already seeing collaborative consumption disrupting established 100-year-old industries such as car manufacturing, hospitality and even banking by putting the power in the hands of the people. These new technologies are not only more efficient and often more affordable, but they also provide more authentic and personal experiences over mass-produced and standardised, which is something people are hungry for these days. Having said this, there are many ways that existing companies can, and should, get involved in understanding how this consumer shift might affect them, and what they can do to maintain relevance and build brand loyalty with these new consumers.

3. What are some examples of different types of businesses that are leading this movement?

In our directory of examples we have documented more than 1000 examples of collaborative consumption globally, and have found examples in more than 100 countries. But while there are many small local marketplaces in this space, there are also some bigger global companies who operate across a number of continents.

Airbnb, the p2p accommodation marketplace, is arguably the biggest collaborative consumption platform in the world, behind sites like eBay. TaskRabbit and similar task marketplace platforms have been hugely successful. Carsharing and bikesharing platforms are up and running in hundreds of cities around the world, transforming the ideas of mobility. And for a local start-up, EasyBring is a collaborative distribution service, or ‘crowdshipping’, tapping into a network of deliverers who can send packages for others.

4. Cities are also getting involved – tell us a bit more about that.

Cities look after a lot of the regulation at a local level, and in many cases collaborative consumption companies are not adequately dealt with in the current legislation, causing a lot of uncertainty and fear. Other than that, there are many ways cities can adopt collaborative consumption-based models to supply services to residents and also build a culture of empowered citizens rather than a passive community. We expect to see many cities following the likes of Seoul in South Korea, and Portland, Oregon, to really make Shareable Cities part of their mandate.

5. What role can collaborative consumption play in overcoming global challenges such as climate change?

As an example, most collaborative consumption platforms are focused on maximising the ‘idling’ or underused capacity of the things around us – ensuring that the things we own are used to their full potential. Other platforms are dedicated to the redistribution of stuff from where it’s not wanted to somewhere it’s needed, extending the lifecycle of products otherwise headed to landfill. And perhaps most importantly, collaborative consumption encourages people to consider whether they really need to buy something new, or if there are other ways they could access it, which might involve connecting with other people in the community.

6. Where do you see collaborative consumption going in the future?

In the future, we definitely see that there will be much more involvement from existing organisations, as well as local and even federal governments, as collaborative consumption becomes a much bigger part of the consumer ecosystem. We will start to see the most successful models of collaborative consumption being scaled and replicated around the world, and local economies will be strengthened through these new ideas. Ultimately we believe that we will be able to reduce our reliance on the consumer machine, and that we will be able to restore the balance of community and contribution that we are missing today.

Want to hear more?

Lauren will feature at our Troublemakers event at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we showcase stories of some of the individuals behind disruptive companies. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

Image credit: Shareable.net

Crowdfunding interview
60David Nikel

David NikelMarch 26, 2014

Equity Crowdfunding: Your Questions Answered!

Everyone at Technoport is getting excited about the Live Crowdfunding Experiment, a real highlight of our Technoport 2014 innovation conference next month. There’s a real buzz around equity crowdfunding right now, and we feel the world is watching us.

We’re getting a lot of questions to our Inbox about the legalities of equity crowdfunding, as much of the American-led tech media still refers to it as illegal. We covered tax implications recently, but corporate structure is a little more complex. So I called up our legal brain and startup law expert Tommy Dahlen to get some answers. And here they are:

Is equity crowdfunding legal in Norway?

Provided that you structure the crowdfunding campaign correctly, equity crowdfunding is legal under applicable law in Norway.

It should however be pointed out that you should seek legal advice, either from the representatives of the crowdfunding platform provider, or an independent lawyer or legal advisor, to ensure that all formal requirements are met. The service provider will normally have all necessary information available and safely guide you through the various steps required to successfully, and legally, launch and execute your campaign.

You could for instance be required to prepare a “prospectus” for use in the campaign dependent on how much equity you are trying to raise, where the main threshold is €1,000,000 over a 12-month period. Under this threshold you would still be required to provide potential investors with certain information about the company, but without the same formal requirements.

It should also be pointed out that the current legal framework in Norway does not provide specific legislation for crowdfunding, insofar as that neither the process of placing the equity crowdfunding campaign nor the equity itself is specifically regulated, so that this is somewhat unchartered legal territory. However, done correctly, equity crowdfunding could prove to be a valuable source of financing for your venture.

What exactly are investors buying?

Normally, an equity crowdfunding campaign would offer regular shares to the investors just as you would in a conventional private placement. The main difference would be the process of finding the investors, and the number of investors, but at the end of the day you would end up with investors who themselves will own regular stock in your company and exercise the rights normally associated with the shareholders position.

You need to keep in mind that a large number of shareholders add some administrative “burden” on the company, with respect to information requirements etc, so it’s wise to prepare some guidelines for how the company will interact with its owners.

What obligations will I have towards successful investors?

Investors would enjoy all rights and benefits as the other shareholders of the company in accordance with applicable law. This would include a right to vote in the general assembly, have a right to various types of information, a right to equal treatment as other owners, a right to dividend etc. However, in preparation to launching a crowdfunding campaign, every company should look into the possibility of establishing shareholder-/investment agreements that could govern some practical aspects of having a large number of shareholders.

As I pointed out earlier, the existing legal framework does not specifically address the more practical aspects of having a large group of shareholders. Having a shareholder agreement could in this respect prove valuable for both the company and its shareholders.

Any further questions on equity crowd funding? Let us know!

Want to invest?

Take part in the Live Crowdfunding Experiment at Technoport 2014 as real companies swap real equity for real cash. We’ll also explore future crowdfunding business models with industry experts. Book your place now.