As part of a wide-ranging exploration of the crowdfunding phenomenon to be published in the September issue of Dialogue, Dr Liz Mellon met founder and chief executive of Crowdsourcing Week Epi Ludvik Nekaj
“Hundreds of millions of people are becoming peer lenders and bankers – now everyone can invest, even with small amounts. Banks will continue to play a role, but only the good ones. For the rest, it’s already too late.”
So says Epi Ludvik Nekaj, founder and chief executive of Crowdsourcing Week ,established in New York in 2011 (he has since moved the headquarters to Singapore.)
Crowdsourcing is the practice of aligning many individuals to work towards a common goal. It employs collaboration for problem-solving, funding, innovation and efficiency and is powered by new technologies, social media and web 2.0.
Crowdsourcing Week was founded to support the transition towards a more open and collaborative economy. It helps organizations power crowd-based solutions through providing services, conferences and online communities. It hosts two major conferences a year to inspire and connect people, as well as a series of one-day summits on two or three topics relevant to the crowd economy.
Nekaj himself seems to live a life powered by web 2.0 – his extensive travel is made possible through renting fantastic, well-priced accommodation through Airbnb. To him, this is just one of the tangibles of a shared economy. ‘The crowd economy is very powerful – it creates online communities, global citizenship and releases human potential,” he tells Dialoguereview.com
“Social media allows us to put the best of ourselves forward to the world – I can rent great places on Airbnb because of my reputation currency. The future will be very different, it will be driven by stuff coming to you – we won’t have to go out searching any longer.”
Like many entrepreneurs, Epi has bootstrapped Crowdsourcing Week, building it organically. But come October he intends to take his own medicine. ‘We will launch our own equity crowdfunding campaign to sell shares,” he says.
“We want to harness the passion of those with similar beliefs – we’d like to get 100 or so investors. It’s not just about the money though – money comes last on the list of things to be gained. We want our investors and our crowd of stakeholders to help us to do things too and get involved in our processes.
“Power corrupts humans – harnessing the crowd allows for more distributed power and creates more opportunities. My contributors say ‘thank you for doing this’ not ‘what a great company you have created’.
“You become the conduit and outlet for ideas that people want to see happen.”
Watch out for the September issue of Dialogue for much more from Liz Mellon on crowdfunding.