Sunday, November 8, 2015

Crowdfunding, Crowdsourcing, or Open Source Solutions?

You've probably started to become aware of the relatively new phenomenum called 'Crowdfunding'. But what exactly is crowdfunding or crowdsourcing all about? Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a public or private venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, often via Internet-based platforms. Crowdsourcing is the process of soliciting needed services, ideas, or content via the Internet from people around the world.

Crowdfunding is a form of alternative financing which has emerged outside of more traditional financial systems. In 2013, the crowdfunding industry raised over $5.1 billion worldwide and is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2025. However, the key to the success of crowdfunding over the long term is 'trust' - and that has become an issue as many crowdfunding struggle to actually ever produce a product.

As of 2012, there were over 450 crowdfunding platforms - some of which are somewhat questionable. Examples of current crowdfunding platforms include: CircleUp, Crowdcube, Emerging Crowd, Eureeca, Funding Circle, Kickstarter, Lending Club, Microventures, OurCrowd, Ulule. CrowdEngine, Cashare, Daily Deed, DealGlobe, EquityNet, GoFundMe, Indiegogo, iFunding, InvestX, Zopa and many more. So, you had best check them out carefully before you start handing over your hard earned money.

Some of the many recent articles cautioning people about crowdfunding include:

However, there are starting to be a growing number of news articles on reputable crowdfunding projects that actually produced a product. For example:

Perhaps a better alternative to crowdfunding or crowdsourcing for those interested in developing new technologies or solutions would be to participate or contribute to some of the well established, reputable organizations focused on developing collaborative 'open source' solutions. 

This would include such well known non-profit organizations such as Apache, CAMBIA, Creative Commons, Eclipse, Free Software Foundation, Linux Foundation, Mozilla, Open Source Initiative, Open Source for America, Project Gutenburg, Sunlight Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation and so many more.

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