The Next BOLD Step in Business Audio? Ask the Crowd!

The Next Step in Business Audio? Ask the Crowd!

By Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, co-founders of Barefoot Wines and co-authors of the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand.

When humans listen to a story something amazing happens. Each individual in a crowd reaches into their own personal memories to create and complete the scenes in which the action takes place. In other words, they source the props from their own mental inventory. When this happens, they tag the story to be more easily recalled. Why? Because they had something to do with its telling. They were interacting by embellishing the scenes with their imagination, they were involved in a process of co-creation.

Pre-literate indigenous people would hand down their history and the principles they had learned  about survival, the environment, medicine, and even virtues through story. Fast forward 8,000 years, we are rediscovering the power of story to convey principles. We, the audience, hear the story and draw out the take-aways, principles, and lessons. Through using our imagination to complete the scenes, and even identify with the characters, we can recall and use the lessons in our own businesses and life! This is a type of experiential learning.

Prescriptive Text

Without story, business books, especially, can seem one dimensional, prescriptive, and even patronizing. The principles are all laid out for you in a logical construct-like outline. “Here are the 3 things to do, the 5 things never to do, and the 15 things your customer wants from you.” Even if the points are made using examples, the mind glazes over by the end of chapter two. And the retention and application of the principles being shared is questionable.

With the renaissance of story, we are reconnecting with what our ancient ancestors instinctively knew all along: if you want your listeners to remember and use the message, wrap a convincing story around it with compelling characters overcoming challenges using the principles you wish to convey.

Audio Tech History

Forty years ago, all the cars came with audio cassette players. So did most portable radios. It seemed like everybody had a Walkman. You see, back then people appreciated the freedom of audio recordings. They could drive or jog and still listen to a book or a lecture on their favorite topics. We would listen and learn on our way to another city, hoping that some of the lessons learned along the way would stick. We hoped to employ them at the upcoming business meeting. The cassettes were very helpful in our business.

So, fast forward again to the present and we are enjoying the evolution of audio to MP3 as a learning tool. Unlike video, it does not immobilize our mobile devices. Radio-like interviews for iPods evolved into podcasts. Podcasts became wildly popular. What’s not to like? They are informative, in relative short formats, and they are almost always free!  At the same time, paper books became eBooks, and eBooks became audiobooks, all conveniently downloadable and digital.

Now What?

About a year ago, we asked our crowd, “What’s the next step in business audio books?” The answers we got were surprising.  They wanted more story and less prescription. They wanted to be able to draw their own conclusions. They wanted several short stories all linked together with principles demonstrated by action. Due to the increasing popularity of dramatized fiction, they wanted to hear non-fiction dramatized as well.

The Next Step in Business Audio? Ask the Crowd!And so we thought about the radio theater of the 1940’s with actors playing roles in skits. We thought about NPR’s “Theater of the Mind,” and we even thought about A Prairie Home Companion, all dramatized audio productions presented in a theatrical format. Why couldn’t we do this with a business audio book? And why couldn’t we use our own book as a guinea pig?

Next thing you know, we’re off to Hollywood! We partnered with an acting ensemble, converted our New York Times bestseller, The Barefoot Spirit, into audio script, and invested in some serious studio time and a whole lot of editing. We wanted to produce what we think is the BOLD next step in business audio books. We call it, “Business Audio Theater.” After a year of hard work, we are happy to announce our true story of how we built America’s #1 wine brand was released in this new business theater audiobook format on September 12th at the CSW Global 2019 conference in San Francisco!

Open Innovation Helps Power Business Breakthroughs and Identify Bold Talent

Open Innovation Helps Power Business Breakthroughs and Identify Bold Talent

Agorize began as a French-based open innovation challenge platform that connects businesses and innovators from all over the world. Since it started in 2010 it has hosted over 200 challenges, connected with five million innovators from 185 countries, and earlier this year it attracted €13 million in VC funding. We thought it was time to take a closer look at them.

Company background

Open Innovation Helps Power Business Breakthroughs and Identify Bold TalentThe platform already has an international presence with offices in Paris, Stuttgart in Germany, Montreal (in French-speaking Canada) and San Francisco in North America, and Hong Kong and Tokyo in Asia. The new funding will allow Agorize to expand in these markets through plans to hire between 75 and 120 employees by the end of the year in sales, marketing, customer support, as well as developers and community managers. Charles Thou, co-founder and CEO, predicts that “In the next 5 years, we will only make around 10 or 20% of our turnover in France.”

Agorize works with a roster of many global corporations who have identified open innovation challenges as both a very effective way to keep their fingers on the pulse of innovation and breakthroughs, and to effect introductions to tomorrow’s top talent. The impressive list includes Microsoft, AWS, Google, L’Oréal, PepsiCo, LVMH, Publicis, HSBC, CBC/Radio-Canada, TD Insurance, Oxford Properties, National Bank of Canada, Desjardins, Bank of America, Citi Group, HP, IBM, Bank of the West, and Capgemini.

Newcomers are regularly surprised by the high quality of the challenges. The range of ideas and innovations they find are way beyond the possible scope of in-house R&D teams, who can sometimes develop a restrictive ‘corporate mindset’ of “I know what was well received last time, I won’t go too far from that again this time.”

Benefits for challenge sponsors

Multinational corporations often have little contact with student and startup innovators. These types of people are also increasingly keen to develop their own businesses in order to make their individual mark on the world rather than join the ranks of corporate employees.

Open Innovation Helps Power Business Breakthroughs and Identify Bold Talent
Managing Partner of Agorize North America, Aurelie Wen

Through the process of sponsoring open innovation challenges, Agorize introduces corporate businesses to students in any particular fields of study to identify and potentially recruit self-identifying top talent; to cutting-edge startups who have already decided where to look for niche opportunities to make a breakthrough; and to digital native app designers who can accelerate the creation of innovative concepts.

Agorize can also create challenges for a company’s existing employees. Working in multi-disciplinary project teams cuts through silo barriers, boosts morale, and unlocks latent enthusiasm and creativity, generating positive commitment with all its associated benefits.

Sponsoring a challenge on Agorize can also be considered as Marketing and HR activity. For example, the French firms Descartes Development, Air Liquide and Michelin combined to set a challenge related to sustainable cities. It highlighted to students and startups that these companies are active and have positive credentials in this sector, and through taking part, potential future recruits identified themselves to these three companies.

More details on this project and many others are available in Agorize’s Case Studies.

Benefits for students and startups

Agorize provides a full project ‘eco-system’ to tap in to and develop student and startup talent. Importantly, as a first stage, students and startup entrepreneurs can actually meet each other through the “matchmaker algorithm.” Each problem-solver registered in their network completes a profile so that they can be identified and notified about relevant challenges. On receiving notification, each individual can apply to join an existing team or create their own and recruit other problem-solvers to join them in addressing a particular challenge.

They work together in a dedicated online workspace provided by Agorize. This enables their collaboration to take place simply and in one location, accelerating iterations and breaking down geographical barriers.

Challenge sponsors can insert their own employees in to teams as a mentor to provide factual information and keep projects going in the right direction, whilst still allowing the free flow of ideas and creative innovation which are prerequisites to achieve breakthroughs.

Companies that set the challenges also contribute to a program of workshops, and help would-be problem-solvers with technical issues, legal matters, general business coaching and advice on how to navigate a development pathway.

At the tail end of challenges, an online voting system allows people in the network to see the proposals that were submitted and deliver their own verdict on which one they think is the winner. This openness encourages the spread and adoption of best practices, and also delivers peer group prestige.

Digital natives teach the C-Suite

As the first generation that has grown up with digital technology since they were young teenagers, Generation Z workers (born 1997-2000) have new perspectives on applying that technology – or even creating their own new tech – to tackle everything around them. It’s a mindset that’s alien to the generation that currently holds the reins of corporate control. Agorize organises hackathons for aspiring tech developers to bounce off each other and truly enlighten the C-Suite.

Prepare to Salute and Celebrate the BOLDest

Prepare to Salute and Celebrate the BOLDest

The 2020 BOLD Awards, created by Crowdsourcing Week, will build on 2019’s inaugural event to bring together the cream of the crowd economy sector to celebrate the achievements of some of its finest exponents and champions.

About the event

The black-tie Gala Dinner award ceremony represents the Oscars for industries such as the crowdsourcing, open innovation and related tech communities.  

As well as celebrating the breakthrough winners of 12 diverse categories it will be an evening of unparalleled top class industry networking.

If you’re here you will be alongside the industry’s finest.

2020’s glittering event will be held once again at the campus of H-Farm, the innovation platform that supports the creation of new business models and the digital transformation and education of young people and Italian companies. They are just outside Venice, Italy.

Prepare to Salute and Celebrate the BOLDestThe date to put in your diary is Friday March 27th when the evening will begin with a drinks reception, followed by a three-course meal and the annual BOLD Awards 2020 ceremony.

The Official Drink of BOLD Awards 2020 is Valdo Prosecco.

Entering the BOLD Awards

Entry submissions for the BOLD Awards 2020 are now open and the closing deadline for all entries is December 31, 2019. Entry is fee-based, currently it is just €7 though will rise in stages as we near the closing deadline.

After this deadline, a period of public voting will commence January 6th, 2020, followed by an assessment of the resulting shortlist of entries by an international panel of judges.

Entry in any of the 12 categories can be made here. In 2020 there are some new categories, including Boldest Travel Blogger/Influencer, Boldest Augmented & Virtual Reality, Boldest Marketplace and Boldest AgroTech.

How You Can Be Involved

Seats at BOLD Awards 2020 are going to be evenly divided between Nominees, Event Partners and Sponsors, Special Guests, and people who are BOLD enough to request an invitation to attend this unique event.

To start the process of attending as a Nominee, select a category here (though you may enter more than one) and begin your submission. Please ensure you check here the key criteria that will be used to assess each one.

Prepare to Salute and Celebrate the BOLDest

Prepare to Salute and Celebrate the BOLDest

If you’re bold enough to want a place at the crowdsourcing industry’s Oscars evening in the company of global sector leaders, then request an invitation. The attendance fee is €875.

BOLD Awards is aiming to engage more than 3,000 submissions from the public and private sector, with only the Top 50 being selected to join us in Venice, Italy, on March 27th 2020. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be BOLD, you can complete your details here ->

Tipalti Launch NetNow Service to Incentivise Invoice Early Payment – What Does This Mean for Marketplace Platforms?

Tipalti Launch NetNow Service to Incentivise Invoice Early Payment – What Does This Mean for Marketplace Platforms?

The banking and financial services sector is becoming more strategically focused and technologically advanced. It has to respond to growing consumer expectations while trying to defend market share against an increasing array of competitors who are each trying to eat their lunch through targeting a single specialist area of the wide banking services.

Tipalti Launch NetNow Service to Incentivise Invoice Early Payment - What Does This Mean for Marketplace Platforms?One such specialist service provider in the automated payments sector is Tipalti. Their service is particularly well recognized as an efficient method for organizations of all sizes to pay a growing crowd of freelance and gig-economy workers, including providers of open innovation challenge solutions, on time, with the right amount, and in the right currency without onerous exchange fees for either party.

Tipalti’s streamlined and automated payables process helps clients of all sizes increase profit by reducing payment errors and automating the process of large transactions; it prevents fraud; and helps to meet international regulatory compliances effectively.

Cash flow issues for startups and small businesses

And now they have introduced a new faster payment service called NetNow. Smaller and new businesses are particularly prone to cash flow issues, simply due to the money coming in and the bills that need to be paid not yet stabilizing in to any sort of a regular pattern. Slow payment from clients or unexpected bills may require a sudden and short-term cash injection. Or maybe an unforeseen business opportunity looks too good to miss, or let be snapped up by a rival.

Either way, a new startup business is unlikely to have built up a satisfactory track record and credit rating to qualify for support from a bank.

Late payment is a particularly big problem for smaller businesses. According to The Entrepreneur in 2017, US small businesses were owed $825 billion in unpaid invoices. It stated: “If SMBs were paid on time, they could hire an additional 2.1 million employees — and reduce U.S. unemployment by 27%.” Alternatively, startup entrepreneurs could  invest more in plant and equipment; take on more speculative business; boost their marketing; build up a larger stock of inventory; or even pay themselves a bit more as a reward for their risk-taking.

In the UK late payments by large businesses are also a major issue for SMEs (small and medium enterprises). Recent research by Dun and Bradstreet revealed that “nearly half (48%) say late payments put their business at risk of failure” according to its recent report: ‘UK SMEs: Brexit and Beyond.’ The SMEs questioned in the research had seen the average amount owed to them rise by almost a quarter from £64,000 in 2017 to £80,000 in 2018, impacting cash flow and future growth. 

Tipalti’s NetNow service enables any client to accelerate payment of an invoice, to receive some needed cash quickly, through rewarding the payee with a reduction off the amount. The example given by Tipalti is for a supplier invoice of $2000, the supplier can receive $1950 if they choose to be paid early.

What makes NetNow unique

This in itself is not new, but usually requires the payer and the payee to agree a long-term arrangement that will apply to every invoice. NetNow is flexible enough, and so seamlessly built in to Tipalti’s systems, to apply to individual invoices, one at a time.

Tipalti Launch NetNow Service to Incentivise Invoice Early Payment – What Does This Mean for Marketplace Platforms?Chen Amit, Tipalti CEO and co-founder commented: “At Tipalti, we understand that supply chain health is incredibly important for companies to maintain competitiveness, as it impacts their ability to execute on business plans. Supply chain financing is not a new concept. However, the frictionless way we have enabled it is. We are proud to be the only accounts payables automation vendor who offers this program embedded directly within its platform for easy payer and payee adoption.”

What it means for marketplace platforms

Marketplace platforms are two-sided networks where the supply chain (vendors contributing content, for example) are also revenue drivers, said Todd McGuire, general manager of supplier success at Tipalti. Many of the smaller firms – if able to receive payments 40 days earlier (while accepting a small discount on net amounts paid out) than might be seen with, say, 45-day terms – could take that accelerated funding and re-invest it into their operations to fund growth. It gives them a new funding source, he added.

Crowdsourcing Engineering Solutions Through Open Innovation Challenges

Crowdsourcing Engineering Solutions Through Open Innovation Challenges is a global crowd-engineering platform enabling corporations, SMEs, and start-ups to scale resources and tackle engineering and hardware challenges within their organizations and product life cycle. It was launched by the online electrical hardware components supply chain provider Sourceability in 2018. It gives their existing clients, plus other new users, opportunities to source not only components but to also crowdsource engineering-related ideas and solutions from either an open or a curated network of sector specialists.

The democratic basis of crowdsourcing through open innovation means that as well as established professionals and businesses, freelance engineers and newcomer engineering students or recent engineering graduates who are looking for projects that will help them hone their skills can enter a range of incentivized challenges. This could definitely give their career a boost if they can contribute to an appropriate breakthrough.

Surcle has a short video that shows both sides of the benefits for anyone either setting a challenge or working to resolve one.

If you’re majoring in engineering or have recently graduated, and you’re looking for a novel way to launch a career in engineering, then you can sign up here as a Solution Provider in Surcle’s crowd-engineering network and start entering incentivized engineering-based competitions. If you’re an existing business, think of this as an addititon to your new business pipeline.

If you want to launch a challenge, which can also put you in touch with some manufacturers to speed up bringing your product to market as well as with solution providers, you can register here.

What sort of competitions?
Here are two that have recently closed.

Crowdsourcing Engineering Solutions Through ChallengesUkaton was seeking help to shrink a PCB layout to fit inside a shoe to help millions of people improve their posture. SmartShoe Insoles will have three primary functions: a) provide posture analysis and input for VR/AR/XR, b) function as a real-time gait analyzer, and c) serve as a passive and continuous body-weight scale. Submissions needed to be field tested by the deadline for entries of 15 August 2019, though a prize amount had not been set as the startup Ukaton was seeking support from a more-established partner.

Zollner Elektronik AG has launched The Protocol Converter Challenge. It seeks an IoT software solution for a messaging server to deliver seamless communication between any industrial machine and software interface. The goal is to create a middleware IoT device that enables interoperability of various industrial machines, equipment, and workstations on a manufacturing shop floor to support industry’s move towards a “smart factory.”

After consulting its network of solution providers, Surcle received bids from three reputable engineering firms to take on the project. Furthermore, the competitors estimated they could complete the challenge for anywhere between $20,000 to $35,000.

After an initial two-week software programming phase, the three engineering firms developed 13 software solutions. Surcle ensured they developed their IT protocol converter software with the appropriate discretion via non-disclosure agreements.

The three competitors then spent three weeks developing working prototypes of their machine interoperability systems, and presented the results to Surcle. One didn’t make it further, and Surcle presented Zollner with two IoT protocol converter designs to review.

Challenge Outcome

Zollner Elektronik naturally selected the system that best suited the needs of its 19 international worksites. Although it was also the highest priced solution, it was $10,000 under the budget Zollner had initially allocated and it still represented a saving.

Through partnering with Surcle, the German EMS Zollner no longer has to waste valuable time translating data between its equipment. Also, because it is now using a customized solution, it doesn’t have to pay licensing fees for a generic third-party product.

New development

In the meantime, Surcle continues to innovate with further developments. One is the launch of its Engineer Matchmaking Feature. This matchmaking service matches Design and Engineering projects with a curated network of firms and professionals possessing appropriate levels of expertise, financial backup, and other key resources required to deliver the envisioned solution within a specified time frame.

Larger projects may be broken down and compartmentalized in an effort to maintain efficiency, while simultaneously decreasing the risk of complications that may prolong delivery time.

Milestones within this service include at least engineering specifications, product wireframes, functional and engineering prototypes, and firmware. Firms and professionals matched to these projects include the expected engineering firms, original design manufacturers, design firms and electronic manufacturing services, though operators in other sectors could also be considered.

You Can Count on Mathesia to Improve Innovation

You Can Count on Mathesia to Improve Innovation

Mathesia is a global crowdsourcing-based innovation platform based in Italy, that brings together a highly specialised crowd of around 3,000 vetted mathematicians and data scientists from around the world. Since it launched in 2014, Mathesia’s focus has been to help clients solve problems through generating prize challenges to tackle from a mathematical perspective. This doesn’t mean they solve mathematical problems, their crowd of solution providers solve real-life problems using math.

It is a great example of the type of highly curated on-demand talent network that is available through a variety of crowdsourced open innovation platforms, and represents the future development of how innovative startups will increasingly work: access to specialist and expert skills and knowledge when any business may have need of it without the burden of an expensive payroll to fund a fulltime team.

The benefits for the network  of experts (dubbed ‘Brainies’) who subscribe to Mathesia include opportunities to gain and enhance a personal reputation, grow in rank and earn money through their effort spent on Mathesia projects.

You Can Count on Mathesia to Improve InnovationA New Development
The original, or ‘standard format’ of such platforms is to act as an interface between the challenge providers and the platform’s network of would-be solution providers. Though through launching its Connected Innovation Hub, Mathesia has taken this to a next stage. In effect it is a white-label service within their platform which can be fully branded in the corporate image of any challenge provider who is then able to interact directly with selected members of Mathesia’s crowd of solution providers, the ‘Brainies.’ And while this goes on, Mathesia’s team remains available as trusted partners to advise and provide help at any stage of the process.

The Idea Garden is a forum to interact with Brainies to raise questions, topics and touch points to source feedback at an early stage of ideation before innovation projects are more fully formed. As much as this can be very useful to short-list the ideas to take forward, it can also swiftly identify the ones that are not going to excite the crowd.

Through a Co-Lab Tech Scouting feature it’s possible for challenge providers to identify both new startups and more established organisations operating in any particular field as potential longer-term collaborators, if that’s what they wish.

The final stage of refining a project through ideation to execution, and identifying collaborators, is then for a challenge provider to launch it in their self-branded environment in the Project Centre to provide the Brainies with a unique and stimulating environment.

Targeting the US Market
A second development at Mathesia since we last updated you about them is they have become a Member of The Collective, a wide member-based community of platforms and innovators, both corporate and academic, dedicated to advancing the dynamic You Can Count on Mathesia to Improve Innovationof open work strategies, crowd-based innovation and practical collaboration. It was launched by Open Assembly, an organization created in 2017 with the purpose of thinking on the future and the significant changes of the working-world. Its members include some of the most relevant key-players in the USA, like NASA, Deloitte, General Electric and Microsoft.

A key aim of Matehsia’s collaboration within The Collective is to extend their expertise to the best organisations and firms on the US market, and make real partnerships with companies, influencers and academic institutions working on the concept of innovation. Mathesia will actively contribute by developing new open innovation solutions, and work with fellow members to define best practices in the world of advanced crowdsourcing.

Prominent Challenge Partners
I’ll close with a mention of a couple of Mathesia’s current and recent challenge partners. The platform is working with Eni, an Italian multinational oil and gas company, in the Safety Pre-sense project where their network of experts has been tasked with the creation of a data-driven framework capable of identifying the most relevant and repeating causes and factors of incidence concerning safety. Eni’s ultimate goal is to build a system able to support and guide their Health, Safety and Environment experts in making faster, more aware and more focused decisions.”

A recently completed Mathesia project was with Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A., commonly known more simply as Generali, an Italian insurance company which is the largest in Italy and third in the world. The project goal was to assess what is the best methodology, and the most promising variable among all the possible external factors, to build a prediction model for foreign exchange rates. 63 “Brainies” worked on the project, aiming to earn a prize of up to €60,000, and Generali received six submissions. Needless to say, their content remains confidential.

Crowdsourcing the Diagnosis of Incurable Diseases Through AI

Crowdsourcing the Diagnosis of Incurable Diseases Through AI

We are now quite used to seeing the disruption that’s taking place in many marketplaces due to the combination of new technology and mass connectivity in the hands of visionary startups, unencumbered by the ‘rules’ of established business models. Though how about when a global corporation is bold enough to disrupt itself? This is what some think the Philip Morris International tobacco company did when it set out to create a smoke-free future through the development of Reduced Risk Products (RRPs). And the organization they founded to do this now brings together scientists from all over the world to address some of humanity’s greatest challenges, including irritable bowel disease.

As part of their process to develop smoke-free products in a way that would be robust enough to withstand intense scientific scrutiny, PMI launched sbv IMPROVER as an industry initiative to harness the wisdom of the crowd in global science. The purpose was to provide a measure of quality control through gaining external third-party validation of the methodologies used. sbv IMPROVER stands for Systems Biology Verification combined with Industrial Methodology for Process Verification in Research.

It’s a platform that’s available to engage global scientists in non-PMI challenges, and 2019’s major challenge is “Metagenomics for Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diagnosis.”  Inflammatory bowel disease(IBD) is a term mainly used to describe two conditions: Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Harnessing AI to Crowdsource the Diagnosis of Incurable Diseases

Image source: World IBD Day

An estimated 1.3m IBD sufferers in the US alone, and approximately 5 million worldwide, are divided equally by gender. There is no available cure, and treatment for the many varied symptoms includes specific diets, lifestyle changes, medicines and surgery. The aim of the challenge is to design AI tools for more accurate and faster diagnosis.

Opening in August and lasting until November, the new sbv IMPROVER challenge will address fundamental questions regarding the function and composition of the microbiome, and aims at investigating the diagnostic potential of metagenomics data to discriminate patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) – including Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease – from non-IBD subjects.

Harnessing AI to Crowdsource the Diagnosis of Incurable Diseases

Image source: sbv IMPROVER

The challenge brings together two large, publicly available datasets, which participants will use to train their machine learning algorithms, and a third PMI dataset, obtained from an independent study, which will be used for testing the algorithms. The participants will evaluate whether metagenomics data collected from stool samples are sufficiently informative to be leveraged as a diagnostic tool for IBD, and determine which computational methods are best suited for this task.

The outcome of the challenge will represent a step forward to providing healthcare professionals with tools based on Artificial Intelligence intended to speed up the diagnosis, replace invasive medical procedures, and lower the costs in the healthcare system.

There are numerous benefits of developing crowd-based solutions as opposed to smaller teams of scientists working ‘behind closed doors.’ Groups of established scientists have reputations to maintain, and are more likely to want to make public only what they perceive to be their best and most soundly based solution.  This can lead to incremental improvements, but seldomly a major transformative breakthrough.

Whereas people making up a larger crowd, communicating through channels visible to rest of the crowd, are often more likely to mentally prod and poke each other with a wider scope of considerations and “what ifs?” to prompt contributions from participants.

Larger challenges can be broken down and different experts can tackle different parts of it. Participants can use different methods and submit different solutions from starting with the same data, and a combination of submissions often outperforms the best individual ones. This is the phenomenon referred to as the “Wisdom of the Crowds” that can establish state-of-the-art technology in a field, and identify complementary methods to solve a problem.

At the conclusion of sbv IMPROVER challenges, results are made public through publishing papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Crowd-related breakthroughs and the positive disruption they can cause will be the subject of sector-leading speaker sessions and panel discussions at our next international conference, CSW Global 2019, running September 12-13 in San Francisco. Registration is open, you can reserve your place now.

We Salute the BOLDest of the BOLD

We Salute the BOLDest of the BOLD

Shining a spotlight on BOLD and breakthrough projects in crowdsourcing, open innovation and related-technology sectors, the winners in 12 categories plus three special awards were announced at the inaugural annual BOLD Awards held on Friday April 5th.

We Salute the BOLDest of the BOLDThe prestigious international BOLD Award scheme was created by Crowdsourcing Week, which provides insight, information and events for the global crowd-economy-focused community. The event itself was organized and hosted by H-FARM, one of the most important startup business development and accelerator hubs in Europe and indeed the world.

The gala dinner presentation ceremony began with a tour around H-FARM’s campus just outside Venice, Italy. Crowdsourcing Week’s CEO Epi Ludvik and Emil Abirascid, Founder and Editor in Chief of Startupbusiness, opened and emceed the evening, during which Jose Luis Cordeiro brought the future close with his amazing presentation on Mind Value and Attitudes Toward The Future.

We Salute the BOLDest of the BOLDOver 300 initial nominations had been reduced to a shortlist of five nominees per category by online public voting. An international panel of judges, chaired by H-FARM’s co-founder Maurizio Rossi, then finalized the winners, thus combining the power of the crowd and hard work of exceptional individuals.

We offer our heartiest congratulations to the winners of each of the 12 pre-announced categories, with details of three added surprise awards that were made on the evening.

Boldest Crowdsourced Online Platform, presented by Mathesia: Mindhive – Bruce Muirhead

Boldest Crowdsourced Marketing & Advertising Campaign, presented by Tipalti: Rebuild Kerala – John Santhosh

Epi Ludvik of Crowdsourcing Week with Bruce Muirhead of Mindhive

Boldest Open Innovation, presented by H-FARM: Open Cosmos – Remco Timmermans

Boldest Space Frontier, presented by HeroX: Open Cosmos – Remco Timmermans

Boldest AI, presented by Spark Beyond: ScienceAtHome – Janet Rafner

Boldest Scientific Project, presented by sbv IMPROVER: ScienceAtHome – Janet Rafner

Boldest Crowdfunding Campaign, presented by Crowdsourcing Week: Startup Italia  – David Casalini

Boldest Blockchain Platform: Medicohealth – Milan Rajlic

Boldest ICO/Cryptocurrency: MakerDao & DAI Stablecoin – Lenka Hudakova

Boldest Future Robot, presented by HeroX: Vostok – Roberto Polesel

Boldest Young Achiever Under 25, presented by GoGo Places: Francesco Bellanca from Feral Horses

Boldest Innovator, presented by Surcle: Memomi – Alexios Blanos

And now the three additional surprise awards, which by their nature were not included in the first stage of public voting. They were as follows.

We Salute the BOLDest of the BOLDAn award for the BOLDest Government Digital Project presented to e-Residency Estonia was received by  Ambassador Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk. It recognises Estonia’s breakthrough as the first country to offer a government-issued digital identity and status. It allows non-Estonians to access Estonian services such as company formation, banking, payment processing, and taxation.

Maurizio Rossi, who was so instrumental in the success of the inaugural annual BOLD Awards, and is the Founder & Co-CEO of H-FARM, was recognised with a special award for Being BOLD.  To have created a truly unique and amazing hub like H-FARM helps us all to reimagine the future possibilities.

A third special award, also for Being BOLD, was made to Maria Ressa – CEO & Executive Editor at RAPPLER. RAPPLER is a social news network that crowdsources stories to inspire investigative journalism, community engagement and digitally fuelled actions for social change in Indonesia and the Philippines. Maria has been arrested twice, in February and March, on charges including “cyberlibel” after being critical of actions by the Philippines’ administration.

We Salute the BOLDest of the BOLDAfter the presentations the attendees networked and celebrated the winners’ success. What made their success something to be so proud of was the high quality of all the nominations that had been received at the start of this process. We thank everyone who submitted nominations, took part in the online voting, our international panel of judges, category sponsors, and all attendees at the ceremony.

A BOLD New Asset Class, For The Masses

A New Asset Class, For The Masses

We recently covered the benefits of equity crowdfunding from the perspective of the entrepreneur. It can be an excellent way for entrepreneurs to raise money, while gaining significant marketing exposure, and also solidifying their customer loyalty. It is for these reasons that equity crowdfunding has gained such popularity among company founders. Though there is another important angle to explore: that of the investors.

Equity crowdfunding means that ordinary people can gain a stake in venture-capital-like opportunities, even if they don’t have a net worth in the millions. Wealthy investors have long known the diversification and potential upside that comes through including venture capital in their portfolios. However, until the early 2010’s the vast majority of the general public were legally excluded from investing in early-stage, non-listed companies. Equity crowdfunding has changed all that.

Changes In The Law

Prior to legal changes (which happened at different points in different countries), the law dictated that companies could only promote an investment to individuals who passed a “sophisticated investor” or “high-net-worth” test. The only way it was possible to promote to the general public was to go through an initial public offering (IPO). IPOs are extremely costly, due to all the input required from lawyers and investment bankers – none of whom are cheap. It was therefore simply unaffordable for startups whose capital needs were more modest, in the $250,000 – $2 million range.

Early-stage companies therefore needed to go to angel investors, venture capital and private equity for the funds they needed. But the aforementioned legal changes have resulted in a set of rules that make it possible to raise limited amounts of capital under a reduced level of disclosure, rather than have to prepare a full prospectus. Now, any investor is able to use equity crowdfunding to evaluate opportunities and be their own judge of which companies are worthy of their hard-earned money.

A Different Investing Model

Equity crowdfunding requires a fundamentally different approach than most of us are used to. Rather than a stable annual yield such as from real-estate or bond market investing, equity crowdfunding (and venture capital) is all about investments which might disproportionately increase in value by 20x, 100x, or 1,000x… or perhaps become worthless. Most startups fail. But that’s what it’s all about – gaining exposure to companies before their prospects are proven: trying to pick “the next big thing.”

Here’s how the investing math could potentially play out – invest in ten equity crowdfunding opportunities at $2,000 each – an outlay of $20,000 (not an unreasonably large sum in the context of the average retirement portfolio across a lifetime). Eight of these companies completely fail, one of them is a moderate success and doubles in value, one of them is a large success and increases in value by twenty times. This would see the portfolio rise in value to $44,000 – a return of more than twice the initial outlay, despite a failure rate of 80%. This is the sort of outcome venture capitalists (and equity crowdfunding investors) hope for when they invest in many companies, fully expecting most will fail, but that the successes will be large enough to make up for the failures. What counts is the accumulated payoff, not the proportion of right and wrong.

Choosing A Platform

Equity crowdfunding platforms provide a marketplace for companies to list and for investors to discover them. The wisest general advice for investors is to stick with the larger, more established platforms. This is because the bigger platforms usually have invested in a stronger investor user experience, better due diligence around their deals, and tend to be the sites where the most attractive companies decide to list themselves. The best investment opportunities cluster around the biggest platforms.

The choice over the exact platform that an investor ought to use is a question of geography. Equity crowdfunding is an offer of securities, so they are governed by securities’ law. The practical consequence of this is that cross-border platforms are rare and there is no single platform which operates everywhere. For example, Crowdcube and Seedrs are two of the largest in the United Kingdom, while WeFunder and StartEngine are big in the United States. Investors need to do their own research on platform selection, depending on where they are based.

A Crowd-Sourced Investing Culture

One of the most exciting things about investing through equity crowdfunding is that it gives young, innovative companies access to finance, while also allowing everyone – of almost any level of net worth – to participate in the upside as they build the economy of the future. By building a closer connection between crowd and company, it flips the old customer/provider relationship, to become one of crowdsourced co-creation.

It all points to a seismic shift in the investing culture. When the masses can achieve a direct shareholding in startups, it is bound to lead to people taking their financial future into their own hands. Rather than sitting on “passive” stock index funds managed by professional money-managers, anyone can take an active role in deciding how they want their money to be invested.

Keep a close watch on the initial public offerings of the coming years. With more equity crowdfunding “alumni” now having had the time to use the money from their past campaigns to grow and expand, there is a strong possibility that the next wave of companies to list on the public markets will be able to point to their origins from crowd-sourced finance.

Author: Nathan Rose is the bestselling author of Equity Crowdfunding: The Complete Guide For Startups & Growing Companies. He has appeared at crowdfunding events all over the world. Today, he runs the website, to help startups and growing companies to gain marketing exposure and raise investment money at the same time.

This Friday April 5 is our first BOLD Awards ceremony, being held at the H-FARM campus just outside Venice Italy. Next week we’ll post details of the winners in each of the 12 categories.

Unlocking Billions of Dollars in Primary Industry Through BOLD Crowdsourcing

Unlocking Billions of Dollars in Primary Industry Through BOLD Crowdsourcing

Primary industry is starting to sit up and take notice of the value delivered by crowdsourcing to validate concepts at low risk, solve complex challenges, find new innovative suppliers and automate work. Industrial leaders are emerging with sustainable new business models that include crowdsourcing and they are able to clearly demonstrate the value that it is delivering to the market.

In this post we run through two examples of companies leading the way with crowdsourcing in the extractives industry.

1. The OZ Minerals $1million AUD Explorer Challenge

Modern Australian mining company OZ Minerals and their partner Unearthed Solutions are changing the way the industry thinks about mineral exploration, and the value that can be unlocked by being open with data. Through the Explorer Challenge, OZ Minerals is opening up more than 5 terabytes of their private exploration data, with a $1million AUD prize pool for the crowd to locate new mineral targets.

OZ Minerals is not the first company to run this style of competition. Their point of difference, through the partnership with Unearthed, is making geological data accessible, open and attractive to data scientists in a push to involve more disciplines and approaches in the challenge of finding essential minerals. So what is the history of this approach to exploration prior to the Explorer Challenge?

Back in 1999, former CEO of Goldcorp Rob McEwen attended a lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology about the benefits of employing open source software. Inspired by this framework and the value created by open collaboration, McEwen realised the significant potential for applying this concept in the mining industry. Finding new exploration targets presents a key resources sector challenge that fits this framework.

In 1999, Goldcorp was a $100 million gold mining company, with an under-producing mine, Red Lake. At the same time, it was struggling to find new resources, despite a high calibre exploration team. McEwen became aware that there might be more value locked in the exploration data than his geologists could extract.  He released this data to the public, totalling a mere 400MB back in 2000, with a CA$575,000 incentive to review it and identify additional targets. The result? Thousands of submissions from geologists, mathematicians, and physicists that identified an additional $6 billion worth of gold on Goldcorp tenements. The process reduced the potential exploration period by two to three years, and transformed Goldcorp from a struggling  junior miner into an industry leader.

The lecture attended by McEwen back in 1999 was presented by the founder of the Linux operating system, Linus Torvalds. If you think you are not familiar with Linux – guess again. Twenty years on from that lecture, every Android phone runs on Linux, and if you have an iPhone instead, almost all webpages and applications operate on Linux. This software has achieved world domination, and it is open.

And Goldcorp? Following the competition, Goldcorp grew the $1 billion worth of gold into a $10 billion company, and is nowadays considered one of the most innovative gold mining companies in the world.

Despite this success it took the industry a long time to look to repeat it. It wasn’t until 2015, when Integra Gold’s innovative CEO, Steve de Jong, launched the Gold Rush challenge, that we saw a similar approach. Integra had recently acquired 2 historic mining properties, along with over 6 terabytes of historical data. Steve realised that this would have taken his team many years to process and interpret in order to predict where the additional gold resources may occur. To speed up this process Integra launched the Goldrush challenge with a $1million CAD incentive for the crowd to work through the large dataset and identify potential new gold targets. The competition cut the process down from many years to a few months.

The OZ Minerals Explorer Challenge is now breaking new ground with Unearthed Solutions to use this approach and build scalable processes and tools for providing data to the crowd, and to provide industry with a clearer, long term path for using crowdsourcing in their workflows.

2. The Newcrest Crowd

Realising the value that crowdsourcing can deliver across the resources industry, Newcrest has positioned itself as a global leader in crowdsourcing. They are the first mining company to employ a global crowdsourcing strategy, enabling them to realise maximum impact.

Accessing digital talent on demand

As demand for digital capabilities and skills continues to grow, it becomes unrealistic to rely solely on internal talent sources, either by upskilling current teams, or hiring and contracting these skill sets into the organisation. Newcrest sought a long-term solution to easily access digital talent on demand and to work with some of the best innovators in the world to identify, develop and implement new solutions for multi-million dollar operational problems.

Gavin Wood, Chief Innovation Officer:

“We have mining business problems and challenges that we’ve been trying to solve for a long time. By putting these out to ‘the crowd’, we can access different thinking and not be constrained by resource or geographic boundaries. This allows us to develop new ideas and solutions in a low-risk and low-cost way, lets our people focus on using their domain expertise and provides opportunities for those who make up the labour force of the future.”

Newcrest worked with Unearthed Solutions  to steadily build their strategy to access digital innovators via multiple competitions. Newcrest has provided information, data and tools that clearly articulate and quantify the impact that particular operational problems are causing the business. These well-defined problems and supporting datasets are then presented to the online innovation community through the Newcrest Crowd as a pipeline of ‘challenges’ to be ‘hacked’ for cash prizes and business development opportunities. In combination with their big data platform, Newcrest is minimising the time taken to transition these solutions to production. This will stimulate new opportunities for existing businesses to deliver innovative solutions to Newcrest and others.

Hydrosaver, Newcrest’s first online challenge, was released to Unearthed’s community in February 2018. Newcrest asked innovators to predict the density of a tailings underflow inefficiency at Cadia mine (and, therefore, water content), three hours ahead of time, to enable more efficient recycling of water from the tailings process. Participation was truly global with solutions received from countries including Canada, India, USA, Argentina, China and South Africa. 150 highly skilled individuals formed teams who submitted over 750 predictive models.

Sherief Khorshid and his team from AI tech startup Three Springs Technology took first place in the competition. Following their win, Three Springs signed a contract with Newcrest to implement their solution into production and integrate it with the Newcrest technology stack.

Since Hydrosaver, Newcrest has run four additional crowdsourcing challenges via the Newcrest Crowd ranging from extracting data from exploration photography, to engineering solutions for crushing circuits and safe plant startup processes. Newcrest are continuing to lead the way in crowdsourcing for industrial applications and have rolled out the Newcrest Crowd across their operations.

Who will be the next industrial enterprise to develop a crowdsourcing strategy?

Author: Holly Bridgwater; Industry Lead, Crowdsourcing; Unearthed Solutions

Next week on Friday April 5 we will announce the winners of the first ever BOLD Awards at a gala dinner ceremony at the H-FARM campus just outside Venice, Italy. We’re looking forward to meeting the award winners in 12 categories, the category sponsors, and our event co-organisers at H-FARM. Maybe you are as well – the event is a sell-out though we do have a Waiting List you can sign up to in the event that space becomes available.