IAM Talking: Crowdfunding and Documentaries – Storytelling the Reinvention of Detroit

Today, the topic is Crowdfunding and engaging fans to support an important documentary about the reinvention of Detroit – Lemonade:Detroit.

Welcome to IAM Talking, a periodic podcast interview series, with your host, Dan Keldsen, Chief Innovation Officer at Information Architected.

Today IAM Talking with Erik Proulx, the Film Director of Lemonade:Detroit, and man behind the scenes at Fighting Monk, his production company, which he crowdfunded independently of Kickstarter, indiegogo, for reasons we’ll discuss in the interview. See the 18 minute short below, for the current version of the documentary.

Breaking Myths, and Rebuilding a Region

As Erik and I discuss in the interview, I stumbled onto the Lemonade:Detroit project in my early research of how independent projects were taking advantage of Crowdfunding. Lemonade:Detroit is a fascinating project, which set about capturing on film, and breaking some of the myths of Detroit, highlighting what Detroit’s own citizens have done to reinvent the region, post-2008, and in the several decade long decline of “Big Auto” as the primary driver of jobs in the region.

In this series of crowdfunding interviews,  we are looking into what drives entrepreneurs to lean on the crowd to power not just the money, but the energy to spread the word and engage their own networks in making a project come to life. As Erik mentions in the interview, the uptake both from local Detroit residents, as well as from people around the world, has been downright amazing.

Your backers (producers in this case) are your message…

To a certain extent, any crowdfunding activity, or for that matter, any marketing, sales or delivery of goods or services, is ultimately “owned” by the crowd. That crowd can help you, sometimes dramatically (listen to Erik’s description of the sudden $25k that needed to be raised in very short order), or hampered by that crowd (as some of the high-profile, over-funded and late-delivering projects on Kickstarter have witnessed), as word of mouth helps to power the positive and negative feedback loops of your engagement.

Crowd-powered equals social responsibility

Crowdfunding isn’t suitable for every project, and the bottom line is that crowdfunding is a SOCIAL phenomenon. If you aren’t finding a connection with a crowd, then it is highly unlikely they will crowdfund, promote, or engage in any way with what you’re attempting to accomplish, and that doesn’t matter whether it’s a crowdfunded venture, or an employee engagement attempt.

It doesn’t particularly matter if you’re looking to raise $500 or $1,000,000 – if you are not finding a connection to the crowd of volunteers who could, with the right motivation, fund (or over-fund) your project, then you are likely to find that your project remains just a vision, rather than a product, service, or movement that has taken a life of it’s own through the efforts of your engaged crowd.

Comments or Questions?

Wondering how to apply crowdfunding to your project? Can you use similar techniques inside your company, as a modern form of internal skunkworks?

Prediction markets and other techniques can absolutely be used within organizations to drive collaborative innovation projects – if you’re prepared to do the work to set up the right environment of direct or virtual funds, find the right motivational levers, and tap the wisdom of crowds. That’s not the topic of today’s interview, but is part of the work we do in pulling the best techniques from both inside and outside of organizations, to apply to our client work.

Comment below if you have any questions we can answer publicly, and we’ll answer and discuss together, or contact us at 617-933-9655 to talk about your crowdfunding, enterprise social or collaborative innovation project.

Listen now!

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“I have had the pleasure of working with Dan over at least a decade now and have never been disappointed with his business insight, technology knowledge, practical problem solving approach and outgoing character. If an opportunity arises, I highly recommend you work with Dan as well.”
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