Getting ready for crowdfunding camp

Crowdfunding East Conference at Harvard drawing experts on newfangled ways for startups to raise money

I've had an interest in enterprise IT startups for years and even used to run a regular schmoozefest for Boston-area networking startups with Jeff McCarthy from North Bridge Venture Partners. I regularly did the rounds with VCs on the east and west coasts and sometimes in between. I've also been keeping an eye for years on university research that might wend its way into enterprise IT shops, attending many events at local universities, and that's why I started this blog. But I've been woefully negligent of the whole crowdfunding phenomenon, aside from a random interview or mention (actor Edward Norton's Crowdrise for charitible causes) here and there, and how it might impact enterprise IT.

I plan to at least make up for that a bit next week by checking out the Crowdfunding East Conference, which is taking place at the Harvard Faculty Club in Cambridge, Mass. (the registration fees are cheap, if you're interested in attending). The agenda, or at least the first half for my purposes, looks intriguing, with panels on topics such as The Business of Crowdfunding, Enterprise Crowdfunding and Supporting University Innovation through Crowdfunding. IBM will be represented on the speaker list, but if you don't follow this area closely, you might not recognize a lot of the speakers' companies: Ball and Buck, Ministry of Supply and The Silver Telegram are among them.

Crowdfunding has become big business (so big that the government is threating to muck it up, according to some). Market watcher Massolutions says $2.7B was raised by crowdsourcing platforms last year, up 81% from 2011, and the 2013 forecast is for $5.1B.

Crowdfunding actually has been making its way into Network World quite a bit of late, with perhaps the latest high profile topic being Canonical's bold Ubuntu Edge phone funding effort. Open source projects in particular have gotten the notice of crowdfunding supporters of late, with one platform devoted to open source in fact.

I'll let you know if any interesting developments come up at Crowdfunding East.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +.

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