Saturday, June 2, 2012

Me, my MBA, and Obama

And so it began, the fable-ed summer project of Colorado State's MBA in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise.  In this 18-month program, we as students are charged with learning as much as we can about all things sustainable and execute our learnings over the one summer we have in MBA-land.  We spend the initial fall and spring semesters salivating over the impending summer experience; writing team charters to ensure we don't go nuts on each other in close quarters, asking "why 5-times" as Lean Start-Up author, Eric Reis tells us to, printing off thousands of Osterwalder's business canvases to fill out...only to discover a crucial gap in our business development.  No longer is it acceptable to believe the "green-washing" we are inundated with, by sly marketing campaigns, no more do we believe that progress for the sake of progress is creation without destruction!  We are pushed to empower ourselves with information on an industry of our choice and turn that info into a little nugget of triple-bottom line sustainability.

My team of three has chosen to pursue the Crowdfunding space.  Popular sites such as kickstarter, indiegogo, rockethub, and wefunder are some of the front runners you may have recently heard about.  With almost 500 relatively new funding websites and several more projected to launch by the end of this year, and $1.5B invested in projects/businesses last year (globally) via crowdfunding, the powers that be in the US simply can't ignore this industry any longer.

On April 5, 2012 President Obama signed the JOBS act into law.  The crowdfunding act, a crucial piece of this legislation, stipulated that small private startups can now offer (and in the near future solicit investors to purchase) shares of their ventures.  This essentially means the 99% of the US who have been historically called "unaccredited investors", like me (based on net worth), are now able to play a role in job creation, business development, and are also able to better capitalize on their savings by investing in their friends, family, and strangers for a financial return on their money.

We traveled to Salt Lake City for one of the first conferences on this 8-week old industry to see who's who and make some face to face connections.  The conference was a mash of old, white guys from Salt Lake trying to figure this space out, about 5 women, students from the area, and the industry architects who drove this act to law.  The audience represented a wide spectrum of specializations and crowdfunding knowledge.  All in all we had a blast, made some great connections, and realized that this is going to be huge.  Even if crowdfunding becomes an eventual bubble akin to the era, some very key players in the US government and business worlds are standing up to say that this is important.

A very special thanks to the Rocky Mountain Innosphere for sponsoring our trip and valuing this cause!

Jill at the swank Camelot Inn

Crowdfunding celebrities from Rocket

Bonded, educated, and ready to capitalize on crowdfunding, the GSSE-MBA team!