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Crowdsourcing: Expect these changes in 2016

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As we end 2015, there’s tremendous momentum behind crowdsourcing, with some of the world’s most innovative products choosing platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo as their launching pad. And, with crowdsourcing projected to outpace traditional venture capital in 2016, there’s no reason to believe this might change anytime soon.

 

But, like all things, we still expect crowdsourcing (including—and especially—crowdfunding) to continue its evolution over the year ahead. A few glances at how these changes might look are as follows:

 

Additional In-House Use —

A young fashion company named Betabrand allows designers to build a prototype of garments, and then post pictures and descriptions online for customers to review. Once any given concept reaches a critical mass of interest, a product will then be produced and sold.

 

Because this strategy allows for so much flexibility in product expansion—and guarantees a minimum number of sales—it’s surprising that more companies haven’t adopted similar frameworks. Moving into next year, we’re expecting more companies to apply crowdsourcing mechanics as a means of verifying consumer interest in a product prior to investing heavily in its production.

 

Sourcing Skills Rather Than Funds —

At its core, crowdsourcing is really about collaboration. And, before crowdfunding became the “cool kid” in the family, open source software development was all the rage—with companies like Mozilla, WordPress, and others relying heavily on public ideas to build out their solutions.

 

Eventually, we think crowdsourcing will return to these roots (or perhaps blend funding with “alternative contribution” options). Already, Elon Musk’s open call for “Hyperloop” engineers has seen some big results through this avenue—but imagine all of the other cool projects that could be brought to life if leaders crowdsourced unique, intellectual expertise.

 

Bigger Goals, Smaller (Individual) Payouts —

Most of today’s major crowdfunding websites require—or, at least, strongly encourage—that funding be rewarded with a tangible return (and in a set amount of time). But, solutions to some of humanity’s biggest questions require longer incubation times, and some don’t even have a fixed goal). And yet, we think a decent chunk of crowdsourcers would happily contribute to lofty goals, if given the chance.

 

For instance, space enthusiasts might readily part with $5-10 to help fund a small team of engineers fund work on new, theoretical propulsion methods. Or, perhaps humanitarians could unite over a goal of genetically modifying plants to survive in harsh climates and impoverished areas. Such a change would help fill the gap between government funding, charitable organizations, and traditional enterprise.

 

In the end, it’s particularly hard to predict how crowdsourcing will evolve—largely due to the fact that “the crowd” itself will ultimately have the biggest say. But, if platitudes hold true, the only constant to life is “change” itself, so we should expect nothing less from 2016.

 

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