Epi Ludvik Nekaj is the founder and CEO of Crowdsourcing Week
What is Crowdsourcing Week and where did the inspiration come to launch it? Why crowdsourcing and why is it so interesting now?
Crowdsourcing Week (CSW) is a global platform for innovators to present collaborative solutions that are relevant in the 21st century. Our aim is to capitalise the abundance of platforms, ideas, technologies, and crowds, turning these resources into social productivity. We want to empower the people to use all these means to create shared value across all sectors. One of our goals is to enable organisations to see crowdsourcing in a completely different light.
When I launched CSW, 2+ years ago, the term was in its infancy, but now I believe it has become fundamental to the digital economy. Today, the convergence of technology, connectivity and crowds is producing a massive hub of ideas and innovations. I am placing my bet on the crowd’s ability to create and produce valuable and meaningful products and services.
What are the challenges/opportunities of building a global media business in today’s market?
CSW is a knowledge hub on the crowd economy for the new generation of leaders. We have a community based approach and that takes time to build. When operating on a global scale we have to adapt to diversity in culture and stay ahead of trends. Operating in a tech-enabled ecosystem requires a different mindset. We have to be open to collaboration and lay less emphasis on competition, and that’s what the crowd economy is all about—open, shared, transparent, with a twist of caution for the new paradigms we are exploring.
What are some of the most exciting trends in crowdsourcing? What are some of the most overrated?
Crowdsourcing has moved beyond being just a competition to source the next slogan for your brand. The exciting applications I see span finance where crowdfunding is rewriting all rules of how projects get off the ground. Crowdsourcing is coming to smart city and mobility development in a big way and will play an important part in making cities more livable, more resource efficient and inventive. Large organizations are using crowds like never before to remain competitive and even change their business offerings for the hyper-connected population.
Our next week-long global conference, CSW Global is coming to London, April 11-15, next year and will feature all these key topics. Another area I am very excited to see grow is the education sector. With the launch of our integrated e-learning program, this is one of the areas we will focus on post our equity crowdfunding raise on Crowdcube.
There are a lot of start-ups bringing innovative business models using crowdfunding. How are incumbent firms incorporating crowdsourcing into their own existing models?
The banking sector is waking up to crowd-powered applications like crowdfunding and blockchain protocol. They see value in exploring crowd currencies—on how to integrate the block chain technology into the banking system because it’s scalable. Barclays is the first premier bank to accept bitcoin. BNP Paribas Fortis is also one of the pioneers in incorporating crowdsourcing into its banking system that have subsidiary companies that are into crowdfunding, as they see them as a potential partners rather than competition.
This is a great way to stay relevant, to source financing for start-ups and facilitate innovation. Instead of building physical bank locations, banks are thinking about service innovation and this change in mindset and attitude is key.
Where are you taking your business in 2016?
The outlook for 2016 and beyond is looking very exciting for Crowdsourcing Week and our subsidiary consulting company, CSW2. We are most excited about building crowdcapital through our crowdfunding round. We plan to expand our consulting arm CSW2, spearheaded by our consulting think tank and crowdsourcing experts, while also launching an integrated e-learning platform that will be accessible globally to harness “social productivity” and educate participants on the Crowd Economy.
In 2016, CSW events will launch in new markets that include Africa and the Middle East: we have plans for Tehran, Johannesburg, San Francisco, Seattle, Dubai and Latin America. And after 3 years in Singapore, our flagship global conference is moving to London in 2016. Very exciting times ahead indeed.