The Crowdfunding Crowd at the 2015 SXSW Interactive Festival

South by Southwest Festival This year’s South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) just wrapped up and by all accounts it was a rousing success, with a good time had by all. Held annually in Austin, Texas, SXSW is actually three events in one, with different festivals spotlighting movies, music and interactive technologies.
There were many things to take away from this year’s South by Southwest Festival. One of the most important things is that crowdfunding is here to stay and will only grow in importance in the years to come. Without a doubt, crowdfunding is rapidly becoming the favorite way for digital entrepreneurs, musicians and filmmakers to raise capital for their projects.

SXSW Crowdfunding Panels, Workshops and Speeches

As stated above, crowdfunding was a hot topic at this year’s SXSW Interactive Festival. A wide variety of events, including speeches, workshops and panels, focused on spreading the word about crowdfunding.
Some of the more interesting workshops and panels from the 2015 SXSW Interactive Festival include:

Other People’s Money: Investors and Crowdfunding

Dan Satorius, an Austin based attorney that represents clients in the film and television industry, delivered helpful advice to independent filmmakers on how to avoid the hassles and legal problems that can arise from using crowdfunding and other equity financing tools.

A Million Medicis: Funding the Content Revolution

Funding the Content RevolutionIndependent filmmaker David Dylan Thomas discussed content consumption and compensation and the role crowdfunding will play in funding the “content revolution.”

Nonprofit Crowdfunding Bill of Rights

Nonprofit CrowdfundingDavid J. Neff, Digital Engagement Strategist, PwC, and Miram Kagan, Senior Fundraising Principal, Kimbia, discussed their new crowdfunding “bill of rights” which focuses on the rights and responsibilities for entrepreneurs seeking crowdfunding for their non-profit ventures.

Wall Street Embraces the Crowd

Wall Street Embraces the CrowdPresented by Jordan Sale, Director of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships at Fundrise, this panel discussed the details that make the crowdfunding business model attractive to both Wall Street and Main Street investors.

How Potato Salad Killed/Saved Crowdfunding

How Potato Salad Killed/Saved CrowdfundingPresenters discussed how the controversial crowdfunding campaign of Zack Brown, the “Potato Salad Kickstarter Guy” who set out only wanting to raise $10.00 to make some potato salad and ended up raising $60,000 has impacted the future directions of crowdfunding.

Pitch Event: Storytelling for Crowdfunding Ideas

Sometimes the personal story behind a crowdfunding project can be as powerful an inducement to invest in a project as the product/service itself.
This event was a competition that allowed entrepreneurs to present their ideas to panelists Alisa Cordesius, Head of Social Innovation at Indiegogo, Fallon’s Chief Creative officer Jeff Kling, and entrepreneur Dean Phillips. The winning idea, selected, “Shark Tank”-style, will have their entire campaign created by advertising agency Fallon for launch on Indiegogo.

Crowd Sharing: Crowd Funding and Sourcing in Games

Crowd Sharing:Starr Long, executive producer for Portalarium and creator of the highly successful crowd funded game Shroud of the Avatar, talked about his experiences turning the crowd funding process into a sustainable “loop.” by sharing not only funding and sourcing but also development.

Funding Your Social Startup: Crowdfunding vs VC?

In this session, Alisa Cordesius, Manager of Social Innovation at Indiegogo, and Wes Selke, Managing Director at Better Ventures, compared two growth capital strategies for social startups — raising money through crowdfunding versus from venture capitalists.
Also present was David Heath, Co-Founder and CEO at Bombas Socks, who described how his social venture successfully closed a seed round for $1 million with funding from Venture Capital firms and Angel Investors within the company’s first year, and ran the most funded apparel campaign on Indiegogo to date.


Several crowdfunded devices also made their debut at this year’s SXSW Festival. Among the most talked about were Danish startup Audiocase’s new portable wireless speaker and the Strati car, the world’s first automobile produced by a 3D printer.
Producers of “The Startup Hour” a Shark-Tank like show that let’s viewers fund the startups featured on the show, began shooting pitches at SXSW.
Chris Roberts and Cloud Imperium Games’ Star Citizen video game took home the “Most Anticipated Crowdfunded Game of the Year” award. Star Citizen’s crowdfunded campaign has raised more than $75 million – the current record amount for any crowdfunded project.
Crowdfunding also played a major role in the Movie and Music portions of the SXSW Festival.


Many crowdfunded movies made their debut at the SXSW Movie Festival. The Hollywood Reporter says that 1 in 3 of the movies shown at this year’s festival were crowdfunded ventures.
Independent filmmaker Hal Hartley used crowdfunding to finance “Ned Rifle”, the third film in a series that traces the strange, quixotic trajectory of a dysfunctional family from Queens,
Also gaining quite a bit of attention was the crowdfunded movie “Rolling Papers”, from Mitch Dickman, a look the Denver Post’s coverage of Colorado’s emerging cannabis industry since the legalization of marijuana in that state.
Another crowdfunded favorite was “For the Record” in which director Martin Greenbergy follows a group of court reporters as they strive to earn the Guinness World Book of Records record for World’s Fastest Court Reported.
Colin Hanks’ crowdfunded movie “All Things Must Pass” chronicles the rise and fall of Tower Records.


Musicians have discovered that crowdfunding is an excellent way to fund their projects. Many musicians are using crowdfunding to finance everything from video production to tour support.
The Music Festival saw the debut of YouTube’s new YouTube for Artists site designed to help musicians in promoting their work on YouTube. In addition to tips on getting a contract and dealing with fans, it also describes various ways to generate revenue, including crowdfunding.
The impact of crowdfunding on the digital, film and music industries is growing every year. At previous SXSW shows crowdfunding was a bit of an academic subject. Now only a few years later, crowdfunding is being recognized as a valuable financial tool that can be used to promote all kinds of projects. In addition, attendees of the 2015 SXSW Festival were able to see real world crowdfunding successes. With more and more states opening up crowdfunding to private investors and crowdfunding becoming more “mainstream” it will be interesting to see what developments will be revealed at next year’s show.

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