A few of you may recall when in 1976, the Teton dam in Southeastern Idaho failed, damaging or destroying about 80 percent of the structures in the small town of Rexburg. Living then as I do now in Salt Lake City, my father invited me to join him and a volunteer group to Rexburg where we helped dig mud out of a basement and otherwise work to salvage a home. As an 11-year-old kid that was a lot of fun. The whole trip took about 24 hours, leaving about 2:00 AM, arriving at dawn, working all day, leaving at dark and returning after midnight. Now, I’m not a big guy. Picture me as an eleven-year-old standing next to a shovel—I wasn’t as tall as the handle and just lifting the empty shovel was a task for me. I’m sure I was of virtually no real help that day, but the experience has come to define my life. I felt so good helping people that day that I promised then I would never miss an opportunity to .serve.
Of course, I have missed many opportunities to help. I was, perhaps, distracted by building a successful finance career, but ever since I was let go from my position as the CFO for a global food and beverage company three years I have focused on channeling the enthusiasm of my youth to do my part to make the world a better place.
How many of you have children? Do you remember the thrill and excitement of your baby’s birth?
When Martha and Grant Griffen of Dallas had their son Barron, they were thrilled to see a healthy baby boy. While they knew the port-wine stain birthmark on his cheek wouldn’t diminish his potential in any way, they worried about how he might feel, how he might be impacted by teasing or might simply be affected by innocent questions about it.
Martha had an idea to inoculate not only Barron, but all of the children like him, born with a special feature, from unkind or unthinking comments. She wrote a story about “Sam” and his birthmark, commissioned an illustrator and created a wonderful children’s book called Sam’s Birthmark to empower children like Barron.
In order to cover the cost of printing the initial copies of the book and to cover the cost of marketing it, Martha ran a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, raising over $31,000 or more than 1.2 million rubles.
Inventor raised $500,000 of angel money. No VCs would back the company. Angels wouldn’t put up more money.
Tried crowdfunding in desperation. Raised over $10 million. Venture capital rolled in.
How many people do you know? How many friends on social media? How many of them can reach outside of social media? By email? By phone?
CrowdMap '14 Crowdfunding Conference in Moscow - Keynote Address by Devin Thorpe
Crowdfunding: Good for the World
Devin D. Thorpe
October 2, 2014
• Empower women and minorities
• Level the playing field for ordinary investors
• Facilitate growth in the developing world
– Enabling the developed world to invest in high
growth opportunities in emerging markets
– Allow impoverished individuals to raise small
amounts of capital for microenterprises
How Does Crowdfunding
Someone posts a project
on a crowdfunding site like
Planeta.ru, Indiegogo or
Friends and fans give
money to support the
Where The Money Comes
• The “Crowd” is
almost as difficult to
find as a yeti
• The money will come
mostly from your
own network (about
• The most successful
campaigns get 75%
or more from the
Assessing Your Project
• All ideas are not
DonkeyHotey / Foter.com/ CC BY
• Cool by comparison
• Not just functional
• Revolutionary not
evolutionary Photo credit: FotoSleuth / Foter.com/ CC BY
• Will the project
• What happens if the
• If the project
• How soon can
promised goods be
Photo credit: RambergMediaImages / Foter.com/ CC BY-SA
How Angels Invest
Angels typically invest in groups
Some groups create pools or funds of money
Some groups allow members to invest directly
Over 5,000 angel investors in Moscow listed on
What Angels Invest In
Angel groups often specialize
Most invest exclusively in early-stage
startups, often before sales begin
Invest in the sorts of things that made them
Popular investments: internet, hi-tech, clean-tech,
Things that typically don’t work: retail
Before we Conclude/Q&A
Visit devinthorpe.com/crowdall to download