Over three years ago when Elton Rivas traveled the country to garner support for his amazingly large festival in Jacksonville Florida, OneSpark was touted as “The World’s Crowdfunding Festival”. While crowdfunding was a huge part of the event, it was also just as much about a renissance of sorts in downtown Jax, fueled by the entrepreneurial spirit. The foundation was set by Rivas and his Onespark cofounders and the entrepreneurial spirit of well known Jacksonville businessmen like Peter Rummell and Shahid Kahn.
Like every startup though, OneSpark has seen it’s share of changes and pivots. Like many good startups, it has pivoted back to the original mission, to be the “World’s Crowdfunding Festival”.
In the first three years of the festival The Jacksonville Daily Record reports that the expenses eclipsed $6.1 million dollars with revenues of $1.2 million in corporate sponsorship and $41,000 in other donations. There was also another $900,000 made in food, beverage, merchandise and exhibitor registration fees.
In the past three years “creators” would apply to show off their creation. This could be a “startup” company, a science experiment, new technology, an art project, visual project or music project. At the 2015 event over 550 projects were shown over five days. Now, as we head into 2016, there will be no more than 300 projects and the festival has been reduced to just three days.
Also, in years past, there has been a donation pool of sorts, spearheaded by Rummell, that helped fund audience favorites. In the first year there was also the opportunity to pitch Jacksonville Jaguars owner’s investment firm for even more funding.
In 2016 the funding is totally in the hands of the crowd. Creator supporters will be able to fund the projects they like through a portal similar to Kickstarter, Qikfunder or Indiegogo. When we get to the actual festival in April, those supporters will be able to see the projects in person and then make a decision on what to fund, again through the app.
The Jacksonville Daily Record reports that the OneSpark team will focus it’s marketing efforts on educating festival go-ers and supporters on the ins and outs of backing projects.
Last year, the prize fund gave $350,000 to exhibitors based on attendee votes. Those same attendees contributed just $93,000 to the projects via the OneSpark app, a number that represents about 29 cents per exhibitor.
The 2016 festival is intentionally smaller, more intimate and all about the creators and the crowdfunding. Rivas told the Jacksonville Daily Record that the festival would be all about crowdfunding “instead of ‘come on down for food and fun.’”