On Tuesday, One Spark – The World’s Crowdfunding Festival – announced some major cuts to the organization. The cuts come two months after the third annual One Spark, and the most successful by far. According to a blog post by One Spark CEO Elton Rivas, the cuts come after “a 2 month debrief process that compiled survey data, sponsor and partner feedback, as well as budget results.”1
In total, One Spark has cut their staff from 11 people down to just three. The decision was, in part, based on the cycle of the festival. Rivas added: “[W]e have identified a number of key items that are needed in order for the One Spark festival to be sustainable. Unfortunately, some of those changes involve moving to a more variable expense structure rather than maintaining a year-round full time staff.”2
A lot of the organization cuts were the direct result of the long and incredibly detailed analysis. Michael Munz, a member of One Spark’s board, told us that the data, collected from surveys and interactions with all stakeholders led the organization to take a long hard look at their staffing and organizational structure. The result was, simply, that it didn’t make sense to keep a full staff in the post-festival organizational cycle.
The main thing that Munz stressed to us was that One Spark will continue. Though Munz could not get into a large amount of detail, it is clear that next April, One Spark will continue. Next years festival, however, will have some significant changes. Again, Munz could not get into a whole lot of detail regarding these changes, but One Spark 2.0 as the organization is calling it, will offer just as much to both the creators and the crowd.
Reading between the lines a bit, it seems as if the organization is just going through some growing pains. It is important to remember that One Spark, the organization, is itself a startup. Although the events have been incredibly successful, both in Jacksonville and abroad, the company is only 3 years old. They are still refining the festival, both structurally and strategically. This growing process, at times, presents some difficult decisions. Rivas and the One Spark staff concluded that they had to cut the staff, but it didn’t mean that they wanted to: “Still, there’s no other way to say it, it just plain stinks when you lose what has become family on a day to day basis.”3
Throughout the 2015 festival and the months since, Munz told us, there has been a ton of support for One Spark; from the creators, attendees, presenters, to the community at large. The event and the organization has done some very real things to benefit Jacksonville over the past 3 years. It is easy to lose sight of this fact when reading the other coverage of the changes.
Munz told us that a detailed announcement will be released sometime next month that will shed light on the changes for One Spark 2.0.