Crowdfunding Unleashed

By David Roman, Guest Writer

TFA, TAN, and TPEC bring together the community for interactive learning.

Panel Photo courtesy David Roman
Panel (Photo courtesy David Roman)

Last week Thunderbird Finance Association unleashed a new type of event on campus. It was not new in its topic (one panelist describing crowdfunding as a buzzword that “means everything and nothing at the same time”). However, this event was new in how collaborative it was. It involved Thunderbird students, faculty, staff, and alumni from both Thunderbird and other ASU units. Further, entrepreneurs and special interest groups from the Arizona community worked together to promote, speak, and sponsor the event, setting a precedent that may inspire greater cross-functional and cross-cultural engagement in the future.

First, the event was an official session within the Enterprise Planning course taught by Dr. Gary Gibbons. Dr. Gibbons has proven to be a champion of student applied learning, weaving real-world scenarios into project work to reinforce learning outcomes.

For this event on the topic of crowdfunding, that real-world connection came in the form of SolarThermiX, a startup from the Phoenix Community. Michael Corridan and Michael Daly, co-founders of Solar ThermiX, wanted to learn how crowdfunding might enable them to set up the for-good component of their business operations. They sponsored the event by covering event costs and by providing a live case to which participants and speakers could relate the concepts they learned. In return, the Thunderbird Finance Association helped gather, analyze, and report on the collective advice of event participants using online feedback forms and student volunteers.

Thunderbird staff (including people from Marketing, Technology, Printing, Faculty Services, and Student Services) helped make it an official School event, while Dr. Gibbons’ influence with the Private Equity Center and Angel Network at Thunderbird helped build credibility to attract and coordinate the expert panel.

Student coordinators tapped networks of entrepreneurs, alumni, students, and staff to bring 4 diverse and experienced business leaders to speak on the panel. These panelists have developed expertise in crowdfunding from a variety of angles. Bruce Wuollet from Bakerson led the panel discussion on setting up trusted funds. Scott Kelly from Black Dog Venture Partners demonstrated how to generate massive crowds. Mark Svejda, a crowdfunding attorney associated with Eliances, brought his knowledge on the legal environment. Markus Lampinen from CrowdValley (based in the Silicon Valley area), added a global and technological perspective.

Well over 100 registered for in-person event access, and around 30 joined the live webcast. Feel free to watch the video recording on YouTube or get the digital event booklet.

Dr. Gibbons and student coordinators plan to unveil a second event this Fall, likely October 30th.  The topic, location, time, and further details will be announced soon.

David Roman

David Roman

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