Some Thoughts About Crowdsourcing Week Brussels

yannig roth crowdsourcing week brussels

Click above to see more “One Dollar Portraits” from Crowdsourcing Week

On Thursday June 5th, I attended Crowdsourcing Week’s Brussels summit (which ran until Friday June 6th included, but I didn’t stay until then). Organized in Vilvoorde, a couple of miles outside Brussels, the event gathered crowdsourcing professionals, academics, consultants and innovation-interested managers alike.

While the morning was dedicated to crowdfunding (the event was sponsored by BNP Parisbas Fortis!), the afternoon talks addressed a broad set of topics from creative crowdsourcing to 3D-printing. Here’s a selection of the most interesting talks, according to me, given during the day. Find a post about all presentations on CSW’s blog.


But before diving into crowdfunding, Wikibrands’ Sean Moffitt presented the results of a survey conducted last year (in which I participated as eYeka Research Fellow), called the 2014 Global Crowdsourcing Pulsecheck (this links to the results presentation on Slideshare). The above displayed statistic comes from another Nielsen study, but the 2014 Global Crowdsourcing Pulsecheck’s results where also very interesting: Experts believe that Finance & Banking will be the one most disrupted industry disrupted by the crowd (slide 35), legal is the #1 barrier for the development of crowdsourcing in the future (slide 45) and the number one “stormy cloud ahead” will be management of IP issues (slide 49). Find out a little more here.


The first practitioner presentation of the morning was that of Nick N.M. Yap, an entrepreneur who founded several companies including Rocki, a device to stream music on conventional unconnected hi-fi systems, for which he successfully turned to the crowd for funding. His talk was about the fact that beyond money, a crowd of funders can also provide fabulous ideas to improve the funded product or expand its functionalities. What you can see above are some of the suggestions he received from backers to improve the Rocki that he initially posted on the platform. I also liked the fact that he underlined the importance of media, communication and PR for the success of crowdfunding campaigns.


One of the forms of crowdfunding is reward-based crowdfunding, where funders get gifts or other types of rewards in exchenge for their money (other forms are equity-based and lending-based crowdfunding). Arnaud Burgot, CEO of Paris-based platform Ulule, gave a thought-provoking presentation about the fact that, in this form of crowdfunding, the exchange of money for goods is legally considered a SALE, not a DONATION. This contrasts with the terms used by the platforms like “Back this project” or “Support this initiative” where, if we look at it from a legal perspective, it should say “Buy this reward.” Of course platforms don’t do that as it would probably be detrimental to crowd engagement, but it was great seeing the many legal implications that reward-based crowdfunding can have for project creators.


To kick things off, Shelley Kuipers, the CEO of Chaordix (a “Supporting Organization” of Crowdsourcing Week Brussels), talked about the “7 habits of brand participation.” Chaordix thinks that that participation is the new brand, and I fully agree with that; attracting passionate and creative consumers to their brands will be companies’ competitive advantages in the future (if we take for granted that they can transform this engagement into value). The 7 rules that Shelley stated: (1) Find your crowd, (2) Engage your audience, (3) Create community leadership, (4) Keep them participating, (5) Introduce them to others, (6) Lead the crowd and (7) Be committed over time.


99designs’ Marketing Manager for Europe, Siham Belouadheh (see also a previous interview, in French, here) talked about “Seeding a culture of innovation through internal & external collaboration.” She explained that, at 99designs, quarterly Hack Weeks get the company’s collaborators together to invent new features for the site and improve overall user experience, as well as the company’s positioning and/or bottom line. The launch of 99nonprofits, for example, is the result from one of the past Hack Weeks.


The last presentation about crowd creativity was Nicolas Borgis’ “How naïve experts can help generate breakthroughs.” The VP Product of eYeka (disclaimer, I work at eYeka as Research Fellow) explained that unrelevant, non-representative yet very creative individuals can be very useful for companies and brands that are stuck with an innovation and/or communication problem. After briefly presenting eYeka, he talked about the way crowdsourcing has helped brands like Oral-B, Volvic, Mini Oreo and Unilever find fresh ideas to unlock market opportunities globally or locally. You can find his full presentation here.


The last presentation was Domenico Rossetti’s “From proprietas to usus: Towards a genuine European way of life.” After outlining the current social, economical and environmental challenged, he explained how the collaborative economy is taking over consumers’ and companies’ habits. He explained that his 10-year old son told him that he wouldn’t need to own a bicycle when he has 24 of them standing in front of the house – talking about the city’s bike-sharing system – illustrating how the new generation prefers usage over ownership. I liked his conclusion about the state of work in a society where everything would be crowd-sourced, and where sharing platforms have quasi-monopolies. Food for thought and debate.


crowdsourcing week brussels living tomorrow

I think it was a great event to discuss crowdfunding and crowdsourcing. The room was full throughout the day, the audience was engaged, and the speakers were very interesting. It is striking that the topics are evolving, for example with more and more importance being given to crowdfunding. I guess that was also a consequence of Crowdsourcing Week Brussels being sponsored by BNP Paribas Fortis, of course, but the funding side of crowdsourcing is definitely taking a growing space.

I thought that an interesting shift was also occuring, it’s that the word “crowd” is increasingly used to describe engaged people who gather together online. I even heard something like “A sparsely distributed group of people is not a crowd, it’s a community!” which seems in total contradiction with what we heard a couple of years back, when crowds were just a bunch of disorganized folkd to sollicit occasionaly, while communities were engaged and focused people working on a common purpose.

Another thing that struck me is that many speakers explained how the future lies in freelance work and self-employment. While that might be a fundamental trend in todays working world, I feel a little uncomfortable with the fact that we just declare this and take it for granted. I personaly wouldn’t feel comfortable with NOT being employed somewhere, or NOT belonging to one or two institutions providing me an office, paying my salary and giving me work to do. I understand that is a very personal thing, and I do value autonomy a lot, but I just feel it’s not right to project a “everything-crowd” future too.

Want to find out more? Check out my post on CSW’s blog. Thanks!

One Comment

  1. Thank you this beautiful sharing my friend. I think to attend the next one because it leads us in other way of view about the crowd-sourcing. But I’m not agree with you about your last personal point of getting under the command of someone. At first, we need to get experience but after everyone attempt to fly by their own wings.


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