Crowdfunding specialist Chris Buckingham has supported everything from artists to zoos in the UK’s evolving startup ecosystem. An author, columnist and full-time postgraduate researcher, he provides educational resources and expert advice for crowdfunding projects through his startup, minivation. Chris has authored three books on crowdfunding theory and practice, and is trialling gamification within the industry through his PhD at the University of Southampton.
He was raised in South Devon and started his working life in a bakery, showing early signs of a playful character as he overloaded doughnuts with jam for unwitting tourists. Opting to leave the south coast for his studies, he attended Oxford Brookes University to examine Politics with Tourism and thrived in a dynamic student environment. “There was a nice mix of personalities as I developed new presentation skills,” he says. “It taught me a lot about self-control and identifying with an audience, which was a great thing to learn for what I was going to do next.”
Chris spent four years working as a Tour Director and travelled Europe, America and South Africa before settling in Rostock, Germany. A spell as an international call centre manager in the north German city was followed by stays in Paris, Lisbon and Malaga, as he built experience teaching English as a foreign language.
“Whilst in Portugal, I was teaching and working with some fund managers when I first discovered crowdfunding,” he explains. “The premise was people coming together to fund other people – and I found that amazingly empowering. I found there would be a dialogue when you were lending money. So not only were you side-stepping the traditional financing houses, you were also engaging with these people – learning about their personalities and backgrounds. I’d be thinking that ‘this could be me in two years, so let’s lend them the money’. It was fascinating.”
In 2009, Chris launched minivation as a consultancy, raising awareness of the 100+ UK-based crowdfunding platforms while offering advice and free templates to entrepreneurs and project managers to optimise their campaigns. “We realised in the early days that sites like kickstarter.com offered advice but it was always geared towards their platform,” he says. “There was no independent voice covering all of the models of crowdfunding and that’s where I felt I could support the ecosystem.”
His first book, Crowdfunding Intelligence, is a step-by-step guide to building a winning crowdfunding strategy, covering the five crowdfunding models of Donation, Reward, Equity, Interest and Mix (or DREIM). His recent titles Crowded Comments – Equity and Crowded Comments – Loans explore common questions and responses on the topics.
Chris wants to help the University of Southampton’s entrepreneurs plan and deliver effective crowdfunding projects. “I can help you identify platforms you wouldn’t necessarily have thought about and think through what steps you need to create a robust campaign,” he says. You can get in touch with Chris using the contact form on this page.
Chris is currently completing a PhD at Southampton, researching the impact of serious games in the cognition of entrepreneurs. “I’m looking to gamify a particular area of crowdfunding with the potential to positively impact the entrepreneur before they start their crowdfunding campaign,” he explains. “It allows them to step into a safe environment, play the game and come out with a much better conceptualisation of issues and problems they may face once they launch their campaign.”
The UK’s crowdfunding scene has changed greatly in recent years and Chris is predicting that innovative new models will become popular in the near future. “We’re going to see a lot of the bigger platforms eating up the smaller platforms, smaller ones dedicated to niche areas closing, and others opening,” he says. “We also haven’t yet fully seen the alignment with corporations in crowdfunding platforms. There’s tremendous value to be had through corporate sponsorship – that’s something that we’ll start to see emerge in the next five to 10 years.”
Delve deeper into Chris’ expertise through his article ‘What is crowdfunding success?’ in our BLOG section.