Interview with Walter Vassallo, Editor of the first global book on crowdfunding: Crowdfunding for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Predicting the Future: How to Anticipate Needs and Create New Business Models and Revenues

By IGI Global on Aug 31, 2016
Interview with Walter VassalloWalter Vassallo (MSc, MBA, PhD) is an economist and entrepreneur with vast professional experience in overall company management coordination over multidisciplinary teams. His work is linked to his vision to translate trends and changes into opportunities, to move the way we think in order to act and implement sustainable solutions. With decades of experience in policies, research, and startups, he has also been involved in developing, acquiring, managing and coordinating many innovative projects. He implemented assignments commissioned by private and public entities, including university teaching and mentoring. Currently he is co-founder of MC Shareable, disruptive company based in Monaco. In 2016, he created and launched Letyourboat, a website for people to list, find, and rent accommodations on board boats, which mission is to revolutionize the traditional recreational boating charter sector and make it more accessible and affordable. The author of dozens of articles, publications and books, Walter Vassallo recently took some time to interview with IGI Global's Assistant Marketing Manager, Melissa Wagner, discussing his recent title, Crowdfunding for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and his ever-expanding research.

What was the driving force which led you to write this book?

Walter Vassallo: I have been always fascinated by the evolution of economy and society. Asking questions like: is it possible to predict the future? What can we do to be protagonists of positive change? By observing society's evolution, one can project the evolution of the future. It is not true that the future is unpredictable and uncontrollable. The future creates the present. Helping to see the future means changing the world in which people are making decisions today. We can control the future and need to seize the opportunities offered by it in order to improve our lives. If any new project we undertake is not aligned with solving the problems, needs, and desires of the future, the future will kill it.

My recent book, Crowdfunding for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation, will give anyone the opportunity to make sure their project isn’t killed and - more importantly for those who have no ideas or projects on the back burner - to be an active participant today in what will be well-defined tomorrow, rather than a passive spectator of the evolution.

You are a visionary thinker. How do you implement your visions into actions?

Nowadays, it is certainly much easier to share a vision than before. When I graduated in 1998, I prepared a thesis on how the Internet would have changed the world, disrupting old-fashion schemes, imagining new business models, new opportunities, new C2C, P2C and P2P environments. Professors did not catch it. It was too visionary, although after a few years, everything written there has come to life. After many years, I realized that the timing or place to present that research was wrong, but still there is a need to discover the potential offered by the analyses of our disruptive evolution and the characteristics of the era in which we live— the so-called Knowledge Era.

Now everything is different, we have the mindset and instruments to boost a vision, to turn an idea into a project, to implement that project. We live in an era where there are endless opportunities, thanks to connectivity. I am talking about a transformation that is underway. One that is redefining the essence of human interaction with ideas, shared unused resources, and the creation of new on-demand services that are customizable and unique. These are only a few examples of real productivity that, when layered on the Internet, create an abundance of resources and opportunities. This people-powered abundance is called the crowd economy.

The crowd economy is a dynamic ecosystem of productive people ready to achieve mutually beneficial goals. There are tremendous unexplored opportunities to catch, thanks to crowdsourcing and crowdfunding- two sides of the same coin that lead to a revolution of social and economic models. Trying to predict the future has little value unless you first seek to understand the forces that drive the changes, the subtle nuances that can create future opportunities. Innovation means to anticipate future needs, create new business models, without losing revenue. When I decided to develop this book, my target was to have a text which could make the readers go back once again to the act of dreaming, speaking to the future, transforming problems into opportunities, asking the question "what if”, seeing with new eyes all that surrounds us, and creating something new.

What can be expected by living in the Crowd economy?

Like the Founder and CEO of Crowdsourcing Week, Epi Ludvik Nekaj, says, the crowd economy is a synergy of elements akin to networked crowds, a democratic mindset, self awareness, exponential problems that need collective action and technological advances that morph the crowd economy into a more purpose-driven and valuable ecosystem. It is very important to anchor oneself on the true fundamentals of crowdsourcing to maximize the opportunities of crowd economy. The broad crowd economy is characterized by five fundamentals - people, purpose, platform, participation and productivity.

The key issue from this in relation to what we can expect is that we are in front of an ocean of opportunities, meeting the long-tail demand. It is only a question of catching them, building capital, and laying the foundation for a different but more democratic economy. And this is something we are doing already. To exemplify, let’s think about how Internet has been used. In the first chapter of the book related to the ‘Crowd Economy’ this is well explained. Before 2008, during the time of reasonably well-functioning markets, the Internet was utilized with a mindset of receiving information that can be described as an “Internet of download.” It is a very passive mindset in which it does not immerse itself into the full potential of Internet. Whereas, the new “Internet of upload” mindset brings people closer to the most advanced opportunities that could be experienced. This type of mindset enables and empowers individuals around the world to work and finance projects, co-create products, and buy and sell goods instantly. The “Internet of upload” mindset brings crowds together for a purpose. What is being witnessed today is the emergence of a new era - a world of abundance - taking shape in different forms and sizes that will have a ripple effect on the different sectors and pillars of society.

The development of the book took one year and involved many worldwide experts. This approach is also in line with the sharing economy?

Indeed. Also, the development of the book was a disruptive and agile crowd-based ecosystem. The most important element of the entire publication was finding the most experienced international academics, lawyers, policy makers, entrepreneurs and practitioners in crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to contribute to this publication and give their expert views on these trends. None alone could write a book embracing such a vast domain. But as I said before, the power of the era in which we are living results in a positive viral contamination where productive people support each other and contribute to the achievement of common goals, which can provide benefits to a wider community. I am grateful to all the outstanding authors and members of the Editorial Advisory Board who successfully contributed to the writing of the book.

A lot of great examples of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding initiatives are globally showing good results. Never before has such a wide range of experts joined forces to share their knowledge in a combined publication. This book wants to be a standard reference for future research and academic publications, but also a very interesting read for all the different stakeholders in our new, but fast growing industry.

The authors covered all areas of this emerging industry. From the basic definitions of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, to detailed analysis on crowdsourcing for co-creating innovation and new businesses, the book embraces a vast number of analyses, which include, among others, the different crowdfunding models, the use of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding in different industries, the legal and regulatory aspects, the market trends, the added value of crowdfunding for marketing, and market research.

This book is very insightful for readers who are interested in attaining an overview of this new, fast-growing industry, but even the most experienced practitioner will learn something new. I encourage everyone not just to read these great chapters, but also to start experimenting and implementing the solutions these experts describe in their articles. These crowd- and community-based finance solutions offer a lot of opportunities to create sustainable, more innovative businesses that will focus on a combination of financial and social returns.

The launch of the book will be in September during Crowd Dialog Europe. Any reason for having chosen this occasion to present the book?

The book was released in August, so we could not find a better ecosystem to present our book. Crowd Dialog is a major yearly event, backed by the European Commission, and connects around 400 crowd-experts in interesting academic talks regarding Crowdfunding, Crowdsourcing, and Crowd innovation. The conference will be held in Graz on the 8th of September, and will be a day full of ideas and great minds. All Crowd experts will be present: united in knowledge and diversity to discuss various scenarios of crowd-disruption from the fields of practitioners, academia and politics. Crowd Dialog Europe is more than just an event. It’s a catalyst for the growth and development of disruptive crowd-based ecosystem. For further information regarding the conference, and to attend, please visit the Crowd Dialog Europe Website.
Related Posts:
- Crowdfunding as a New Tool for Enhanced Marketing- Interview with Fabio Allegreni
- Book Launch Party to be Held at Crowd Dialog Europe 2016
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