The year is 1945. After suffering defeat at the hands of the Allied powers, a secret fleet of Nazi Germans flee to the dark side of the moon, with plans to construct a giant fortress and an armada of spaceships, more powerful than anything they used in battle on Earth. They reorganise, regroup, and hatch a plan to return to Earth 70 years later, in 2018, where they will once again try and conquer the world.
Hold off on preparing an underground bomb shelter for a Nazi return: This is the plot of ‘Iron Sky,’ a Finnish-German-Australian film released in February 2012. The film was created not by a team of producers and directors, but rather by an entire online community of film enthusiasts. Anyone who was interested in the project could contribute an idea, and ultimately help shape the outcome of the film.
In Reykjavík, far away from Nazi German moon space fleets, the people behind the Karolina Fund are trying to do something similar. Ingi Rafn Sigurðsson and Arnar Sigurðsson, two of the fund’s creators, used the ‘Iron Sky’ model of “participatory cinema” to create a similar crowdfunding platform for creative projects.
Just like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, Karolina Fund allows creators to pitch projects and seek investors, who can choose how much money they want to donate. Creators set a goal amount to reach and have a limited amount of time to raise funds. The website, which was launched in October of this year, currently has six projects users can fund. They range from a documentary film about Icelandic horses to a ten-part musical composition about a character in Icelandic folklore.
Introducing the ProjectDock
Karolina Fund differs from other crowdfunding platforms, however, in that it has an integrated project management tool called ProjectDock, which adds transparency to a formally murky process.
“You get the choice to see what the plan is, and how it’s supposed to go, and what happens after the project is being executed,” Arnar says. “The idea is that everybody sees what the deal is and where the project is at using this simple project management system.”
Their solution combats an all too common problem on other crowdfunding platforms: the lack of accountability and oversight to ensure projects actually get done. According to a study published in July 2012 by Ethan Mollick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, 75 percent of technology and design-related projects on Kickstarter didn’t finish on time. For the millions of people who have given more than $274 million to 28,000 projects since 2009, this represents a huge waste of cash, and more importantly, decreased trust and credibility among crowdfunded projects.
“We thought about this way before the problems became as obvious as they are today,” Ingi says. “Once we start hearing about these things and problems with these platforms, we became more confident that this could really be a good answer for these problems.”
Plans to go global
The platform is still young, but ultimately Ingi and Arnar hope it evolves to host projects and connect investors worldwide. So far, Ingi says that 10 percent of all donations to current projects have come from somewhere outside of Iceland.
“I think it’s already proven a good decision to not be completely limited in Iceland,” Ingi says. “We don’t have any boundaries to stop people from coming in. If they have the ability to present their project with a video and some pictures in a nice way, then we will host it.”
Much like the Sky Fall project, this platform allows people to feel more connected to the final result. The experience is different than walking into a store and buying something off a shelf because investors know they have had a direct hand in the final product, Arnar says.
“It’s not just buying something. You are not just a consumer. You are a participant in something,” Arnar says. “And we’re not sure if current crowdfunding platforms are allowing this adequately, and that’s why we’d like to develop it further.”
As the team behind Karolina Fund works out the kinks and takes user feedback and suggestions, there’s one question still on the table: no word yet on whether they will start hosting projects from the dark side of the moon.
To fund your own project or to view and donate to others, visit alpha.karolinafund.com.