by Josef Holm,
Alon Goren is CEO and co-founder of InvestedIn and INVST. He has developed technology that powers websites and financial transactions for Fortune 500 companies and well-known foundations such as Coca-Cola, ATB Financial and Global Philanthropy Group. He also created a white label fundraising portal for individuals and businesses hoping to crowdfund ventures independently of major platforms.
His support of the JOBS Act and day-to-day interactions with investors and financial professionals inspired him to create INVST a solution for marketers hoping to attract investment firms and hedge fund managers. Utilizing proprietary social technology, INVST streamlines and amplifies the capital introduction process, while offering relationship, tracking and deal management tools for fund managers, third-party marketers and investors.
Q: How did you get into crowdfunding and what was it that attracted you to this industry?
As a techie working behind the scenes on social tools that were enabling people to collaborate like never before, to communicate like never before and to engage markets like never before, I found it insane that none of the tools were being utilized efficiently to help folks raise money online.
It was easier to log into a virtual world with thousands of friends and strangers to shoot and kill monsters or simulate war than it was to raise funds for a charity or startup. For some situations, it still is, but that is not a fault of technology or product like it was before InvestedIn was founded 7 years ago, but a function of archaic un-American rules and laws (I’m not bitter or anything).
Q: What’s the most common question people ask you about your job and how do you respond?
It ranges a lot because up until recently we focussed solely on providing technology to crowdfunding businesses and organizations, so the common questions from the people we were engaging were very focussed on product, technology, scale and even ventured towards legal. When I explain what I do to my friends and folks outside of our industry, a lot of the questions are about how it works. Guys like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have ventured toward the mainstream, but most folks still don’t understand the mechanics of it all. I answer those questions the best I can and try not to go into really long diatribes about how the system is broken. 😛
Q: Did you have a mentor or is there someone who inspires you as a leader? How did/do they impact on your career and life?
I am extremely lucky to have worked for and with many inspiring entrepreneurs and leaders. From my father, who still runs our family business rebuilding auto parts that I grew up working at (http://rebuildingfactory.com), to Col Needham, the founder of IMDb, to David Straus, the founder of Withoutabox. All of them work in different ways, have different management styles and different personalities, but when in many situations, I can easily look back at what my father had taught me about business, or what I learned at those past jobs I’ve had, and execute based on those experiences and what those individuals taught me, either directly like my father or indirectly through observation of those leading.
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing crowdfunding as an industry today and what solutions would you suggest?
The status quo. Adapt or die.
Q: What advice would you give someone trying to get into crowdfunding right now?
Disruption is too polite and something someone does at the dinner table or in a board meeting by mistake, or maybe even on purpose to shake things up a bit. It sounds like a cool thing to do…it’s a great buzzword, and in many industries, it’s the right way to look at building an interesting startup. We’ve seen people disrupt the ecommerce launch and build interesting companies like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. We’ve seen other companies like AngelList disrupt seed capital raises. I truely believe that if you want to make a difference in this space, you’ll need to forget about disrupting and adapting the current model…to do it right, build a model or business that destroys the current system. Shake the etch-a-sketch.
Q: What resources and events (blogs, books, conferences, podcasts, videos, etc) would you recommend to someone looking to become a crowdfunding expert and why?
It’s tough to make recommendations because most publications / events are so new, that even the good ones are wildly inconsistent in terms of quality. I would recommend following folks on twitter and branching out based on their recommendations.
Start with folks like Josef Holm (@josefholm), Devin Thorp (@devindthorpe), Jonathan Sandlund (@jsandlund) and Joy Schoffler (@joyschoffler). Be careful of folks who claim to be experts but have nothing to show for it besides calling themselves experts. There are a bunch of those that will lead you down rabbit holes that will generally lead to a ton of wasted time or a way for you to give them your money. :-/
Q: What are you doing to make sure you continue to grow and develop as an industry leader?
Being myself. Try to help everyone I can, and continue to piss people off by being honest.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about how social networking and Web 2.0 have affected your organization or you personally?
It’s changed my life. It’s the business I’ve been in, or involved with my whole career.
Q: What do you think the crowdfunding space will look like five years from now?
More usable, more ubiquitous.
Q: What ultimate goal are you working towards?
Disintermediation of the banking system.
Founder & CEO @Tubestart.com, Crowdfunding Innovator, Serial Entrepreneur, Social Media & Digital Marketing, Dog Lover