Crowdfunding platform Vourno expands to Canada: Interview with founder Joseph Verdirame

vournoIf you want to raise money for a video journalism project, you could look to crowdsourcing platforms such as Indiegogo or Kickstarter, or, the newest platform: Vourno. It allows journalists to raise money for video news stories. It also wants to become an independent news network for video journalism. Founder Joseph Verdirame gave J-Source a rundown of what Vourno is all about as the company enters the Canadian market and just as the platform had its first participant successfully reach his funding goal.

J-Source: Give me the elevator pitch: what’s Vourno?

Joseph Verdirame: Vourno is striving to be the premier independent news network and crowdfunding platform for video journalism.

JS: What are the advantages for a video journalist using Vourno as opposed to Indiegogo or Kickstarter?

JV: I think people have to understand we’re a news-only platform. Obviously we are striving to be fully independent, so we don’t have any requirements in terms of what project is created on the platform. Ultimately, the public will determine what gets funded and what gets published. We’re an all-or-nothing crowdfunding platform — if the public determines it’s newsworthy and they fund it, it gets produced and showcased. We also have a news network, which none of the other platforms have — again we’re focusing on video news pieces. Every news story, it could be text-heavy, it could be photo-heavy, it just has to have a video component to it.

The big part to us is we want to stay strictly independent as a platform. Kickstarter, you can fund any type of project, but you have to submit your project idea to them for approval. Indiegogo is completely independent and open, meaning anybody can post any pitch they want. But none of them are news-only. None of them are focused on video journalism. And none of them have the news network and the distribution we’re going to be offering to journalists that don’t have access to a distribution platform.

Most crowdfunding platforms, when you raise funds through their site, you never know once the project’s done, how it unfolds. With ours, that final product is going to be listed on our news network for everyone to see. And also we have a ratings and rankings system, which we think lends to credibility of our site. So any piece that’s created, the public has the ability to rate and rank your piece.

Lastly, on our platform as a journalist, you have the ability to maximize your exposure, build your brand and build your portfolio. That’s something that the other platforms don’t offer. We’re more than just a crowdfunding platform —we’re really trying to provide the tools for journalists to succeed.

Ultimately we’re looking to build this independent news network which will showcase news from around the world that was funded by the public and there’s no input or direction from we, the founders.

JS: It seems like kind of a social platform as well for journalists to gather and maybe collaborate. Is there opportunity for that?

JV: At this stage no. The journalists have the ability to talk directly with their funders, the “pubs.” At this stage, phase one, there’s really not a lot of collaboration. But what our platform does have is a “submit an idea” section that, as a member of the public, if I’m not happy with anything that’s being shown or not being covered in my community — if there’s a news story that mainstream media isn’t covering — I can submit a story idea and journalists can go on our site and see all the ideas submitted from the public. As a member of the public I have the ability to go into that section and vote and say I would be willing to fund this project. So as a journalist there’s that tool where I could see, “Alright, there’s 50 or 100 people that supported this idea. It might make sense for me to create a project or a pitch on this topic since it seems like I’d be able to get funding for it.”

JS: Why did you decide to launch in Canada?

JV: We want our platform to be global, as we feel there’s a need for what we’ve created. We thought Canada was obviously a great second choice for us for two reasons: (First), simplicity. Our platform in terms of integrating and creating initial roll out in terms of programming, Canada made the most sense and U.K. is actually our next target after that. Secondly, our merchant provider is fully rolled out in Canada. So again it was from a development standpoint it just made the most sense as our next roll out following the U.S.

What’s next

On the crowdfunding side, based off feedback we’ve received from journalists so far, phase one now as a journalist, using Vourno I’m agreeing to showcase my work for seven days exclusively on Vourno. But I know there are journalists that want to raise funds and not showcase their work and be able to sell their piece elsewhere. A big part of phase two I think is to open up this platform and allow journalists to raise funds on our site but be able to shop their stories elsewhere. Those who are giving us the exclusive for seven days, the kicker for them will be a revenue share.

Expand into other countries (U.K., Ireland, Australia) on the crowdfunding side. The bigger part of phase two is to really build out and leverage our news network. So what we’d like to do is allow everyone to upload videos to our site — it has to be a news focused video. What that allows us to do is build our video network and then increase our exposure on the crowdfunding side.

JS: Last comment?

We’re excited about what we created — we think it’s a great platform. We need people to start thinking about us when they’re thinking about a crowdfunding solution for their news story. I think people look at documentary work and they think “oh I can do this on Kickstarter,” but if it’s a newsworthy piece, we have all the tools built out for a journalist to seamlessly raise funds and showcase their work. We’re open to any and all feedback and comments and we welcome the opportunity for journalists to really participate in our platform. We’re excited we’ve rolled out in Canada.

[Source: Eric Mark Do @ J-Source Canada]

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