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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Extension of SEIS and EIS Schemes in UK Budget a Welcome Relief for Small Startups

Last week Chancellor George Osborne unveiled the government's UK budget for 2013, one which as is always was received with a mix of indifference and controversy which for the coalition government should be no surprise. Yet there is one area that has received some welcome news and is a cause for celebration. Investors and small startups no doubt cheered with elation when the Chancellor announced a major shake up for the EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) and SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme). Essentially the Chancellor has extended the capital gains tax holiday on these schemes aimed at encouraging investors to invest more money into small business startups thereby aiming to nurture entrepreneurial growth.




The SEIS is a scheme that is designed to help small startup companies raise equity based finance by offering tax relief and exemption to investors interested in supporting high risk small scale businesses. Such incentives include tax relief on 50% of the sum invested up to £100,000 as well as exemption from Capital Gains Tax. The notion of wealthy investors having any kind of tax relief might seem an unpopular one but in an age where small businesses face increasing difficulty in staying afloat such incentives can provide that all important lifeline to survival and expansion. The scheme does place certain limits, for example the businesses cannot raise more than £150,000 in equity finance and investors can only have a 30% stake leaving the controlling interest firmly in the hands of the entrepreneur. 
We are delighted to find out that the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) capital gains tax holiday has been extended - offering investors a further 28% tax relief on their investments in seed and start-up stage businesses. This will continue to ensure that innovative start-ups in Britain have access to private funding they need to get off the ground. - Derek Uittenbroek, Co-founder & CEO FundTheGap
This comes as a welcome relief especially in light of the rise of equity-based crowdfunding largely instigated by the Exeter based platform, Crowdcube which since launching has raised over £5 million for 39 UK businesses of which 97% are eligible for their investors to receive tax relief under the SEIS. Since then the door has opened to equity based crowdfunding internationally with the US government passing the JOBS Act to enable small scale investment in much the same vein as SEIS. More platforms have emerged that specialise including FundTheGap which not only provides a platform for equity based crowdfunding services but also a secure haven with approved entrepreneurs and qualified investors. Derek Uittenbroek, FundTheGap co-founder goes on to say; 
The Chancellor has acknowledged that the system has traditionally favoured debt funding over equity funding. I am pleased to see that Osborne has extended the generous tax reliefs on the See Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) to ensure that start-up businesses in the UK can continue to innovate, create jobs and help boost the UK economy.
Image Credit; Images of Money

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Blood Red; Crowdfunding Killer Brit Horror

What would you do if fate brought you into direct contact with a notorious serial killer and gives you a chilling ultimatum? That is the basic premise of Blood Red, a British horror film that promises to become a cult hit upon release. The project is seeking funds from various investors, with the pre-production costs to be met through crowdfunding. The creative team behind this sinister production are campaigning for funds through the platform IndieGoGo with only ten days till deadline and need the help of the crowd. 



The plot of Blood Red is as follows; Megan Taylor (to be played by actress Nicola Posener) is a psychology student with a very troubled and brutal past, hoping to resolves those issues through a detailed study of sociopaths. As part of her final year dissertation, Megan contacts the surviving victims of serial killers and psychopaths to better understand how they overcame their trauma. Megan receives a call from a woman who claims to have survived an attack by Devlin Drago, a convicted serial killer believed to have been murdered by prison guards. When she arrives to meet the woman, Megan finds her viciously murdered and then gets a call from someone claiming to be Drago. The caller offers her a sadistic ultimatum; to give in to his murderous demands or face his bloody retribution.

Blood Red is the brainchild of Director & Producer Steve Du Melo of Melomedia Films, with a screenplay by Roger Wyatt. It is essentially billed as "Saw meets Silence of the Lambs". It's premise should appeal to fans of grindhouse horror looking for more independently produced horror projects already on the rise thanks to the success of Jen and Slyvia Soska's  American Mary. Although majority of the funds will be attained through private investors, Du Melo is seeking pre-production costs of $20,000 through IndieGoGo. In exchange for donations a variety of rewards will be offered that is sure to have horror fans salivating. For as little as $10 a plethora of rewards include a digital download copy of the finished film with an alternative ending (which the donors have a vote) website credit, as well as an email certificate acknowledging their contribution. Other rewards depending on the value of donation include;
  • A making of.. documentary
  • Behind the scenes access
  • Q&A sessions with cast and crew
  • assorted props from the film and limited edition merchandise.

For those horror fans who have $850 or more to spare all the rewards so far will be offered along with a VIP access to the set, personalised messages from the cast, two tickets to the premier screening and an exclusive opportunity to help develop ideas for an alternative ending. However the project is need of funds with only ten days to go till deadline and to date has only raised approximately $200. If you wish to learn more and perhaps help this project see the blood spattered light of day then visit the IndiGoGo project page for more details.

Image Credit;  Glutnix

Monday, 25 March 2013

[Gallery Post] Address Unknown; Sharing World's Experiences Through The Lens

If you could look back on the previous year through the eyes of the world, with all its different cultures, beliefs, experiences, and environment what would you see? It would certainly be a hard concept to grasp, like a million television sets all broadcasting different films of unfolding events.Yet amidst the chaos of visual onslaught that feels like it might overload the senses comes a clarity that opens the mind to shared global experiences. Through this clarity  one or more of these speak to us through resonance and perhaps even empathy. Address Unknown, a photo card exhibition made up of over 500 images from 30 countries taken during the year 2012, encapsulates something similar. The exhibition opened on Saturday 23rd March at the Windsor Royal Shopping Centre and will be open all this week.

Address unknown was organised by Melanie Gow, Managing Director of Glow Entreprise Community Interest Company, and events & fine arts photographer Gill Aspell who put out a call for anonymous submissions of photographic images to feature in the exhibition. The brief was simple; whether they be amateurs or professionals, photographers from all over the world were asked to submit what they felt was their single best image taken in 2012 they would like to share with the world. The names of the photographers would remain anonymous until the end. The photo postcards are on sale with the proceeds supporting Photovoice, a charity that helps disadvantaged and marginalised communities use innovative participatory photography and digital storytelling to affect social change. 



Opening night of Address Unknown was as grand and exciting as any other, with the unveiling of the hundreds of images team Mel and Gill had been inundated with from all over the world.  Postcards adorned the room from floor to ceiling, as well as covering the walls and windows in a rainbow of varied images. The exhibition was packed with supporters and curious viewers excited to see for themselves the images on display. Address Unknown was opened by organiser Melanie Gow before surrendering the floor to its patron, a veritable legend in the world of photography, Lucinda Lambton who described the exhibition as "a diamond that could not help but sparkle." After regaling us all with stories of her life which featured meeting Soviet Astronaut Yuri Gagarin and entertainer Bing Crosby, as well as a  comical encounter photographing a men's public lavatories as part of her Temples of Convenience publication, it was time to see up close the final submissions.





As you would expect from an internationally sourced exhibition the themes and formats were visually varied and highly engaging, although there was a  definitive feel of the old Red, White and Blue of the Union Jack flowing throughout. Last year was a real spectacle for the UK and so it was inevitable that the Queen's Jubilee celebrations and the London Olympics would be a prominent feature, with my favourite being a collection of red white and blue coloured paper boats forming the Union Jack. The exhibition was of course about more than just sporting and royal celebrations of the homeland, featuring sunrises, sunsets, a bustling metropolis, animals at play, couples in love, lingering wilderness and even some a touch more abstract. The exhibition not only displayed varied themes but also incredibly talented use of light and colour. These range from colour to black and white, or black and white with a single colour brought to the fore. There are also modern digital images amongst many with a more retro feel for anyone who remembers the glory days of the Polaroid, or are regular users of Instagram. 



Address Unknown has something for everyone from avid photographers to enthusiastic art lovers. It is a true testament of how the power of a photographer's lens can be used to record and share  images and events from all the over world to bring them together in one forum. Through it's diversity comes a unifying rainbow casting a colour view of the world through many different eyes. 

Website -  Address Unknown
Visit Address Unknown on Facebook
Follow on Twitter @addressunkn0wn and hash tag #AddressUnknown

Saturday, 23 March 2013

[Writer's Blog] End of a Suite Era and Ponderings on The Future

Being a bit of a sentimental old booby I hate goodbyes, the exception being those things that are loathed or simply dragging me down in which case, good riddance. With great reluctance however I have had to say goodbye to my days as a writer for Suite 101, the online magazine site which gave me my first real taste of online article writing and publication. Since I joined in 2009 it had changed from a magazine, paying writers from revenue share based on PPC (Pay Per Click) to a more collaborative platform complete with social interaction forums and customiseable channels. Now it seems they have completely changed the format which means no more article submissions, no more forums and no more payments. 



I am not sure entirely why they decided to change the format, although judging by some of the comments on the various Suite 101 related forums and explanations provided by the time, the issue was purely financial. As usual the team are being vague as to their future plans, and much of the original editorial staff (with whom I have collaborated and battled) parting company with Suite. So what does the future hold for me? This is a very sad occasion as I had so much fun writing for Suite and was looking forward to expanding that particular area of my writing. Yet the saying goes that as one door closes, another one opens.

The way I see it I do have a number of options since if nothing else, Suite has armed with an arsenal of knowledge that has made me a more experienced and capable writer. It has also opened other doors of opportunities broadening my horizons and keeping alive in me the possibilities of growth and progression as a writer. This means I have any number of options I can take advantage of which will hopefully carry me to the next step.

Concentrate on my Business Blog

Whilst I do find the topic of crowdsourcing constantly engaging, Crowdsourcing Gazette, first and foremost is my business blog. It is the one that is mostly target orientated and designed primarily to attract readers which will hopefully result in more PPC based revenue and maybe even attract businesses to advertise on the site. It is my pride and joy as I have watched it grow in popularity over the last 18 months.

The Gazette is still one of the few websites that generates original content on crowdsourcing stories and as the field is growing exponentially I find am struggling to keep up with posting regular news and features on the subject. With my Suite 101 activities  now dead in the water I can concentrate on the Gazette (with a couple of visits here of course) keeping the content current and insightful. Who knows I might even entice one or two budding writers to assist with production duties to keep the wheels turning.

Seek Out Other Freelancing Opportunities

Believe it or not these are aplenty, especially if you pour through the 100 + calls for writers on sites such as Elance, and PeoplePerHour, to name but a few. The pay is not always spectacular in that you would have to work 24 hours a day 7 days a week constantly producing article after article to make any kind of respectable income. You certainly wouldn't be able to earn a living from it, however the money aspect aside it could act as a platform to expand knowledge and horizons which could hopefully lead to bigger opportunities. In 2010 I was hired through Elance to produce news items for the Daily Crowdsource, and the rest is history. In choosing this option history could very well repeat itself with the likelihood of gaining more opportunities all the while learning and growing as a writer. In considering this path, maintaining my day job could prove a limiting factor but then I guess the only real limits are the ones we put on ourselves.

Create More Opportunities

Whilst not tremendously talented in this field, I have demonstrated an ability to build my own blogs, maintain them, and steer their course to moderate success. Once again time really is the only factor that separates moderate to full on firework lighting spectacular success. Rather than ploughing through endless ads, or signing up to a variety of content platforms all with their specialised text editors and submission guidelines, perhaps I should build on my successes so far and create another platform to house other subject matters. On the one hand I run the risk of stretching myself too much and cracking under the strain. Yet by setting up my own platform I can write on a variety of subjects within the same parameters and guidelines which eases the pressure. I am toying with the idea of creating a film blog however the extent of competition in this arena could see me left out in the cold. 




I had always envisioned moving on from Suite into more high profile opportunities, but on my own terms. To leave under the cloud I feel I must takes the element of control away yet provides a harsh reminder of the transitory nature of most things in life, especially writing. I  have enjoyed writing for Suite 101 and despite my ambitions I find myself not wanting to leave. 

Waving Goodbye Image Credit The Joneses

Monday, 18 March 2013

[Case Study] Tipalti Platform Helps Crowdsource Patent Partner with Payment Management

Article One Partners, a platform that uses crowdsourcing to determine the legitimacy of patent claims, has incorporated Tipalti into its payment operations management. This came about following a sizable increase of the company's global research community which has resulted in millions of dollars being paid. Article One's mission is to protect legitimate claims of patent applications from the potential unjust clutches of giant monopolies. Following the increasing demand for Article One's services which saw an exponential increase in its research crowd, Tipalti was was approached as a solution for better mass payment management.

Tipalti, previously featured here on the Gazette, is an Saas based platform that can be seamlessly incorporated into the user's own website. Tipalti is unique in that it is the only platform known to provide a mass payment processing system acting as a one stop platform enabling multi-currency payments through a variety of methods, and all tax & regulatory compliant in all countries. The only other option available is to build a dedicated system but only of the user has the funds and resources to do so. Tipalti offers customers a mass payment system that is efficient and cost effective.



Below is a case study that outlines the circumstances in which Article One became the victim of its own success due to high demand and how Tipalti offered a lifeline.

Tipalti’s Global Payment Engine Helps Article One
Partners Efficiently Fund Patent Research Worldwide

OVERVIEW

Article One Partners, a leading global patent research organisation, uses Tipalti to:

  • Make global payments via a variety of methods and streamline the international payment process, saving significant time and reducing costs by eliminating manual data entry.
  • Achieve greater scalability, enabling the company to expand its global Researcher network and offer a wide variety of payment options.
  • Improve Researcher community satisfaction by offering payments in local currency and significantly reducing payee paperwork.

THE CHALLENGE

Article One Partners offers a cutting-edge patent research platform that applies the power of crowdsourcing to strengthen the quality of legitimate patents and reduce unjust patent monopolies with validity evidence. The company works with hundreds of Researchers—located from Texas to India—who are engaged in supplying this vital evidence.

The company compensates its Researchers for their efforts, paying up to $5,000 for premier evidence and routinely disbursing smaller sums. All told, the company has paid millions of dollars to its active Researchers worldwide, some of whom voluntarily work with the company on a full-time basis. As the company grew, it ran into a volume problem of its own. Following its launch in 2008, Article One had over the following 12 months secured and paid for the services of 12 researchers. In 2011 the number rose sharply to 1275 and 3875 in 2012. With such a considerable addition of Researchers from around the world, the payment process became increasingly time consuming and burdensome. 

The company needed an efficient way to make mass payments on a global scale, comply with a variety of local tax and reporting regulations and process massive amounts of payment-related paperwork. Article One Partners values its Researcher community, so the company also needed a way to streamline payee paperwork requirements and offer its Researchers a range of payment methods as well as multiple currency options. 

THE SOLUTION

Article One Partners found its ideal crowdsourcing payment solution with Tipalti, a SaaS solution that makes mass payments a snap. With Tipalti, Article One Partners found a flexible, automated payment engine that was deployed by embedding just a single line of code on the company website. With Tipalti, Article One Partners significantly reduced processing costs and labor requirements by eliminating hours of manual data entry.

Researchers register and choose their preferred payment method. When Article One Partners uploads payment files, Tipalti automatically verifies payee information, performs cross-checks against government blacklists and helps ensure compliance with payment regulations worldwide. Tipalti streamlines and automates the entire payment process – from payee registration through funds disbursement and tax compliance.

Tipalti disburses the funds in the Researcher’s method and currency of choice dramatically reducing the amount of paperwork Researchers complete. This provides Article One Partners with a competitive advantage, encouraging Researchers from around the globe to partner with the company."Our Researcher community really appreciates the reduction in paperwork and the increase in available payment methods,” said Eric Baer, Vice President, Product and Technology at Article One Partners. “Internally, we’re extremely happy with Tipalti’s service because it has significantly streamlined the payment process, and it has made us much more scalable: We’re a growing company, and now we can expand and scale operations more quickly with a simple, effective global mass payment solution.”

The service Article One Partners provides is essential to supporting patent quality worldwide. Thanks to Tipalti, the company can now focus on helping its growing list of public and private sector clients foster innovation while efficiently managing rewards for the global team of Researchers who are essential to its success.

Make global payments via a variety of methods and streamline the international payment process, saving significant time and reducing costs by eliminating manual data entry.Achieve greater scalability, enabling the company to expand its global Researcher network and offer a wide variety of payment options.Improve Researcher community satisfaction by offering payments in local currency and significantly reducing payee paperwork.

Acknowledgements; Thanks to Eran Karoly, Vice President Sales & Marketing at Tipalti
Image Credit; Images of Money 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Bigger & Badder; Crowdfunded Horror Film With Bite

It is unheard of for a film review to grace the pages of the Gazette however an exception is being made since it culminates in coverage of a project that has come full circle. The Bigger & Badder crowdfunding project first featured in the Gazette back in December 2011, as part of a post looking at the emergence of independent British horror films. It was featured again in August 2012 following the campaign's success having secured more than the funds needed, which principally used to cover the costs of special effects and make up. The film was completed thanks to a team of dedicated cast and crew who volunteered their services, as well as the production efforts of Paul  Banner and Laura Carter.

After securing a sneak peak at the finished film the Gazette sits comfortably in Barry Norman's chair to offer an informed and unbiased view of Bigger & Badder, written and directed by Richard Wantuch. 


Who is Bigger and Badder

It has not been a good day for young Peter (Sam Knight), a package boy under the employ of the nefarious gangster Trevor Deacon (a wonderfully villainous turn from Phil Hemming). When his first delivery goes disastrously array Peter has to answer to his boss,a vicious gangster who prunes his rose garden with a sinister evil chill and is willing to use the same gardening tools on those he feels have crossed him.

Peter has the difficult job of convincing Trevor as to the events of that night, a tale that seems far fetched, made up of the stuff of nightmares and legends. If Peter's story is not convincing then he will learn just how big and bad Trevor can be.

Lycanthropes and Gangsters

The script by writer and director Richard Wantuch is fast paced and tightly packed, wasting no time getting into the action as Peter is being chased across dowdy industrial estates whilst Trevor carefully prunes his immaculate rose garden, all to the thumping sound of Crawl by Circus Town. Wantuch clearly believes that less is more in generating chills and shocks. With Bigger & Badder, Wantuch puts this philosophy to great use with scenes of empty corridors echoing Peter's screams as he is beaten and tortured, and the fast paced edits of the werewolf attacks.


If there is one slight criticism it is that you do not see enough of the creature (nicknamed Wilbur by the production crew). Yet in a way this does add to the increasing suspense of the unfolding story. Where the director really excels in keeping the viewer gripped is the use of Peter's flashbacks as he tries to explain how the delivery turned sour. The script lures the viewer into a false sense of knowing more than some of the characters, particularly Trevor, however this presents one of the most impressive plot twists as the story reaches its finale.

In addition to twists and scares, the film is so well paced it feels longer than its incredibly short running time. Wantuch has put the more downtown areas of Birmingham to effective use creating a gritty feel in much the same way British gangster films use various locations around London's east end. 

The cast also shine, in particular the principle leads. As the sinister gangland boss Trevor, Phil Hemming turns in a sterling villainous performance that chills the viewer down to the bone. Every snarl and stare as he is interrogating Peter is eerily executed, never in danger of veering close to being over the top, especially in contrast to his more serene gardening scenes. Sam Knight as the hapless Peter successfully exudes a sense of real fear and urgency without seeming forced or contrived.

A Howling Success


Considering the meager budget Bigger and Badder is an excellent example that a talented crew with limited resources can produce a high quality film. The finished work offers fans of original British independent horror, a film with real bite, At only a fraction of the running time of the average feature film, viewers can expect plenty of gritty suspense, intrigue and plot twists that puts any big budget counterpart to shame.

Image Credits; Plaural Films All Rights Reserved