The Tweet That Changed The World.

By on January 25, 2012

Or at least our world anyway… hubbub: The Resurrection!

Surprisingly enough, the hubbub that you see today didn’t happen overnight 😮 In actual fact, it’s been a good while in the making. It was originally conceived of back in 2007 while our founder, Jonathan May, was working in the Computer Laboratory in Cambridge. Teaming up with fellow student, Enzhe Zhang, the two set about their mission of designing and promoting an online space where users could showcase their proposals to a wider audience. They hoped to reach out to university campuses around the globe. The basic idea was a simple one: namely, that of giving greater exposure to those seeking funding while helping businesses and investors to locate and evaluate interesting proposals. Jonathan was intrigued as to why businesses were not actively seeking out young endeavours to put their names and financial muscle behind.

The early hubbub did experience some successes back in those heady days. On 5th February 2008, for example, a message rang out from our Facebook page announcing we’d hit our first milestone of 100 registered crafters! In Cambridge alone! Various groups did receive the funding they sought. But, ultimately, it was a far cry from what Jonathan had in mind. Sponsorcraft required a lot of energy from its founders to run. Insufficient time and money would lead to a cessation of activity and spelt the end of the company. For the time being, at least… As Jonathan recalls, “life took over – as it often does – and the time to promote and update hubbub dried up.” hubbub had begun with big ambitions but the model needed fine tuning into something simple, workable and reliable before it was ready to face the global university market. Still, underfunded and understaffed though it might have been, this early interest had shown there was considerable demand for the service from within student communities. There was a rough blueprint in place for our future success.

Jonathan identified the problem with the early hubbub as one of building a consistent model for fundraising. The question was: who is going to reliably feel the interest in, and attachment to, student groups to provide the bulk of donations needed? Businesses will occasionally get involved but most simple proposals (such as a new music room for a college) were likely to be ignored under hubbub’s original model. “We didn’t ever figure out the business model, and successive attempts to pluck one out the air ended in frustration,” says Jonathan of his days in Cambridge. That was… until one suddenly arrived out of cyberspace.

So what exactly was this tweet?

eileentso @hubbubnet crowdsourcing student projects (“funding student endeavours and building links between commerce + academia”).

It doesn’t sound like much, does it. So why was it so significant?

It came at a time when Jonathan and Duncan had been discussing the idea and creating a new model for the way the site should develop. It helped us to distill our general business plan into a simple funding idea: crowdfunding – as successfully demonstrated by the U.S. website Kickstarter. It means that regardless of business involvement and the size of donations, everyone can raise sponsorship fast. hubbub provides room for both types of funding – from alumni and the general public, as WELL as businesses. You don’t always need the financial might of businesses if your own recent graduates each give a few pounds!

As a result then, under the crowdfunding model, the vast majority of smaller projects are going to be sponsored by friends, family and alumni. Businesses and private investors will sometimes get involved with bigger donations: we’ve catered for both levels of sponsorship at hubbub. Rewards are designed by crafters themselves so as to correspond with the scale of the money donated. Donations of £1 are likely to receive a smaller ‘reward’ than a donation of £1000! We encourage both scales of funding and leave it to our crafters to design and designate appropriate rewards for each.

hubbub today is “kinda like a student-focused Kickstarter,” as Twitter user Paul Hallett puts it. Cheers Paul! If we can raise over $75 million for student projects in just over 2 years, we’ll be doing OK! But as much as we welcome his characterisation, we believe there are certain advantages to the university fundraising scene.

Jonathan: “I have now decided to re-open hubbub along its original lines – as a means to help match up creative and motivated individuals get the sponsorship and funding they deserve. The interest so far has been fantastic and we think 2012 will be a big, big year for student funding and for hubbub.”

hubbub is now on Twitter, and will be blogging developments and a roadmap too. If anyone wants to get involved and help, the opportunity is very much open.”

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