Crowdfunding in the Classroom: Before the Crowd, the Gaggle

A new Digital initiative at Surrey Business School’s Entrepreneurship MSc

The question: how can Surrey Business School support student crowdfunding projects more effectively?

The solution: a fiendishly clever initiative called Gaggle Connect.

Gaggle Connect is an interactive forum to develop project ideas through crowdsourcing– whether business, community, funding or just fun.  Instead of raising money, the site raises support for project ideas: supporters sign in with either Twitter or Facebook to pledge their social reach.

We’ve embedded crowdfunding into the curriculum of the Entrepreneurship MSc programme at Surrey Business School over the past couple of years, with the intent to combine a theoretical foundation with practical experience.  But crowdfunding isn’t like traditional fundraising, with its cake sales and face to face appeals: there’s a special link offered by crowdfunding via the internet, and Gaggle Connect was developed precisely to teach how. It was funded by a small grant from Santander Bank, and it’s now also embedded into the MSc programmes.

The key to crowdfunding is participation — so Gaggle Connect enables project creators to develop the initial digital crowd or ‘gaggle’ before migrating to a crowdfunding site where projects can fly (pun intended).  The social reach of supporters can be tracked on Gaggle Connect, while a project message linked to the crowdfunding page can be sent out to the original digital crowd when the target is reached, to then help funnel support to the crowdfunding page.

Joe Gaggle, a well-connected crowdfunding guru, curates the site and posts Bloggles with special crowdfunding news and tips.  He also sends out a Gaggl-E Newsletter with the latest information on projects to help them build support.

Gaggle Connect is now an integral part of the crowdfunding project for the module Digital Marketing & Social Media, offered by several MSc programmes including Entrepreneurship MSc, Marketing Management MSc and Retail Marketing Management MSc.  In turn, the number of students involved has increased from about 20 to about 80, with the number of projects supported doubling from 3 to 6.

Gaggle Connect is a pilot project; the plan is to open up the platform to the Guildford community, with the MSc students advising local businesses, for a dynamic and ongoing collaboration between Surrey and the local business community.

Surrey Libraries are, in fact, already on board. Close to CoDE’s heart is the You-Too Digital Media Centre for Guildford, which is trying to raise £5000.  This project builds on a programme sponsored by Surrey Libraries to bring the digital world to children in the local community.  They build computers, apps, robotics — and then basically conquer the world.

The crowdfunding projects are being prepared NOW on Gaggle Connect, before migrating to Crowdfunder.co.uk at the end of October.

Check out some projects, and join a gaggle today!

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About the Author : Kris Henley

Communications and Outreach for Surrey Business School’s Centre for the Digital Economy, a newly-founded research centre to explore the implications of the Digital Economy for business, government and society.