One Spark to expand in 2015

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One of the most popular and successful events in Jacksonville is making some changes next year.

One Spark organizers called a news conference downtown Tuesday morning to talk about plans for the third installment of the crowdf unding festival in 2015.

"The epicenter of this project is the creators. It's connecting creators from all walks of life with the ideas they need to make their dreams a reality," said Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Joe Sampson.

Sampson said the largest change will be how contributions are made to participating creators. He said One Spark is switching to a reward-based system.

"Contributors can now get rewards for contributions to creator projects. In the past, it has just been donations based or strictly contributions," Sampson explained.

Another big difference for 2015 will be the total amount of guaranteed crowd funds.

Sampson said it's increasing from $310,000 in 2014 to $350,000 next year. And this does not include the amount of private contributions that have yet to be announced.

"I think you're going to see a truly significant increase in the potential capital investments available for creators in year three," Sampson said.

Year three will also see new and modified categories for creators, including the addition of education and social good.

The festival is also expanding from five days to six. Activities will commence April 7 with a speaker summit and conclude with a closing ceremony on April 12.

Sampson believes the expanded schedule will give more people time to participate in everything the festival offers.

"We went from 9,000 individual contributions to 53,000 individual contributions from year one to year two. I think we could see a similar percentage increase from year two to year three," he said.

One Spark will also have an updated smartphone app for voting in 2015 that Sampson said will be better equipped to handle the large demand.

Last year, the event smashed attendance expectations with more than 250,000 attending from all over the world.

One part that is not changing is the location. The third installment is staying downtown across 20.5 city blocks, Sampson said.

However, he admitted organizers are working with the city to ease up vehicular and pedestrian traffic. "We had an awful lot of crowded corridors," he detailed about last year's experience.

Organizers also are working to ensure that the festival layout does not make some creators feel excluded or far from the bulk of the crowd.


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