Alf Rehn – Interview with a crowdfunding investor

Alf Rehn photographed in Helsingfors.My name is Alf Rehn, and I’m a chair of management and organization at Åbo Akademi University. In addition to being an academic, I’m a strategic advisor, author, speaker and an utter popular culture nerd. 

How do you see the opportunities of crowdfunding?

I think crowdfunding has the potential to be truly revolutionary, and I think we’re just seeing the first steps of it. We’re in an experimental phase now, where a number of different ways of doing crowdfunding are all looking for that perfect balance. Once we’ve been able to figure out how to balance the needs of entrepreneurs, the needs of investors, the needs of fans and communities, and the needs of the “just curious”, then crowdfunding will be a very, very difficult model to beat. We’re all looking for ways to engage meaningfully, to help create things, and (why not?) maybe making a little profit while you’re at it. What’s not to love?!

Which project on FundedByMe have you invested in? What made you want to get involved? 

My currently biggest “play” has been to support Beibamboo, which is a hyper-cool project in functional clothes for babies. I’ve always thought that we need to pay more attention to innovation in fields outside of the obvious, and an innovative idea in the baby sphere excited me. I also loved that a project with such an amazing story could be made into a shared story, that we could buy into the change rather than just hope that it’d succeed.

What do you expect to get out of this investment on the long run?

My investment in Beibamboo was for me a very cheap way to get into social entrepreneurship. I don’t really care that much about whether I’ll make a profit, or even get my money back. I wanted to support something that deserved to be supported, and if my investment leads to even one premature baby getting better treatment, that’ll be enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, if my modest investment in Beibamboo in the end makes me a ton of money, I’ll be OK with that too… 😉

What is the most important tip you’d give other investors considering crowdfunding?

Look for people with dreams, the ones who are driven by a passion. Successful crowdfunding is, in the terms of Seth Godin, establishing a tribe, and a tribe needs a visualiser at its heart, somebody who wants to realize a big vision. Invest in people – and remember that crowdfunding allows for you to not only investing in an entrepreneur, but an entire community…one you’re part of creating. 

Are there any new investment rounds on FundedByMe that you have your eyes on at the moment?

I’m always looking, particularly for those things that are just a little weird, just a little madcap. Right now I’m going to have to go for a somewhat flirtatious answer: “I may have my eye on something, but it’s too early to say yet…”