So what’s Ideascale all about? What’s in it for Ideavibes’ Customers?

Many of the features that you, our customers and contacts, have been asking for, are built into the Ideascale platform and I can’t wait to show them off. The folks at Ideascale have the same commitment as we do to helping cities, organizations and other levels of government engage with citizens or members to make things happen and make things better. Join us on May 28th at 1:00pm EST for a short webinar to learn about what Ideascale is all about.

Sign up for the webinar here: www2.ideascale.com/ideavibes-introduces-ideascale 

Questions? Contact paul.dombowsky@ideascale.com


On April 24th, we made the big announcement that Ideascale had acquired Ideavibes as part of their global expansion. It has been quite a ride since late 2010 when I brought a few friends and family together to start something new. I am looking forward to working with a team that is equally focused on the voice of citizens to help make our communities better and empowering consumers to push organizations to build better products and services.

If I was told that doing a start-up was as emotional an experience as it was – I’m not sure I would have believed you. I’m a guy – we don’t talk a lot about emotion. But the ups and downs of each step along the way – from financing to customers – from product development to media coverage – are both exhilarating and punishing at the same time. I have absolutely no complaints and appreciate the opportunity I had to build something that in the end, customers (maybe not enough customers, but customer none the less) and a few investors, were willing to support.

I look forward to my role with Ideascale in helping build a presence in Canada – but I am especially excited about the opportunity of working with a team – all rowing in the same direction – to help clients do a better job at engaging their crowd.

Thank you,


Its mid March and after a long winter, I am now trying to decide what to do next with Ideavibes. To answer this question, I thought the obvious first step was to reach out to the crowd for their input.

Three years ago, I launched Ideavibes with the input of a few friends and advisors and built a rather unique crowdsourcing platform that enables users to embed the tool using an iframe on their own website. Great for cities, governments and brands to make engagement happen on their own websites instead of sending them off to other sites.

We have enabled cities and other levels of governments as well as public organizations to utilize crowdsourcing to engage citizens to solve problems and help make change happen in communities around the world. We have also helped brands implement crowdsourcing or open innovation initiatives to build new products, improve existing ones, or develop service offerings that were market influenced from the start. You can read about some of these initiatives on blog.ideavibes.com .

Great stuff. But our inability to build a sustainable business has alluded us.

I am proud of what we have been able to do with the $50,000 I was able to pull together from friends and family, but a few factors have led us to the spot we are now in. These include:
– lack of a technical co-founder meaning a great deal of money was spent on outsourced development
– timing – we were very early into the space and this required a great deal of effort to educate prospective customers
– funding – yes we wasted money on things that, in hindsight, didn’t contribute to what we should have been focused on

In addition to our original platform, we also built the start of a public crowdsourcing space that would become an open platform for anyone to run their own crowdsourcing campaigns. Its unfinished but something that could be great public.ideavibes.com

We have built up some great thought leadership on the topics of crowdsourcing and citizen engagement and are asked to speak on the topic at events and cities, etc. in NA and Europe.

So – if you have ideas on what our next move should be – let me know. The possibilities are endless.

Please contact Paul Dombowsky at paul@ideavibes.com or by phone at 1-613-878-1681 if you would like to start a conversation or pass on your ideas.

For the past few weeks, the Canada Council for the Arts has been runningan ambitious consultation effort that combines online and public meetings with submissions to answer a critical question about the future of this sector.

What are some of the key issues and opportunities facing you today in the context of the changing environment in which you work such as new technologies, shifting definitions of art practice, demographic shifts, new organizational models, economic crisis, etc.?

The campaign was slow to start off and the feedback from this expressive and passionate community was that they did not feel comfortable participating in such a new method of engagement which relies on government funding for much of their financial support. The thoughtfulness that has gone into the conversation that is happening now is evident and great to see.

This campaign highlights our passion for giving organizations the opportunity to create ‘space for engagement’ as part of the process. Its not just about building a page to launch a campaign but its also about creating a safe environment where people can open up and innovate. Big ideas require some trust and vulnerability and while our platform provides part of the solution – it isn’t the entire picture. The Canada Council for the Arts has done a great deal of work to make this happen.

I applaud the efforts of the team at the CCA, an organization that does so much to support all the arts in Canada, and look forward to supporting their work in the future.

Visit the online campaign here!

Who says libraries are dead.

Today we took down the crowdsourcing campaign we developed and ran for the Ottawa Public Library called Imagine. You can still visit the website, http://www.imagine-opl-bpo.ca and learn more about this initiative that was undertaken by leadership at the OPL to help the public provide input into the library of the future. A cross between an open innovation and a citizen engagement campaign, the response was overwhelming:

imagine1_smIn the month that the campaign was running, we had:

  • Over 12,000 unique visitors to the website
  • Over 1000 ideas
  • Over 900 comments
  • Over 20,000 total votes cast

Yes – that is a daunting number of ideas – but some key themes developed and the folks at the Library are looking at the conversation that they started to understand priorities and next steps to improve the usability and place that the Library of the future has in the City of Ottawa.

The team at the Library had to work very hard to get approval to do a campaign like this and I applaud their ability to see the potential for both engagement but also innovation and for the commitment to be a little uncomfortable with what people might say. I am happy to report that the fully moderated campaign did not suffer from people trying to hijack the process.

Note that a parallel campaign was also run for City of Ottawa employees so they could focus on internal ideas and comments. This campaign will continue on for the short term as the campaign is generating terrific conversations that will help the Library both operationally and in its service delivery to the citizens of Ottawa.

Stay tuned for a detailed case study.

As previously announced, we have wrapped up Fundchange and will be focusing on our crowdsourcing platform which is soon to be relaunched.

I thought it might be helpful for other Canadian start-ups interested in this space to hear what we learned over the past 2 years launching and running Fundchange which was an initiative of Ideavibes.

Here we go – lessons learned:

  1. Be careful what claims you make. We thought we were the first crowdfunding website for charities and non-profits in Canada when we launched in 2010 – but the Small Change Fund very forcefully told us to stop saying this (amazing how a cease and desist letter throws you off your game). We didn’t know their project fundraising site had all of a sudden become a crowdfunding website.
  2. When working with large partners, it is helpful to make regular updates an important part of the agreement – no matter how busy people might be.
  3.  Inertia and habits are VERY hard to change. We didn’t understand how stuck charities and non-profits in Canada are in their old ways (even if they aren’t working), and how averse to change and risk they are.
  4. We tried to boil the ocean – not possible for a start-up or even a partner like TELUS. We knew the conversation around social media had to change in Canada if businesses – governments – and charities are to communicate with Canadians and we tried to do do much of this on our own. The belief that no one over 40 is on social media is WRONG.
  5. Banks and service providers like PayPal, etc. need to stop treating Canada like a 3rd world nation. I know we are only 30mil people but come on – there is no excuse for launching products and services in the US and then Britain before Canada.
  6. When launching a start-up – don’t stray from Stephen Covey’s mantra of ‘keeping the main thing – the main thing.’ My bad – did that and given our limited resources, caused us much grief.

There are a few others but these are the main ones I wanted to put out there.


Today, we announced that we are wrapping up our Fundchange initiative on December 9th.. This was a difficult decision but was born out of practicality – tough choices need to be made in the evolution of a start-up. Perhaps we (OK – I) was a bit too ambitious in trying to launch a business focused on crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. I don’t regret the decision but should have found someone to take over Fundchange early on – someone that had the resources to make ti fly.

I do want to mention something we learned though about Canadians and their charitable giving and online behaviour. It also gave me some insight into why Kickstarter has not hurried to create a Canadian presence. Canadians don’t do crowdfunding the same as Americans or the British and we don’t seem to take as quickly to supporting charities online. Our conservative nature and the lack of strong social media skills by Canadian charities seem to be getting in the way.

Fundchange, one of Canada’s first “crowdfunding”, or social media driven fundraising websites for Canadian charities and non-profits, was built on the Ideavibes platform and focused on helping organizations not only fund worthwhile projects or doable asks, but also on helping raise the bar with respect to social media and fundraising in Canada.

We were fortunate to have had help from TELUS for two years in not only launching Fundchange, and matching funds raised, but also being their partner in delivering social media and crowdfunding workshops to charities and non-profits across Canada.

Fundchange raised over $62,000 from individual donors for small projects, and benefitted from sponsor funds through a series of matching rounds over the past two years. A total of 18 projects were funded on Fundchange and ranged in scope from programs to IT purchases, to travel and experiences.

Organizations such as the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, LiveWorkPlay, The Toronto City Mission, Pick My Class, Calgary’s Brown Bagging for Kids and others used Fundchange to mobilize support from people connected to them directly or through many degrees of separation through their social networks.

We are pleased to be working with Daryl Hatton and his team at FundRazr to give our members the opportunity, if desired, to transition to the innovative FundRazr platform. I am confident the charities and non-profits will benefit from what they have learned at Fundchange, and be able to achieve greater success on FundRazr’s more robust online giving and crowdfunding platform.

Thanks again for everyone’s support of Fundchange.