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From left, Michael Munz, executive vice president at the Dalton Agency; Joe Sampson, executive director of One Spark; Peter Rummell, a major investor in the crowdfunding festival; and Elton Rivas, co-founder of One Spark, are in Berlin this week helpi...
Jax Daily Record Thursday, May. 8, 201412:00 PM EST

Jacksonville group selling One Spark in 'hip' Berlin

by: Marilyn Young

To hear Peter Rummell describe Berlin is striking.

He uses descriptors like cool and hip and cosmopolitan. He talks about a vibe everywhere you go.

“It is about the youngest city I have been in in my life,” said the 68-year-old Rummell.

And for what he and the other One Spark team members are there for, it’s the right place.

“They seem ready for One Spark,” he said.

The German city is hosting its inaugural One Spark crowdfunding festival Sept. 12-14.

Rummell, Michael Munz, Elton Rivas and Joe Sampson are visiting Berlin to help organizers there prepare. They’re meeting with creators, investors and officials.

The four answered questions via email about reactions to the festival, their meetings with stakeholders and why the city is the right place for the first expansion of the One Spark franchise.

Rivas said Berliners understand the importance of crowdfunding, certainly the backbone of One Spark.

“Just like any new startup, we have to go through a process of introducing the brand but they know why this matters,” said Rivas, a One Spark co-founder.

Something else that matters, he said — two successful years in Jacksonville.

One Spark 2013 brought 130,000 people to Downtown Jacksonville over five days in April. This year, during five days in April blessed with perfect weather, more than 260,000 people attended.

The crowdfunding increased to about $364,000, as did the potential capital investments, which rose to $3.25 million.

Those two successful years should help “close the sale” when it comes to fundraising, Munz said.

Berlin is home to a strong startup community, Rummell said, “so the idea of bringing money and ideas together is not foreign to them.”

Munz agreed. “There is such a strong sense of the startup ecosystem in Berlin that once we start to tell the story of One Spark, the response is very positive,” said Munz, an executive vice president with the Dalton Agency.

Rummell said there are active startup events in Berlin “but nothing that brings money, validation and people together like One Spark.”

In a matter of a couple of days, Munz said the group learned the Berlin event may have a longer set of tentacles. “This could be Europe’s One Spark in Berlin — not simply Berlin’s One Spark,” he said.

Munz said Berlin draws many people from European cities on a regular basis. “Their infrastructure supports this every day, he said.

Sampson, executive director of the local One Spark, said the footprint for the Berlin event is far different from that in Jacksonville.

Travis Todd, a Jacksonville University graduate, is executive director for the German festival.

One Spark Berlin will be in a multi-leveled venue with both indoor and outdoor areas versus being spread over a 20-block area.

The name of the venue is ideal, he said: “Alte Munze means ‘Old Mint’ so the location made perfect sense.”

Rivas said Jacksonville and Berlin face many similar challenges. “One Spark provides a great opportunity to help address the pain points of the startup community around the world,” he said.

Just as in the early days in Jacksonville, a common question the group is hearing is “What is One Spark?”

The next question: “Why Berlin”?

As Rummell said, it’s cool and hip and cosmopolitan.


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