JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One Spark 2016 kicked off Wednesday in downtown Jacksonville.
It's billed as the largest crowdfunding festival in the world, but the event, in its fourth year, looks much different than in years past.
The festival is shorter, only two days long instead of five, and cash prizes are no longer being awarded based on attendee votes.
But organizers were optimistic about the changes, as well as some of the more than 100 creators in attendance.
Melody Taylor, owner of the mobile art studio Champaint777, said that last year, One Spark changed her business and her life.
"I'm back again, because the business just went boom," Taylor said.
She's hoping to raise money to buy a new commercial vehicle, but this year, she will have to do it through donations, because there is no option for people to vote for their favorite creators to win cash prizes.
For Taylor, it’s still worth it.
"I feel good that I am out here, and I can personally network with everyone, and I can set appointments, so I feel really good about the networking, and where else can you go with all this opportunity on the scale? So, today is still a big day," she said.
Wednesday is a big day for Michael Delcharco, too, who owns Better Covers, a one-time use truck bed cover.
He said last year was all about getting feedback on his prototype, but this year, the product is made, and he’s trying to sell it.
"The lunch crowd was great. We had tons of people in here, and it seems to be a good crowd. Obviously, you have very good weather, so it's going to be a good day. I'm expecting good things," Delcharco said.
The First Wednesday Spark Walk will run from noon to 10 p.m. along Laura Street from Adams Street to the Jacksonville Landing.
The free event will feature creators, live music, food trucks and performers.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority will extend the Skyway hours for Wednesday's event. Anyone can ride for free from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
On Thursday, Creator Innovation Day will be held at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. The agenda includes keynote speakers and workshops.
Some creators have been preselected to participate and will pitch their ideas there.
Ticket cost for the seminar is $20 or $15 for students and teachers. Tickets will be $40 at the door.
To learn more, visit OneSpark.com.