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Web entrepreneurship is emerging as a key building block for economies globally. Against a backdrop of challenging financial landscapes, increased adoption of technology is providing opportunities to connect, co-ordinate and catalyse. In this OpenIDEO challenge, the European Commission’s Digital Agenda Assembly is looking for help identifying ways to improve the environment for online start-ups.

Europe, with its cultural diversity and world class universities, boasts a thriving entrepreneurial community. In fact, it has a lot of great web entrepreneurial success stories, from Rovio to Spotify to Xing. In this challenge, OpenIDEO and the European Commission are eager to identify creative ways to support web start-ups as they launch and grow. How might we, for instance, help start-ups access funding across stages of development? Or help them find resources when working across countries? Or foster a culture of experimentation?
 
 

What is Web Entrepreneurship?

To help focus our efforts, we’ll be looking to create concepts for web start-ups and the entrepreneurs who run them. This means any start-up for which the web is a fundamental part of its offering (think Spotify, Facebook, Angry Birds and Xing).

 

Why Focus on Web Entrepreneurship?

As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, web and digital technologies are making it possible for cultures, industries, and people to collaborate and partner in new ways. And entrepreneurship – with its emphasis on innovation and growth – can provide the spark that's needed to ignite new economic and societal vibrancy. Brought together, web entrepreneurship represents a timely and relevant opportunity area for our global economy.
 
 

The Potential for Impact

On the surface, this challenge is about supporting and enabling web-based entrepreneurship; yet the positive benefits of encouraging this kind of enterprise creation run much deeper. By finding ways to educate and encourage new entrepreneurs, and by designing a business and technology climate to support their start-ups, we’ll be working towards new job creation, providing fiscal support for local and state economies, designing new opportunities for technology innovation and developing a new generation of business leaders.

As Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission, said in her introduction to the Advance Conference last autumn, the European Commission sees itself as an enabler for a better entrepreneurial environment. Now, in collaboration with OpenIDEO, the European Commission is looking to our diverse global community to help identify opportunities for evolution.
 
Through this challenge, we hope to learn about clever techniques currently fostering web start-ups worldwide – from Berlin and London to Silicon Valley and Shanghai – and come up with creative ideas for supporting web entrepreneurship across Europe, whether it be through education, awareness, new activities, new services or even regulatory change.
 
The results of this challenge will be presented at the Digital Agenda Assembly in Brussels on June 21st and 22nd, and the European Commission is committed to implementing some of the top concepts thereafter.

Look back on the design tips and challenge Themes the community used to create ideas together.
 

About the European Commission

The mission of the European Commission is to promote the general interest of the European Union. Specifically the Directorate General of the Information Society and Media of the European Commission helps to harness information and communications technologies in order to create jobs and generate economic growth; to provide better goods and services for all; and to build on the greater empowerment which digital technologies can bring in order to create a better world, now and for future generations. Learn more.

 

Challenge Lead

 Amy Bonsall

Community & Social Media Manager

 Meena Kadri

Do you want to get involved in this challenge?

We follow a process with phases. Currently we are in the Realisation phase. You can participate by adding stories on the impact of this challenge.
364 contributions
157 ideas
157 final ideas
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Photo of mitch Lee

I know its late, but how did this project go? What measures did you use to assess the merits of each web-based business proposal (both qualitatively and quantitatively)? 

Thanks

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DeletedUser

the internet based entrepreneurs are now playing an important role in today's economy growth. take china's situation for example, more and more young graduates are looking for a job in the web entrepreneurs and it is proved so far to be true that they surely have a good life through the job. i think to support web entrepreneurs, the more inputs both on talent and financial is appreciated.

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DeletedUser

we are developing a web based collaborative platform for innovative entrepreneurship with sustainability focus in Brazil www.teeias.org (draft only)

inputs would be highly appreciated

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DeletedUser

Yes, as it mentioned above that web and digital technologies are making it possible for cultures, industries, and people to collaborate and partner in new ways. For entrepreneur, it is very important to have an platform that people could corporate with others .

Photo of Omar Faisal

When a potential web entrepreneur starts configuring a business model around their core idea, they often do so by building it around one rigid model that is based on a number of fundamental assumptions which should (supposedly) drive success. but in reality these initial models rarely ever work as intended, and most start-ups that fail face this fate because they were not ready to face and deal with realities that deem their fundamental assumptions about a business model invalid, while those who succeed do so because they were agile and flexible enough to keep experimenting and modifying their business models in an iterative manner.

I strongly believe that exposing and training web entrepreneurs on lean start-up methodologies, which provide detailed approaches to progressively test and modify their business models, would significantly increase their odds of building successful lasting businesses.

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DeletedUser

When launching a new web business, first of all you need to identify what is the core competency of the business. Then again, before you do that it's important to probably invest in a good business planning software such as Palo Alto to make sure that all the USPs, SWOT analysis, cash flow projections are all in place.

Once you determine what you really want to do, it is important to source for professionals with different core competencies to be part of the team. Getting your best buddies don't always work out in the long run. You need to have competent partners and shareholders in the team that could entice investment angels and venture capitalists to part with their money.

When starting a company, it's important to understand why are you doing it. Are you doing it for the money or is it purely passion. Whichever way, it's important to make sure that you understand that there is a vacuum out there where your company could serve it's purpose.

The company need to be able to do things way better than the current existing companies at a more efficient manner, faster time or lower fees. You could also be creating solutions for problems that has not been fixed. In other words, you have a sharp eye for noticing opportunities when all the other people could see are problems.

You see, having a business is all about solving problems. Whether it's a job portal helping companies to find staff, accounting firms helping with the accounts, food companies helping to fee frustrated and stress people and online marketing companies helping clients to drive up sales and leads.


Edmund Ng
http://www.internetempire.com.sg

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DeletedUser

I was joking about cut and paste...

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DeletedUser

lol

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DeletedUser

Hi Amy, Meena, Ashley,
I really like openideo...it was a great idea to bring this to people who wanna contribute for the better. Regarding the process design I suggest ...because I would find it really helpful personally to include a short feedback message to the shortlisted concepts why they have (not) been selected finally. I think it´s good for the learning process and for future contributions. Would be great to see this in future :)
Heidi

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DeletedUser

I mIssed the computer thing and only learned to cut an paste not so very long ago. Being 55, and what I would consider to be a creative thinker and doer, my suggestion is to find ways to motivate the millions of over 50’s on the planet to the point where reasons for engaging with 'social media' outweigh reasons not to.

Then you'd open up a whole new wellspring of ideas.

Ants.

Photo of Paul Reader

Welcome aboard fellow over 50 (I can give you about 6 years).
I agree largely with what you say we are often untapped potential .
On the question of 'social media' though, I'm still of the opinion that the big players need to be more responsible with people's information.
At least OpenIDEO is upfront about use of ideas contributed and the originators of those ideas are able to develop them, if they have the expertise.
Looking forward to your creative contributions in the next few challenges which should appear very soon.

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DeletedUser

I am glad to have been able to interact with this challenge, albeit near completion. A particular area of interest is bridging communication between digital-savvy and idea-rich, but lacking web-adeptness. I am curious, too, about assessment data on web start-ups, failure rate, and perceived reason for failure.

This brief from the European Commission gets me thinking about population movement and "brain drain". When web entrepreneurship is bolstered, critical working populations won't feel the pressure to move to urban areas for employment and growth; maintaining or improving local communities could be a phenomenal result.

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DeletedUser

Does refinement end at midnight tonight EST? My team and I are hoping to meet this evening and we want to make sure we are finished before the deadline?

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The best way to calculate when the phases switch (as we're all on different time zones ;^) is by the Realisation phase counter at the top of the left column or the Evaluation phase counter at the top of the page. You can actually keep updating your concept after the phases switch – but then you run the risk of some people evaluating your post before you've added your finishing touches. If you're done by midnight EST tonight, all should be well. Looking forward to seeing your refinements!

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DeletedUser

Allow me to take an entrepreneur’s perspective and let’s see what EU can do about it:

Let’s say I have a web-idea. Let’s only start with the very first barrier an entrepreneur has to cross even to be part of the entrepreneurship (VC funding potential) league.

What do I need? – I need a business plan, need to know where and how I can register the company, need to have the legal information/lawyer who can advise me on legal issues to be taken care of, where can I or where should I register my company, need to get the product ASAP into the market, try to fund all these activities and damn, I just finished my degree and I have €50k educational debt, how can I do that!

So, let’s see what we currently have in the EU entrepreneurship eco-system that might answer some of the above raised questions.

1. May be there is already legal information available or lawyers who exactly provide that service. Where do I find the information? Should I pay a fortune for the services?
What can EU do: Simplify and centralize the very basic legal information that needs to be take care of so that Entrepreneurs can start focusing on the real idea. This could be generic or location specific (Berlin, Paris, London or what may come). I am not going to go into simplify legal requirements, this is something that has to be dealt with and not a secret.
2. How can an entrepreneur find a co-founder? May be business/technical co-founder. First an entrepreneur needs to be informed on how to handle a co-founder. Can I share equity, if the idea is mine, how much equity can I share? What do VC’s need to see later on and how much would I still need to retain to make myself worthy of the eventual win. You get the picture, the cofounder negotiations.
What can EU do? There is umpteen amount of information in the web on this – this needs to be tailored to EU and again centralized so that an entrepreneur can focus on the core idea.
3. Where do I find the co-founder? In places like NY City and Silicon Valley, engineers are informed what starting a business mean. If I were to go look for a technical co-founder, as someone pointed out, he wants to go to Microsoft.
What can EU do? I think it is an innovative suggestion for Microsoft/Google to embrace ideas and share their technical folks to build great companies. But this cannot solve all and not always scalable. So, EU can create a very strong awareness campaign on technical university campuses EU wide, encourage and sponsor entrepreneurship on campus and make entrepreneurship sexy on campus. Moreover, centralize a database of potential cofounders where people can come search, contact and make teams.
4. Now, I got a team, registered the company, probably have a business plan and am working on a product. If not right from the beginning. At latest at this point, an entrepreneur starts to worry about finance. There are business angels who can do that, but do we have our own Angels fund?
What can EU do? – Make micro-finance available much more rapidly and freely. €25K to bootstrap an idea, if you win big, you give us a good multiple so that EU/any private organization can recycle the funds. This would allow an entrepreneur to start right away rather than taking crucial time to convince other angels, searching for some money.

The core idea I am trying to bring here is, let’s list the steps of an entrepreneur’s journey and identify how we (EU or whoever) can eliminate, minimize or delay the hurdles that are on an entrepreneur’s path. The entrepreneur should be enabled to focus on the one thing that matters the most – bringing his idea to life.

The above steps are only a scratch on the surface, the very initial steps. But you get the idea of the approach I suggest.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Praveen – great to hear your thoughts. You might like to join the conversations over on the actual challenge. We're currently in the Refinement stage & ideas like this: http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/concepting/eliminating-the-lawyer-with-an-intelligent-flowchart-based-legal-website/ might well benefit from your perspectives as an entrepreneur.

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DeletedUser

I thought of a few ways web entrepreneurs could be supported in their endeavors.

1. It is essential to connect those who have uncovered business opportunities with those who can code. The challenge is finding counterparts that would work well together and that they could trust. For independent entrepreneurs one possible idea would be to create a 'match making' website to help connect a person with an opportunity to someone who could physically build the product. Although three roles could be needed instead depending on each person's level of business experience. The three role categories highlighted on the website could include someone with an opportunity, another with business knowledge and finally someone who can code. However, I would personally like to think one more person with a user experience background could help out a lot with initial development during the problem definition phase and help identify solutions as well as help with product execution later on.

2. Offering teams information, tips and resources for virtual collaboration could be of use. In addition so could information on how to create a good team atmosphere and general project management. At the very least a collection of good website links could be helpful.

3. Access to available mentors would also be helpful as well as a pool of users for feedback or testing a web-based product. Besides virtual mentors or users it would be nice to be able to identify locals that could help out and meet with entrepreneurs in person. It may be possible to leverage existing associations, groups or website resources or if necessary create a new website on this topic.

4. When an opportunity is not already known a website could be created to collect people's general issues, pain points, annoyances, or complaints. The feedback could inspire entrepreneurs to come up with web or mobile solutions. This website could focus on smaller bite-sized issues across any domain, not the real big problems. Issues could possibly be cross-referenced by location so that local entrepreneurs could possibly meet with people in person who voiced their issue online. The input and stories on a website like this could spark a web or mobile product solution in an entrepreneur's mind. A rating system could raise an issue to the top of the list to quantify the frequency and validity of the issue across the population. This approach could also show where the issue is present across the globe. This idea may be a little bit of a stretch, but it could serve as an idea bank for a budding entrepreneur who is good at connecting the dots and creating solutions for basic problems.

Photo of Amy Bonsall

Thanks for this Vanessa! I'd encourage you to join the debate around the concepts in refinement as well. http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/refinement/

On your first point, a lot of entrepreneurs have pointed to that challenge. I'm encouraging debate on this concept around how to help support either building dev skills or making it easier for entrepreneurs who are not tech-savvy to use tools to help them...
http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/concepting/open-innovation-lab

I'd love your thoughts on that.

On your second point, the best concept to chip in on is this one:
http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/concepting/connecting-entrepreneurs-and-experts/

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DeletedUser

Every day, I meet more and more entrepreneurs having disruptive and innovative e-business idea, but without having IT-Web/Computer Science degree, knowledge or skills (except using the internet of course). It is very difficult for these people to find co-founders expert and skilled in IT/Web. Most of IT/Web experts, even young IT graduates, are a rare resource. Indeed they prefer to be hired and to work for Google, Microsoft, Apple or other big IT companies than joining a risky start-up project !
Google, Microsoft, HP, Apple .... could create a business incubator dedicated to web-entrepreneurs without coding skills. This incubator could select the best pitches, and then bring all the technical and business resources to support the conception and development of a product/service from the idea to the startup foundation. This resource contribution would be provided in exchange of sweet equity in the startup. Who does not dream to have Google, Microsoft or Apple among his shareholders?

Currently we have two programs dedicated to entrepreneurs and young startups in the IT:
- Microsoft BizSpark is a fantastic program, but it is for existing young startups, so therefore it is for IT-skilled people and entrepreneurs.
- Google Umbono is also an exciting program. But it’s only for entrepreneurs located in South Africa, and for people already skilled in IT.

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DeletedUser

Just to complete or clarify my thoughts, based on my experience, what is important for any entrepreneurs, web and other sector, is the technical resource. With a prototype (or a beta version of a web product/service), entrepreneur can raise money, and sustain all other resources needed for the development of the startup company. But without a prototype, the idea, even a fantastic idea, will remain on the paper even if the paper is a storng business plan.

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We look forward to having you join in on conversations & posting ideas over on the actual challenge, Ari. We've just launched the Concepting phase: http://bit.ly/startup-ideas and you can also check out all the goodness which was collected during our Inspiration phase: http://bit.ly/startup-inspire See you there!

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DeletedUser

I am in! :)

Photo of festus mbuimwe

Hi Ari. I support your idea for an ecosystem. I, for instance, have potential mobile apps ideas, but I lack coding skills. So it's almost impossible for me to find a 'collaborating' techie here in Kenya.

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This is a great debate guys, and at the crux of the challenge for lots of web start-ups (or would be entrepreneurs)! There's a concept that is trying to address this by building a toolkit of resources.

http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/concepting/open-innovation-lab

It would be great to see you guys join the debate there and talk about how else we could develop / support dev skills...

Photo of Paul van Zoggel

Dear three musketeers,

There are quite some concepts on getting the io inspirations organized/searchable/connect it to a roadmap/tourguide/wiki/highway.

How did concepts in the past challenges merge to have stronger teams and focus together instead of everybody hoping on their own (same) concept?

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Feel free to raise this issue on our User Forums in the Feature Suggestions section: https://openideo.zendesk.com/forums/291908-feature-suggestions

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Thanks for link! Just did. https://openideo.zendesk.com/entries/21347181-unite-concepts-plugin Also trying something within this challenge at Ashleys map ; http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/concepting/the-founder-s-roadmap/#c-ecd46045524915a46613f76910201103

See you later.

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DeletedUser

As a young entrepreneur think this will be great.

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DeletedUser

I am in great support of this concept. I think that the European Community can do a great job in promoting the internet as a major economic force in the light of today's economic downturn. Online entrepreneurship will be our way out of this recession.

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Love the challenge.

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DeletedUser

At pushUP we provide both tec and business resources for start-ups, as we recognise that most startups lack one or the other.

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DeletedUser

Many successful sites are adapted to work well on mobile platforms. I believe website's versatility helps the site's recognition.

How about an easily accessible service that helps web entrepreneurs take their existing website and repurpose the site to be best viewed on mobile phones, and other devices.

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Interesting thoughts Michaela – we hope you'll come and join us on the actual challenge. The Concepting phase starts this week! Meanwhile – we hope you'll swing by our Inspiration phase and join a conversation: http://bit.ly/startup-inspire

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DeletedUser

Crowdfunding could be a way to help web entrepreneurs. These days, you don't need millions of dollars to start a business especially when it comes to creation of sex sites. Even open idea platform sites like these don't have to cost more than a couple of hundred thousand dollars. Ok, so where am I going with all of this? Crowdfunfing is a concept where people who want to start a business but don't need a gigantic amount of money get funded by different sources. Think Kiva or kickstarter but with more startup cash. The problem is that legislation prohibits it( at least in the US). VC's are good for some companies buttheir motivation is to buy into smaller companies so that they can make the most profit...Not in the best interest of that small business owner. It reduces competition. A lot of small web companies design the company to get snatched up. So I guess it would be better for the commission to design their efforts to empower entrepreneurs to start small with the least amount of start up cash. Crowdfunding can sponsor these efforts.

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DeletedUser

A “radical” opinion,

Taxes we pay are already crowd funding, commission funds are coming from our taxes… allocated commission budged for innovation until 2013 targets sums almost 25 times of all VCs investments being done all over Europe in 2010... Its about 143 Billions http://bit.ly/jXPJZi If we divide the number with the early stage investments that have being done in 2010 by Angels and VCs all over EU at 2010 its 300 times more...

So the question is, since money is not an issue, it is allocated for innovation and entrepreneurship and since we all crowd funding our democracies why we need more crowd funding to start business from people that have got ideas but don't have the ability to finance them selves? Isn't it Democracy's main notion equal opportunities for all?

As Democracies we support unequal people like kids with autism i.e. since entrepreneurs that can't finance their ideas are also unequal’s, why we don't finance them also since our overall prosperity and jobs creation rate is directly connected on them succeeding?

Ohh… I know the answer... these monies are only for bailing out big banks, big corps and loans to states to save big banks and big corps, etc... Not for every day people that pay and sweat to pay taxes...

These everyday people should be “allowed” to pay another community tax (crowd funding) if they want to have a job tomorrow for their children…

Am I missing something?

Why I’m feeling like we are at 800 B.C. and I’m evangelizing basic Democracy notions to Barbarians?

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DeletedUser

I believe that having a common thread in web entrepreneurship, whether it be "education, healthcare, poverty" creates a community which will not only aid in a strong and continuous web presence as well as contributing to the population that may be utilizing these technologies. Funding may come from interested foundations such as hospitals or foundations and organizations.

Photo of Michael Gauthier

I think the emergence of the QR Code is a HUGE success with marketing business and products. Also being able to shop online via cell phone is changing the market completely. One of the biggest steps in creating sales is having website recognition. A businesses product cannot be sold online if no one knows about the possible amazing website selling these products. I think a physical marketplace of QR codes leading to multiple businesses websites could easily skyrocket business for emerging companies. Imagine a Circular "kiosk" if you will with multiple products being advertised. If someone is interested in the design or type of product, they can scan that code and be sent straight to the website to shop online or explore the companies goods. A QR MARKETPLACE is what I would like to see. The one main problem would only be where to find the best place to put one of these markets.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Interesting thoughts Michael. We hope you'll join our Concepting phase which starts in a few weeks. Meanwhile you might like to chime in on our Inspiration phase at: http://bit.ly/startup-inspire and check out these tips: http://bit.ly/oi_inspire

Photo of festus mbuimwe

All along I've presumed web entrepreneurship was well entrenched in Europe!
I look forward to an African version of this challenge because online start-ups in my continent face huge obstacles from usurious bandwidth costs to low internet penetration to passive resistance to online payment platforms.

Photo of Nima Moinpour

Solution: educating and introducing investors to these start-ups. There is a whole scene of VC's focusing their energy on international start-ups.

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DeletedUser

The real and decisive challenge will be how the Commission (and, by extension, the members states) will be able, at the very least, to un-hinder micro-startups - be they hyper-local or micro-multinationals!

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DeletedUser

Yeah, just go out of our ways, and leave us alone.

Photo of Paul van Zoggel

Make survival very affordable and we can all go out off our minds doing the things we want to do.