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Collaboration Lab

This concept is a Website architecture/framework that provides a structured community for web entrepreneurs. It is not single ideas that are missing, it is the overall community game plan. Lets organize the fractionalized state of affairs!

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Collaboration Lab

Please note that this is an abridged version of the overall Collaboration Lab concept. Thank you in advance for reading any and all. We apologize in advance for the length and any grammatical errors.

Vision + Caffeine =

What integral part is missing from the web entrepreneurship environment currently? It’s not just a new way of funding. It’s not just a great new way to streamline forming legal entities. Although these are wonderful notions they are not critical to jump-starting collaborative, successful web entrepreneurship. We believe what is most needed is a virtual space to hang your hat; a collaborative community with direction, support, record keeping and oversight that compiles our work and current resources. This concept is less of a single idea and more of a community architecture/framework. We liken the current web entrepreneurship environment to a neighborhood with no cohesiveness or a condo building with no events for tenants to mingle. Singular resources to help the web entrepreneur are a dime a dozen and scattered across the net. Lets create a collaborative community organized around these resources that pushes the most valuable resources to the top and builds a feedback loop to better our resources. Lets build a community that leverages knowledge and resources via the Internet.

What will this community look like? It will take shape as a platform that provides opportunity and value to all participants and introduces a feedback loop to available resources. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we will use current and developing Websites and resources and allow them to better evolve with the entrepreneurial community’s growth by providing feedback and organizing them by their value (community’s usage).

The European Commission is looking to “identify ways to improve the environment for online start-ups.” This is exactly what we are targeting – improving the entrepreneurial environment by building a platform that leverages the knowledge and resources of a community.

The concept goes a bit beyond web entrepreneurship in its problem-defined sense and more into pure entrepreneurship fostered and supported by the Internet. We hope expanding horizons is acceptable!

Collaboration Lab is a Website community composed of the following proposed cornerstones.

Captains of Collaboration:

(Formerly Big Brother)

Composed of site administrators and potentially something similar to a board of directors. Ideally, the administrators and board of directors would be experienced individuals in the realm of startups, and for this case, having web startup experience specific to Europe. Captains of Collaboration would provide oversight and structure to how the Collaboration Lab community interacts. They would also provide some amount of direction and mentorship where necessary.

Sounding Board:

The Sounding Board would have multiple Boards offering a space for discussion to develop ideas. It would take form in its most simple sense as a discussion forum.  Captains of Collaboration would moderate the Sounding Boards and help shape discussions if the opportunity to do so arose.

One Sounding Board would be a place to refine ideas, offering a space for discussion and free wheelin’ thoughts to snowball from concepts to projects to startups. This could be as simple as a forum but hopefully would take shape as a less structured discussion: ideas (in the form of text, pictures, CAD, code, sticky notes, etc…) could be posted and built upon by other contributors, somewhat analogous to how OpenIdeo works with the build on function.

Another Sounding Board would offer an area to discuss concepts/startups/businesses that are working or popular in other countries across the globe. Basically, an idea share that would promote leveraging ideas that have been successful in one area to another.

Collaboration Opportunity: Do you have any thoughts for another valuable Sounding Board?

BrainBlox

The BrainBlox cornerstone would hold what we have coined “BrainBlox” – thought provoking tidbits of code, materials, manufacturing processes, control systems and other useful snipits of information. Think of it as an online database of thought provoking, inspiring things. Community users would access BrainBlox to get their innovative juices flowing and educate themselves on new and old ways of doing things. Community users could and should add to the BrainBlox section.

If you have ever read the The Art of Innovation (and please do yourself a favor and do so), think of BrianBlox as an online “Tech Box”. As The Art of Innovation puts it, “The ‘Tech Box’ is a centrally located lending library of innovation elements”.

The Hookup

The Hookup would be similar to a community wide collaboration matching system. It would be similar to a job search site where entrepreneurs could post “Collaboration Opportunities”, and other community members could apply/respond. The Hookup provides a space for community members to source skill sets that are outside of their team’s skill set. Collaborating could be promoted through incentives in a number of ways:

Money – Collaboration Opportunities could be posted with how much a startup was willing to pay for the service or they could post the Collaboration Opportunity as an RFQ (Request for Quote). In the RFQ case, other community members/groups would respond with a quote.

Stock – Equity to a startup could be sliced and diced dependent on who contributed what. Equity would be given out by the originating member/group of the startup.

Point system – Collaboration Lab Points could be assigned to members based on their contributions. Points could be awarded by Captains of Collaboration or some algorithmic system based on forms that described what and how much was contributed. Points could then used for items such as more storage space (see My Quiver), discounts to partners found in The Resource Station, priority access to spaces and/or software (see Collaboration Nation), etc… There could even be Collaboration Lab Points specific to certain types of jobs, eg: Software Dev, Website Dev, Mechanical Engineering, Manufacturing, etc… The different kinds of points could derive their relative value based off how many of each kind had been awarded to the overall community at that point in time.

See similar concepts:

“Connecting Entrepreneurs and Experts” by Priyanka Kodikal

“Talent Swap” by Mary Sajfar

"The Creative Co-Op" by Maxi Clayton Clowes

Collaboration Opportunity: How else might Collaboration Lab create incentives for collaboration among community members?

My Quiver

My Quiver is the virtual space Collaboration Lab would supply to web entrepreneurs to hang their hat. My Quiver holds your Intellectual Property; BrainBlox you like, file storage, sharing, viewing and markup, etc… Collaboration Lab users would also have the ability to add commonly visited sites/people from the Resource Station allowing them to more easily access frequented resources in the future. My Quiver would also allow a community member to open his/her Quiver to allow other members to access, upload/download and edit data. In this way teams could more easily share and collaborate. Community members could have multiple Quivers if so desired, using unique Quivers for different projects/startups.

Quivers would log the progression of a startup. As entrepreneurs built out their businesses they would be prompted to set short-term goals and update their status. This would build out a timeline of the startup’s progression, which would be used for the community’s overall betterment and inspiration to other groups. The member or group who controlled the Quiver would have the ability to make certain goals, updates and data private or public. Captains of Collaboration could provide incentives to have as much data as possible public, to give back to the overall community.

Quivers would also provide a platform for creating an online presence via Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. At the complicated end of the spectrum, a Quiver could offer one place that information could be edited that would flow down to multiple social networking sites. Imagine changing your startup’s “interests” and that flowing down into six different social networking websites. Also being able to shoot out a tweet, post to your wall and enter a blog entry from one tool.

See similar concepts:

“Toolbelt: Everything you need, always at hand.” by Adreanna

Resource Station

The Resource Station is the conduit to current online and offline resources for entrepreneurs. It is where current web entrepreneur resources are organized in an accessible, useful fashion. There are a myriad of resources available online and offline, many that web entrepreneurs might not even be aware of. Examples of current resources include entities such as: Kickstarter, The Amazings, Legal Zoom, SCORE, CrowdSource and hackerspaces.org. Resources would also include software whether it is open source or commercialized. Perhaps Collaboration Lab and/or the EU could form relationships with software companies and subsidize software for members of the community. This software could be accessed via the Resource Station or at physical Collaboration Lab locations (see Collaboration Nation).

Resources would be split into generalized categories such as: Business Plan Writing, Funding, Legal, Website Development, Marketing, Manufacturing, Offline space etc... Categories would have sub-categories so that community users could drill down to better find resources that match their objectives. The most used and best rated (by community members) resources would be listed at the top of their categories signifying their value to previous entrepreneurs.

When community users utilize a resource they would then be prompted to rate and comment on the service. This information would then be ported back to the resource to provide feedback that hopefully would be used as insight to how their service was being used and how they could better it.

Collaboration Nation

Collaboration Nation is the access point for members of Collaboration Lab to come together and create. It would include access to platforms such as Facetime and Skype where community members could speak face to face to have more fluid productive conversations. It would also offer file sharing, viewing and markup allowing members to work together on specific documents. Collaboration Nation is the natural place members would coordinate after being matched on The Hookup.

Collaboration Nation would also give the locations of and information about, physical spaces (Collaboration Labs) designed for Collaboration Lab members. These physical spaces would be similar to maker/hacker spaces and would be supported by the EU and/or membership fees. There are already hundreds of these self-sustaining spaces across the globe and they would only be stronger with formal government support.

These Collaboration Labs would be open areas for work to get done at any hour of the day. Computers would be available with software to be utilized and whiteboards would be everywhere. Think of a university campus, so much innovation happens there because students have access to virtually any software they need whether it’s for coding, design, manufacturing, etc… Collaboration Labs need to be light hearted with imaginative surroundings. The ability to listen to music would be a plus for the times when you need a boost. There should also be quick access to caffeine and food. Perhaps software companies interested in accumulating loyal budding companies could sponsor certain spaces… Getting budding companies hooked on their software while they are young seems like a powerful way for software companies to grow their market space.

Collaboration Nation would be the origination point for weekly/monthly small scale competitions among the community. These competitions would have the intent of encouraging prototyping, risk taking, and producing intellectual property for the community. The timeline of the competitions would be short to induce rapid decision making and prototyping by entrants. Collaboration Lab Points could be earned by winning competitions.

See Similar Concepts:

“innovationSpace” by Stefan Ritter

Loose Ends:

A more detailed description of this concept is definitely due in the future. However, for purposes of concepting this overview was already too long. Hopefully some of you made it all the way to the end here! Comments are welcome on what you like and what you do not like!

How will your concept support web entrepreneurship?

By leveraging the power of an organized community to support entrepreneurs. See description section above.

What kinds of resources will be needed to get this concept off the ground and scale it?

First and foremost Website hosting and development, which costs money (or software, time and knowledge)... so money. Hopefully the EU could front the development costs or pioneering members could lend their time to begin building it out.

OpenIdeo has a great beginning platform too, so the architecture from this site could be used as a skeleton and built out. OpenIdeo also has 30k+ members who, we imagine, are pretty entrepreneurial types. Hmmm... opportunity?

As far as physical spaces, collaboration with maker spaces could offer an ample starting point. Partnerships with software companies would be a plus, however, open source freeware would be an ample starting point.

How could we get started?

1) Get people to read the whole description :) Refine the idea and decide what are must haves vs. wants.

2) Find the resources (software, knowhow, time or money) to build out the Website. Get the EU on board.

3) Find quick ways to scale the community. The community is the value so there needs to be members.

Virtual Team:

“Connecting Entrepreneurs and Experts” by Priyanka Kodikal
“Talent Swap” by Mary Sajfar
“Toolbelt: Everything you need, always at hand.” by Adreanna
“innovationSpace” by Stefan Ritter
"The Creative Co-Op" by Maxi Clayton Clowes

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Photo of Meena

Digging the names you've come up with – especially My Quiver & the savvy BrainBlox feature. Though I'm a bit scared of Big Brother :^) – wonder if a name which sounded more nurturing for that role might be better – though still with the kind of catchy name you've got going on with others?

Photo of ImagineN4tion

Hi Meena, thanks for your comments. Yes, Big Brother is a bit scarier than is probably appropriate... especially with that picture, it is still freaking me out while I type this! How about Captains of Collaboration? Or perhaps, Master Mentors or The Constructives... I am sure we can come up with something a bit out there but still fitting and appropriate :)

Photo of Meena

Nice one – loving Captains of Collaboration!

Photo of ImagineN4tion

All set.