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Matching Entrepreneurs, Experts, (and Investors) -- Refined

A smart website to help connect budding entrepreneurs with like minded individuals and possibly investors to help realize their ideas.

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal
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Refinement

I've thrown out some and added some to come up with a minimum viable product.

Interactive mockup: bit.ly/K62djJ

Please take a look at the interactive mockup. I've only tackled the entrepreneurs' part in this one, to get a basic understanding of how the site will work. The experts' part will work in a similar fashion. (Flash player required - sorry :-/)

Idea sketch/map

Perhaps sketching it out is better than keying in all the info. larger version of the sketch is attached below. Take a look...

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It takes lot more than an idea to realize a startup. As new entrepreneurs move towards the prototyping phase, they will need more external help. Placing ads, trying to find contacts, and shuffling through hundreds of resumes could be really time-consuming. They already have a full plate, so what if built something that could help entrepreneurs source talent efficiently, and vice versa?

Eventually, funding is needed.

I am very inspired by sites such as sparked and kickstarter. So here is a website that helps connect entrepreneurs with talent and investors. Not only that, but individuals interested in startups could also contact entrepreneurs with whom they would like to work.

See sketches for a better visual explanation.

Eventually, the site could be scaled to include stories, featured entrepreneurs, etc.

How will your concept support web entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurs can use this site to find the right people who can help the business at any stage.

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

Perhaps the European Commission could help fund this project. The best bet would be to partner with design/innovation companies to design and develop the product. A budget for press releases and targeted advertising may be needed.

How could we get started?

The first step would be to roll out a test prototype to a small group of entrepreneurs. Universities/business schools would be a great place to start. They could use this test as part of career services to find both entrepreneurs and experts.

Virtual Team:

ImagineN4tion Paul Reader Tobi Gerhard Jyotirmaya Mahapatra Meena Kadri Dan Pernik

72 comments

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Photo of jyotirmaya mahapatra

I liked the way you have proposed that how we can get started. It will definitely work that way.

I think you should also think about out a few things. These are

1. How it will help the startups to find people at different stages.
2. What happens further once these people are connected.
3. How startups with complementary needs and offerings can collaborate.

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Thanks! I really like your feedback, especially about incorporating different stages. I'll be sure to add it to my next iteration.

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DeletedUser

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DeletedUser

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DeletedUser

i happened to have a similar idea and just found out about openIDEO. i don`t know which state you are in - or what kind of things you need. if i could be of assistance let me know. here is what i do: www.ohhyesss.com ;-)

Photo of Lluis Ripoll

Just joined OpenIdeo platform, and I think Priyankas's concept represents an excellent opportunity with a lot of potential. In Spain, for instance, I am in contact with many VC firms and not only they all agree that the team proves to be a key success factor for their investments, but also express how difficult it is to find the right people to empower their investments. When companies grow, they need financial resources and human resources (different profiles on different stages). On the other hand there is a growing community of professionals willing to participate in new ventures. Finally I'll just add that I have seen many entrepreneurs give up on their way due to difficulties in finding a team to back up their seed project and start it up (linkedin is an option, but clearly not 'the option')

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Great to get your feedback, Lluis! and welcome aboard! I am currently prototyping this idea, and will surely let you know when I roll out the launch page or an "alpha"....

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

This was a great read! The simplicity made the idea much more tangible. A central hub for people working on similar projects could really accelerate certain ideas.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Congratulations on sharing a winning concept! The EC was excited by how this potentially makes it easier to find a mentor, and was pleased with your early prototype.

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Thank you OpenIDEO! I'm stoked to be a part of such a creative and collaborative community!

Photo of Paul Reader

Once again congratulations on a winning concept Priyanka! Yoiur creativity both in concepts and ability to illustrate them continues to amaze me. I can see this idea working synergistically with others in the winning concepts to give entrepreneurs a very useful suite of tools.
Looking forward to discussing your ideas in future challenges too.

Photo of Paul Reader

Great iteration Priyanka - your graphics are always awesome!
I am inspired to redouble my efforts for James Moyer's LawMaster concept.
Just loading your site. Who do you use for hosting?

Photo of Paul Reader

Fantastic interactive mockup too.
Now i'm in two minds about LawMaster - whether to make it interactive or just passive demo video.

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Thanks Paul! you are very kind :) I had a lot of fun sketching and building the mockup. I use one of the hostmosnster/hostgator for hosting. Nothing fancy..... :)

Photo of Paul Reader

Thanks for this Priyanka - just a quick follow-up question on the PDF - what tool did you use to make it interactive?

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Hi Paul, I didn't make the PDF interactive; just sketched it in photoshop. For the interactive mockup, I used flash catalyst. However, I believe Adobe had discontinued it. I used an older version and it was really quick. Hope this helps.

Photo of Paul Reader

Thanks again Priyanka - will leve short note attached to openideo's congrats now.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Great idea!
I think this could be implemented in many countries and specially in mine (Colombia) were 90% of new businesses are being created by young people. Connecting enterpreneurs with experts and investors is brilliant, this could be an exellent local government campaing :)

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Thanks Natalia! I'm glad you see a use for it :)

Photo of Sana Altaf

Great Great Idea Priyanka I love how you have made it so simple for people to connect with each other.
I was thinking how cool would it be if you can be very casual on this platform. It can be used as a scrap book for the entrepreneur so they can record what they have done so far, and while doing so what was lacking, what was successful and what failed! Because these entrepreneurs can be great mentors in the future so why not ask them to get started early on with sharing all of their stories?!
Also this will give these start up entrepreneurs a chance to be as humane as possible on a virtual platform and this will give the investors a chance to get to know them better.

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

That's a great idea Sana, and thanks for your feedback. As I developed this concept, I started thinking of different features the site could have and sharing success/failure stories was of of them. I even added the ability to connect with investors, but undid it during the refinement phase. I went back to developing a minimum viable product, keeping the essential features, and eliminating the nice to haves. As the concept scales, new features may be added in. For example, your scrapbook idea (love it!) could actually be incorporated in within the profile page for entrepreneurs, and featured success/failure stores could be under resources for entrepreneurs.

Photo of Sana Altaf

Sorry it took me a while to get back to you Priyanka but best of luck
It has great potential :)

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Loved your infographics chart! Do check out AngelList; it provides a marketplace connecting startups, investors, and talent. http://angel.co/

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Thanks Sagar! and thanks a ton for sharing the site... i got hooked and couldn't stop surfing for a while :) I wish I had seen it before working on the concept..it sparked new ideas! The main point of my concept is to connect budding entrepreneurs with talent to form teams so ideas can take flight. Having more robust features like angel.co would be a great iterative addition.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Hi Priyanka,
Fantastic idea and very like something I was working on a couple of years ago. When we were thinking about it the provision of an effective space to collaborate on products was a key issue as was the ability to share ideas with the right people securely. The idea market is becoming more and more open, with crowd sharing and input becoming accepted, however the entrepreneurs we talked to were still very conscious of their idea being stolen. I have sinced moved on to corporate finance :( but miss the entrepreneurial world so if you like I would be very happy to share any ideas we had and the problems which left the idea 18mths down the line and dead in the water!
Tom

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

We made this video for the site; gives an idea of what we were up to. I thought the use of the website to perform market research for companies and ideas was quite valuable:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX2-HCgiTuc
Tom

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

I think this is great would love to see more development in this area. I have worked with the group developing a similar concept for a few years i4exchange.com. Would be happy to talk more with you on your concept for synergies.

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Hi Joshua, i liked your website! I'd love any constructive feedback you can give. For now, I've tried to develop a product with minimum features enough to get off the ground... There is certainly room for expansion as the concept scales.

Photo of Pearl Sequeira

Hi Priyanka, I really love your idea about linking the right people to each other. I do not have anything more to add, other than you are in the right space. I believe your idea will help governments create the right framework(s) to spark job creation via entrepreneurship.

A good friend of mine has started up an online social business/education venture called WeblishPal (http://www.weblishpal.com/) to help non-English speakers learn conversational English from native speakers. I believe my friend would gain a lot from your potential offering as she expands the business!

Photo of Paul Reader

Great to see this is the refinement phase Priyanka and great updates too. Now you have three legs to the tripod :)

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Thanks Paul! If you have any ideas to improve/develop this concept, I'd love to hear :)

Photo of Paul Reader

Hi again Priyanka - sorry for the lack of input (not that I have much to share at the moment). I have been busy thinking about James Moyer's complementary 'LawMaster' concept ( http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/concepting/eliminating-the-lawyer-with-an-intelligent-flowchart-based-legal-website/ ) which is potentially huge (but I think still worthwhile) and would potentially link to this one and to James McBennett's Founder's Dictionary too.
Lol, this time I am struggling to keep across just a few of the shortlisted concepts.

One thought that has just occurred to me is that you have the idea of creating an 'account' - this is a feature of my prototyping/simulation for 'LawMaster' to that end I wonder if either linked accounts or maybe using LinkedIn or OpenID (or OpenIDEO) account logins might be appropriate. (Normally I personally avoid using Facebook/Google ids for other sites because I object to tracking of my personal browsing)
Actually since all I am doing for LawMaster is attempting simple simulation I might (for fun) add a slide linking LawMaster and OpenIDEO accounts.

Will try to come back and see the latest developments here soon.

Photo of Paul Reader

While checking out Haiyan's new presence on ohours ( http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/concepting/startbarter-a-barter-economy-for-startups/#c-cd31aab18c959e45dc4b43e203194314 ) I came across this link ( http://www.hirelite.com/ ) I don't really know if there is anything to be gleaned from it (except perhaps as a money-for-jam scheme) but I did think the short interview (speed dating) idea might be of interest to you as a mechanism for evaluating potential matches.
Maybe in conjunction with ohours to time-slice match meetups and utilising the StartBarter credit for value interchange.

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Hi Paul, thanks for the amazing suggestions! I am working on an iteration, which is taking longer than I thought. I am actually including a linkedin login and love the idea of being able to conduct a short web interview! This may be a nice to have; I'll try to integrate something similar.

I'll post a message as soon as i post my iteration. Thanks!

Photo of OpenIDEO

Great collaborative refinement, guys. Priyanka – we hear you! Iterations often take longer than one first expects. Looking forward to seeing how you go.

Photo of Paul Reader

Good luck with the iterations Priyanka - I'm finding a similar challenge on James' Legal concept.
I don't know if it might be useful to your concept but I just made the suggestion that other concepts for sites or apps (like yours and LawMaster) might benefit from having access to a custom search engine linked to Founder's Dictionary

Photo of Amy Bonsall

Guys, love the ideas and collaboration here. Priyanka, to help with the challenge of iteration, it might be good to think about what is the most basic version of the concept (e.g., could entrepreneurs "tell their stories" online and mentors could click through to offer to mentor them - think of http://www.kiva.org/ or http://uk.zopa.com/). Then just sketch up the screen shots that describe that. I think a fair truth is that there are people who are willing to mentor but they won't mentor just anyone - so use the platform as a way for folks to tell their stories and pull on mentor's heartstrings. I could see mentors checking in from time to time out of sheer curiosity.

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Hi guys, I've just posted my iteration...i'd love your feedback :) Thanks!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Amy is so right: "there are people who are willing to mentor but they won't mentor just anyone", I do mentor here in the UK and I am quite picky about who I mentor. Partly because I recognise my limitations and partly because I have a passion for the areas I like (creative industries etc.).

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

That's a great suggestion! I think the ability to match budding entrepreneurs and mentors would be neat!

Photo of Cansu Akarsu

Hi Priyanka, great mock up! I know an Istanbul based website which connects industrial designers with small enterprizes:

Well, it is in Turkish: http://kobilericintasarim.com/ I think it is fun how the website visualizes the entrepreneur as a fat man, and the designer as a young girl:) It could inspire you for the coming phases.



Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

That's a great website Cansu! Thank you for sharing. It certainly is very inspiring to look at...although, i'll need to find a way of translating it :)

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

This is simple and straight forward, I love the idea actually.
Business Link do have the KIT pages: http://www.business-kit.co.uk/, but this is intended more as a RKE (Research Knowledge Exchange) platform. As they state on the 'about' page: "Business-KIT was developed to help businesses access the skills, knowledge and technology within Higher Education Institutes with the ultimate aim of bringing the UK’s knowledge and business bases closer together."
(http://www.business-kit.co.uk/?page_id=14/ [Accessed 11/05/2012]).
Obviously this is also focused very much on the UK too.

Photo of Paul Reader

Hi Chris This sounds interesting but I get a 404 error on the link at the moment.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Paul – works fine without the comma that crept in: http://www.business-kit.co.uk/

Photo of Paul Reader

Thanks Meena - I haven't been long awake - perhaps I need to wash my face again!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Sorry folks, my mistake!

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Thanks Chris! That is an interesting site. I like the Design Kit and the work-o-meter :)

Photo of Amy Bonsall

Here's a bit more inspiration (not that you're lacking!): http://londonstartups.co.uk/

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Thanks Amy! I finally have my iteration up. I'll take a look at these sites too. Thanks for the inspiration and the continued support :)

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

This idea address one very important need of start-ups, to help linking the entrepreneurs with the services and the investors that are needed for their project to boost. I will be important, at that point, to define which set of services the matching engine will be including, in order to include all the critic ones but not to include so many that the enrepreneur will get lost... Do the entrepreneurs know clearly which services they are needing the most, will they need some guidance to prioritize?

I see a good matching with this other idea, http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/concepting/openfunding-platform/, where we are actually considering the same need, but focusing in one specific service ("access to finance") and focusing more as source of financing also public funds for projects, as well as loans than in investors (although we consider also some investing players such us venture capitals or business angels).

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great work on collaborative refinement while we were in the Concepting phase, Priyanka. We super psyched to see how things evolve now that you've been shortlisted!

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Thanks Meena! I'm looking forward to more collaboration from the community as I start the next iteration.

Photo of OpenIDEO

We recognise there's something valuable about connecting entrepreneurs, developers and experts. We would recommend thinking about the "Minimum Viable Product" for this concept. What are the handful of features that are truly essential? How would you go about quickly testing out this idea?

Swing by our Web Start-up Challenge Refinement Phase Announcement: http://bit.ly/startup-shortlist + the Lowdown on Refinement: http://bit.ly/oi_refine for more tips!

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Thanks for the feedback! I'll start iterating soon.

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

concept updated! thanks for all the input :)

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Priyanka, you're absolutely right, finding the right people to help move a startup in the right direction is as difficult as it is critical. Similar models to yours have been tried, but I don't think the right solution has been created yet. Take a look at http://www.cofounderslab.com/, which seeks to achieve the same purpose. One problem they have is making money- their current model relies on users' honesty to tell them when a successful connection is made and paying $50.

How about you? Have you thought of any creative ways to monetize your service? One option is a membership fee, but it will likely turn people off if they aren't sure how valuable the connections will end up being.

The way we're addressing this problem with Zaplings is to facilitate progress in several ways, most of which are free but some of which are not. For instance, users can collaborate and form new connections and partnerships without paying anything. Startups will also be able to seek crowdfunding with no upfront cost. If funding is successful, we take a transaction fee, much like Kickstarter.

Excited to hear more and continue the brainstorm!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Priyanka, Dan, and anybody else who thinks that this is a great line of thinking, please check out "May The Force Of The Fours Be With You" and give some insights. My concept seems to simply be more brainstorming into this idea! And Dan, I'm not quite sure that all of my strategies are even possible. Could you provide some feedback as to what you know?

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Hi Dan, Thanks for your input! I was envisioning this as being a free platform to connect like-minded people. You're right, membership fees could actually turn people away from using the site. I like what you've done with Zaplings. Im working on my iteration and will post it this weekend.

Bradley, I'll certainly take a look at your concept.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Priyanka, I posted another "Concept" that's still the same concept as all of ours. Lol. I feel like it tackles some challenges better than my first one. So take a look at it and feel free to use anything you want in your iteration. The concept is "TeaMates."

It's gonna be super awesum when it comes to life :O See what I did there? I misspelled awesome...with sum...like math...cause you're working on an iteration...:O And yeah I do not have anything better to do than make awesum jokes :O He did it again!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Great work Priyanka! There is definitely value here. It is great that the service offers incentive for both entrepreneurs and experts - very much like a job search website as you mentioned.

Perhaps we could open it up a bit more to truly grasp the power of collaboration over the internet? Having the option to match experts and entrepreneurs that are not located geographically close to one another would be a great. Adding functionality to fluidly transfer and view files as well as the ability to skype or facetime with distant collaborators would open the floodgates to connecting individuals.

Also, specifying that the site connects diverse minds would be a plus too. Innovation happens at the cross section of expertise in diverse fields of study.

Great job, keep up the good work!

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Thanks a lot! This is just the initial concept and I hope to scale it as we collaborate. :) You have some great suggestions. I'll certainly incorporate the virtual/distant aspect in my iteration. Thanks for chiming in!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Certainly a good and very useful idea! I have the feeling, however, that many people with good ideas still feel very protective of them. The "It's a secrete" option may help, but maybe there are further ways to overcome people's fear of having an idea stolen form them?

At the end of the day, there is so much more to win from collaboration than to potentially loose from copycats. I'm just not sure, if everybody understands that.

Photo of Paul Reader

It really depends on how novel the idea is, and the purpose to which the proceeds are applied. There is enormous variety in design, especially in web applications but true novelty is much rarer. The former are marketable on the basis of their variety alone, and often short-lived whereas the latter require protection in order to reach their potential.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Good point. There is indeed a huge difference between a true novelty, which indeed might require confidentiality, and idea that are rather a variation of previous ideas.
I still feel that many ideas get lost, because they didn't find some necessary "fertilization" by other people. This it at least something to keep in mind when designing such a platform.

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Tobi - I appreciate your feedback. I did think about this issue while designing this concept. It's really upto the entrepreneur what or how much he/she wants to share. But they have to write something about the type of business they are planning to start. Even with the secret option, they don't have to pick any industry, but they would still need to include something about the type of business. The goal is to level the playing field a bit here...just as entrepreneurs can source talent, the experts could also make the first move and reach out to entrepreneurs with whom they would like to work. Let me know whether this makes sense.

Plus, I'll include some more screen shots and sample profiles in my next iteration.

Photo of Paul Reader

One of the strengths of this idea is that it is "universal" so provides appeal beyond the web,
On Tobi's point about needing input and cross-fertilization from others I do certainly agree. It is usually a question of trust and of course there are legal ways of establishing trust.
For some reason I am reminded of wartime manufacturing where components would be made in different places and only the final assemblers were aware of the finished product.

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Point taken! I'll try to include a collaborative platform in my next iteration. If you have any ideas on improving this, I'd love to hear :)

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great to see you back on another challenge, Priyanka! Have been enjoying some of the details you've considered here – like the "It's a secret" option in the type of business section. Looking forward to seeing your ideas develop based on collaborative conversation. You certainly pulled some agile, iterative moves last time round :^)

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

That's very sweet...Thanks Meena!

Photo of Paul Reader

Once again Priyanka a very practical approach to this challenge.
You have set out both sides of the equation succinctly and it represents a marketable concept of its own.
It should be quite straight forward to prototype and also turn into a mobile option too.
While the suggestions from Jyotirmaya Mahapatra might enhance it the basic concept stands well on its own.

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal

Thanks Paul! :) I'm looking forward to getting input from you guys so I can further develop the concept.