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OpenFunding Platform (refined version)

An on-line platform to support web entrepreneurs access all the public and private funding they need to start & grow their company.

Photo of Sanyu Karani
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REFINED, MAY 11TH

A platform with (all) public and (most) private funding for entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurs, Investors, Banks and Public Institutions meet here around ideas.

Entrepreneurs get a funding score for their idea, submit an application for funding, request a loan and pitch for venture capital.<o:p></o:p>

How will your concept support web entrepreneurship?

Access to Finance remains the second biggest barrier for entrepreneurs to start and grow their business in Europe. The EC, Member States & Regions are supporting entrepreneurs. BUT, they are not doing this on an integrated & systemic way. Each political level has its own instrument & support strategy. The OpenFunding platform wants to bring all these instrument and support to a single on-line portal in an integrated way. -Check out what a Wayra Entrepreneur experiences with applying for EU funding here: http://vimeo.com/41994964 Venture funding is still less available in Europe than in other regions of the world. Banks are reluctant to lend to start ups. Both banks and venture capitalists are looking for good projects; so are public Institutions supporting entrepreneurship. The common denominator between the projects that receive public funding and the companies that obtain loans and venture funding is INNOVATION. Check out 25 ways of improving funding for innovation: http://econet-consultants.com/blog/introducing-openfunding#25-ways-of-improving-Innovation-Funding Good projects are innovative projects. The platform allows web entrepreneurs to upload their project idea and match it to existing grants, loans and angel funding. It also allows entrepreneurs to get a funding score for their idea based both on objective criteria (automated) or an expert’s assessment (on request). Once the idea has evaluated positively for further development, the entrepreneur can build the grants and loans application both with self-service tools or with the support of specialists in these fields. With the OpenFunding platform, web entrepreneurs can limit their time & effort to obtain the funding while concentrating in their technical and business development of their web Project. -> Check out our images above on different support scenarios for: -Entrepreneurs -Investors -Clusters

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

The OpenFunding platform is based on the idea of better connecting existing funds. It does not require additional funds to those currently being deployed by the Public Institutions or invested by private players. The key resources to launch this OpenFunding concept are: •Time: a basic version of platform can be developed in approximately 3 months. Additional features can arrive every 3 months. •Money: the development of the platform can build on existing platforms for ideas and funding that are currently NOT connected. A tentative budget for the integration of different existing platforms should not exceed 500 k euros. An additional 500 k euro should be made available for the promotion of the platform over the first 6 months after launch. This Budget should preferably be used to: (1) promote general awareness and use of the platform through on-line media and (2) promote its usage by incubators/accelerators for entrepreneurs. Finally, the EC should promote a network of ideas evaluators. •Partnerships: there are four key partners required for kick-starting the platform: 1)the EC, 2)the EBAN/EVCA (European Business Angel Network and European Venture Capital Association), 3)the European Incubators and Accelerator for Web Entrepreneurs and 4)the large corporations with start-up support initiatives. This partnership includes the highest supranational funding organisation in Europe, the associations representing the national venture capital and angel investors associations, the key space/location/meeting point for the web entrepreneurs ecosystem (the incubators and accelerators) and large ICT global companies that have realized that WebEntrepreneurs can be more disruptive that their own R&D units. Once these partners have agreed to start the platform, they should invite other players to join the platform with their specific offering: Banks, national and regional governments. •Technology: the platform does not require any special technological development. It can be developed on current standards that allow collaborative social networking. •ROI: the amount needed for the development, launch and promotion of the OpenFunding Platform (1.0 million euros) can be returned over 3 years. This return on investment is calculated under the assumption that private players benefiting from the platform are willing to pay a “pay per lead” price of between 300-600 euros. This means, they are willing to pay for good and innovative projects for which they have concise qualified information both on the project and the entrepreneur. In a scenario where private lenders (banks and venture capitalists) pay an average of 450 euros per lead (500 leads for year 1, 1000 leads for year 2 and 2000 leads for year 3) the return income will slightly exceed the 1.5 million euros allowing to recuperate the investment and afford some hosting and quality control for the 3 years period. •Community Management: the OpenFunding platform will be promoted on-line and off-line both directly by the community managers from the platform as by the events and web managers from incubators and accelerators. Ideas will be reviewed and evaluated by experts. WebEntrepreneurs can also expose their ideas for comments by other experts and entrepreneurs. The platform will also be used to promote speed dating between entrepreneurs and investors in the slam pitch events that incubators and accelerators usually organize. •Maintenance: in the EC, there is an obligation for States & Regions to inform about the grants they issue. They have to comply with EC regulations. They also need to keep an inventory of who received the public support. Maintenance of the funding part of the platform would be (almost) automatic if that information "obligation" is transformed into an "opportunity" to "publish your grant" EU wide. Also, the OpenFunding platform will act as a meta-platform integrating existing content from EU platforms. -> Check out our image above on existing portals integrating EU information from existing portals. Also, visit: http://www.2020-horizon.com/

How could we get started?

To get started, there are two key domains for immediate decisions: the specifications of the minimum viable product and the implementation of this minimum viable product. SPECIFICATIONS OF THE MINIMUN VIABLE PRODUCT Out of the different functionalities foreseen for this platform to offer the WebEntrepreneur an end-to-solution for funding, two are basic and should be there from the beta version: the funding database and the idea publisher. These two basic options allow the WebEntrepreneur to: 1)identify the funding available 2)get a basic funding score on his idea 3)where to go next to apply for this funding Other functionalities that can be added after the minimum viable product is in place are: -grant application builder -loan request builder -expert assessment The minimum viable product has been specified following the criteria of "what needs to be in place from day 1", but also reflecting on the budget needs to put this first version in place. The feasibility of this minimum viable product lies on the expectation that the "one stop shop" approach to access funding provides enough added value to the WebEntrepreneur. ->Check out our visuals on the Minimum Viable Product in the images above: -HomePage -Wall -Funding IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT The easiest and most simple way to get started would be through a call for tenders from DG InfoSoc and/or DGEnterprise to develop the platform. These tenders should focus on: • The integration of existing platforms and content • The creation of an evaluators network to review project ideas • The development of the collaboration framework between public and private players • The promotion of an application/request/pitch standard for funding (based on the "Unified Seed Accelerator Application" funded by the Kauffman Foundation and powered by TechStars) • The promotion of the platform In the workshop on Web Entrepreneurship in the June 2012 event of the Digital Agenda, all related stakeholders should participate to further develop the idea. This workshop should conclude with a public statement of those stakeholders willing to endorse the platform and commit to the necessary resources.

Virtual Team:

OpenFunding Colleagues: -Irene Carrión Álvarez -David Seoane Vilariño OpenIdeo Crew: -Meena Kadri -Amy Bonsall Visuals: -Jorge Fernandez

Evaluation results

12 evaluations so far

1. How well does this concept address a significant pain point felt by European web start-ups?

This is a major pain point for European start-ups - 91.7%

This is a "nice to have" but not a serious pain point - 8.3%

I really don't know - 0%

2. How novel do you think the concept is?

Never seen it before - very novel! - 25%

This is common in some places but not in many parts of Europe - 33.3%

This is not novel but a good iteration - 8.3%

There are already other solutions out there that address this problem - 33.3%

3. How easy is this concept to implement and maintain?

It could be implemented quickly and easily maintained - 8.3%

It could be implemented quickly but will require regular updates to ensure it is accurate and relevant - 8.3%

It is a big undertaking and would need a lot of support and cooperation from people and organisations to make it happen and to maintain it - 83.3%

4. What type of organisation is best placed to take this forward?

The European Commission should own this one - 50%

This belongs with member state governments (e.g., the UK, Belgium, etc) - 0%

This is best being owned by a private company - 8.3%

This feels like a non-profit - 16.7%

This is a start-up itself! - 25%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

It rocked my world! - 41.7%

I liked it but preferred others - 25%

It didn’t get me overly excited - 33.3%

90 comments

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Photo of Sanyu Karani

To the OpenIDEO challenge management: Any chance we might recuperate the original formatting of our text in the concept description? How do we update the concept once the challenge is finished? Thanks.

Photo of Paul Reader

Hi Sanyu,
I don't think changes after end of challenge will make any difference because EC/DAA will now look at all concepts and see what can be developed from them - I think you can probably participate in that but changes after the announcement of winning concepts usually get reported as progress in the User Forums and Field Notes (eg. https://openideo.zendesk.com/forums/20264082-openideo-universities or http://www.openideo.com/fieldnotes/openideo-team-notes/grant-funding-to-improve-election-accessibility/ ).
Hope they contact you for further consultation
Regards
Paul

Photo of OpenIDEO

Congratulations on sharing a winning concept! The EC is excited about the potential of complementing private sites such as AngelList and helping entrepreneurs find the right type of funding at each stage of growth.

Photo of Sanyu Karani

Thanks to OpenIDEO and the EC for the "winning" mention! Looking forward to hear more about the participation in the Digital Assembly workshop for the winning concepts.

Photo of Paul Reader

Well done Sanyu and team - will watch developments over the next few months with interest. Will be interested to see how the various winning concepts fit together to provide a really good basis for EU web development.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

The main problems in early stage funding in Europe are:

a) Internal rate of return IRR on early stage investments is heavily negative after 2007 and the overall trend is negative
b) Investors due to (a) are steadily go away from early stage and there is overwhelming evidence on that.
c) VC’s aren’t investing on early stage and latest Kauffamn Foundation report brings at focus that existing VC system of LPs & GPs is flawed.
d) Individual investors in Europe are by nature risk averse that’s cultural barrier well known and very visible by numbers if you compare EU overall with US.

Algorithms from the experience of Greek subsidies selection “Algorithms” are totally inappropriate. You can’t describe an idea it self in an algorithm and get a value…

Experts aren’t experts on everything and especially on things that are totally novel with no tracking record. Who is choosing an expert and what makes someone an expert?

So going back to the root of the problem, tying up the system with the investors trigger you will be immediately connect the new with the old thus inherit all the problems that I described above.

The key issue is who triggers the funding?

If the root of the problem is the risk averse EU environment how this system is solving the initial problem we started with?

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

I will also add one more very serious and obvious factor:

f) The credit crisis that emerged EU since end of 2008 has NOT gone, all over there is a fall on regular investments, not to mention early stage, especially in distressed countries of the south where investors are long time gone. Assuming existence of investors in the south for early stage is a beforehand mistake.

Photo of Sanyu Karani

Hi Costas,

thank you for your comment.

It shows a deep understanding of the entrepreneur funding ecosystem and business drivers.

Our platform approach does not deal with the development of new financial instruments for the entrepreneur.

Our platform deals with the access to existing funding for WebEntrepreneurs from public and private sources. It allows to find that by uploading the idea and matching it (through tags, NOT algorithms) with funding schemes/offers.

Please, check this concept for new financial instruments proposed under this challenge http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/concepting/enterpreneur-loan/

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Unfortunately funding is our Number 1 issue!!! And it’s bigger than life… Another web matching service is ok… but 95% of the problem will remain intact… Another micro loan facility isn’t a solution; it’s just a cover-up and a delay for a real solution… Chinese are funded so hard and big time, that soon we will be unable to compete them… wait and see us drowning…

There was another concept I have tried to post on behalf of the team that is being developed by a Portuguese-Greek-German-UK team but they put me on breaks when I ask their permission to submit it… Because of the terms and conditions regarding IP and patent rights on ideas submitted to Οpenideo… So I couldn’t submit it…

That project solves ALL the problems… funding, mentoring, incubating, investors you name it… iDea Framework mitigates the trigger from investor’s hands to all of us… So it uses a combination of Democracy and Market driven assessment in order to streamline all public funding to one process designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs… iDea allows everyone, even a homeless engineer that has a good idea to get funded and if he is good, to be successful… It’s designed to completely remove the capital barrier from the first cent… And imagine NO bureaucracy… no pile of forms, no writing to be revised BPs, no central control, Completely Liberal AND Democratic Accountable… iDea is: if it’s good and if you can, just do it…

FYI more here: http://bit.ly/mTZbGw

Photo of Paul Reader

Interesting comments Costas - particularly in regard to IP which I believe is the elephant in the room. Funding is of course a huge issue and funding the protection of IP is an initial and sometimes insurmountable hurdle, particularly with a range of jurisdictions in which to seek protection. IP protection requires both legal and bureaucratic effort and time, which can be very expensive.
Of course not everyone wants to protect their IP but NDa's on the scale envisioned through iDEA is fraught with risk.
I assume the 6% remaining in the mechanism is equity as is the 25% to VC (although I'm not sure if this is either typical or desired equity for VC's) the remaining 69% has to be agreed between the dipole members (presumably at the outset). However its certainly an interesting proposition.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Interesting thoughts Costas. We'd suggest that further conversations which explore the iDEA model continue over on your original Inspiration post on the topic: http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/inspiration/how-can-we-democratize-early-stage-funding-using-only-4billions-and-create-500.000-jobs/

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Just to reply on Paul comment, IP is difficult but iDea handles it with filing of provisional patents in UK or US that are also valid for WIPO to cover the first one year. I have ask them the same thing and they reply to me that NDAs are a first step to protect, second is the tracking of how is looking what so if a violation happens the offended requests the logs along with the NDAs copies so from nothing they have something to defend them selves… Also don’t forget that the speed of implementing is what ultimately protects you… so because on iDea every entrepreneur will know that in less than 6 months all selected ideas will be realized… so it’s fast and efficient…

About percentages… all numbers 25%, 6%, 69% are examples… when a system is being realized these numbers will be fine tuned form real life data…

All other questions either post them on the original post

http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/inspiration/how-can-we-democratize-early-stage-funding-using-only-4billions-and-create-500.000-jobs/

or ask directly them…

http://www.idea.com.gr/i_contact.html

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

I'm entrepreneur, I started my own company without funds because there was not tool to help us.
You have my enterely support!

Photo of Sanyu Karani

Thanks Jose! What is your company about? Do you want to share the link with the community here at OpenIDEO? Maybe, you want to tell how you manage to keep the company with no funding.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Overall, a great idea for start-ups to find information and potential connections. What thoughts do people have to get the "creation of an evaluators network to review project ideas" to "get a basic funding score on [someone's] idea"? My initial reaction is one of overwhelming quantities of un-enlightened ideas that lack consideration of real innovation. For instance, people bring ideas for which competition is already at saturation; or ideas for which technology does not yet exist or is patented and not available for use.

Working this bottleneck out, I could see this as an incredible resource.

Photo of Sanyu Karani

Hi Catherine,

you are pointing at an important topic: filtering the ideas on their innovative aspect. Entrepreneurship public funding usually focuses on the "self employment" element. Innovation public funding only happens after a state of the art analysis. The idea uploading functionality does include some "trick" questions to filter innovative ideas.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

I wish for the good of many business owners and entrepreneurs in Europe, that the European Commission had with an easy to use and affordable tool as presented here.
This tool will help many to go forward in launching new ideas and products.
I wish you luck!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

The OFP really seems to be an innovative service for entrepreneurs since put together many services that we only can find in different shops, both on-line and off-line, both public and private.
If you really success to integrate in a user-friendly web plarform all the funcionalities you mentions in your description, plus some off-line support, this is a must for european entrepreneurship support.

Photo of Adrian Ferrero

I think that for the achievement of this idea, a great companies and institution support is needed in order to feed the platform, becoming a really useful tool for entrepreneurs.

Strong dissemination and information activities are essential.
Good luck with the idea.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Sanyu,
when you described the services of the platform even the MVP will contain the "ideas" functionality. I think with a proper reporting on the top of the ideas you could provide very relevant information to public stakeholders on how to shape European/regional innovation (and S&T) policy. I mean usually public bodies build innovation policy on history and current capacity (like who are the current/past main players, topics, research institutes etc.). With the platform summing up all the ideas you could prepare a very good forecast on the future innovation activity/capacity of Europe (or any region) as well as you could benchmark the different member states, regions.
This analysis could be a very important in relation with public bodies.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

How would this compare to existing established platforms such as http://www.growvc.com/?

Photo of Sanyu Karani

Joshua, growvc focuses on (private) investors only. The OpenFunding platform will integrate public funding grants and subsidized loans (tax incentives too).

Photo of OpenIDEO

Amazing community support, well done! We think it points to a real need to raise awareness about all of the support in the EU for start-ups. Take a look at AngelList ( http://angel.co/ ) which does some of this. One challenge the advisory board notes is the difficulty of maintaining such a site. They suggest considering what is the minimum viable product to start with. In other words, what is the first step and most basic product?

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 Sanyu Karani

Thanks for the feedback.

We love AngleList. It managed to become the "yellow pages" for start-ups & (private) investors.

In the EU we have: a)less venture/angel funding available for start-ups in the seed(early stages and b)more regional/national support for self-employment.

The OpenFunding Platform has a general challenge of becoming as social as AngelList while offering those who start-up their business a first step into obtaining the seed funding (from private or public sources).

In the EC, there is an obligation for States & Regions to inform about their grants they issue. They have to comply with EC regulations. They also need to keep an inventory of who received the public support. Maintenance of the funding part of the platform would be (almost) automatic if that information "obligation" is transformed into an "opportunity" to "publish your grant" EU wide.

Our current idea is to keep the minimum viable product to 2 options: the "funding" option mentioned above and the "ideas" part where entrepreneurs upload their projects.

For the ideas part, we are working on a questionnaire template that works on the "Unified Seed Accelerator Application" funded by the Kauffman Foundation and powered by TechStars.

We appreciate the advisory board feedback and would like to have more on our response to their concerns while we start refining our concept.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Just thought I'd chime in here – the advisory panel will not be replying to comments during the course of the Refinement phase. Feel free to make updates to your concept post (either adding, subtracting or evolving content) based on your collaboration with others on- and offline. The panel will revisit what you've come up with during the Evaluation phase before announcing their final selections.

Photo of Sanyu Karani

ok

Photo of Amy Bonsall

One thing to consider with the MVP as well is how to easily maintain the site. What about a site where people can post their own listings of grants, etc. Much like Edible Experiences does with postings of food related London events: http://www.edibleexperiences.com/

Photo of Sanyu Karani

Due to EC regulations, awarding bodies need to keep public records on who gets which funding. You are suggesting a very interesting user centric way of publishing this legal info as "inspirations" for others.

Photo of James McBennett

Love the idea guys.
- When scoring startup ideas, I read an article today that said crowd funding peer to peer is useful at getting ideas going that VC's won't touch which made me think of your idea that people with different scores can be directed different routes.

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1669698/kickstarter-recues-startups-that-vcs-wont-touch-but-heres-whats-missing

Also interesting for inspiration how Quirky score ideas.
http://www.quirky.com/ see video

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Hi James, scoring ideas is indeed a very good approach. On the other hand, scoring by "categories" would help good ideas to find a source of funding (directed different routes, as you say). The platform is open to all sources of funding (public / private) and only underlining the most awesome or those with the highest impact, could led to smaller (but also exciting) ideas to be outside the "wheel". So finding the adequate source of financing with the adequate score and matching to most adequate source of financing is in fact the most innovative aspect that I appreciate in this concept. This is just the concept of OPEN! (ALL sources of financing and ALL ideas - both smallest and highest impact of them can turn on the wheel)

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

A good categorization is very important, as there no only one path to follow to get funding, and not all institutions use the same scoring and/or evaluation criteria. Yet, at the same time, many evaluation criteria are common (or common for certain categories of funding / beneficiary). That's one of the challenges that the Platform intends to tackle; it identifies the basic scoring criteria to do a quick elegibility check for certain project. But this check is conceived somewhat tailor made ("Choose your own adventure"), so the answer won't be YES/NO but open different paths.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

James is correct about the reliance on peers, have just read this paper which touches on the very subject (very good read, really recommend it + only 5 pages long ;): http://people.cs.umass.edu/~wallach/workshops/nips2010css/papers/ward.pdf

Photo of Amy Bonsall

If you haven't seen it yet check out http://www.seedrs.com for another view on crowd funding.

Photo of Amy Bonsall

Oh and this: http://wefunder.com/beta

Photo of Sanyu Karani

CrowdFunding is currently a "third way" regarding public funding. From it´s openness and collaborative approach, it will/should become mainstream. Governments are slower than VCs or final users to identify what they should support. Connecting with existing crowdfunding platforms is in the OpenFunding roadmap (via unified accelerator templates). Evidence on how crowds can spot the best projects would help governments embrace crowdfunding in Europe.The US Jobsact has brought this to the spotlight in Europe, particularly in countries with huge budget cuts in innovation & entrepreneurship.

Photo of Amy Bonsall

Thanks for this Sanyu. I like the thought of making it easier for people to find various sources of funding - a nice way to help level the playing field. I'd start there.

I imagine one of the difficulties for founders is knowing what kind of funding to go for and how to pitch for it. As a build once, perhaps the site could also help entrepreneurs learn about the types of funding that are best suited to them and how to focus their efforts on accessing that. It could even have success stories of other concepts funded, and what made them successful in their requests, and links to founders willing to share their stories of how they got funding.

Photo of Amy Bonsall

Here's a link to something inspirational re sharing stories of funding success: http://www.venturecafe.net/2012/04/killing-it-on-kickstarter/

Photo of Sanyu Karani

Thank You, Amy.

Indeed, the platform includes both funding sources and showcases from successful entrepreneurs (depending on the stage of the idea/venture - from seed stage to pre-IPO). The OpenFunding integrates all EU instruments highlighted in another concept of this challenge (The EU Bank of Ideas).

On the showcases side, we should include examples from successful entrepreneurs also BEYOND the EU. Your venture cafe suggestion makes a lot of sense.

Photo of Sanyu Karani

Amy, we have now refined our concept with visuals, scenarios & prototypes. We also managed to get a testimonial of a WebEntrepreneur supported by Wayra (the Telefonica Accelerator initiative). This would be on the line of "founders that got funding": http://vimeo.com/41994964

Photo of Amy Bonsall

Thanks, Sanyu! Looks like you've put a lot of effort into this. Well done for getting to some entrepreneurs and asking them for their opinions!

In terms of the MVP, it seems like even before you do the score, the most basic website could just point people to all the sources of funding. across the EU.

Photo of Sanyu Karani

Yes Amy, that´s it. The basic version considered for the MVP will deliver a match based on (main & smart) tags and objective criteria (purpose, geography, type of entity...). You could also access other/previous WebEntrepreneurs with similar projects or already funded.

Photo of Sanyu Karani

Thank you for your post, Ernesto.

Indeed, trying to replicate Silicon Valley has become an obsession for many policy makers. Some lessons have been learnt and path dependency from each territory can not be neglected anymore. The EU and the OECD are suggesting a new approach to this called "smart specialization". Check out this paper for more info: http://ec.europa.eu/invest-in-research/pdf/download_en/kfg_policy_brief_no9.pdf

The OpenFunding platform will also build on smart specialization by the means on "smart tags" that allow matching at a very specific niche level. A data management tool for community manager will also be available offering functionalities to create rankings or measure the eficiency of specific grant schemes in specific domains. A good example on this is the CORDIS EC database. The OpenFunding platform will allow to collect CORDIS type information at several territorial levels. Also, it will allow to analyse the interaction among different stakeholders of the WebEntreprenurship ecosystem.

Finally, regarding your second question, the OpenFunding team likes to call their (advance) scoring system OpenScoring. This will rely not only on (close society) peer review, but also on OpenData available from existing sources for papers & patents.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

I wish this way of connecting to funding turns into reality, and finds global spread! It is always a challenge to have a two ended web based market (fund seekers and funding entities), in sync.

I have a couple of thoughts and questions that might help in refining the concept further.

1. Value of openFunding for policy makers

I see that some public funds, specially in my country, usually address a set of priorities that policy makers almost guess, without really thinking what might be the best for our country, what are our regional key capabilities and how this can turn into economic development based on knowledge.

Q: How might openFunding be of value for policy makers, specially for the early stages when they are in the design process of R&D funding initiatives?

2. Analytic tools available for the members of the openFunding community.

Many researchers share the view that scoring by peers on itself leads to lock up (just as it can happen to an arbitrated journal that tends to select articles from a certain closed community of researchers), but bibliometrics can provide a better approach to establish the value of the published papers of a research department, or a whole university.

This is an example of how the field of patent valuation (used primarily in the private sector) is evolving into analytic, automated, massive semantic tools which are being more and more of value to VC's and inventors to go on or discard ideas and concepts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7CWcqdr8Es

Q: I see the value of peer and community validation, but are there any other tools considered in this initiative that can provide analytics on early stage concepts and ideas that might potentially be funded?

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

In the refinement phase I would work on the features that the platform should have to approach the specific needs web entrepreneurs, as WEB entrepreneurs

Photo of Paul van Zoggel

What does a webentrepreneur need?

Time.

He has a lot of time when housing and food is taken care off.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Definitely, most of new entrepreneurs lack time... They probably will have a "daily" job that guarantee incomes while they try to find time to develop their project. Fellowship programmes, "taking care of housing and food", as you put it, are common, traditional funding schemes used at the academia, also in artistic environments. Some incubators are starting to give this kind of grants; however, as far as I know, in general only to very young entrepreneurs (it's almost a final phase of student grants). Ashoka has an interesting fellowship programme covering living expenses to (experienced) social entrepreneurs during some time. Maybe it's a way of funding that could be widened to other types of entrepreneurs, including web entrepreneurs.

Photo of Paul van Zoggel

My life got more expensive last decade (married, kid), but before that I could live on very little money from western europe 2 months job, for 10 months in east europe country.

The platform should also focus on that I think for webentrepreneurs; they need some coding/commercial project for 2 months and than a bed and breakfast in a beautiful remote country with an internet connection :) to focus, have time.

Beautiful things can be made than.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Ahh, Paul, if only ;)

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

What do you think about content generation? It's supposed that within the platform, users would introduce their own contents (starting up concepts; grants; contests; loans…) but what about those contents related with public funding? I guess is not easy nor cheap to keep accuracy on data… I know many portals from different actors, EU included, which apparently offers funding info but, many times info it's not updated… How you expect to get accuracy on the data within a sustainable model?

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

One problem, I think, is technical. The interoperability challenge is big, in this area and in many others... EU is aware of that, and is also aware that this is specially important for EU, in order to accelerate proceedings (even get some automated proceedings) within Member countries. So they're investing on that in many areas (ex. Healthcare systems), why not in this one?

The other problem is mainly cultural/organizational: supporting and/or funding bodies might want to have their own mobilisation tool, serve by themselves their audience and not redirect it to others. But then, they set up something they have no resources and/or capabilities to maintain at a good quality level. Here, it is important to raise awareness on how useful are open, collaborative environments, and tools, if privacy boundaries are properly consedered. And help them to understand that their role in the ecosystem is not at all challenge: they still will own their "community" and their role in relation to it, as the tool will serve to optimize positive outputs coming from the relations within this community, but not to create a detached one, alienating the platform users form the community they came from when they started to use the platform.

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Interoperability and user generated content remain both a development and moderation challenge. Integration of existing information from the EU in a more user centric usability (while being extremely difficult) does NOT face the cultural clash Irene is anticipating. Awarding bodies need to decide if they wish to not only moderate but also dinamize their platforms. As Meena indicated, community management is key for the "day after". The OpenFunding Platform is going to provide tools that can enable both moderation and dinamization: tagging should help them go social but also viral.

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DeletedUser

What makes YOU eligible? Who values THE MOST that feature of your project? Sometimes entrepreneurs look for funding at those sources that seem more at hand (they are local or they have wide dissemination campaigns), just because they are the faster to find; however, they are not necessarily the most feasible funding sources for them. So, with this platform, let's make that the funding opportunities faster to find be those that YOU (not your colleague, not that other company you read about) would score the best for...

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Irene, the OpenFunding provides the WebEntrepreneur with a "Funding Score" that addresses his eligibility for different funding schemes and loans. The funding score is delivered once the WebEntrepreneur has "tagged" and "published" his/her idea. The tagging happens at two levels: a more basic one responding to the public funds criteria that the entrepreneur has to select from an existing list and a more advanced one that the entrepreneur can create himself. With this tagging system, matching can happen at a more profiled way. Of course, we need to get awarding bodies and banks to tag their preferred projects too. That´s a challenge!

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DeletedUser

I agree, Sanyu, that's the challenge, but it can also be part of the opportunity. I mean, awarding bodieshave traditionally assumed a "counter" role: bring me your project, I'm here waiting for it. But they are becomming more and more aware of the need to "go out" and search for projects, for both too reasons, quantitative (I'm not getting enough projects to evaluate) and qualitative (I'm not getting the best projects to evaluate). So, if the awarding bodies see the platform as a tool to "go out there" they will engage actively at the platform, for the beneffit of the project and all their users...

P.S. And the tool is online, so it will allow them to "go out" virtually, that is, from their desks... Who does not like to have their breakfast brought to the bed?

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DeletedUser

Sanyu, I think "Funding Score" and "tagging" is indeed a good response to James idea. On the other hand, the big challenge is of course the involvement of awarding and funding bodies, both public and private. I think making really attractive the platform will facilitate this involvement and this concept is in the way to become appealed for them! Scenarios (I´ve seen they are "coming soon) will help to achieve this attraction

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DeletedUser

Hi Sanyu, the OpenFunding platform will compress the main funding sources of startups: public (which is especially relevant in EU), private, and banks. On the platform ideas and entrepreneurs will the funding sources to fix a very important issue a startup faces: access to capital. In addition to this I believe that the platform will be able to contribute fixing an even bigger issue: increasing entrepreneurial spirit in Europe. Have you considered engaging institutional players to use the platform to promote entrepreneurship?

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Gabor, thanks for your feedback. We foresee a role for the Business Angel associations at European Level. Have you thought about other institutional players?

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DeletedUser

Well, on the long term I propose to aim building a multi-stakeholder partnership behind the OpenFunding platform (this is the max scope). On the short term you might pilot it with regional governments, innovation agencies etor other public entity as public funding is very relevant in EU (especially CEE). Looking from this perspective the platform could be a starting point for entrepreneurs searching for funds (as all relevant information will be available here).

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Interesting thoughts, Sanyu! Another item you might consider adding to your resources section is community management. I feel that often this role is often overlooked when considering collaborative sites. Disclosure – I'm your friendly Community Manager on OpenIDEO :^)

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Thank you Meena for your suggestion.
Also for your management on the concept we posted.
Would you include the community management within the partnerships bullet or a specific category?
The platforms we are contemplating to integrate mostly work with an activity feed and wall for the public part. The moderation would be more like the one done in this OpenIDEO platform. Looking forward for your suggestions here.

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For managing your post, we've set things up so you can do that yourself. To make adjustments, hit the Update Entry button up there on the right.

Community Management involves all kinds of things – from setting a tone of voice to bug hunting to gathering insights about user behaviour (to inform future iterations) to troubleshooting to cheerleading to cross-pollinating conversations. It also overlaps with marketing and communications: just putting a site up isn't the end of the story – you need to bring people there, periodically encourage them to return and celebrate collaborative achievements. Basically never a dull moment :^) – guess I better get back to work!

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Thank you for your suggestions. We will update the post accordingly. Promotion of the platform, besides the proprietary community management of the site promoters, will rely on the engagement of the incubators and accelerators for them to also commit community management focus & resources themselves.

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DeletedUser

Community Management is a good idea, but I have some doubts regarding this concept within the platform. Does this issue cover a type of "funding community" within the own platform? (i.e. something like the LinkedIn or the Facebook of funding) Or are you thinking about disseminating the platform within outside social networking? (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc...) I think it is a really good approach and in any case both aspects (inside and ouside community management) should be observed, in order to link both worlds: the platform and its own community managment with major social media

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David, thank you for your very valuable contribution in this concept. I would love to see what Meena thinks on your suggestions on community management. I, personally, see the following sides to it: clusterization within the platform for special communities (branch, territorial or discipline) and dinamization of the platform itself once launched (key to integrate incubators/accelerators here). Obviously, becoming the "linkedin" of funding for entrepreneurs would be a nice result.

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Here's a fun low-down on the many-faceted role of a Community Manager: http://blog.getsatisfaction.com/2011/01/24/community-manager/ A role I'd highlight is the gathering of insights on user behaviours and passing these on to site developers/strategists so that they can continuously improve the site to serve both their mission & community. Strategists/developers are often far removed from the actual action going on within a site and can tend to make assumptions leading to generalisations or abstractions. To be honest, I don't like the term Community Manager (seems so top-down) & myself use the terms Community Cultivator or Cross-pollinator.

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The "piñata" part of the (cultivator´s) brain is my favorite. Your initial comments when we posted this concept have put us to reflect on the community aspect both for platform dinamization and usability testing. Weill keep working on this.

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DeletedUser

Hi Meena, really interesting (and funny) the infographics! I think it defines very well what a community manager should be. This fits very well with a global description of a community manager. However, I think this description does not consider the "specialized social media managers" (i.e. one community manager for a platform such as described in this concept, or one social network only addressed to grants experts, etc...) For this reason, I think one more characteristic that should be added to a community manager is "content-friendly", at least at a minimum level (i.e. sombedy at least familiarized with the world of funding). This could be achieved with a minimum training to the community manager (if he/she comes from a world outside the field of funding), or on the other side a grant advisor specialized in community management, or simply facilitating the constant communication between community manager and funding experts within the organization managing the platform (for example if some user within the community sends a too technical question that the community manager could not solve quickly...as social media require...I think).

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DeletedUser

Very great as always, interesting,

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Thanks!

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DeletedUser

In the refinement phase maybe some scenarios are "missed", in the way of examples. Resources and how get started sections are really well explained, but how can we see the platform working in real life? I think one example with public (grants) and one with private (venture capital) funding sources would help to better understand the concept. Maybe there are other sources of financing / approaches that can be included in the examples but I think these are the 2 main scenarios

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Thank You David. I agree with you. We will work on 2-3 scenarios and will consider the two angles/sources you are proposing: the public and the private.

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DeletedUser

vey needed with an easy available source for entrepeneurs - with a strong set-up it could cause a needed boost in development in regions that are not centrally located

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Regional Development is one of the growth drivers for local entrepreneurs with global potential. The OpenFunding platform becomes "de facto" the on-line innovation agency for some regions wanting to boost entrepreneurship. Thanks, Peter!

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DeletedUser

This concept is very promising to a) secure more funding for entrepreneurs b) enhance the overall quality of the funded innovation projects. A very positive side effect (c) would be a comparative perspective on grants scheme application across Europe to ultimately sharpen these instruments to the best possible stimulation.

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Best Practices across Europe are essential for funding instruments development purposes. While VC raises in the EU to US standards, ED related instruments by the EIB & EIF should be further developed to bridge that gap.

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DeletedUser

I like the idea. In general there are tons of possibilities of funding, but it is a real challenge to find the funding programs that fit your business concept.

Beside the possibility to promote speed dating between entrepreneurs and investors, it could be interesting to add a auction function in the online platform where investors can bid for shares of this business idea. (the way ebay works) Through the process of an auction innovative concepts could get enormous sums of capital.

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I agree with you Sebastian. Auction seems like a good idea to both democratize and privatize public funding.

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DeletedUser

Sanyu great as always, the best ideas are always the simplest. We must take advantage and avoid what is from 0. What would the big and gray companies without the freshness and agility of small?. Now to complement it with all who wish to add

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Ricardo, "Small is Beautiful" & "Start-Up is Cool".

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DeletedUser

Sanyu, rereading the concept description and subsequent posts, I have been wondering if the huge advantage of finding in just one stop all sources of relevant funding, those complementary in particular, is explicit enough.
As I see it, a useful tagging of the information in the Platform would not only help webentrepeneurs saving time but also spotting resources that they could have missed otherwise, as far as they are not necessarily experts on funding and may not know all possible sources available...

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Tagging could happen at several leves: the one formed by tags added by users, the OECD one (Oslo Handbook) and the one following EU topics.

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DeletedUser

One important issue, specially for unexperienced entrepreneurs, is to have an assessment on how they can and should fund their ideas; this platform will provide a quick, low-cost initial assessment, which can be vey valuable for them.

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In fact, the initial assessment (self & automatic) could be as low as zero. Of course, the evaluation work from technical experts should be remunerated.

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DeletedUser

In your OpenFunding Platform concept description you mention the connection of this virtual platform with the real and physical world via incubators and accelerators as key space/location/meeting point for the web entrepreneurs ecosystem. I completely agree with this connection. But taking into account the growing number of these incubators and accelerators I think some regional and/or sector focus should be taken into account to get this entities involved in such a entrepreneurs platform and get the most of their expertise and knowledge, and also proximity.

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Hi Miguel, Yes, "smart specialization" (territorial & branch/niche specific) makes sense. Also, corporate accelerators might help verticalize the services/approach for Entrepreneurs.

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Hi Gabor, yes, we have indeed thought about institutional engagement. Specifically, we have thought about the several institutional levels: the business associations, the regional innovation agencies and the TechParks and Incubators. Also, the European level representation of Angel Investors.

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David, thanks for your contribution on the VC part. You have indeed grasped very well the OPEN concept around funding. Just like Innovation can now almost only be Open, Funding should make that shift to. Engaging new public venture capital from regions across Europe is part of the OPEN approach. The platform should include the offer from these regions for WebEntrepreneurs.

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DeletedUser

Venture Capital is a recent concept in Europe and mainly private actors are playing in this world (i.e. venture capital firms). You mention regional governments which are indeed actors to include in the platform. When we talk about these actors I think we usually have in mind "public grants". However, I think their participation as actors in the world i.e. of venture capital should be enhanced (i.e. some regional governments are starting to talk about venture capital firms where the government is a partner). For this, I think the platform should be addressed not only to say "what´s about funding" but also to promote the new and (maybe) imaginative forms of funding - this is just the concept of OPEN! :-))

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Following our Coummunity Manager recommendations (thanks, Meena!) we have now updated our concept with a more detailed proposal for the promotion and community management of the OpenFunding platform also in connection with events from incubators, accelerators, slam pitch contests and awards.