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StartBarter - A barter economy for startups - Pivoting to

A bartering currency for people to barter their skills, services, products in exchange for others.

Photo of Haiyan Zhang
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When two people meet, they could swap skills to benefit eachother's startups. But what if one party doesn't have the skills the other needs?

This is a points system where one party could exchange their skills for points and use those later in exchange for skills, services from other members of the platform.

The StartBarter platform would also facilitate social meetups between entrepreneurs and help people to put great teams together.

- The platform could be extended to include tradespeople like accountants or business managers who wanted to help out by offering their advice.

I was inspired by the stories coming out of Greece about local communities setting up barter currencies in order to overcome their economic crisis:

Update - May 10, 2012
Hi everyone, to evolve this concept further, I'm offering my own 'Virtual Office Hours' to web startups in need of UX, design & community building advice.
Signups are here:
Please help me spread the word.

This is an initial prototype to test the waters of what startups would want to get advice on, how that could be facilitated remotely and what they would be willing to exchange for the advice.

Update - May 21, 2012
Just a quick update. I had my first 'Virtual Office' call with Trevor Harwood of Postcapes last Friday.

It was a good meet-and-greet and we chatted about his plans for his startup. A learning for me is the need for an agenda of issues to tackle on these calls.

I think this idea is evolving into more of an advisory service, where experts in design/business can offer their advice to startups over virtual office hours. This could be a co-op where advisors are invited or apply to be included and startups also have to apply and get a block of mentoring time from the advisors in the group.

Update - June 22, 2012
After having done some more research and thinking on this concept. I've understood and learned a few things:

* Bartering exchanges are really difficult to set up, in both the US and UK. It seems that any exchange of a 'currency' for a service that someone would normally pay for is still considered a trade and needs to be taxed accordingly. In the US, this means the barter exchange has to issue a tax receipt for each transaction.

* Next up, I also believe that if someone delivers a service then they should be compensated for it.

* After some light research, I've settled on a platform for sharing advice. Predominantly where professionals can log on and offer advice to businesses and entrepreneurs starting up


* I've created a very very very early beta signup at
* Come sign up and be the first to hear about our launch.

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

Perhaps the EC could offer this as a funding/incentive scheme, where on registration of a startup, the EC will give a number of StartBarter credits to the company to gain access to skills and services.

Evaluation results

15 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 - 60%

This is a "nice to have" but not a serious pain point - 33.3%

I really don't know - 6.7%

2. How novel do you think the concept is?

Never seen it before - very novel! - 46.7%

This is common in some places but not in many parts of Europe - 0%

This is not novel but a good iteration - 46.7%

There are already other solutions out there that address this problem - 6.7%

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

It could be implemented quickly and easily maintained - 20%

It could be implemented quickly but will require regular updates to ensure it is accurate and relevant - 53.3%

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 - 26.7%

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

The European Commission should own this one - 14.3%

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

This is best being owned by a private company - 28.6%

This feels like a non-profit - 7.1%

This is a start-up itself! - 50%

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

It rocked my world! - 46.7%

I liked it but preferred others - 46.7%

It didn’t get me overly excited - 6.7%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Haiyan Zhang

Hi Everyone, I've pivoted this concept to a new web platform called Advisorful (

Please come sign up to be the first to try it when we launch!

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