The ability to pivot – changing direction – is one of the core assets of an early stage venture team. Collaboration and (crowd) funding platforms enable millions of entrepreneurs, hackers, specialists, investors, backers and visionaries to collaborate and to eliminate high up-front funding requirements allowing a start-up to stay lean, to pivot when needed and to search for an innovative technology and business model
Crowd funding enables potential customers, participants, friends & family, supporters or stakeholders to financially support an initiative such as a project, charity or start-up. Well-known international players are Causes, Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Ulule. In addition, numerous niche or local crowd funding initiatives have been started such as Sonicangel, Appbackr, Crowdaboutnow, Symbid and Seeds.
Crowd funding portals can be divided in four categories: consumer lending, reward based, donation based and venture capital. Mostly, the individual contributions are small, less than $1000. However, it is these small amounts that make crowd funding a unique value proposition: dozens of small amounts collected through the ‘crowd’ can make the once impossible, possible today. Crowd funding will become a great enabler of social innovation building upon the network effects of social media and the ease of use of online payment services.
Crowd funding portals are emerging as ‘customer/stakeholder engagement platforms’. It is not only another funding approach. Crowd funding platforms help individuals, groups and start-ups to develop products and to realize dreams with the (financial) support of backers. These backers can be individuals, potential customers, employees, supporters, jobbers, companies, partners or stakeholders. In addition to backing these projects financially this group is more than happy to help, collaborate and to provide valuable feedback on early product releases. Moreover, these groups are likely to promote your proposition into their networks. Crowd funding is therefore more than a funding alternative. It is a platform to raise ‘smart money’, organize the ecosystem and to catalyze ‘word of mouth’ … all very important building blocks for start-ups to launch successfully.
Collaboration between groups of people with a shared interest or passion has never been easier. A large number of – very different – collaboration platforms exist to enable groups to work together. In this section, I have highlighted 5 collaboration platforms that I find useful:
- Github – This open source software platform enables to coders to collaborate, review code and to manage code. It is evolving to a platform where makers team-up and create
- Assembly – platform to bring together teams to work on new projects and ventures
- Whatsapp – very easy to use messenger, especially for early stage venture teams
- Alterdesk – great messenger to ensure more efficient and effective business communication
- HipChat – another great messenger to communicate and share within venture teams
A more extensive list of online collaboration tools is available on ZEEF.com