How do you start a company if all you’ve got is a good idea for one? Can the net help? Can the crowd supply all the bazillion other things that a startup requires in order to turn a good idea into a product or service? Can these things be open to everyone in any meaningful way?
In short, can you crowdsource and open source startup?
I’m thinking maybe you can. Help me figure out how. Here’s what I propose…
Company 2.0 Specification
A Company 2.0 is one in which an idea originator/founder calls for participation by the crowd to perform projects and tasks needed to turn the founder’s idea into an operating enterprise, usually in exchange for equity.
A Company 2.0 is at first, and possibly for its entire life, 100% virtual.
A Company 2.0 is owned by the founder and all those in the crowd who choose to participate productively in its advancement.
A Company 2.0 is open, authentically sharing its trials, tribulations, and triumphs with the world.
The Need for Company 2.0
How many startup ideas die on the vine because the founder can’t find a short path to learning or obtaining entrepreneurial basics?
Several times a week, on average, I have the privilege of meeting with entrepreneurs who tell me energetically about their ideas and inventions and dreams. Entrepreneurs are built on exquisite dreams. They are miraculous people, dissatisfied with what is, obsessed with what ought. They want some little part of the world to work just a little bit better tomorrow than it did yesterday. You have them to thank for your skyscrapers and your iPhones and your indoor plumbing and your forged metals and your weaved textiles and your fire and your wheel.
When entrepreneurs finish talking about their dreams, the very next thing about 99 percent of them go on to say is, “What do I do next?” They don’t know how to turn their good idea into a company. You would think Entrepreneurship 101 would be part of the common knowledge by now, something everyone in the developed world just sort of grows up knowing how to do. But it’s not. To most people, getting from idea to company constitutes a complete mystery.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the other day I got a call from a Harvard Business School professor I went to MIT with. He said he had a great idea for a startup. Guess what the next thing he said was: “What do I do next?” If he’s uncertain, what chance do the rank and file have?
Starting a company is a solved problem, but it seems to be one whose solution you either stumble upon by chance, or obtain from moving in the right circles and knowing the right people. So, I ask again, how many startups die on the vine because the founder can’t find a short path to entrepreneurial DNA?
Company 2.0 Tools
Here’s what you need to start a Company 2.0:
- a founder with a good idea for a startup;
- a tool for helping the founder identify the projects needed to get from idea to product to customer;
- a tool for breaking projects down into discrete tasks and setting a proposed compensation for the successful performance of each task, probably in company equity;
- a tool for soliciting proposals from the crowd to perform each task;
- a tool for selecting a subcontractor based on reputation (or bids, or…);
- a tool for memorializing and managing relationships between the founder and the subcontractors;
- a tool for determining whether the task has been performed satisfactorily;
- a tool for compensating subcontractors, probably with equity in the company; and
- a tool for resolving disputes between founders and subcontractors.
What else do you need to start a Company 2.0?