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24 April 2008 ~ 0 Comments                                       

Crowdsourcing Venture Capital Decisions…. sort of.

Similar to product idea/product generation and promotion sites such as Kluster and Crowdspirit, You Be The VC and IdeaBlob aim to surface the best ideas for companies.  If your idea and pitch are good enough, you win prize money and support. (IdeaBlob gives out $10K a month for winning ideas while You Be The VC takes a different approach: they winnow ideas down internally then the public votes on the top 20 in order to award the top 3 with incubator-type services over the summer in Cambridge.)

Ideablob appears to be a marketing vehicle for Advanta, a large credit card company, which makes a certain amount of sense. It costs them $120K a year for the prize money and whatever it costs them to run and promote the site, which can only help them in marketing to the small businesses at the core of their target market.  It would be interesting to see what comes of the contest winners 6 months, a year after winning. There is nothing revolutionary here, it is basically a monthly contest the with the small twist of allowing people to vote.

You Be The VC on the other hand is a bit more interesting in that there is some follow up and responsibility there: winners aren’t just released into the wild with $10K to spend on their business, they need to go to Cambridge for 3 months and are provided with office space, advisors (such as Curt Shilling, yup, the Red Sox pitcher, huh?) and other admin/legal support services — not prize money.  It is run by Bang Ventures which is a legitimate investment company with some heavy hitter advisors.

The question remains: does the crowd voting in these cases add any value to the process or is it more of a gimic than anything else?  Any VC will tell you, they would rather go with a mediocre idea/great team than a great idea/mediocre team while the people voting are likely not that worried about the team, just the pizzaz of the idea. Although Bang Ventures is not a VC and don’t award money, they are investing time and resources in these companies.

As these types of sites proliferate it will become harder and harder to bring people into the process and get their feedback.  Threadless works so spectacularly due to their being pretty much first and best in the space as well as the simplicity of the feedback they are looking for.  You can look at a graphic design and make a quick decision… a business idea on the other hand?  A bit more complex.

Only the sites that are extremely compelling will survive.

Further, the more complex the decisions being made, the fewer people will participate and the more focused/passionate/obsessed they will have to be about the topic.

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