Startup dream team

All-star en­trepreneurs point Ideav­ibes a new di­rec­tion

Ottawa Business Journal - Techopia - - News - WRIT­TEN BY COURT­NEY SY­MONS PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY JOËL CÔTÉ- CRIGHT

W hen crowd­sourc­ing plat­form Ideav­ibes first launched in late 2011, founder and CEO Paul Dom­bowsky pro­jected rev­enues of about $250,000 in 2012 and growth that would even­tu­ally take the com­pany to $2 mil­lion an­nu­ally. The site al­lowed or­ga­ni­za­tions to so­licit feed­back and gar­ner fund­ing from on­line users.

The idea was good, says Scott An­nan, CEO of lo­cal soft­ware firm and in­cu­ba­tor Mer­cury Grove. But the busi­ness model needed work. That’s why he re­cruited a self-dubbed en­tre­pre­neur­ial Ot­tawa “dream team” to give the site a jolt. Each mem­ber adds some­thing dif­fer­ent to the team:

Ian Cap­stick,

pres­i­dent of Me­di­aStyle, pub­lic re­la­tions and me­dia ex­per­tise;

founder of Un­, know-how in man­age­ment of tech and earlystage com­pa­nies;

Rob Wood­bridge,

Brent Thom­son,

chief sales of­fi­cer of Peak Sales Re­cruit­ing, sales ad­vice;

founder of user in­ter­face shar­ing plat­form Scratch­pad, app devel­op­ment

An­drew Draper,

and web de­sign ex­pe­ri­ence.

Mr. An­nan will add his knowl­edge of the Ot­tawa en­tre­pre­neur­ial com­mu­nity and his pas­sion for crowd­sourc­ing. Mer­cury Grove busi­ness an­a­lyst Guido Giordano will coun­sel Ideav­ibes with his ex­per­tise on early busi­ness growth.

Dur­ing the launch, the newly formed team will fill in­terim ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions at the com­pany. In the fu­ture, Mr. An­nan says, they will serve on an Ideav­ibes ad­vi­sory board, at the very least. The first de­ci­sion was to turn the model on its head, Mr. An­nan says. In­stead of go­ing to large cor­po­ra­tions, why not fo­cus on get­ting com­mu­nity mem­bers talk­ing?

“Really, it’s a cam­paign for change,” he says. “Whether it’s chang­ing a prod­uct, chang­ing your com­pany’s vi­sion or chang­ing the lo­cal streets be­cause of pot­holes.”

Users can sub­mit ideas to im­prove posted topics and vote on other’s ideas.

Mem­ber­ship fees of $900 per month were dis­con­tin­ued and rev­enues will in­stead come from op­tional up­grades for in­creased vis­i­bil­ity, such as so­cial me­dia cam­paigns. Com­pa­nies can also spon­sor cam­paigns, such as a lo­cal bike com­pany spon­sor­ing an ini­tia­tive to in­crease bike safety in Ot­tawa.

The new Ideav­ibes will not fea­ture a crowd­fund­ing func­tion as its pre­de­ces­sor did. There are too many com­peti­tors in the crowd­fund­ing space, Mr. An­nan says, with sites such as Kick­starter and Indiegogo lead­ing the charge.

Mr. An­nan’s vi­sion of success would be en­gag­ing pil­lars of the Ot­tawa com­mu­nity with “juicy topics.”

That could be non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, mu­sic fes­ti­vals, sports teams and other prom­i­nent lo­cal groups.

The key will be al­low­ing con­sumers to in­voke change in their com­mu­ni­ties, Mr. An­nan says.

“There’s a sense that we can’t have an im­pact on things around us,” he says. “This is a cam­paign that really en­ables you. You don’t have to sign a pe­ti­tion or go door-to-door to par­tic­i­pate, but you’re still cre­at­ing pos­i­tive change in your com­mu­nity.”

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