Startup dream team
All-star entrepreneurs point Ideavibes a new direction
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:
president of MediaStyle, public relations and media expertise;
founder of Untether.tv, know-how in management of tech and earlystage companies;
chief sales officer of Peak Sales Recruiting, sales advice;
founder of user interface sharing platform Scratchpad, app development
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.”