IdeaSquares is a platform to validate and develop early stage business ideas. Our aim is to improve the quality and preparation of business propositions, thus increasing their chance of success.
Routes of progression for business ideas following their IdeaSquare validation may be to equity crowdfunding platforms such as Seedrs, non-equity crowdfunding platforms such as IndieGoGo and Fundsurfer, Angel Investors or professional services which support business growth.
When putting an idea into a square, users are encouraged to address important validation topics such as:
- Building a support network
- Business model
- Seeking mentorship
- Value proposition
- Business assumptions
- Marketing strategy.
We provide a centralised platform upon which users can access tools and templates to develop their business ideas. It aims to be the first step in pursuing a business idea online and will encourage high quality, well thought out business propositions, thus increasing a users chances of success when seeking investment, finance or support from professional services.
Equity crowd funding platforms have high barriers to entry to ensure qualified investment opportunities for their investors. Equity crowd funding platforms currently decline many projects that do not prove a certain level of validation, potential or are simply too early to seek funding. IdeaSquares plans to support users in breaking down those barriers to entry and supporting business ideas that need further development to achieve success on such platforms.
Non equity crowd funding platforms have lower barriers to entry and the majority of ideas that use these services are unsuccessfully in raising funds. IdeaSquares provides users with the tools to launch a more successful funding round on such platforms and allow them to generate a network for their business idea to take to their chosen route to market.
This added value is great for crowd funding platforms and professional services because it increases the quality of business propositions approaching their services and in turn means they can see more projects successfully supported via their service.
Substantial accomplishments to date
One of the first 10 WebStart Bristol companies, successfully gaining a place on the January 2014 program and completing 10 weeks of business incubation.
Website launched in February and has over 250 IdeaSquares, 2000 Twitter followers and 700 Facebook followers, all on a £0 marketing budget.
Three reciprocal affiliate partnerships, one is with Seedrs themselves. This means that we can now refer business ideas to their service and Seedrs can refer declined projects to us. We are also negotiating a number of other affiliate partnerships.
Launched a 'premium IdeaSquare' service and since it's launch in March 3% of new users have paid £30 for a premium IdeaSquare.
40 IdeaSquares have received direct contact from professional services offering support for their ideas.
IdeaSquares currently has 2 revenue streams
1) Affiliate partnerships We intend to build a wide range of affiliate partners to broaden the opportunities for users to receive ongoing support for their ideas. We would receive commission for each successful referral to affiliate partners.
2) Premium IdeaSquares Currently we offer one level of 'premium' at £30 but there is potential to offer many levels of 'premium' in the future. One model we are currently beta testing is 1-1 business mentorship and a business plan review by a high quality business mentor.
There is potential for further revenue streams. We are approached regularly to request advertising space on the site. This is something we may also consider carefully in the future.
Use of proceeds
IdeaSquares intends to use the proceeds of this fundraising round as follows over the next 6 months:
- 50% platform development
- 20% marketing
- 10% legal and professional
- 10% team
- 10% team salaries.
During this 6 months, time will also be spent expanding the team. We are in the process of discussions with potential cofounders and/or technical employees.
At the end of the 6 months, we hope to be adding enough value to business ideas that we can successfully refer many projects to platforms such as Seedrs, with higher barriers to entry. We aim to see over 3,000 business ideas submitted to the platform within 6 months and be in a position to seek a much larger/final round of investment or be turning over enough revenue to grow without further investment until exit.
IdeaSquares targets aspiring entrepreneurs with early stage business ideas.
We believe the market to approximately 2 million people/business ideas based on:
- Unsuccessful crowdfund or rejected projects from 6 crowdfunding or fundraising platforms (e.g. Seedrs, Angel List, IndieGoGo).
- Companies listed on company databases as 'early stage' (e.g. CrunchBase).
- Companies listed as 'early stage' on startup community sites (e.g. F6S).
- New startups registered via companies house.
We therefore feel there must be at least another 3 million business ideas (e.g. startups registered outside of Britain or unsuccessfully funded on alternative crowdfunding platforms).
Characteristics of target market
The online startup community is growing rapidly, with crowd funding platforms alone taking over $5 billion in 2013 (compared to $1.5 billion in 2011).
98.8% of companies that list on Angel List are unsuccessfully funded.
It is reported that 90% of projects on IndieGoGo are unsuccessfully funded.
We have also found a vast number of projects do not meet the barrier to entry for equity crowdfunding platforms each month.
Given the current global economic landscape, there has never been more of an incentive to embrace entrepreneurship and see a business idea succeed. In Britain alone in the past 2 years, 1 million new startups have been born (startupbritain.com).
We have developed a strong brand and identity which we feel is modern, bold and consistent with current popular social platforms.
It is professional, clean, simple and reliable in design and colour.
Due to the social nature of the platform and the nature of the majority of the content (interesting and exciting business ideas), it is believed that marketing costs will be lower than average for this business. The site will grow to facilitate indirect marketing of the brand, through the promotion of the ideas and success of the ideas on the site. Integration across all social platforms to the highest level will ensure this. Until this 'tipping point' our marketing campaign will be through:
- Social media, posting relevant content for our target audience. Encouraging engagement and engaging new startups and entrepreneurs.
- Encouraging IdeaSquare owners to share their idea and bring their network to the site to support it.
- Direct mail, making efforts to contact people who have previously been unsuccessful on public funding platforms or who are actively using the web to promote their startup ideas.
- SEO, ensuring it is maintained and formatted to constantly communicate with all search engines.
- Referrals to IdeaSquares via affiliate partners.
There are a number of startup communities which offer business support and useful information, however idea validation on one centralised platform is a relatively new concept and seems wholly unchallenged.
One main competitor in the USA, which develops landing pages for people to acquire early adopters and generate traction (part of the validation process) has recently been acquired by a major business crowdfunding platform in the USA. This shows that crowdfunding platforms find early validation useful and recognise the potential in developing ideas within a virtual space.
It is recognised that new competitors will emerge that provide early stage idea validation, however IdeaSquares will prevail by constantly increasing value and building a strong network of support from it's users. IdeaSquares has potential for high, fast growth and beyond this iteration and improvement period (6 months) a much larger round will be sought to reach the market more quickly.
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