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Small Business Heroes

This Crowdsourcing Site Helps Turn Business Ideas into Money is a social network that taps the collective wisdom of the masses.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the June 2011 issue of . Subscribe »

Every entrepreneur starts out with an idea, but not every idea results in the creation of an entrepreneur. Palo Alto, Calif.-based entrepreneur Matt Crowe recognized that there are far more great ideas out there than actual successful businesses. He understood that the reason a lot of visionaries couldn't leverage their ideas was simply because of the limited resources available to them.

"Everyone has an 'a-ha' moment, but only about 2 percent of people actually execute on their ideas," Crowe says. "Lots of people have the same idea at the same time, but the person who's going to make the money is the one who does something about it."

Looking for a way to help these would-be entrepreneurs, Crowe launched a crowdsourced social network called Ahhha to harness the wisdom and ingenuity of the masses--a process he calls "social ideation."

How It Works
To initiate the social ideation process, an individual logs onto and registers an idea, complete with a time stamp. Once that's done, the Ahhha community has the opportunity to discuss the idea, endorse it and offer advice or criticism.

"As an outsider, I might be able to approach an idea with a fresh set of eyes and make a great suggestion that works," Crowe says.

Site algorithms weight and score comments, so contributors with relevant professional or financing experience deliver higher scores and rise to the top. As an idea achieves greater scores, its progress is tracked on a thermometer that shows how close the idea is to making money.

Time to Monetize
In many cases, monetization will come directly from Ahhha, which plans to introduce a microfund to help finance concepts that have been proven valid through the social ideation process.

"Our goal is to help users of the site follow their dreams and make some money off their ideas," Crowe says. Under an Ahhha currency model, the idea's originator sees 10 percent of the return. The remaining percentage is split on a sliding scale (based on a number of variables) among participants who contributed significantly to the idea. Ahhha retains the proceeds.

Though the site hasn't been active for long, it's already full of ideas. Some proposals seem promising--like headphones that double as speakers. Others are a little off the wall--like a time-traveling device. But Crowe says opening quirky ideas to community discussion is part of Ahhha's aim.

"Our target is not traditional," he says. "We want to appeal to the excited, budding entrepreneur."

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