SeedHive: An Entrepreneur’s Social Network

30 Jul

SeedHive Honeycomb

The Core of the Idea:

SeedHive would be an online community build around the collaboration of entrepreneurs on startup businesses and business ideas. It is a site not purely about networking and relationships, but also content.

A Community of Entrepreneurs

Individual members form the core of the community and are predominantly a mix of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and people with an interest in entrepreneurship. As a community, they have ideas, knowledge, and opinions about business and are eager to collaborate with their peers.

A Network of Providers

Service providers, freelancers, businesses, and consultants form another important part of the community, meeting the product and service needs of the core. They use SeedHive as a prospecting platform for finding new business and employment opportunities.

A Showcase for Venture Capitalists

Venture capitalists are not only an active part of the core community, but also form a special group of shoppers looking for promising ideas and individuals with whom they can develop relationships and make investments. SeedHive helps them find them.

How It Would Work:

SeedHive would build upon the successes of other virtual communities such as LinkedIn and Doostang, which have begun to help professionals build their networks by maintaining contacts and relationships, but extend the idea further: to content.

When I recently moved to London from San Francisco and found myself with suddenly no social life and a lot of time on my hands, I began to look for a website where new business ideas were shared, emerging trends in business and entrepreneurship were discussed. I wanted to be able to quickly immerse myself in a part of the business world that was new and unfamiliar. That was two months ago, and I have yet to find such a site.

Sharing Ideas

SeedHive’s primary motivation for existence would be the open sharing of business ideas, insights, and opinions. The members of the community would write their own original content, post links to existing content on other sites, and collaborate on the development of new material through the site.

Other members would read these items, vote upon their relevance and quality (influencing their position within the site), create posts about their own opinions, and contribute their additional ideas and amendments. The site would, in essence, be a combination of something like Digg, where content is voted into relevance, Wikipedia, where content is built collaboratively, and your typical web forum, where freeform conversations happen across distance and time.

There would be 4 major kinds of content:

  • Blogs (where users can rant and rave about the business topic of my choice, theoretically hoping that it reflects well upon their business savvy)
  • Business Q&A (Wikipedia-like solutions to common business problems [ e.g. what are the pros/cons of incorporating my small business or registering as an LLC?]),
  • Business Idea Discussion (collaborative space for both new business concepts and the critique of existing businesses)
  • Entrepreneurship News and Trends (Digg-style environment where the latest news on entrepreneurship, business trends, and related content would be submitted, tagged, voted upon, and discussed)

Building a Reputation Through Content

It is my personal experience that most people in the world want to be respected and recognized for who they are. Moreover, most people would like to have some control over how they are perceived. For young professionals like myself, that means having your ideas heard, shared, and discussed.

SeedHive would give entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and those with a general interest in startups the opportunity to establish a name for themselves through the content they contributed to the site. A user’s profile would not just contain the typical demographic information, resume list, and friend network, but also an aggregation of their contributions to the community. In this way, users would be encouraged to ensure their posts are of good quality, since they will track back to their owners.

The Business Model:

A tricky subject for any business idea, the question of how SeedHive would generate money is a good one. For starters, it would generate a steady stream of revenue through advertising. As web advertising has developed, the potential for significant earnings are substantial. I do not, however, believe they would be sufficient.

Paid membership, through a form of “premium” or “pro” tools and access would also contribute to the site’s revenue. Users seeking additional or advanced functionality would be charged a monthly or annual access fee. For instance, businesses would have incentives to become pro users in order to post into the provider listings. Entrepreneurs seeking funding would pay to be listed in the investor’s showcase.

These ideas are not, unfortunately, fully developed, and I am hoping to push the thinking forward.

Competition:

I would not be the first person delving into this arena. I would be, however, the first to bring together the disparate elements into one, integrated, and highly functional site. Nevertheless, the number of different players in this space is daunting, and every one of them has a headstart, given all that I have now is an idea.

Professional Social Networking:

Entrepreneur’s Guide and How-To Solutions:

Business Idea Sharing:

Provider Listings:

Investor’s Showcase:

Trend Reporting and Emerging Business Ideas:

What do you think?

This is an idea that has followed me for several months now, and I have not been able to shake. I would love reader’s thoughts, comments, and reactions. Already I have a number of follow-on posts in the works, so I hope you will return soon to read about those.

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