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Reflecting on the Launch of Hilltop Consultants

5 May

Mini Hilltop Consultants LogoI was recently asked to contribute to a guidebook for new student members of Hilltop Consultants, a student nonprofit consulting organization that I started while I was at Georgetown University. I thought it would be appropriate to also post my thoughts here:

Starting Hilltop Consultants was an exciting part of my university experience at Georgetown. I had heard of other student nonprofit consulting organizations on other campuses, and was surprised to see that none existed in Washington, DC. Given the plethora of nonprofit organizations based in the area, the potential client base was huge. My peers, other undergraduates at the McDonough School of Business, were an ambitious bunch who were eager to find ways to gain real-world experience early on in their university careers. These same ambitions had led many to join The Corp and the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union, and I saw no reason why their energies couldn’t also be directed toward nonprofit consulting projects.

After returning from a semester abroad, in January 2004 I began working on the plan in earnest. A group of three other students answered my calls for assistance to start a new student business organization. We drafted a mission, vision, and business plan, applied for recognition as an official student organization, and recruited the first leadership board for Hilltop. By April of 2004, Hilltop Consultants was a reality. By the time I graduated in May 2005, we had served four clients over the course of two semesters, and hosted the first ever business strategy case competition at Georgetown University, the Business Strategy Challenge.

As a member of Georgetown’s case competition team, I had experienced first-hand the excitement of student case competitions, and saw a great opportunity to expand Hilltop Consultants’ activities into that area. By choosing a local nonprofit organization as the subject of the case study, we were able to further build upon Hilltop’s mission of both serving the DC nonprofit community and enhancing Georgetown students’ opportunities to learn about business by advising the managers of local organizations as they struggled to tackle real-world business challenges. Our first Business Strategy Challenge, in April 2005, focused on the obstacles facing the United Way as it adapted to a fundraising environment in which donors demanded greater transparency about how their donations were being put to use.

After graduating from Georgetown, I spent three years as a management strategy consultant for the Monitor Group. I was lucky to not only gain experience serving many impressive businesses in the United States and abroad, but also served several nonprofit organization. It was incredibly stimulating to work in a place where I was constantly surrounded by a group of people with such incredible intellectual horsepower.

Consulting is a valuable first-step out of an undergraduate education not only for business students, but students from all academic paths. It provides a strong analytical foundation which is valuable to employers in nearly all reaches of the economy. It also provides opportunities to build presentation skills and enhance a person’s professionalism as he or she is put into meetings with more and more senior clients. Finally, it provides excellent opportunities to explore a variety of industries and practice areas (e.g. marketing, finance, operations) to see where your passion lies.

I hope that Hilltop Consultants not only helps students find a way to contribute to the nonprofit community through a higher impact investment of their time than might otherwise be possible, but that it allows students to “test the waters” of a career in consulting. The long hours, the often grueling travel schedule, and your status as “advisor” rather than “decision maker” mean that consulting certainly isn’t the perfect career for everyone. As a first dive into the professional world, however, I can think of few better options available to a recent Georgetown graduate.

-Mitchell Fox

Founder and President, Hilltop Consultants, 2004 – 2005
Consultant, The Monitor Group, 2005 – 2008

Putting it Together: The Credit Crunch, A Weak Dollar, and Entrepreneurship

27 Aug

Dow Jones Down 56 pts, Aug 27I am writing today in response to an Open Thread on GigaOM.

The credit crisis will have an important impact on entrepreneurs, but must also be considered in the context of a weakening dollar and the risk of an economic downturn. The likely affects are three-fold:

  1. “Exits” through acquisition by an established industry player or private equity buyout will be less likely
  2. Consumer dollars may shift away from startup businesses whose products look a lot more like “luxuries” than day-to-day essentials
  3. Top qualified job candidates and new entrepreneurs may delay their entry into the market until conditions improve

Exits: If acquisitions become more challenging, startups will be pushed toward IPOs as the most viable exit strategy. Unfortunately, with an overall economic downturn in sight, investors are also less likely to be seeking high risk small-cap startup IPOs.

Overall, if entrepreneurs and venture capitalists cannot exit on their investments, the engine that powers Silicon Valley could slow down (note: I deliberately refrain from using “grind to a halt”). At first, if VCs are flush with cash to invest, they will continue to do so. As the burden of their growing portfolio grows, however, investing would slow.

Consumers: With home values dropping or plateauing in many markets, consumers will be cutting back on spending on luxury goods. And yes, Premium Membership at Flickr counts as a luxury good. The same goes for a weak dollar. Imported goods like electronics and gourmet foods, which become more expensive as the exchange rate weakens, could easily force consumers to shift spending away from new web toys.

While it is true that many web 2.0 businesses rely on advertising money more than actual consumer spending, it is important to remember that advertising is also linked to consumer behavior. In hard times, advertising dollars shrink.

Top Talent: If exits are hard to come by, it means that one of the great attractions (mind you, not only) of working at a startup, the chance for a big payday after a few years of work, is much less likely. Without that big carrot to lure in the brightest minds, the best job candidates may stray to other businesses with more secure, lucrative paydays like investment banking, consulting, and jobs in “industry.”

If recruiting the right people to fill important roles becomes difficult, growth at startups could slow, further depressing the situation in places in Silicon Valley.

At Least One Silver Lining: It would be inappropriate to conclude a post like this without an explanation of at least one of the potential benefits of the current credit crisis and economic situation.

This is starting to look like a good market for buyers. It will be possible for businesses to acquire other companies and consumer to buy houses at more reasonable prices, assuming they have the cash necessary to afford them. While this won’t be the case for all buyers, those which are well prepared will find the situation to be quite favorable.

As the saying goes, “buy low, sell high.” Sometime in the near future, conditions might be just right to make that home purchase you’ve been waiting on.

What do you think are the other potential upsides?

My Previous Posts on these topics:

Consulting, VC, or a Startup? Best Career for an "Entrepreneur in Waiting?"

19 Aug

Entrepreneur in WaitingI am a part of the great swath of young professionals around the world who might be best described as “entrepreneurs in waiting.” We are people who aspire to one day start our own business, or partner up to create one.

We have in common the desire to be prepared to seize a new business opportunity when it comes our way, but many of us are currently working in other careers, waiting for the right moment to make our move. Jared Smith, a friend, former colleague, and junior partner at PICS (Pacific Industrial Contractor Screening) calls this “waiting for your pitch” — holding out for that great idea you can hit out of the ballpark.

Where, then, is the best place for me to wait for my pitch and optimize my chances of not only receiving the most pitches, but also knowing when I should swing and having the skill to hit the ball? How do I maximize my chances of meeting the right people, while also gaining the skills and experience that will make me an attractive business partner? What career will provide the most inspiration to dream up the big business idea I want to build my career upon?

The answer, obviously, depends very much upon the type of entrepreneur you want to be. Are you a developer or a business guy? How much do you have to lose if you leave your current career and mess up? I am writing today with the business-minded entrepreneur in mind; one who already has a good job and does not want to join just any startup, but the right one. I am, essentially, writing about myself.

Management Consulting [where I am today]:

Pros:

  • Build credible work experience and learn best practice
  • Develop important business skills in analysis, customer interaction, planning, and management
  • Cultivate a management mindset – consultants are trained to structure problems and think about how to grow businesses
  • Exceptionally diverse exposure to different industries and business problems, improving the chances of stumbling across new business ideas and innovative solutions to old business problems
  • Diverse exposure to different geographies and business environments, possibly giving insight into businesses which could be transplanted from one location to another
  • Relatively stable and low risk compensation [bonus based on a mix of personal and firm performance, not necessarily that of clients or a portfolio]

Cons:

  • Limited control over the industries, geographies, or business problems you face [i.e. You may be just as likely to be working for an “old economy” auto manufacturer in Detroit as a “new economy” biotechnology company in Silicon Valley]
  • Typically clients are fortune 500 businesses or governments, both of which operate very differently than startups, possibly limiting the applicability of some lessons learned
  • Limited networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs, for the same reason

Venture Capital:

Pros:

  • Exposure to diverse businesses and solutions within a narrow industry area (most firms focus on just two or three industries) – gain understanding of how different players are solving the same problems with different approaches
  • Gain an investor’s mindset, looking at businesses in terms of their relative ability to succeed, and understand a venture capitalist’s investment criteria
  • Network with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, increasing the likelihood of running across a potential partner with a “big idea” you are excited about
  • Realistic possibility of moving from a position in VC to an operating role in a portfolio company
  • Relatively stable compensation, however bonus is tied to portfolio performance and forms a greater proportion of salary

Cons:

  • More time spent critiquing business models, management teams, and strategies than thinking about or learning first hand how to grow a business
  • Limited diversity of industries and geographies likely to be encountered
  • Limited opportunities to gain operating or management experience

Operating Role in a Startup:

Pros:

  • Network with other startup professionals in your industry niche and within your company, people who are likely to have very similar passions and might eventually make great business partners
  • Build deep knowledge of your industry, increasing the likelihood of identifying unmet needs which could be filled with a new product or service
  • Gain practical operating and management experience, improving your credibility as a potential partner
  • Understand the challenges faced by startups, and some common methods of overcoming them through personal experience
  • Spend part of your day worrying about how to keep things working (operating mindset) and part your day worrying about how to make them work better (growth mindset)

Cons:

  • Narrower networking opportunities – relatively less likely to meet potential partners in other industries or geographies, or think of solutions to problems that your company is not in the business of solving
  • Possibly reduced professional credibility if later attempting to rejoin the “corporate world”
  • More risky – compensation is highly correlated to business performance, which you may or may not have the ability to control

Of course, there are plethora options beyond consulting, VC, or working in a startup for any entrepreneur in waiting. I would love to know your thoughts. Are there other options which should be considered? Advantages and disadvantages of each that I have failed to consider?

An Exit Strategy is NOT a Business Strategy

17 Aug

Business Model GraphicBuilding on the comments I posted earlier today about the acquisition of Where I’ve Been, and partially motivated through comments on that post, I realize it is important to add two additional thoughts.

First, “Where I’ve Been” has managed to avoid one of the most challenging elements of business creation, which is to actually build a business model and strategy. That Ulliott was able to get $3 million for a business that had neither is surprising, impressive, and more than a little bit disturbing. Attempting to replicate his success in planning for an exit would be wise, but emulating Ulliott’s dismissal of the question of a business model would be foolish. He has passed on the question of how to monetize his application to a new owner, but the question will still have to be answered.  (Though TripAdvisor seems well positioned to answer it)

Second, in response to Tony and Jackson’s comments on the possibilities for SeedHive, this does, indeed, seem to be an area of possible unmet need. Could SeedHive help bridge the gap between developers with the skill to “build things” and the business folk with the ability to “sell things”? [Which is how I interpret Tony’s “build great teams to do great things”] It’s an interesting proposal and one to noodle on. At the most basic level, it would require that the site was able to attract both sides of that puzzle by being relevant to both. It would also need to do this better than the likes of PartnerUp, which I believe it could do through the integration of social networking and idea collaboration.

“Where I’ve Been” and the Need for an Exit Strategy

17 Aug

Where I’ve BeenThe management consultant in me wants to tell you that in developing any new business, particularly a web 2.0 software application, social network, or web-enabled service, it is critical that an entrepreneur think about the “exit.” The questions are “Will I sell this? To whom? Why would they buy it?” It is the answer to these questions which should shape your strategy and business. Nevertheless, not ALL big success stories follow this logical path, and another just emerged yesterday.

It was announced yesterday that “Where I’ve Been,” a Facebook application developed by Craig Ulliott of Philadelphia, was acquired by TripAdvisor for $3 million. The application currently boasts around 2.3 million users, and has been in existence since June of this year.

Yes. JUNE.

What is phenomenal about this story is how quickly this all came to pass, and yet how little of it appears to have been down to planning and the development of a prudent exit strategy up front. Just about two months ago, Ulliott complained “I have 250,000 users, now what?”.

Well my application has become incredibly popular, and I’m very excited about it, don’t get me wrong!

But I’m a freelance developer, not a company, and its put a powerful 4GB $450 a month dedicated server on 3 backbones at maximum load and is pushing 2000GB a month in traffic. It doesn’t make me any money and I’m getting hundreds of comments and emails daily about it.

How can i support it and maintain it? What do i do with it now? its growing at a few users a second, so should i get another server each month?

It is amazing that a young guy can create a piece of software which fits a need he sees, and sell it to cash in big time. Just two months ago, Ulliott had no idea what to do with this idea. Today, he is $3 million richer. It’s a compelling “carpe diem” type story about just doing something you love.

Facebook App developers beware, however, the current landgrab will not last forever, and your chances of making it big are much better if you have a plan.  If you can tailor your software to better match the needs of a potential suitor, while still catering to the needs of your users, do it.

One final thought on this news is how it hooks into the SeedHive concept.  When I originally read about Ulliott’s post two months ago, I thought “this is exactly why SeedHive needs to exist.” It is exactly the kind of question that SeedHive users would enjoy batting around for an hour or two. It would also be the kind of place where people would ask up front what your exit strategy is, and if one doesn’t exist, encourage you to develop one.  Because we ALL can’t be this lucky.

Beyond the Launch: SeedHive and the Stages of Entrepreneurship

12 Aug

RapLeaf

Businesses face different challenges at different stages in their development. An individual entrepreneur, batting around a business idea, faces fundamentally different questions and challenges than one who already has a prototype, one who has raised angel funding, and one who is looking for an exit through IPO or acquisition. It’s a simple concept, but one which I had failed to consider in my initial thinking on SeedHive, a business concept for an entrepreneur’s social network.

This modest but important revelation is courtesy Manish Shah, the co-founder and CEO of RapLeaf, a business which helps you manage your reputation online. I contacted Manish in order to get his reaction to the SeedHive concept as someone who fits squarely into my target user profile: he’s young, smart, web connected, and running a small business. His thoughts were valuable, and gave me pause.

Staying relevant to entrepreneurs of all stages

Businesses face different obstacles as they mature. As Manish said in our conversation, “It’s not always ‘early days.'” An entrepreneur may start with question about the basics, like how to find a good business partner, or how to legally incorporate. With time, however, those questions will shift to things like “How do I hire people?” “How much should I pay them, and how (equity, cash, etc)?”

In order for SeedHive to succeed, it would need to be both helpful for the newbies, and for those with experience. In essence, its success would hinge on the site’s ability to follow their journey.

Manish predicted that entrepreneurs would likely use the site in bursts. They might be extremely active and engaged in the community for a week or two at a time, as they tackle a new challenge, but then will “put their heads down” and get to work. Only if the site had proven truly useful in that initial period would they return when the next obstacle presented itself.

How he got started

Manish became an entrepreneur straight out of university, networking his way into a partnership with an experienced entrepreneur. In many ways, his partner’s knowledge of entrepreneurship, experience, and networks, eliminated the need for Manish to seek help to the basic questions of how to start a business, thus reducing the likelihood that he would have sought out the forums of SeedHive for advice.

Given his own experience, Manish strongly advocated that someone seeking a route into the world of startups must start through networking. Since Silicon Valley operates very much through informal networks, the onus is upon the entrepreneur to get plugged in. In this regard, SeedHive might hold some promise, since it would allow entrepreneurs and VCs to find each other easily, and start relationships online which could be transferred into the real world.

Challenges for a business social network

“Social network fatigue” is an ailment affecting not only Manish but many of the friends whom I would classify as “early adopters.” While Facebook is a novelty to my friends here in London, social networks seem like yesterday’s news to those in the Bay Area. If that attitude is consistent with the venture capital audience (which it likely is) then SeedHive might struggle to raise funding.

Most importantly, however, if the very people I would hope to be reaching with SeedHive, young, “plugged in,” entrepreneurs, are tired of social networks, and less likely to join and give it a try, the site might never get off the ground.

Buckle Up: Why Entrepreneurs Should Be Scared of the Shifting US Economy

9 Aug

Pinching PenniesEntrepreneurs, who might otherwise be somewhat anathema to worrying about macroeconomic trends, need to pay attention to what is happening in the US economy at the moment.  The changes that are just beginning to take shape in the form of a weaker dollar and tighter credit, will affect their ability to successful negotiate an “exit” for their business, and even more importantly, find customers for their products and services.

The New York Times editorial staff have outdone themselves today with an excellent analysis of the sticky situation in which the Federal Reserve find itself (“A Weak Dollar and the Fed“).

A declining dollar is a source of inflationary pressure because it can boost the cost of imports. So if the Fed tried to rev up the economy with a rate cut at the same time the dollar is falling, it could end up provoking even more inflation. That would be a drag on economic growth rather than a boost. In an extreme case, it could result in a toxic combination of weak growth and high prices that is a central banker’s nightmare.

How did the Fed lose room to maneuver? The answer is rooted in the Bush administration’s misguided economic policies.

The stage is set. Essentially, the US could find itself in the very difficult situation of having both a weak dollar (meaning that for you, the average customer, things like traveling abroad, buying imported cars, electronics, etc. is going to be more expensive) and rising inflation (meaning that your savings start to lose their value more quickly, because the things you like to buy are getting more expensive. This results in a net loss of incentive to save, because that car/laptop/iPod are going to be more expensive, and the value of your savings less, one year from now than the difference of those two today).

The only lasting way to fix the imbalances — and reduce that borrowing — is to increase America’s savings… It would also require revamping the nation’s tax incentives so that they create new savings by typical families, instead of new shelters for the existing wealth of affluent families…

Stymied by what it won’t do, the administration has gone for a quicker fix — letting the dollar slide. A weaker dollar helps to ease the nation’s imbalances by making American exports more affordable, thus narrowing the trade deficit.

But to be truly effective, a weaker dollar must be paired with higher domestic savings.

Just as I mentioned above, however, greater domestic savings is going to be hard to stimulate in today’s market. The choice the country faces, it seems, is to improve the incentives for domestic savings to overcome these growing challenges. That is because doing the opposite, or staying the course, has even uglier consequences:

Otherwise, the need to borrow from abroad remains large, even as a weakening currency makes dollar-based debt less attractive… Among other ills, it could lead to a deterioration in American living standards as money flows abroad to pay foreign creditors, leaving less to spend at home on critical needs. Or, it could lead to abrupt spikes in interest rates as American debtors are forced to pay whatever it takes to get the loans they need.

“Yes,” you’re saying, “we get it. The future looks grim. But what does it mean for me as an entrepreneur?”

It has an impact in two important ways:

  • Exits are going to be harder: The businesses that you were hoping would acquire your startup are going to have a harder time borrowing money (at a good price) to finance the deal. Private equity-style takeovers are attractive only when they can be properly leveraged (as in, they can borrow a lot of money cheaply, and invest only a small amount of their own cash). If US consumers are feeling a squeeze on their pocket books, they are less likely to be investing in the stock of your company at IPO, reducing your ability to do so.
  • US customers are going to start pinching pennies: As it becomes apparent to consumers that a weak dollar has real implications on what they can afford to buy, they may well choose to spend less, say, on things like social network premium memberships or bio-fuels and expensive eco-friendly cars, and more on the things that they need or enjoy, but now cost more: say, Chilean produce. Or Sony laptops.

There is one distinct upside to a weaker dollar: international exports.  If you are lucky enough to be in the position of producing a product or selling a service overseas, it will be easier to do so because the cost will be relatively lower for the customer.  Unfortunately, and I say this with no real knowledge or justification, my hunch is that the majority of US entrepreneurs are not currently in this position.

And if you believe what I was beginning to say in a post late last week (“Will a Debt Crunch Drive Smart Minds Away From VC, Entrepreneurship?“), it may well be harder for startups to find quality talent.

But what do you say? Is this view of the economy too dark? Is my projection on how these trends will affect entrepreneurs exaggerated?

VC Wisdom for SeedHive: A Conversation with Kurt Hawks

6 Aug

Monitor Ventures

In order to determine whether my business concept, SeedHive (a social network for entrepreneurs), really has the potential to be successful, I must start with the question “what does this site provide for each of [my] target audiences?” This was the simple, but sage advice of Kurt Hawks, a former colleague from Monitor Group, working at Monitor Ventures, and now VP of Operations at Greystripe.

About two weeks ago, Kurt generously agreed to speak with me about the SeedHive concept, providing critique and advice from the perspective of a venture capitalist. He was, in effect, the first of my three target audiences with whom I would need to test the idea: entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and service providers offering goods and services tailored to these businesses.

From our conversation, I believe SeedHive would benefit venture capitalists in three significant ways:

  • Information: The aggregation of news, data, and trends which are today disparate and inconsistent, into an intelligent, reliable news source
  • Sourcing: Simplifying the identification of both new business ideas which might be attractive investments and entrepreneurs with whom they would like to do business
  • Networking: Facilitating the face-to-face networking that is the mainstay method of interaction within the world of entrepreneurship, and providing a viable (if ultimately less desirable) alternative

He validated each of these needs, and helped me better understand how VCs work and think.

Concerns:

Kurt did, however, bring up some concerns about SeedHive which reiterated critique I have received from other thought partners. Will people really be willing to share a significant amount of detail on the business plans they are developing? How will the site attract the critical first adopters who will begin to create content for the site?

One of the areas where Kurt helped push my thinking was related to the integration of a provider network into the site, particularly one which has users voting and rating each vendor’s quality. First off, he confirmed that the real need (which he has already experienced at Greystripe) is for entrepreneurs to be able to find pre-qualified vendors and providers they can trust without being able to call upon the long experience or deep pockets of larger firms. The more information potential buyers have about a vendor, the better.

Nevertheless, in order to get providers to engage with the site and pay to list their services and products in any sort of SeedHive marketplace, providers will need to be comfortable that the reviews they might receive would be honest and fair. Just like eBay, where a merchant score is crucial to winning business, providers will recognize that a few unfair reviews could seriously hurt their ability to do business. He pointed to LinkedIn as an example of a site which has attempted to balance vendor control with user ratings.

What Now?

Coming out of the conversation with Kurt, I felt both energized and appropriately hesitant. There are clearly a number of other organizations working in very similar, related areas, and in many cases, their business models are much clearer and more focused than that of SeedHive. PartnerUp, for instance, is an intelligent solution to the need for entrepreneurs to find potential business partners with appropriate skills and experience. The Go Big Network has created a showroom for investors to easy find businesses looking to raise capital.

The next steps will be to continue to investigate the other businesses and individuals who are playing in this same space, continue refining the business idea, and most importantly, creating a financial model. Kurt posed the question quite simply as “how many people do you need to generate a profit?” How many users? How many advertisers? Paying how much? They are simple questions, but ones which I must answer honestly before I move too far ahead with the idea.

Will a Debt Crunch Drive Smart Minds Away from VC, Entrepreneurship?

2 Aug

Roger McNamee The stumbling of the debt market in the United States and internationally within the last couple weeks is an issue of concern not just for banks and big businesses, but for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists as well.

Roger McNamee, the Managing Director and co-founder of Elevation Partners and author of The New Normal, spoke yesterday at the Stanford Summit about the “Long Shadow of Debt” facing Silicon Valley.

If you’re an entrepreneur, do the things you need to make the company more valuable — and be prepared to do it for awhile… We are going to vaporize a ton of private equity, venture capital, and public market capital, and when that’s done, we’re going to have a bull market like no one has ever seen.

He did not deny, however, that these will be hard times for entrepreneurs, who will have to cope with a tightening of the purse strings of venture capitalists, and reduced opportunity of an exit by being acquired by a private equity shop.

As Epicenter paraphrases from McNamee, “The lesson? Hard times are coming as the amount of liquidity available dries up. But it won’t disappear forever, because the underlying opportunities are still there.” McNamee continues, “If you’re an entrepreneur, don’t run out of money — and be prepared to do it for a long time. But the market potential is huge. I think this is a great time to be an entrepreneur.”

The question that leaves in my mind, is how this emerging shift should shape the decisions of someone who is considering entering the ventures world. Will opportunities be fewer and further between? Will that drive smart minds back into bigger business and industry?

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.
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