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OpenFunding Platform (refined version)

An on-line platform to support web entrepreneurs access all the public and private funding they need to start & grow their company.

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REFINED, MAY 11TH

A platform with (all) public and (most) private funding for entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurs, Investors, Banks and Public Institutions meet here around ideas.

Entrepreneurs get a funding score for their idea, submit an application for funding, request a loan and pitch for venture capital.<o:p></o:p>

How will your concept support web entrepreneurship?

Access to Finance remains the second biggest barrier for entrepreneurs to start and grow their business in Europe. The EC, Member States & Regions are supporting entrepreneurs. BUT, they are not doing this on an integrated & systemic way. Each political level has its own instrument & support strategy.
The OpenFunding platform wants to bring all these instrument and support to a single on-line portal in an integrated way.

-Check out what a Wayra Entrepreneur experiences with applying for EU funding here: http://vimeo.com/41994964

Venture funding is still less available in Europe than in other regions of the world. Banks are reluctant to lend to start ups. Both banks and venture capitalists are looking for good projects; so are public Institutions supporting entrepreneurship. The common denominator between the projects that receive public funding and the companies that obtain loans and venture funding is INNOVATION.

Check out 25 ways of improving funding for innovation:
http://econet-consultants.com/blog/introducing-openfunding#25-ways-of-improving-Innovation-Funding

Good projects are innovative projects.

The platform allows web entrepreneurs to upload their project idea and match it to existing grants, loans and angel funding. It also allows entrepreneurs to get a funding score for their idea based both on objective criteria (automated) or an expert’s assessment (on request).

Once the idea has evaluated positively for further development, the entrepreneur can build the grants and loans application both with self-service tools or with the support of specialists in these fields.

With the OpenFunding platform, web entrepreneurs can limit their time & effort to obtain the funding while concentrating in their technical and business development of their web Project.

-&gt; Check out our images above on different support scenarios for:
-Entrepreneurs
-Investors
-Clusters

What kinds of resources will be needed to get this concept off the ground and scale it?

The OpenFunding platform is based on the idea of better connecting existing funds. It does not require additional funds to those currently being deployed by the Public Institutions or invested by private players.

The key resources to launch this OpenFunding concept are:

•Time: a basic version of platform can be developed in approximately 3 months. Additional features can arrive every 3 months.

•Money: the development of the platform can build on existing platforms for ideas and funding that are currently NOT connected. A tentative budget for the integration of different existing platforms should not exceed 500 k euros. An additional 500 k euro should be made available for the promotion of the platform over the first 6 months after launch. This Budget should preferably be used to:
(1) promote general awareness and use of the platform through on-line media and
(2) promote its usage by incubators/accelerators for entrepreneurs. Finally, the EC should promote a network of ideas evaluators.

•Partnerships: there are four key partners required for kick-starting the platform:
1)the EC,
2)the EBAN/EVCA (European Business Angel Network and European Venture Capital Association),
3)the European Incubators and Accelerator for Web Entrepreneurs and
4)the large corporations with start-up support initiatives.

This partnership includes the highest supranational funding organisation in Europe, the associations representing the national venture capital and angel investors associations, the key space/location/meeting point for the web entrepreneurs ecosystem (the incubators and accelerators) and large ICT global companies that have realized that WebEntrepreneurs can be more disruptive that their own R&D units.
Once these partners have agreed to start the platform, they should invite other players to join the platform with their specific offering: Banks, national and regional governments.

•Technology: the platform does not require any special technological development. It can be developed on current standards that allow collaborative social networking.

•ROI: the amount needed for the development, launch and promotion of the OpenFunding Platform (1.0 million euros) can be returned over 3 years. This return on investment is calculated under the assumption that private players benefiting from the platform are willing to pay a “pay per lead” price of between 300-600 euros. This means, they are willing to pay for good and innovative projects for which they have concise qualified information both on the project and the entrepreneur.
In a scenario where private lenders (banks and venture capitalists) pay an average of 450 euros per lead (500 leads for year 1, 1000 leads for year 2 and 2000 leads for year 3) the return income will slightly exceed the 1.5 million euros allowing to recuperate the investment and afford some hosting and quality control for the 3 years period.

•Community Management: the OpenFunding platform will be promoted on-line and off-line both directly by the community managers from the platform as by the events and web managers from incubators and accelerators. Ideas will be reviewed and evaluated by experts. WebEntrepreneurs can also expose their ideas for comments by other experts and entrepreneurs. The platform will also be used to promote speed dating between entrepreneurs and investors in the slam pitch events that incubators and accelerators usually organize.

•Maintenance: in the EC, there is an obligation for States & Regions to inform about the grants they issue. They have to comply with EC regulations. They also need to keep an inventory of who received the public support. Maintenance of the funding part of the platform would be (almost) automatic if that information "obligation" is transformed into an "opportunity" to "publish your grant" EU wide. Also, the OpenFunding platform will act as a meta-platform integrating existing content from EU platforms.
-&gt; Check out our image above on existing portals integrating EU information from existing portals. Also, visit: http://www.2020-horizon.com/

How could we get started?

To get started, there are two key domains for immediate decisions: the specifications of the minimum viable product and the implementation of this minimum viable product.

SPECIFICATIONS OF THE MINIMUN VIABLE PRODUCT
Out of the different functionalities foreseen for this platform to offer the WebEntrepreneur an end-to-solution for funding, two are basic and should be there from the beta version: the funding database and the idea publisher. These two basic options allow the WebEntrepreneur to:

1)identify the funding available
2)get a basic funding score on his idea
3)where to go next to apply for this funding

Other functionalities that can be added after the minimum viable product is in place are:

-grant application builder
-loan request builder
-expert assessment

The minimum viable product has been specified following the criteria of "what needs to be in place from day 1", but also reflecting on the budget needs to put this first version in place. The feasibility of this minimum viable product lies on the expectation that the "one stop shop" approach to access funding provides enough added value to the WebEntrepreneur.

-&gt;Check out our visuals on the Minimum Viable Product in the images above:
-HomePage
-Wall
-Funding

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT
The easiest and most simple way to get started would be through a call for tenders from DG InfoSoc and/or DGEnterprise to develop the platform.

These tenders should focus on:

• The integration of existing platforms and content
• The creation of an evaluators network to review project ideas
• The development of the collaboration framework between public and private players
• The promotion of an application/request/pitch standard for funding (based on the "Unified Seed Accelerator Application" funded by the Kauffman Foundation and powered by TechStars)
• The promotion of the platform

In the workshop on Web Entrepreneurship in the June 2012 event of the Digital Agenda, all related stakeholders should participate to further develop the idea. This workshop should conclude with a public statement of those stakeholders willing to endorse the platform and commit to the necessary resources.




Virtual Team:

OpenFunding Colleagues:
-Irene Carrión Álvarez
-David Seoane Vilariño

OpenIdeo Crew:
-Meena Kadri
-Amy Bonsall

Visuals:
-Jorge Fernandez
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To the OpenIDEO challenge management: Any chance we might recuperate the original formatting of our text in the concept description? How do we update the concept once the challenge is finished? Thanks.

Hi Sanyu,
I don't think changes after end of challenge will make any difference because EC/DAA will now look at all concepts and see what can be developed from them - I think you can probably participate in that but changes after the announcement of winning concepts usually get reported as progress in the User Forums and Field Notes (eg. https://openideo.zendesk.com/forums/20264082-openideo-universities or http://www.openideo.com/fieldnotes/openideo-team-notes/grant-funding-to-improve-election-accessibility/ ).
 Hope they contact you for further consultation
Regards
Paul

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