Tech startups may be working at the cutting edge of innovation, but the way they are formed remains pretty old-school.
JumpStartFund launched today to change how companies are formed, using the Internet. JumpStartFund is an online portal that solicits new business ideas and patents from individuals, federal research labs, universities, and other organizations around the country. Selected ideas are put into the system for the community to vote on, offer input, and crowdfund. Founders can also search for cofounders on the site to build a team.
“Everything has moved online, but not the way we create companies” said cofounder and CEO Dirk Ahlborn in an interview. “Every entrepreneur has two or three great business ideas, but research we’ve done shows that 42 percent of startups fail because of a lack of valuable insight. JumpStartFund introduces crowdsourcing into the process to bring the failure rate down a lot. ”
JumpStartFund spun out of the Girvan Institute of Technology, a non-profit organization that facilitates the development and commercialization of technology. Since its founding in 2002 it has helped launch over 190 startups. Ahlborn said that the government spends $36 billion for research and development that goes to federally funded labs. However it is challenging for regular people to access these patents and many of them sit “gathering dust on shelves.” JumpStartFund makes these patents more accessible to entrepreneurs who can bring the technology to market.
The portal has tools to guide ideas from their inception to the funding stage. You can get exposure for your basic concept, find a team, get feedback during the development process, and seek investment. It aims to be a complete startup ecosystem online. JumpStartFund also attracts “highly qualified investors” who gain access to “high quality of deal flow.”
Building a startup, as almost any entrepreneur will tell you, is hard. Really hard. It requires so much more than a good idea — the timing and execution have to be spot-on and you have to have a cohesive team. Founder troubles are another commonly cited source of startup conflict and the idea of finding cofounders online seem a bit like finding a long-term partner — its possible, but the chemistry has to be there. Furthermore crowdsourcing is powerful phenomenon, but can easily lend itself to a “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation. With advice and feedback coming from all sides, it can be hard to cut through the noise and make clear-headed decisions. Ahlborn said the founders dictate their engagement on the site — the goal is to create an open, free-flowing, communicative space.
JumpStartFund is based on El Segundo, California and raised a $240,000 seed round.