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Ever heard of Nupedia? Neither did I, until September 20, 2013. As a startup founder, I’m constantly finding better ways to communicate the value proposition of Miigle, which I often do by borrowing more familiar websites or platforms as examples.

As I was reading about “graph databases” on Wikipedia, I thought “wait a minute, Miigle is somewhat like Wikipedia.” I had a very general idea of how Wikipedia was founded but I thought it’d serve me well to better familiarize myself so I googled “how was wikipedia founded”. Genius.

Of course you know about Wikipedia. You along with millions of people around the world use it almost daily. You know that Wikipedia is an open source wiki accessible to anyone to read and edit any of its “29.5 million freely usable articles in 287 languages.”

What you probably didn’t know is that the success of Wikipedia was almost accidental.

See, before Wikipedia there was Nupedia. The primary difference between the two being that only “experts” could contribute to Nupedia which as a result plagued the platform with protocols and significantly hindered its growth and popularity. Wikipedia was actually created as a feeder project to Nupedia by allowing “common folks” to contribute as a way to help the experts.

Benefiting from the much larger number of contributors and the absence of protocols, Wikipedia grew exponentially while Nupedia and its experts were quickly forgotten. Microsoft tried to give it a fight with Encarta and their highly paid experts but eventually folded as well.

Do not doubt the power of We The People. Most importantly, We The People (including YOU) should not doubt its own power.

Why does this matter? It matters because we’re living in a Digital Age and Wikipedia’s story and validation can be applied to a variety of scenarios.

Let’s pick my favorite: Innovation.

Just like Nupedia, the success of an innovation has traditionally and primarily been left in the hands of a few “experts”. They evaluate the ideas, teams, etc. and if everything looks promising, they invest and help get it out to the market. Most of the people in that market, the target audience, would have never heard of the product or service.

No big deal, that’s why there are marketing budgets.

The target audience is seen as comprised of mere consumers with no role to play in the development of a product. They are not the experts. Besides, why would they want anything to do with innovation, they are already consumed by their 9 to 5 work schedules, sitcoms, pets, and silly videos scattered all over the Internet.

They are not the experts and they haven’t got the desire nor will.

Not true. As a matter of fact, it’s bullshit.

If you’ve paid any attention to the evolution of crowdsourcing then you understand that people are dying to add their contribution to tech and non-tech related ideas, startups, and projects created all over the world. They are rejecting the notion that they are mere consumers and want to be part of these beautiful (and occasionally sad) stories.

The more interesting truth is that we need them but we’re refusing to give them a chance (unless it’s taking their money), to satisfy the egos of a few people.

The message we are sending is: Your money matters, your brain is worthless (unless you went to Harvard, Stanford, MIT, etc or worked at Google, Facebook, Amazon, blah blah)

Why? Because it is difficult to take a commission on non-tangible goods like an advice, at least not with the currently proven business models. However, more than just money, these people are sitting on a wealth of intellectual, practical, and emotional capital they’d love to give away freely and happily.

Building a startup is hard! No, it’s HARD! I’m not one to give up but I can’t say the messages of support I receive from entrepreneurs globally hasn’t helped my resolve. They’ve given me haven’t given me money but they’ve added fuel to my determination and to me that’s worth something and it always will.

When I introduced Miigle at the LAUNCH Festival 2014 in San Francisco, Adeo Ressi who was part of the judging panel mocked me because I was trying to make the point that making it easier to connect people with similar interests and complementary skills to work on a startup, which is what our algorithm does, has a lot of value. He insisted that “No, the only thing needed is money.”

Sure, money is important but I won’t bore you with the list of companies, including many in Silicon Valley, who folded despite the huge financial investments they received.

I say people matter more.

Let’s find a way for people who care about the same causes to easily find each other based on their potential contribution and collaborate, and I can promise you that not only the happiness index around the world will shoot off to another galaxy but the quality of products that will be developed will be second to none

This is exactly what we want to accomplish with Miigle. However, we’ve been discounted by many for not being “high growth”, “would require a lot of money to succeed (hum I have my doubts about that)”, and “we’re not part of the Silicon Valley boys club.” Yes, we really got told the latter and you can verify it by watching our pitch video below. That’s fine, we’ll just keep pushing along.

Here’s our pitch at LAUNCH with the “heartwarming” feedback from the judges.

Back to my point about getting more people involved in the innovation process. You may point me to Henry Ford’s quote “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” but that was in the 1910s – we are in 2013 and a lot of things have changed since then. There’s the Internet. The world is getting flatter and smaller.

The challenges we face today with global innovation are not that people are not experts and are too busy to contribute, but rather these:

1) We’re not speaking to them directly about the value they hold: A lot of platforms limit the roles users can play by forcing them to wear a specific hat, usually “giver” or “taker”. Let’s take for example crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, AngelList, and others – there’s the person who gives and the other who takes. They place little to no value on the input from people who don’t fit those roles. Why? Because you can take commissions on financial transactions.

What we need to keep in mind is that many of the most successful products ever developed originated from ideas that had no revenue generating business model. As a matter of fact for many, the founders had no desire to make any money out of them, it was all passion. They felt they had something to prove to themselves and others.

In the documentary Particle Fever, physicist Dr. Kaplan is giving a speech to an audience about the purpose of the Large Hadron Collider experiment when a man asks him what’s the “economical return”. The man also takes the time to say “by the way I’m an economist”. Pompous.

This is Dr. Kaplan’s answer, verbatim:

The question by an economist was “what’s the financial gain of running an experiment like this and the discoveries that we would make in this experiment”. And it’s a very very simple answer, “I have no idea. We have no idea.” When radio waves were discovered they weren’t called radio waves, because there were no radios. they were discovered as some sign of radiation. Basic sciences for big breakthrough needs to happen at a level where you’re not asking “what’s the economic gain” but you’re asking “what do we not know and where can we make progress”. So what is the LAC good for? It could be nothing other than understanding everything.

This is wholeheartedly how I feel about innovation and why we need to break it free.

2) The contribution process is very segmented: Currently, the process of fostering innovation online requires people to hop on various platforms to achieve different things. For example, founders have to go on AngelList to attract investors and raise money (most of them don’t), go to BetaList to announce their Beta, go to ProductHunt to announce their product and see it get voted up or down. I’m sorry but to me this sounds like a lot of work! I want one platform that allows me to do this and get back to building my product!

Many of those platforms are appealing individually because of their “simplicity” but collectively they add a lot of legwork to the entire process.

Founders *should* care more about the entire process. At Miigle, we do.

3) We are distracting them with “cool”: While doing the pitch practice session at LAUNCH the most popular remarks given by Jason Calacanis to every startup was either “that’s cool” or “it’s lacking the cool factor.”

Yes, we got the latter.

Don’t get me wrong, I like cool! I find my red TOMS shoes really cool but I hope they are never the sole or primary base of people judging me. In the case of LAUNCH, “cool” mostly amounted to some nice javascript effect. It felt like people sat there deaf just waiting to be wowed by some animation on the screen.

Also, a few months ago I attended a hackathon in Santa Monica where the winner was a group of men (over their 30s) who created an app where people could play a game modeled after HORSE. Their demo involved a man (over his 30s) smelling his feet freshly off his shoes and challenging his friends to do the same. They won!

Please, tell me I’m not the only person in the world who sees something wrong with this? I stormed out of that room after the judges announced them as winners. Our COO Jayne was there with me and she can verify that I predicted that they’d probably win.

They took first place over a beautiful app that allowed people to quickly tell what side effects they could have with an over the counter drug. I probably oversimplified that but you get the point.

Just like I thought it’d be awesome to build a platform that leveled the playing field for startups by allowing founders to instantly (I mean in seconds) discover people worldwide who’d be able and willing to help them on their project. This is what Miigle does, granted we got over the chicken and egg problem, of course. Silly me.

“Cool” is killing us, softly.

4) There’s a lack of relevancy with their interests: It all starts with maximizing relevancy by matching the startups and ideas with the right people. I believe that when people are interested in an idea or product, they go out of their way to help see it thrive. The problem is that currently it takes a lot of work to discover those ideas and products, unless they’re introduced to you or you stumble upon them by luck.

One of my favorite innovation stories of is about Kelvin Doe, the 14-year-old from war-torn Sierra Leone who picked electronic scraps he found on the streets and without any electrical engineering training built a radio to DJ and uplift spirits within his community. How does someone like Kelvin Doe benefit from AngelList? He doesn’t. He’s part of the fringe and there are hundreds of thousands like him.

See this video about Kelvin Doe.

However, if there’s a platform that can help me effortlessly discover people like Kelvin Doe so I can foster them and their ideas, then that’s where I’d be spending a lot of my time.Yes, not everyone is like me, but I know many people are and they’ve been waiting to be given the opportunity to make an impact.

That opportunity is Miigle.

The myopic approach we take towards innovation and are propagating around the world is costing millions of startups and entrepreneurs around the world the chance they deserve.

People want to make a difference. Giving them that opportunity is the very least we can do.

Don’t be a zombie.

Luc Berlin, Founder at Miigle.com

Image source: Terminally-Incoherent.com

 

image

Image source: Independent.co.uk

A repost of my blog post at http://blog.miigle.com 

It’s exciting times for us here at Miigle! After months of tirelessly working on our product we are finally ready to unveil the first phase to the public!

So what is Miigle?

Miigle is a social tool that makes it easier for innovators to showcase their projects or startups while automatically connecting them with people worldwide interested in contributing their knowledge, talent, money, and emotional support to see them succeed. 

To understand the power of Miigle, let’s take for example another project of ours:

Imagine building a web platform through which the public can motivate homeless people trying to turn their lives around. This is a great idea but you most likely haven’t got all the resources (knowledge, talent, or money) you may need to tackle them on your own. You need help!

Your challenge however is finding a quick and efficient way to connect with the right people interested and capable of providing that help.

That’s where Miigle comes into play!

Rather than spending all your time and energy pitching every friend, family member, and stranger you hope would be able to help, Miigle allows you to create a page for your project on our site and in seconds our technology does all the work of finding members who’d be interested in fostering you and your projects.

Instead of chasing after the help you need, we find and bring them to you. No legwork. No wasted time, money, and energy. 

Offline, this process could take you weeks, months, if not years. We make it happen in seconds! 

Our goal is to make innovating easier because the more we do it, the happier we all get. Just look at Sir Richard Branson!

Request an Invite to see Miigle work for you and help us grow our community by spreading the word!

Luc Berlin, CEO at Miigle.com

To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.

– Bessie Anderson Stanley, More Heart Throbs Volume Two in Prose and Verse Dear to the American People And by them

I’d like to think that it’s not by simple coincidence that the last post on my blog, which is nearly a year old, is about a young boy who’s fascinated me, brought me to tears, and most importantly fueled my personal motivation about improving how people innovate.

This young boy is Kelvin Doe and he’s from Sierra Leone. My serendipitous relationship with Sierra Leone started nearly a decade ago when I was introduced to their civil war through the hidden lenses of an undercover journalist.

In one of the scenes, a late teen is stopped by a group of men dressed in military uniforms and asked if he’d been part of the street kids shooting at them. The boy answers in Krio (a local language – pidgin english) that he wasn’t shooting anyone. If my memory serves me well, the men proceed to ask him what he was doing outside and he answers that he is out looking for some food. After a few more back and forth between them, they tell him to walk away and as he turns around to leave, one of the men pulls his machine gun and shoots him in the back. I can play that scene over and over in my head until I’m 90 years old and it’ll still feel like it was yesterday. I was scarred for life.

I was so moved by that image that I began writing a fictional novel about a young boy from Liberia who travels to Sierra Leone looking for his father only to get dragged into the war as a Child Soldier.

My relationship with Sierra Leone didn’t end there. A few years later I was approached by a producer to do a voiceover for the documentary Blood Diamonds by the History Channel. Diamonds from Sierra Leone have been called “Blood Diamonds” because their sale had been used to partly finance the decade long war that consumed the country. I accepted, of course.

Then earlier this year, I stumbled upon Kelvin’s story. I was moved to tears, not tears of sorrow but tears of hope. I’d been investing sweat, blood, money, and sleepless nights on Miigle for 2 years and while watching the video about Kelvin, I knew I’d found my purpose in life.

It was all worth it.

Yesterday, I got to borrow Kelvin’s story and shared it as part of my pitch for the NewMe Accelerator program LA Popup during Google for Entrepreneurs Week. Along with me was Josh Fester, my co-founding partner and CTO of Miigle. It was our first time ever introducing Miigle to an audience. We’d been working tirelessly for this moment and it was the opportunity we’d been looking for. I was a bit nervous but I knew I had to focus on the bigger picture – this wasn’t about me – this was about Kelvin and the millions of brilliant entrepreneurs here in the US and around the world who have the ideas and the will but are falling short in resources (intellectual, practical, financial, and even emotional) and are struggling to find the right people to help them pull through. THAT’S the core problem Miigle fixes.

After the pitch, the feedback from people in the audience and other entrepreneurs pitching was heartwarming. It made the past two years some of the best in my life.

I look forward to the next 60, hopefully. I can tell you one thing for sure, I’m ready.

A HUGE thanks to my friend Miyishia Slay for informing about the NewMe event as well as a LOUD SHOUT to William Ruiz, Miigle’s Director of Business and Legal Affairs who couldn’t be there with us!

Below is my 2 minutes pitch in its entirety.

Miigle Pitch – NewMe LA Popup

Meet Kelvin, he’s from Sierra Leone, a country ravaged by war for 10 years. At the age of 13, Kelvin wanted to become a radio DJ to give a voice to his community, but he couldn’t afford a radio. So he built one from trashed electronics he found on the streets.

Kelvin’s story touched the heart of a visiting MIT student who later became his mentor.

Hi I’m Luc Berlin. I’m a cofounder of Miigle and our mission is to simplify how people innovate.

Building a startup is exciting but the process sucks for most entrepreneurs because it’s difficult for them to connect with the right people for help.

And the solution to that is Miigle – a web platform that automates the connection between startups, entrepreneurs and people interested to help.

All it takes is 5 mins to create and post your project then Miigle automatically introduces it to people most likely to contribute whatever resources you need. We also provide a marketplace and analytics to measure your impact.

Our initial revenue streams are a subscription model at $20/year and advertising.

Miigle matters because there’re over 400 million entrepreneurs in the world and according to Gartner the social innovation industry will be worth $7 billion in 2 years.

Unlike AngelList and Kickstarter, Miigle allows you to proactively crowdsource different resources and market your products on the same platform.

Miigle will generate $67M in our first 3 years and will be profitable in each one.

Our team consists of a MBA Grad, a Computer Nerd and a Juris Doctor – for a combined 25 years of experience.

We’re very excited to be launching our MVP this month and are seeking $100K to invest in our technology and introductions to potential advisors.

So help us, give a fighting chance to entrepreneurs around the world, from people in this room to children like Kelvin.

Thank you.

When I think of the potential of Miigle, I see people like Kelvin Doe and millions like him all over the world. I think of the abundance of sheer brilliance that most of us will never witness. I think of mind blowing ideas that unfortunately die unnoticed. I think of us and how we can work together to make the world a better place with the power of our ideas.

Innovate my friends, innovate. The world belongs to you.

Miigle Banner Don't Be Left Out

A couple of weeks ago, I had a delightful lunch meeting with Helene Vo from TechZulu. Helene is a good friend of mine, one that I admire tremendously I must add. Our meeting was a cozy interview where I got the opportunity to talk about what entrepreneurship means to me and explain my previous statements that the entrepreneurial process globally, yes including here in the U.S. not just abroad, is broken and needs fixing.

Nearly two years ago, I began working on a startup I called Miigle (www.miigle.com), which is a global social collaboration platform that allows people to develop their ideas or grow their startups by connecting with other entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, potential product users who share their interests and want to help. Miigle was my solution to the woes, many of them unnecessary, that entrepreneurs around the world faced or experienced.

While most platforms that foster innovation are placing their bet on the funding aspect (understandably so), I’ve decided to place my bet on the people, our diversity, and collective knowledge. Let’s just say I’m a fan of long term strategies.

Sure, money matters and by no means am I trying to diminish its importance but I didn’t find it to be the key piece in this puzzle. I think ideas or projects that are developed more organically, meaning through people, where money is not the primary catalyst not only succeed but also thrive and stand the test of time. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that WE needed to rewrite the human innovation equation.

What does this mean? To find out, read my response below to Helene’s question on how I came up with the idea of Miigle.

HV: Tell me about Miigle. How did you come up with the idea?

LB: The idea of Miigle was born when trying to solve two problems:

1) How can the process of turning ideas into something concrete be made easier and quicker?

2) How can we leverage resources as a community (by community, I mean a global community of people with different talents and interests) to help entrepreneurs grow their startups?

Coming up with an idea is relatively, easy. Anyone can do it. On the other hand, executing on one can be difficult, time consuming, and frustrating, most of it needlessly so. I want to change that.

What Miigle does is make it easier for entrepreneurs to grow their ideas and startups by connecting them with people including other entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, potential product users who share their interests and want to help.  Making these connections with the right audience is key to an entrepreneur’s success. In the real world it could take you months if not years, but Miigle makes it happen automatically, quite literally in seconds, thus making the process much simpler and faster.

It starts with recognizing that nurturing an idea requires more than just money and that people who can’t be financial investors may still have a lot to offer to an entrepreneur or startups. When people look at ways to introduce their ideas to the world, they think of investors and mentors, and rarely ask the general public for their feedback and ideas. Never mind that these are the people you expect to be using your product, yet they are the most neglected. And when I say neglected, it’s not so much in terms of ‘how can I make these products better so you can buy it? ’ No. You don’t address them that as potential consumers, but rather as peers, people who have ideas of their own. This can be done through Miigle.

Read the full interview on TechZulu: Miigle up! | Interview with Luc Berlin Founder/CEO & Netrepreneur

Miigle is still in its prototype stage but the response we’ve received from the global community has been resoundingly positive. We’ve received messages from people in Latin America,  Europe, and Asia saying how they love our vision of a place where people can collaborate and contribute in their own ways to the advancement of human innovation regardless of where it takes flight and have the ability to leverage other resources such as knowledge and talent as a global community of innovators.

Miigle’s full launch is scheduled for Spring 2013 (that is if the interpretation of the Mayan calendar proves to be off).

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