Millennials are the future generation and rightly so. Nowadays, millennials have grown in terms of awareness about various issues and more open to revolutionary ideas than previous generations. They also are more likely to invest their time in promising new start-ups which brings us to our point of discussion- crowdholding.com. This is a brand new venture the likes of which haven’t seen before. Crowdholding is based on a revolutionary new idea which may change how businesses operate in the future. It is investment of time rather than money. Customers can reap benefits directly from the business as a part of the revenue generated.
This new idea is fit specifically for the millennial generation. It requires an active participation from the customers of the business, forging an interdependent relationship between the business and the consumer. Start-ups require an early customer base while customers are constantly looking for ways to influence businesses so that their needs are satisfied. Crowdholding solves this age old problem by bringing in customers to participate, who, investment their time. Business on the other hand will agree to share 1% of their revenue with the customers in the form of 1 million crowdshares. These shares go live once the business begins making revenue and after one year expire and get recycled back to the business. The way it works is that customers are awarded crowdshares for their participation in the business which may include being part of focus groups and reviews. Thus, businesses can have a closer relationship with their customers.
Ethan Clime who has a background in Business Administration is the CEO behind this venture. He developed his business idea along with colleagues, Aleks Bozhinov and Henry Ashley-Cooper. Like any other start-up, Crowdholding have also faced funding issues. This however did not faze the three men as they were fully invested into their idea and are working ardently. In an age where automation is taking over jobs, Crowdholding is a different kind of venture which is looking to create more jobs. Lets Meet the Man & Mind Behind this wonderful Venture…
1. What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
The name of our venture is also the name of the concept we have invented: the aspect of allowing the public to co-create with businesses and share in their success. Thus, the name Crowdholding stuck.
2. Who is your target Audience/clients?
Our target group are millennials, people between ages 18-35. This is the current age group that are more open to crowdsourcing. We will be attracting users who are also active on websites such as Reddit and Quora.
3. Where is your venture based (city, state, country) at & What are your geographical target areas?
Our company is registered in the UK and operates in Prague, Czech Republic. We target the U.S and India, both of which represent the largest crowdsourcing users in the world.
4. What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
Start-ups often lack validation and struggle to find early customers. In addition, start-ups have to give up ownership to access capital and the public cannot influence the development of their favorite products. What we are doing is creating what we call a C2B application. Why spend a huge chunk of your revenue on ads when you can share a piece of it with your customer, who won’t just help you with feedback and ideas but will also promote the business because if you succeed, the users succeed.
Crowdholding connects the crowd with entrepreneurs, allowing them to give feedback and ideas for future revenue. We enable people to invest time rather than money. Basically, 1% of revenue equals 1 million shares, i.e. crowdshares. Entrepreneurs then post tasks on an upvoting forum with each task having a specific amount of crowdshares as its reward. When a task is completed, the crowdshares are distributed out by the ranking of the comments upvoted by the crowd. As of now, in beta, crowdshares last one year, starting the day an entrepreneur/company begins making revenue. In a year, the crowdshares are recycled back to the business to be used again for future work.
5. Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it come to an existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?
The idea came about when I was reading the book Bold by Peter Diamandis, in particular, after reading one section where he discussed a case study from 1916 regarding Henry Ford.
That year, Ford wanted to give back his company’s dividends ($40 million) to his employees and to lower the cost of his cars for his customers. However, the Dodge Brothers who owned 10% of Ford Motors decided that they deserved the money as shareholders and sued Ford.
In court, Ford said that giving back to the employees and customers wasn’t just an ethical approach to society, but would , in fact, reate better long term value of the company. Virtually, more customers would be able to afford his cars, and his employees would prefer to buy his cars overall, increasing the stock for the shareholders. However, his case lost in court and his vision of redistributing his money to the people who were the most important to him (employees and customers) was never realized.
I believe the time to begin this new approach to business is now, especially when we are seeing industries being automated every day, which is leading to fewer and fewer jobs in the future. Allowing people to choose who they want to work for and what skills they want to develop is a future I believe will improve the economic landscape.
6. Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
As of now, we have a number of competitors who are indirect. However, a recent company called Crowdraising.co has become our first direct competitor, which is making a leap into this new type of industry where people invest “time” not money. We expect more competitors to come into the market this year alone, and, in fact, we encourage it. This type of industry has so much potential that there is room for more players. And here at Crowdholding, we want to help lead the way.
7.How did you identify your co-founder? Tell us something about your co-founder/s
Myself, Aleks and Henry have been working on the idea for a year. We all went in full-time starting December. During the early days, Myself and Aleks had been working on a side start-up idea during the time Aleks worked in Google and myself in school. Soon after I met Henry working for a different start-up.
Originally all three of us began collaborating around an idea we called Teckobag, an eco-friendly tech integrated backpack. However, during this time, the idea Crowdholding came about, and we immediately pivoted.
8. How did you hire your first team members? What skills do you want in your employees/team?
Back in December, it was just us 3 co-founders and a part time developer. With no money and no investors showing any interest, we decided to prove our idea internally. Within two months, we recruited 18 volunteers. And our company is currently at 26 people, with a focus on growth hacking and content marketing, along with 5 developers. What we are doing is not just your typical start-up. All of us are inspired by our company’s vision and us millennials are sick of the status quo in business and we want change.
9. What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
The crowdshare is an asset we call “revenue futures.” The possibilities are endless on how to use it. We plan in the future to even allow businesses to raise capital by selling this asset in addition to allowing crowdholders to trade it, creating a new secondary market.
10. Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years?
It’s predicted that ⅓ of jobs will be automated in 10 years due to the rise in exponential technology. We hope to be one of the businesses that in fact creates jobs rather than replacing them. We see a future where people choose who they want to work for, not the other way around.
11. What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
We can’t bootstrap this forever. Our goal is to acquire a seed round investment in the next 3 months. Currently we are in beta, and our goals is to have 5000 users and 50 start-ups in 4 months. At this time, the beta will end and everything goes live. Meaning, crowdshares will go from virtual to valuable.
12. Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
Yes, we have received a pre-seed of $33K
13. What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?
When we did pitch competitions during the early days, judges struggled to understand the concept. To them, allowing businesses to share future revenue for feedback and ideas was too abstract. But what was fascinating was that the audience was getting it. I would have people come up to me afterwards, these people wanting to learn more, genuinely excited about the idea. In fact, this is how we recruited some of our first start-ups on the application.
14. What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
Please refer to question 8. This was our biggest challenge we overcame. Usually a start-up gives up at this stage. But we knew what we were working on needs to be seen through. It’s only a matter of time that someone else will do this. I believe the evolution of business will head this way. Open innovation is the future.
15. Are you married, single or in a relationship?
I’m dating, but haven’t found the right one yet.
16. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
For me, it’s writing music on my guitar. It’s meditation. It keeps me mentally healthy.
17. What’s your favorite food & holiday destination?
For me, living in Prague feels like a holiday. I have friends from all over the world, and I soak up the ideologies and ideas from many perspectives. Living in an international city allows you to explore who you are. In fact, our team has 12 different nationalities, which is extremely important to me. Diversity allows you to thrive because everyone brings the best attributes from their culture. For food, I am still a sucker of coastal sea food from the state of Maine where I grew up. Lobster and raw oysters never get old for me.
18. Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
I would have to say it’s Peter Diamandis. It’s his books that have really driven this vision.
19. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
It’s interesting you ask this question because the trend for millennials is becoming more and more entrepreneurial and I believe you will see this rise even more. However, some people want security though, and taking risks is not meant for everyone. But I see corporate businesses in the future really focusing on creating their own businesses through open innovation and allowing employees to lead these businesses as owners. This is exactly how I want to see Crowdholding involve into.
20. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I had to ponder on this question for a bit and it made me realize I wouldn’t change anything. Everything I have done in the past has led to this moment. My attitude of life is to learn from both the positives and negatives of the past. And my current ideology wouldn’t be the same if I made a change.
21. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
I remember reading an article a bit back, and in that article it was said that life involves 5 activities: family, friends, work, sleep and exercise. If you want to build a rocketship i.e. start-up, you need to give up two of them. In a way, this is correct for me. I have found myself focusing on work, sleep and friends. The end goal is that when you can finally build capacity within the rocketship you created, you can bring in the two remaining activities.
22. Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
Too many times, I’ve seen start-ups fail because the founders never went in 100%. If you are an entrepreneur and find yourself still attached to a side job or school, you need to realize that in order for your start-up to work you need to take the risk and go full time. If you truly believe in what you’re doing, you need to be 100% invested.
23. Tell us something about your education & family background.
A background in business administration and most recently a drop out from a Master’s degree in International Management. Both my mother and father are Americans, and I grew up in the state of Maine.
24. What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains?
In a way, finally karma is worth something. By contributing to businesses through co-creation you earn from their success. Right now companies spend 10% of their revenue on ads, 16% on R&D. What if you gave just a piece of that to the people most important to you? Your customer. In fact, these customers that co-create, are your focus group too.
25. What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Start-ups today?
Validating and finding your early customer I see is the first major problem. Second is funding. This is why Crowdholding wants to help start-ups solve these problems.
26. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
The question is, what is success? If success is money, I’d say no. Following my dreams, I’d say I am right on track.
27.Please share complete name, address, phone number, email id & website of Your Business & Contact Person along with the pictures of your founder, co-founder, team(if-any) as well as your logos.
39/5 Rubesova, Praha 120 00 CZ
Contact: [email protected]