Small Business Spotlight of the Week: Crowdegy Amanda | November 16th, 2011
But in all seriousness, today we bring you another crowdsourcing site: Crowdegy. If you’ve ever wished you could troubleshoot problems your business is having with people who have something of value to say, you have found your web service. It’s an open call to the world for advice. Crowdegy will help you organize your questions– and the answers you receive– to help you make the best decision for your company. All answers are kept anonymous, so you know you’re getting honest feedback… for better or for worse.
Co-founder, Jon, chatted with me a little bit about harnessing the power of many:
How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?
We help organizations/groups to evaluate how they are doing and to make better decisions about their strategic direction – conveniently and affordably.
There’s an old adage: “all of us are smarter than one of us.” Most organizations aren’t fully taking advantage of what their individual members know because it takes a lot of time to sit down with each individual and ask them for their perspective. Our software lets bosses and group leaders to tap the wisdom of their employees, coworkers, and customers more efficiently than ever before.
What made you use crowdSPRING?
It didn’t hurt that you had the word “crowd” in your name. Your UI is also very clean, which I appreciate. Plus you offer a wide variety of services, including industrial design.
What are some industry specific challenges you faced?
People aren’t used to thinking about strategic planning this way. They assume strategic planning has to be a manual process that takes a lot of time, money and meetings. Until now, they were right. If the planning process wasn’t expensive and painful, you weren’t doing a very thorough job. Our software upends that, but changing a paradigm is always a challenge.
What was your biggest learning curve/experience?
Good UI is so hard and so %^&#$! important. Going it alone is also hard. Carefully chosen business partner(s) helps a lot.
What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?
One night in 2007 during a time when I was struggling with a particularly difficult section of code (multiple nested recursive calls, aka rabbit holes within rabbit holes) a Black Widow spider crawled into my bed and bit me near my navel. How it got there or where it went I have no idea. After jumping online and realizing that it probably wasn’t fatal, my next thought was that I simply couldn’t die before finishing this part of the software. So instead of going to the emergency room like a sensible person, I spent the rest of the night in front of the computer doing involuntary stomach crunches while regularly crashing the server with infinite loops. I finally perfected the code around 4am and went to [a different] bed. I suppose the story would have been better if I had expired while uploading the final code, but then who would have told the tale?
If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
I would have gone to the emergency room. I also would have spent more time and money on the UI early on.
How do you see your company growing in the future?
Our software isn’t just for companies that want to a do-it-yourself product. Our software eliminates a lot of the rote work in strategic planning, but many people are still intimidated by the strategic planning process. Consultants and other specialists can bring knowledge, experience and reassurance to the table, and our software can make their lives easier too. Partnering with strategic planning consultants will be important for our growth.
Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.
Seek professional help early and often.
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