Crowdsourcing: A Must Have Strategy for Tech Startups

This guest column is by Ashish Gupta, Founder & CEO, Emvento

In today’s digital age, we are connected more than ever before, thanks to social media, eCommerce, review websites, mobile phones. Customers are providing feedback, reviews and comparison of products and services; these comments are valuable for companies to improve their offerings. All organizations strive for customer’s feedback for their new and or existing goods and services but how many companies do think about engaging their customers at the innovation stage or product development phase?

Typically, an organization creates a product based on the market research, held by few experts who may or may not be the consumer of the product. Firms remain cautious in engaging communities at a very early stage for obvious reasons, sharing a new idea seems risky, unnatural, overhead cost, unknown operations, and administrative expenses. These concerns reasonable but excluding your customer’s viewpoints means losing opportunities.

It is impossible for an organization to match the scale and diversity of a crowd communities. Also, the motivation factors are more intrinsic which can help in achieving far more creative results. Companies like Apple, Google turned to developer communities to make their app store a powerhouse of innovation. Companies like Local Motors and Threadless has taken it to all new level. Local Motors turned to crowd communities from ideation, designing to building the cars.

Digitalization has transformed the crowdsourcing, and it is getting easier and cost effective. Furthermore, online platforms have become refined making it simpler to create, manage, collaborate, and support among shared workers. In essence, every organization should use crowdsourcing to solve the innovation hurdles.

crowdsourcing

Let’s look at few key crowdsourcing ideas,

Crowd Contests

It is the easiest and most successful and most widely used technique to solve specific problems. Identify a problem, accept solutions, offer a reward and broadcast an invitation.

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Good for: new product, product development, testing products, identifying issues, generating outside ideas

Where to run it: Social media websites, your site, independent landing pages, third party websites.

Collaborative Community

Just like Yelp and Amazon reviews, ask customers to review or compare your product with competitor products, encourage them by providing them badges or cash rewards for answering questions posed by customers.

Good for: Customers reviews, FAQ, sharing information, sharing and building knowledge.

Where to run it:  preferably on your website and social media sites.

Freelance Labor

Not all companies have experts in all the domains all the time, instead of hiring a new resource for a small project try to visit the third party intermediaries to find the right resources across the pool of professionals.

Good for: Short term projects, new technology ideation, data entry and validation.

Where to run it: Third-party intermediaries such as Elance, oDesk, Guru, Freelancer, and CloudCrowd

CrowdFunding

Crowdfunding is a powerful for running disaster relief campaigns, fundraising for a project, startup kickstart and ideations.

Good for: Product kickstart, new technology ideation, proof of concept

Where to run it: Third-party intermediaries such as Kickstarter, Gofundme, Indegogo.

In addition to organizing contests, engaging communities and hiring freelancers, companies can use can take a more internal approach to idea generation and creativity, like “jams,” idea marketplace and personal creative projects will increase the scope for innovation and exploration inside companies.

For centuries communities helped kick-start industries, what has changed now is technology. With the rapid grown of social media platforms and mobile phones crowdsourcing is easier, manageable and cost effective. As Steven Johnson said, “Innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect.”

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