Founding a startup is rife with challenges one will never face within an established company. That’s part of the charm and potential pitfall all wrapped up in one package. A recent news story got me thinking about how important it is to get the right advice and support before signing on the dotted line with another party, no matter how much you may need the proffered help or services to get your company off the ground.
When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg hired Paul Ceglia early on to do some development work for him, Zuckerberg’s lawyer says that the founder in no way planned on giving away the farm. That Ceglia was hired in the story that is now unfolding seems to be well documented. What remains to be sorted out by an army of lawyers and judges is whether the contract gave 84% of Facebook to Ceglia.
Now I’ll leave the speculation of what really happened to the bloggers, speculators and media. The point I’d like to focus on is how expedient it can be to give away percentages of a startup when it is all we have to offer. Some trades may be worth what is gained – such as taking on venture capital (under the right conditions for the right reasons), but the risk of giving away potential value for a temporary need can be fatal to long-term payoffs.
So, how does a startup get things done without giving away the farm? Crowdsourcing is one option I’ve implemented that has not only helped grow my startup organically but has also allowed me to give back to the community as well.
Early on it became apparent that I needed help accumulating accurate, timely content for the APPCityLife iPhone app city guide. Some of the research and coding I could do on my own, but I was only one person needing to wear many hats to get my startup off the ground. After recent conversations with a professor at the Anderson School of Management in the University of New Mexico (UNM) and the web manager for Albuquerque Public Schools (APS), we came up with a plan that will not only provide relevant, fresh content for the APPCityLife iPhone app but will also open up one of today’s hottest new technologies to students of all levels.
Beginning this fall, my startup will work with students from UNM and APS to provide hands-on experience in an emerging technology. We’re still working out the details of how this new program will work, but with each planning session I get more excited. The potential for rewards on both sides of this equation are high. Imagine being a college or high school student with the opportunity to add iPhone content development to your resume. Sharing access to this new technology is of real value to local educational institutions. And for each city where I am able to re-create these alliances, the content will be richer and more relevant to users.
Cost to the schools for offering this new technology access to students? Zero. Cost to APPCityLife for creating new content? Zero. Benefit to everyone involved? Invaluable.