What is the name of the company and/or product? Where is it found online?
What problem does this solve and what was the “aha” moment?
Our “aha” moment was realizing that many other people have had that “you know what I wish would open there?“ conversation. Reading our community forums, we saw people debating what they wanted to move into a vacant space. But the discussions often ended with a final question: “Do we actually have any way to do something about this?” We designed HoodStarter so you could finally do something about it.
HoodStarter helps neighbors shape their communities by giving them a platform to tell small businesses what their neighborhood wants to support. It will also allow entrepreneurs to find friendly neighborhoods where their new business might be most successful. It’s part community forum and part crowdfunding site, like a mashup of match.com and kickstarter.
What is the full launch/release date planned?
Who is on the team?
- Justin Ley – Co-founder
- David Berglund – Co-founder
- Jason Goux CCO (Chief Collaboration Officer)
- Chris Nelson – developer
- Tim Drabandt – designer
What is the specific technology or combination of technologies is used? Is there any IP?
We built HoodStarter on Catarsse, an open source Ruby on Rails platform that we’ve customized into a stellar community-focused crowdfunding experience.
What is the size/scope of your market and how will you scale?
During the beta period we want to be nimble, so we’re focusing on the Twin Cities and surrounding metro area. This way whatever fails we can rebuild quickly. From there we envision a Local Collaboration Officer in clusters of neighborhoods or whole cities who can take the reins and spread the word.
What is your revenue model?
When neighborhoods successfully find and fund an entrepreneur, we take a small percentage, just like any crowd funding site. We’ll also partner with commercial property realtors to find locations perfect for HoodStarter.
What is your greatest strength?
Experience. Everyone on the team is an entrepreneur or small business owner. We’ve created digital products for big corporations and small start-ups, and we all live in the hoods we’re trying to improve. We combine passion with a complementary set of skills, which means we work together efficiently and we’re having a lot of fun. In a sense, we’re not just the design team, we’ll also be HoodStarter’s first clients — if something isn’t working and we’re not enjoying ourselves, we know how to change directions.
What is your biggest weakness?
Building momentum. There’s no clear path to follow. There are some good leads, and certainly the indiegogo and kickstarter parts are well documented, but what we are doing requires working with real, local neighborhoods. Getting a critical mass of neighbors to participate will be an exciting challenge.
What is one resource you could use that would take this to the next level?
Right now we’re looking for a publicity team — if there are any marketing people out there who want grassroots experience launching a startup, get in touch with us. We might pay you in Happy Hours, but we guarantee it won’t be boring.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The HoodStarter team is really excited to work with Twin Cities neighborhoods this summer. We know there are some dedicated neighbors and eager small business that just don’t know how to find and support each other…yet.