The idea that passing an idea through “the crowd” will produce a better result has a strong grip on today’s technological climate. Rather than attempting to build a new product in a cone of silence, entrepreneurs are encouraged to seek the wisdom of the crowds, whether that’s via social media or crowdsourcing platforms.
The Valley being the place that it is, startups have formed with the express purpose of helping other startups or entrepreneurs get off the ground. Some, like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, allow the crowds to vote with their wallets. Others, like Quirky, put their audience to work and make them an integral part of developing the product. As I wrote in my post about Quirky’s $68 million round:
Reid Hoffman compared entrepreneurship to jumping off a cliff, saying “in order to jump off a cliff, you kind of have to believe you can assemble a plane on the way down.” Kickstarter offers a way for entrepreneurs to purchase the plane’s wings and engine – Quirky guides them through the process of putting those parts together.
AppStori, a New York-based crowdsourcing platform, brings Quirky’s “refine and develop the idea first, worry about money later” ideology to app development. Now the company is announcing a new deal with Millennial Media that will offer eligible app developers $500 in cash and $500 in advertising credit, as well as a “mentor” that will guide the app’s production.
According to AppStori cofounder Arie Abecassis, the partnership with Millennial Media is exactly what the company will be looking for moving forward. Offering small app developers a platform – and, in Millennial’s case, a specific person – to bounce ideas off of will, hopefully, lead to better apps and a better experience selling those apps. The idea, he says, is that partners will be able to watch and participate in innovative app development – and, in Millennial’s case, potentially gain a few advertising customers that may not have otherwise used the solution.
The most interesting aspect of the partnership is the fact that Millennial Media will be hooking each eligible developer up with a mentor. This seems to fly in the face of AppStori’s purported goal of using its community to refine ideas, but a proper mentor can complement AppStori’s community in all the right places. Even the best teams tend to have a leader, and if developers attempt to please everyone at once, they’ll probably never get anything done. By offering a mentor, AppStori and Millennial Media have introduced a tie-breaker that can provide guidance when AppStori’s community doesn’t agree or isn’t qualified to help.
It’s this focus on mentorship that allows AppStori to become something more than just a “Kickstarter for apps,” as Abecassis says it has been called in the past. Kickstarter is good for raising money, as evidenced by projects that have raised millions of dollars, but it doesn’t provide the wisdom of the crowds in a way that can significantly affect product development. Instead of (only) focusing on the capital, AppStori wants to focus on the generation and evolution of ideas.
The hope is that this will improve the quality of apps that enter the App Store (or the Windows Store, or the Appstore, or whatever). As someone who has written about approximately 1 million note-taking and/or weather apps, AppStori’s goal of promoting new, innovative product ideas could break the chain of monotony.