How to Become the Next Facebook Guy [Video]
Have you ever had a really great idea that you just knew would make a millionaire, if you could just figure out how to bring it to market? You might be sitting on the next great social networking site, but unlike Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, you're not surrounded by Harvard brains who will help you develop it and maybe even go on to sue you for it. Once you're worth billions, who cares?
Well, a website has just launched that can help you find out if your dreams could become viable (and profitable) realities. It helps you find experts to develop the idea, and might even provide you with investors to fund it. Or, if you're an expert or consultant, you can go on this site and potentially get paid for your expertise, working from home, at any hour of the day or night.
The site is called Ahhha (pronounced "ah-ha"), and it connects like-minded individuals with mutually beneficial skill sets so they can work together to produce a product, and split the profit according to their efforts. It uses something site founder and creator Matt Crowe calls "social ideation." He sat down to talk about it with AOL on This Week in Careers.
"If Facebook is social networking and Twitter is social media, then Ahha is social ideation," explains Matt. "We're able to use the Internet and algorithms, as well as the platform that we have, to essentially allow the crowd to 'idea-ate,'" or come up with and develop ideas.
Your lightbulb moment
The New York Times used the example of a tortilla chip that doesn't get soggy when you dip it in salsa. You put the idea out there on Ahhha and people who frequent the site say, "OMG! That's a great idea!" Then someone who knows about food chemistry says "I can come up with a way to make that work!" You can then collaborate with that person and get others to weigh in on your progress as often as you like.
If your idea is popular enough, number crunchers can choose to weigh in, and if they can come up with a viable way to make it work, investors will enter into the picture as well. Everyone gets a share of the eventual profit, depending on how much and what type of work they did, and Ahhha gets a share for providing the platform. Even if you only come up with the original idea, you could get as much as 10 percent.
If 10 percent or less sounds like a pittance for coming up with the original idea, remember, "Ideas are cheap, but execution is rare," according to the Ahhha website. Crowe cites Thomas Edison: "Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."
Making your idea pay
Basically, Crowe says, it's a way to potentially make hundreds of thousands of dollars "with little to no effort at zero risk, and there's only a potential upside from interacting with the Web site." Like a 'Shark Tank' for ideas online? "I like to call it the 'American Idol' for ideas," he says. Some ideas get voted off; others go on to get huge contracts and mega fame.
This website is Crowe's version of an Ahhha moment. He started with virtually nothing more than an idea, collaborated with others, and got what's rumored to be seven-figure funding for it, so you know that others believed in it as well. Crowe appears to be young, but he's been a successful entrepreneur, with his share of ups and downs, for 12 years.
"I started a landscaping company at age 16, began very small, then by the time I was 19 it was the largest landscaping company in that metro area, and I sold it for a substantial amount of money," he recalls. He finished high school a couple years early and took college courses before he graduated, but he never officially graduated with a college degree.
Learning from failure
"I think a college education is good for some people, just not for all," Crowe explains. "For me, my style is learning from failure. I learn by doing, not by putting my head in a book."
From landscaping, Crowe went into commercial real estate and started doing large-scale development. "My family was in commercial construction management, a company that's been established for 152 years," he says. "I put my hands into that and learned a lot, but that really wasn't where my heart was. I always knew that I would go build another company."
Crowe continues, "As I started building more companies and investing into companies, I learned about private equity, venture capital, investing, how to build a company and how to build a brand, as well as how to employ people and manage HR -- all the business things that I don't like to do. I like the creative part a lot better."
Crowe is at the point now where he can hire other people to do all those things. "Any smart business owner hires people to surround him that make up for his own weaknesses," he says, and he's hiring the best computer techs he can find at the moment.
They're all about helping people make money from their ideas, whether they involve originating a product or service or helping develop someone else's. His goal is for Ahhha to become a verb, like Google. When you look something up, you Google it. When you have a great idea, Crowe wants you to "Ahhha" it.
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Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.