Last week, I happened to come across this interesting new site called Hashtaag. It’s designed to assist startups, creative people, innovators, and individuals by getting crowdsourced help in evaluating your startup idea. The theory is that all those ideas and that extra input will reduce business risks and help you avoid very early-stage obstacles.
The startup behind Hashtaag is Collisionable Networks. It’s just eight-months old and based in New Delhi. The team graduated from the six-week long T2MA program (technology to market accelerator) last October, which is run by Intel and UC Berkeley.
Though Hashtaag’s concept seems similar to crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, Collisionable founder Paritosh Sharma likes to differentiate Hashtaag as a place for ideas, not financing or launching projects. Sharma explains:
Hashtaag is crowd helping before funding, which means startups or creative individuals facing challenges in their projects can come to our platform. And experts, evangelists, or angel investors, which we call backers, can come and help solve those obstacles and minimize risks of their projects.
Basically, we would like to act as a supply and demand platform, where in startups, creative people and others can share their problems or obstacles around their ideas; and backers can come to help solve those problems leveraging their wisdom. This helps to lower risks as well as allows startups to pitch better for their ideas and projects.
Expanding the idea
Collisionable Networks was among the 14 selected startups for Berkeley’s acceleration program, wherein it had to undertake Webex-based interactive sessions over six weeks. “During those sessions, we were asked to interview real customers and solve real problems using a prototype of our product,” says Sharma.
Since then, the startup has found an investor in form of Rahul Gupta, the founder and CEO of Right Global Infosolutions and Evista Ventures. Gupta is backing Hashtaag and has already invested Rs 500,000 (around $8,125).
Today, Coillisionable has a small five-member team. The aim is to raise $250,000 over next few months to scale up operations and grow its technology team.
In terms of a business model for Hashtaag, Sharma says he has couple of options. One is making it into an online marketplace version of its crowdsourced ideas concept. Another option is more radical, Sharma explains:
Secondly, we [could get] corporations to use Hashtaag platform through paid accredited accounts for their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. For instance, a corporation wants to build a school in Delhi, so then that company can post various challenges that the project faces, such as land, area/location, contractors, and so on.
Collisionable will launch Hashtaag’s into public beta on January 24. Ahead of that, the site is already handing out private beta invites. Around 400 unique users are visiting the platform daily and 60 percent of them are signing up. So far, about 3,000 backers have registered with Hashtaag to share their knowledge and expertise, Sharma says. Though the platform is not officially launched, already 15 startups from India, Germany, and other countries have shared their project challenges.
(Editing by Steven Millward)