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This is just a mental exercise. I'm not planning to execute the idea I describe below, but it seems as if it would work.

Suppose I offer all of you a chance to become partners in a business whose only function is to generate rapid, massive interest in new start-ups that would otherwise have trouble getting attention. In return for our help, we'd ask the start-ups to assign small equity positions to our organization. Each of us would share evenly in the spoils.

I (or my minions) would filter through the start-up offers and pick only the ones that appear to have huge potential if the public takes notice. When I mention a start-up on this blog, I'll ask all members to check it out, download the app, sign up for the service online, and talk it up on social media. I'd only choose start-ups that don't charge for the basic offering. And I'd try to pick things that seem relevant to all of you.

You'd be free to ignore any start-up that looked dumb in your opinion. That way you don't have to bend your personal ethical standards and recommend something you don't love.

If this business model works, I would expect to attract an ever-growing population of new members to our organization. We don't want the new recruits diluting our existing equity, so we'll only give the newbies a share of future business, not past deals. The more people in the group, the more power we'll have, and the more equity we can ask for.

There would be a big free-rider problem with this model. There's nothing to stop you from signing up and doing nothing to help. So we'd need a way to check that you participate. Perhaps we need our own app that sits between each of you and the sign-up pages for the start-ups. Or maybe we register all of the user names we use for social media (but not our passwords) so the start-ups can cross-reference their customer sign-ups and "likes" against our list. This part of the idea needs work, but seems doable.

Would this business model work?

 
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Aug 5, 2013
So, what kind of equity position in this new Enterprise of yours can I get if I talk it up on Facebook and Twitter?
 
 
Aug 5, 2013
The way I read this is that you are asking me to get paid to surf the web. Really nothing new compared to what I do today expect for the payment part. Even today, I speak highly of a new app/venture/process/whatever and am largely ignored. What makes this any different other than you're nearly guaranteed to start a trending topic in the Twitterverse or some place.
 
 
Aug 5, 2013
And now that I think about it wont there be a big temptation towards dishonesty here? If we own a piece of a startup well be inclined to talk it up more than it deserves.
 
 
Aug 5, 2013
How much interest could this model generate in a new start-up? How much interest does a promising start up need to get started? Someone should do the math and see if its worth it for a startup to give equity up to us for telling our friends about it.
 
 
Aug 5, 2013
Crowd-sourced investment firm?

Could work, but, as with all investment firms, it's all about investing at the right time in the right firm and so on.
 
 
Aug 5, 2013
Count me in. This is a brilliant idea.

Let me know where I need to deposit some seed capital.
 
 
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Aug 5, 2013
Of course it would/could work. You probably have 50 readers already who think their startup would be a great candidate. And you've got a large enough audience to start generating buzz. You've probably even got a few readers like me who would even invest their own time helping build it. So build it.
 
 
 
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