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?