A Taiwan-based startup aims to bring together a global community of entrepreneurs and ‘wantrepreneurs’ for practical, interactive courses and training sessions.
Every year, over 600,000 new online startups launch on to the market. Unfortunately, less than 10% of them survive. What if this percentage could be raised by bringing together all the entrepreneurs who are chasing success so they can interact? This is the idea that prompted Edward Liu, former CEO of Groupon Taiwan, to create Startitup, a virtual accelerator. Startitup already has over 1,500 startups from across the globe on its books, at various levels of development. What is special about the site however is that it has also set out to attract the ‘wantrepreneur’ community.
Wantrepreneurs are people who have a strong desire to get into business and who are not short of good ideas either, but are nevertheless struggling to carry them forward. “They may be full-time employees who simply wish to use their free time to start something up,” explains Edward Liu, pointing out that they are “especially numerous in places like Taiwan and the countries of Eastern Europe, where local policies do not always encourage startups.” So the idea of bringing together a virtual community sharing best practice at a time when they are still ‘lean’ startups really makes sense. Accordingly, the site offers a practical, interactive approach, providing a learning experience similar to that of Codeacademy, an e-learning platform set up to teach computer programming. And apart from transmitting basic knowledge, Startitup’s aim is to help mentor both entrepreneurs and wannabees at each stage of their development.
E-building platform and launchpad for ambitions
How Startitup works is that wantrepreneurs who register with the site have the opportunity to follow courses on acquiring their first customers, Search Engine Optimisation techniques, content marketing, etc and are then encouraged to take their first step into business and apply what they have learned in real life. At a second stage they are asked to provide feedback on their experiences for other members of the community. They are also invited to join a forum where they can exchange ideas with their peers, request advice and seek business partners. Where Startitup differs from Startup Plays, a site which sells detailed scenario guides on various aspects of entrepreneurship, is that it sees itself not just as an e-learning platform but as an e-building platform. Its current business model is the Freemium approach -a free trial for three days followed by a monthly subscription of $25. Further down the road Liu is planning to invite experienced entrepreneurs to edit and develop the content of the courses, thus transforming them into a sort of wikipedia for startups. Another route that Liu is seriously thinking of going down is to include investors on the platform so as to facilitate the financing of startups whose projects are highlighted on the site.