In 2007, I met with approximately 150 entrepreneurs, worked more closely with about 30 (based on the quality of the idea but also the chemistry with the entrepreneur), and I have now narrowed my focus down to a handful that I am convinced are going to make it in 2009. The typical 1% selection rate that you also see with VCs or Angels, which inspired me to figure out something better to help entrepreneurs at large - an open model allowing peer support and transforming what is today a competitive process into a collaborative one.
In 2008, I started Entrepreneur Commons to do just that.
The Entrepreneur Commons idea is very simple: on one side provide mentors to entrepreneurs to help them mature their business plan, and on the other side provide financing resources for those entrepreneurs whose business idea is mature enough. What is new with this is the combination of mentoring and financing in the specific context of entrepreneurs in developed countries. The model was inspired by the success of Microfinance and Mutual Guarantee Funds in Europe, which are proven sustainable models. As a result, Entrepreneur Commons is a not-for-profit for and by entrepreneurs including a platform hosting a social network of entrepreneurs and which manages a seed investment fund offering loans to startups.
- Entrepreneur Commons has a first chapter in San Francisco, with a handful of entrepreneurs meeting once a month to share their successes and discuss their business issues, and we have had interest from entrepreneurs in other states (Texas, Florida, New York, Germany, France, Israel) who are considering starting similar efforts.
- Entrepreneur Commons has already received soft commitments from investors interested in the concept.
- Entrepreneur Commons was invited to present at Socap08, as a platform that is especially useful to Social Entrepreneurs who are typically left out of the classic funding processes currently offered to entrepreneurs.
- The Entrepreneur Commons concept was submitted as part of the idea contest running on Change.org, and collected 339 votes to finish 7th out of 106 ideas submitted in the Social Entrepreneurship category.