Crowdsourcing, Techstars, and How This Matters to Our METRO Accelerator

Are you familiar with the concept of ‘crowdsourcing’? Ever wondered when it started and what it’s about?

Generally – whether coming together virtually or physically, in paid or unpaid fashion – crowdsourcing is when groups of folks form to accomplish a joint purpose an individual alone could not.

Turns out, those basic ‘crowd wins’ principles are a core ingredient to successful corporate acceleration. Our own METRO Accelerator is a prime example.

Every day throughout our programs, we attract and enable a whole host of diverse contacts, tools and mechanisms. The purpose? To best support our startups in building some of the best customer solutions based on four core crowdsourcing principles:

  1. Afford a joint platform for common minds and purpose
  2. Reward experimentation and help dispose of non-productive stuff
  3. Shield from inadvertent mistakes and paths best not taken
  4. Optimize marketplace commercialization and funding to expedite success

About 10 years ago, METRO Accelerator partner Techstars got really good at fostering crowdsourcing advantages. Their Boulder-program, a Colorado-based accelerator was among the first to combine ‘wisdom of the crowd’ benefits with early-stage investing.

At the time an entirely new concept, rather than leaving make-or-break decision to a few select investors, Techstars instead began inviting hundreds, literally hundreds of experts and potential customers to jointly mentor Techstars’ growing group of young upstarts. The sole job of these mentors is to probe, to challenge, to encourage new ideas. With a crowd of mentors large enough – et voila – the best ideas come bubbling up, providing investors such as METRO with added confidence in their decision-making.

Looking back, effective crowdsourcing took to building productive societies, viable economic systems, and afforded us quality of life often via innovative (previously inconceivable) new technologies. In other words, throughout history, major societal accomplishments have always relied on smart group action – they never materialized via one individual alone.

Today, early-stage acceleration relies on the same ‘wisdom of crowds’ principles.

Inside our METRO Accelerator we see every day how this helps drive positive change and opportunities.

If you care to share, comment, or otherwise engage around this post, join the conversation on Twitter (@andreaswuerfel) or drop me a line on LinkedIn.

About this series: Plenty around us relies on ‘digital’. METRO’s own wholesale and retail industries are adopting to new technology trends. As more of our customers’ customers rely on available digital solutions, the way business is conducted is changing rapidly. Our ‘communities of innovation’ series seeks to help explain this transitory path. Not to decipher the underlying technologies, but rather to introduce you to tomorrow’s shapeshifters today, and to provide insights into the ‘communities of innovation’ that make change happen.

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