BBC BLOGS - dot.Maggie
« Previous | Main | Next »

Making that Ahhha moment pay

Maggie Shiels | 09:16 UK time, Wednesday, 6 April 2011

It's an old adage that ideas are ten a penny and the hard part is actually making them real. Well, one Silicon Valley start-up reckons it can solve that part of the equation and help people bursting with what they think is the next big thing turn it into a business or just make some cash on the side.

AHHHA logo is the brainchild of entrepreneur and business advisor Matt Crowe. He calls it social ideation:

"Like a lot of engineers, I saw an inefficient process when it comes to the currency of ideas and an opportunity to do things better," he says.

"Ideas are cheap. Execution is rare. The execution is the hard part. What does your idea look like? What colour should it be? Where should it be sold? How much should it cost? We can divvy all that up with our community and smart algorithms."

Mr Crowe says he believes Ahhha is part of an evolution occurring in the social space:

"Facebook gives us social networking with the intrinsic value of having friends and pictures. The next state was Twitter which was really creating a personal brand for yourself and creating value that way. Then there's Zynga with social gaming which is basically people paying money to buy virtual swords and fight with people.

"I believe where we found our footing is with social ideation and helping people make hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of real money. At Ahhha we are collecting ingenuity."

In short Mr Crowe says Ahhha is a platform to create, generate, develop and communicate new ideas and use the wisdom of the crowd to turn that idea into a business or a real product.

Here's how it works: First, enter your idea on the home page. Upload images, descriptions, a YouTube video, then hit submit and sit back as other users chime in on perfecting your idea. As the community becomes involved, bringing together designers, engineers and funders, the web app tracks each product's progress.

"I've seen good ideas not come to fruition, but with Ahhha, we streamline the process," says Mr Crowe.

"If ideas are liked by the crowd and have good content around them, essentially we can identify companies that would be interested in them as a product or service. Our algorithms allow us to understand that path to monetisation."

Mr Crowe says Ahhha has mapped 200 paths to monetisation, with more being added every day. Some of them include licensing, securing patents and the use of online marketplaces. He reckons that about 20% of ideas will be successful.

There are other sites that also work along similar lines helping people finance their ideas. They range from Kickstarter to Quirky, Spigit and corporate versions like Toyota's Ideas for Good and General Electric's eco challenge. Mr Crowe said they have only had limited success because they are "super niche" and his approach is "broad and wide":

"Ahhha accepts an innumerable amount of ideas from right across the board - from time machines and world peace, to innovative solar technology and everything in between. We are creating the market of ideas."

But of course, not every idea is a good idea and Mr Crowe says that is why the crowdsourcing element is crucial in this process along with data that will tell Ahhha what will work or not work:

"The data comes from algorithms we have developed and from the users. We are able to take a wide breadth of data and knowledge from different areas and different individuals and apply that to gauge the chances of an idea taking off."

The person with the bright idea is not the only one who can make money. Ahhha has put in place a system that allows all those who contribute to making that idea great the ability to collect points which can in turn be redeemed for cash, products and services.

"Our business model is to make money from transaction fees and bundled services," says Mr Crowe.

He also has plans for Ahhha to set up a microfund to finance some of these ideas and eventually to host contests like the X-Prize which aims to encourage ideas around space.

"I want Ahhha to be known as the brand of ideas and that is very powerful," says Mr Crowe.


  • Comment number 1.

    So Mr. Crowe plans to "use the wisdom of the crowd to turn that idea into a business or a real product".
    Is this crowd composed of the same wise "people paying money to buy virtual swords and fight with people"?

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Why is it that you have to sign up to either site (AHHHA or MattCrowe) before you can get past the main page?

    Matt Crowe is calling himself a modern-day Thomas Edison. I think this is very far from the case.

    I wouldn't exactly say Kickstarter is "super niche" either...

  • Comment number 4.

    AHHHA really represents another huge step in the formation of The Innovation Grid. A concept championed by Brightidea (the company whose innovation management software powers AHHHA and GE's Ecomagination Challenge, among many others), this grid has opened an entirely new access point giving all kinds of ideas a path towards execution and monetization.

    Learn more about The Brightidea Innovation Grid here:

  • Comment number 5.

    Another idea to execution service is UK based Diswo ([Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]) which is currently in Beta. They are focussed around the management of idea execution and resourcing from the crowd.

  • Comment number 6.

    I couldn't help but notice Mr. Crowe's reference to Spigit as a "super niche" player in the social ideation space. Although Spigit is known for working with global industry leaders, the company also powers a number of internal and external-facing idea communities for local and state governments, non-profits etc.

    Coincidentally, the Wendy Schmidt Oil Challenge (of Cisco's X-Prize foundation) is currently utilizing Spigit's platform to crowdsource ideas (from the general public) around cleanup of seawater surface oil resulting from spillage from ocean platforms, tankers, and other sources.

    Seeing as the company's crowdsourcing capabilities engage anyone from citizens and government officials to company employees and executives to the general public, I don't see anything very "niche" about Spigit's capabilities or reach.


  • Comment number 7.

    Maggie - I think you've been immersed in the over-hype capital of the world a little too long and its time to visit home to get some Perspective 2.0 ;)

    Get someone to read that article aloud to you - it does what? Also Mr Crowes own 'brand' shows a similar penchant for maximum hyperbole and minimum content.

    10 minutes on google gives a very different perspective to that displayed here - good interviewee was he?

    Its this sort of thing that has me absolutely convinced that "Dot Bomb - the sequel" is just around the corner.

  • Comment number 8.

    If you post your idea on this or any other web site then you will not be able to patent it later; anybody could just steal your idea and use it themselves. Anyway, have been doing this for years.

  • Comment number 9.

    I strongly recommend anyone considering ahhha read the terms and conditions!

    "If your Submission is patented, subject to a pending patent application, or you intend to file for patent protection, this Agreement will automatically grant Ahhha a license under the terms of Section 4. "

    Section 4 says
    "by posting any Content on, through or in connection with the Services, you hereby grant to Ahhha and its designees an irrevocable, unrestricted, perpetual, non-exclusive, fully-paid up and royalty free worldwide license to make, use, sell, import, modify, reproduce, transmit, display, perform, create derivative works, combine with other works, and distribute such Content for any purpose whatsoever to the extent permitted by law. This license to Ahhha includes the right for Ahhha to sublicense these rights to third parties. ... The foregoing license includes the right for Ahhha to make modifications to, derivative works of, or improvements to your Submission. These derivative works and modified or improved versions shall be owned exclusively by Ahhha"

    Maggie - perhaps you should have picked up on this?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.