A new commerce model
I just had an idea for a novel model of participatory commerce so I thought I’d explain it here. Imagine that you have an idea for a tool/service that you think many other people would find valuable because it addresses a common annoyance. But you lack the skills or the time to build it yourself so you just describe it instead and share the idea with others. Some of them provide useful feedback to refine the idea, some of them also would like to see it realized but can’t help either. Imagine there’s a way to promise a reward (proportional to how much each of you value the idea) to the first entity who can implement it — perhaps this just looks like putting the money in an escrow account for a period of time.
Suppose an entity does manage to implement the idea and collect the reward, to whom does the implementation belong? Until recently the options were:
- public domain or open source;
- create a legal entity that holds ownership and then parcel out ownership of this entity among the people who put up the original funding.
There’s now potentially a third option that relies on some kind of blockchain to make division of ownership much more lightweight.
Anyway, as more people discover the solution and wish to use it, they can decide to retroactively support it by paying a nominal amount (i.e. a license) plus optionally buying into the ownership pool (e.g. like a co-op) to whatever degree they wish —the price may be set via a simple 2-sided market. License fees and get distributed among all current owners proportional to their ownership.
The difference between this demand-driven model and existing (supply-driven) ones is that this unbundles the risks involved with market research + solution design and implementation. [Kickstarter made baby steps in this direction but did not completely flip it on its head.]
One could easily go further by splitting even the market-research and solution design into distinct stages: partial reward may be allocated for the design that is ultimately used to create a working solution. In fact, every component of the final solution could be broken up and farmed out for portions of the reward. Furthermore, at each stage of progress different entities may compete for the portion of the reward tied to that stage.
This would ultimately result in market risks being completely eliminated and all (implementation) risk borne by the project managers, who will this also have control of how rewards are meted out.