After reading Charles Stross’ 2005 sci-fi novel, Accerlerando, Mattias Guilotte was excited. The book’s theme is largely a question about the trade of information and communication. Inspired by the main character’s job in the book, he scribbled on a yellow sticker: “I want to be an information broker!” Two years later, he still has that sticky note and now Mancx.
Mancx bills itself as The Knowledge Market. Users log on and offer a money reward in exchange for answering questions they have. On a basic level, it functions much like Yahoo!Answers, but people are compensated for the depth and breadth of what they know. Because of this, Mancx has become a crowdsourced superhighway of information that businesses can turn to when more traditional research resources run dry. Mattias and fellow o-founder, Henrik Dillman, created the first knowledge market for business professionals that exchanges money.
Based in Sweden, Mancx officially launched only a few weeks ago and have seen very good results.
Mattias took time to answer a few questions I had:
How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?
Mancx is website where you can ask any business question. Then the Mancx system finds someone in the world who you can buy the answer from. Basically it is like an “eBay for information”
What made you use crowdSPRING?
We were investigating ALL websites/services based on crowd sourcing last year as a benchmark task. When we realized we needed help with our logo we evaluated the existing services for crowd sourced design together with our designer, and the winner was… cS.
What was your biggest learning curve/experience?
Finding and attracting the best developers in Sweden. Coming from the commercial side it took some time to understand what developers are triggered by, and how you build a successful development team. It took us 18 months, but now we have just hired one of the best CTOs within swr development in the country. The IT sector in Sweden is sizzling hot, so this was a real challenge.
What are some industry specific challenges you faced?
I’d say the main challenge for us specifically has been:
1. To manage payouts to all countries in the world, together with taxes and VAT. Perhaps not a sexy problem, but a really daunting one.
2. Provide anonymity for our users
3. Create a process for trading with non-commoditized information, which is not easily packaged.
Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.
Fun people. Owner Transparency. Visions. Guts.
? If you find fun (and of course skilled people) you will boost your productivity without inducing stress.
? Be very open with the figures, and let your staff in on the numbers. This will create a culture of trust and openness, as well as an understanding for budgets and goals
? You really need a visions which is a lot bigger than your current business to inspire people
? No guts, no glory. No matter where you are in the world, there will always be people trying to hold you back. Don’t listen to them.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
Good question. I would probably play on the lottery, win 10 MUSD and tenfold our first budget.
Seriously, I would have spent much less time convincing reluctant investors than find new ones, which had a genuine interest in Internet investments. Instead of presenting the case to 100 investors, we should have presented it to 200. Would have saved us a lot of time.
How do you see your company growing in the future?
We attracted our first 1000 user within a week from the launch and are now already starting to see the first viral effects, so I expect us to reach the target 500 000 users within 18 months.
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