Everyone knows there are entrepreneurs all over the world now, not just in developed countries. Why? Because the internet and technology has empowered so many. Indeed, a 2013 survey put out by Babson and the LSE found that the size of the global market for learning about entrepreneurship and business was about 550+ million people. And that was just in the top 20 countries by population.
But the access to mentorship for these people is often abysmal. (No, LinkedIn is not about mentoring.) What was needed was some way these people could surface themselves and get access to experienced people who can advise them. And I’m not just talking about getting noticed on Twitter and Facebook.
The people behind Founders Forum realised this so they designed a product to address it: SmartUp. And naturally it would be a mobile product, which can address this booming global audience of potential entrepreneurs.
The goal was to build something that could mentor early stage and future entrepreneurs at scale.
But there is a twist. The app builds up a profile of the user by asking the same questions investors and mentors would if they were advising them in person. The aim is to deliver insights and advice to help the users make better decisions. ￼￼￼
Thus it has business simulations designed to help early stage and future entrepreneurs make better decisions.
The interesting thing is that it’s gamified. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼As users go through the app they are awarded points for their decision-making which then puts them onto a global ranking leader-board.
The app takes the data about you from Facebook/LinkedIn and then asks questions about what you are trying to do/solve and then delivers targeted advice to help you do it. Some of the simulations involve how to learn online pricing and marketing etc by doing.
Every day, a new content piece from a top founder or investor is pushed to the app. When people reach 1,000 points in the app, they can go into a draw where expert people are chosen at random to receive 1-2-1 live mentoring with a member of Founders Forum.
These include people like ￼￼￼￼￼Edwina Dunn (Dunn Humby), ￼Hermann Hauser (Amadeus Capital), ￼￼Riccardo Zacconi (￼￼king.com), ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Simon Patterson (Silverlake partners + Board of Dell), Brent Hoberman, Emily Brooke (Blaze), Kathryn Parsons (Decoded) among many others.
Eventually, the top points earners will compete to earn opportunities to receive real-life mentoring from members of Founders Forum. ￼￼￼ The app has now been featured by Apple in its business category.
Now, cynics might say this is just a way to get deal-flow for some of these experts. That may be the case, but since the app is open, anyone could identify these new entrepreneurs, so it’s not as closed as it might sound.
Future features will include the ability to post a job, post ideas, search for talent and comment on content.
SmartUp’s Co-founders are ￼￼Frank Meehan, a Former Board Director on Spotify, among others, Brent Hoberman Co-founder of LastMinute.com.
Investors in the SmartUp app include Hoberman, Ed Wray (Betfair), Barry Smith (Skyscanner), Luke Johnson (Pizza Express), Michael Birch, Hampus Jacobsson (TAT, Sweden), Richard Chen and Bo Feng (Ceyuan Ventures, China), Michael Lints (Golden Gate Ventures, Singapore), Alex Asseily (Jawbone), Greg Rogers (Techstars), Brett Akker (Lovespace) and many others.