Back from London with [Matthias] and the other EU Social Innovation Prize winners and finalists. A 2 day full immersion in the pulsing heart of institutional Social Innovation at NESTA, an ongoing brainstorming tête-à-tête with Matthias and a double encounter with 2 mentors really worth the shot. Back to the ER platform to think things out and share with you thoughts on the next steps.
The Economy App has to go live, and the aim is to be “as big as email” in order to “change the face of the economy” (dixit Matthias). There is so much work behind this algorithm and this idea, we do not want to burn it or waste it during the reality check. It’s the Economy App that has to change the reality, and not the opposite. So what is needed to get as much as we can on our side and do this in an efficient way? What are the steps to build the community around the platform - from language issues, to time span, to the service-design, the communication, the alliances, ecc.
For those who want to follow the ongoing dicussion, here is the thread on the local commnuity development.
Geoff Mulgan’s speech was illuminating for a couple of questions he threw in:
- how do you design in scalability?
- different growth models: sclaing, spreading, growing, replicating, multiplying
- growth patterns and choices boil down to handling supply (push) and demand (pull) for innovation: in the case of the Economy App, I would say that the issue here is about matching the demand and the supply, so managing the supply would be a strategic priority.
- what is the impact of scaling on the cost strucutre?
- think about the organisational forms choices: once you scale, is it going to be about uncontrolled diffusion? directed diffusion (patent)? takeover or emulation?
- how far do you want to go on demonstrating your effectiveness before you scale through partnerships?
- what are you doing to be loved? why do people get attached to online communities (don't know if any of you have some proposals for a couple of good text references on emtional attachment and community engagement to online platforms)
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The 2 days at NESTA dug out quite a few assumptions, and pointed out the challenges we will be facing.
1st mentoring session with Alice Casey (Nesta):
- confronted us to the urgent dimension of going live asap: if we manage to scale rapidly, the openness is ensured as nobody will want to pay for a service that they can have access to for free. Being rapid is required for social innovators: the risk of becoming obsolete is always close-by. Matthias shared with us a past experience which he had that went that way: we do not want to make The Economy App go through this again.
- asked us why we don't consider doing a partnership with already existing online barter communities which for the moment use the 1-to-1 exchange model. They already have a user-community, but do not scale; the Economy App can increase significantly the exchanges, infiltrating a user community it would have to build from scratch. Opens the issue of the development times of platform protocol.
- The need to do the social prototyping as a proof of the concept before going into partnerships didn't seem as mandatory as before, especially once we started thinking of the time issues. Also, the 2d mentoring session did make us understand how tough and long and complex social prototyping is (the guy has been developing his community for 7 years now!). I'll come back to this later.
- importance of 1st use cases: get the media coverage to the success stories (i.e. the wedding organized with network barter), manufacture the stories (100th transaction, 1st swap party)
- build in significance: you have to own the problem, the problem is more exciting than the solution
- where are the huge pools of need? Where could you go to get 1000 users (footballers, hospitals, schools, students, mother-baby clubs?): you need a multiplier
- start from 1 part of the community, build top-down: do not expect the community to grow organically, make it happen artificially (find the objects for the people)
- do not underestimate the service-design and the communication: logo? language? copywriting? get the logo on the city council website, mt2019 website; build on the EU Soc Inn Prize (winner!)
- develop a mobile application (responsive design)
- value of reporting: if data says EcoApp works for childcare, the next minute you're at the nurse school selling your service
- unlock the need: the first telephone problem
- focus on the regular users: who needs a flow of different stuff all the time and has some time to donate?
From here, where do we go?
The next post will give you some of the action lines we brainstormed on… stay tuned!