We are all together working slowly but surely for a new paradigm. We just need vision, patience, perseverance and … COLLABORATION

Available in: :gb: English / :ro: Romanian

##:gb: English version

Four years ago, talking around a coffee with a friend in Paris, I found out about this online platform to help social entrepreneurs with their strategy through the contribution of the crowd. So the very same day, I went online full of curiosity to check the platform.

Where did this enthusiasm come from? As a child, I admired entrepreneurs (my father is an entrepreneur), I admired his determination, his courage to face uncertainty, his vision and drive to galvanize people around his project. As I grew up, and found out about the challenges of our world and the urge to implement more sustainable solutions. I developed even more admiration for social entrepreneurs, as they were humble but had great missions; as they did not target profits, but much more they wanted to solve social and environmental problems. I wanted to support this movement; I wanted to be part of it.

Funny enough, the platform that my friend was talking about, did not exist. I met the person that had the idea, Manu, and started discussing about the concept (he became my husband this Summer J). From discussion to discussion, we started working seriously to create the Babele platform. At the beginning it was part time, while working in my daily job, but then we realized we were going nowhere without dedicating serious time and money. So we quit our jobs, moved from France to Romania, to keep the costs lower and put our own money to create the platform.

That was 2 years ago. During the whole period we worked like crazy, travelling all over Europe, organizing workshops with just our personal money to get the platform off the ground, offering it for free to entrepreneurs. Reading Nadia’s post, I completely agree with her: it has been hard, we made many mistakes. Sometimes we have great moments, where we really feel the impact of our project, but also sometimes I doubt that we are creating the value for the community that we dreamed of.

What I really learned in the past two years is that we are not alone. There is a whole movement of people that want to change things: there are groups like Ouishare, Make Sense, Edgeryders, we are all fighting to fix this broken world. So this is why I try to be active in these communities as well. I do not always manage, sometimes I get lost in the management of my own project, but sometimes I find the time, and then I am happy, touched to the bones, in these moments I feel we are all together working slowly but surely for a new paradigm. We just need vision, patience, perseverance and … COLLABORATION.

##:ro: Romanian version

Acum patru ani, povestind cu un prieten la cafea în Paris, am aflat despre o platformă online care ajută antreprenorii sociali cu strategii cu ajutorul contribuțiilor altor oameni de pe Internet. În exact acea zi, am căutat cu curiozitate platforma online.

De unde acest entuziasm al meu? Copil fiind, am admirat antreprenorii, iar tatăl meu e unul dintre ei. I-am admirat determinarea, curajul de a înfrunta incertitudinea, viziunea și dorința lui de a inspira oamenii prin proiectul lui. Am crescut și am început să aflu despre provocările lumii noastre și urgența de a implementa soluții mai sustenabile. Admirația mea pentru antreprenori sociali a crescut, erau umili dar cu misiuni grozave; nu căutau să facă profit, ci mai degrabă doreau să rezolve probleme sociale și de mediu. Mi-am dorit să sprijin această mișcare; Mi-am dorit să fac parte din ea.

În mod bizar, platforma de care vorbea prietenul meu nu exista. Am întâlnit persoana care a avut ideea, Manu, și am început să povestim despre concept (Manu a devenit soțul me vara trecută). Din discuție în discuție, am început să lucrăm serios și să creem platforma Babele.co. La început munca noastră a fost mai mult part time, între timp aveam și o slujbă normală, însă apoi am realizat că nu vom ajunge nicăieri dacă nu vom dedica timp și bani serioși. Așa că ne-am dat amândoi demisia de la joburile noastre și ne-am mutat din Franța în România ca să reducem costurile de trai și să putem investi restul în crearea platformei.

Asta se întâmpla acum doi ani. În perioada care a urmat am lucrat ca nebunii, călătorind peste tot în Europa, organizând workshopuri din bani personali ca să ridicăm platforma și s-o oferim pe gratis antreprenorilor. Citind postarea Nadiei, sunt întru totul de-acord cu ea: a fost foarte greu, am făcut multe greșeli. Câteodată avem momente grozave când simțim într-adevăr impactul proiectului nostru, dar alte dăți am îndoieli că vom crea acea valoare la care am visat pentru comunitate.

Ceea ce am învățat în ultimii doi ani este că nu suntem singuri. Există o întreagă mișcare de oameni care își doresc să schimbe lucrurile: grupuri precum OuiShare, Make Sense, Edgeryders, cu toții ne dorim să soluționăm lumea asta. De aceea eu încerc să fiu activă în comunități de gen. Nu-mi iese mereu, de multe ori mă pierd în managementul propriului meu proiect, însă câteodată îmi fac timp, și atunci sunt impresionată, în acele momente suntem cu toții împreună, mișcându-ne încet, dar sigur spre o nouă paradigmă. Avem nevoie doar de viziune, răbdare, perseverență și … COLABORARE.

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welcome back

Congratulations Ruxandra. The last I heard you guys were on your way to Stockholm for a workshop, no? I checked out Babele, looks like you guys have made a lot of progress. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to get something like that off the ground. Is there anything I can help you with?

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Nice to be back

Thanks Nadia, we do our best to improve the platform every day. I’m very happy when I hear that people see the progress we are making.

Yes, we were organizing a workshop in Stockholm this summer, it went great, and we really loved the city, very green and artistic. We are definitely going to come back.

Thank you very much for the help offer. That’s really kind of you. We are very much focused on getting people in the platform that work together and benefit from the collaborative space. So if you know people that are working on business planning, and they want to open up, and receive feedback from others, it would be great if you could invite them to Babele.

We are also working on creating partnerships with organizations, for example, in October we organized a partnership with Copenhagen Business School that did a MOOC on social entrepreneurship with over 20.000 participants. They asked people to create business plans in groups, and then to evaluate each other, the best ones were rewarded with seed money (that has been collected initially with a crowdfunding campaign). The MOOC was great, and we offered Babele for free to the university to use it for students to work together and collaborate. The result was a true success, for us: because it provved that the concept was working, and for them as well :slight_smile:

So now, we are trying to organize other partnerships like this, if you know any organization that would be interested, let me know. I would be thrilled to work together.

Thank you Nadia for the positive energy!



Re. partnership development, you know CHEST? Their online platform was a bit similar to yours and what you did together with Copenhagen Business school (we participated), but less sustainable – it’s over, it was a one-off EU consortium. But at the bottom of their page, you will find their consortium partners and other business partners. Maybe you find an interesting candidate for a future partnership for your platform. Which looks good btw, I’ll get around to joining with the Makerfox project to try it :slight_smile:

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Great tip, thanks

Hi Matthias, yes I know about the CHEST, we participated at one of the CHEST challenge. And it is indeed a great tip to get in touch with the partners, as they might be interested in continuing in this direction, even if the project is now finished.

There are many common points between CHEST and Babele, but I believe there is a fundamental difference. If I understood well, CHEST was like a competition, you could apply with your project, see others, rate it, maybe make a comment, and then you knew if you got the funding to create your project or not.

Babele is more bottom up, there is no competition. Babele is for now a collaborative business modeling: you structure your idea into a strategy (there is a framework with questions that guide you through a reviewed version of the social business canvas) and your project is open, so everybody can see what you have written in each part of your business model, and they can contribute, comment, join your team. etc. We are trying to introduce something like open business modeling, inspired by the idea of open source code. The ultimate vision, is that this would empower people to create concrete and efficient common good projects, and that the projects that are really solving problems and are socially oriented would be easily replicable, because there is already the entire business model described. 

It would be fantastic if you would put Makerfox in Babele. We can have a chat if you need support or more info. Looking forward! Ruxandra

Romanian hackathons?

My latest experience at one of those wasn’t very fortunate, and the reason was that the framing for what can become social startups was totally absent, not even looking at follow up after the hacks. Ruxandra, have you tried getting in touch with organisers of local events and try to pitch them the need to offer biz model support to participants who are starting up?

An example of platforms that did kick off and I tend to think would (have) benefit(ed) from Babele:

Hackathons, startup events and many others

Hi Noemi,

yes, we tried to offer Babele as a tool that could be used during startup weekends to insure continuity and collaboration even after the weekend is over. However, people are so stressed during the 48h that they do not have time to start using a new tool, at least this was the feedback we received.

I really liked the concept of Harmonious hackathons that we were brainstorming with @Nadia at the Ouishare Fest last year. This would have allowed people to get organized before the event, present the idea, express the needs, find the resources and already have a clear plan on what each and every person would be working on. So it would have addressed exactly the flaws that you are mentioning in your post.

Actually, when we conceived Babele, we planned it as a platform where people would structure their ideas, get the minimum concept of business planning and lean startup (as this is of big need not only among programmers…), figure out their needs and find people to collaborate with on the project.

Yes, we are in touch with Chris Worman that created TechSoup (Manu had a second call with him 10 days ago). We will see how we can collaborate with them to create value for the intitiatives within TechSoup.

Something to that

I sort of agree: Hackathons are not the sort of occasion to get started on a new tool, unless you absolutely have to. Developing is hard enough as it is: if the (normally small) people leading the hackathon are comfortable with GitHub vs. Bitbucket, or a certain javascript library vs, another, better to leave them be, so that they use their bandwidth for the task at hand. That, at least, is my limited experience.