Net Impact 2008: Interview with Ideablob’s Ami Kassar

Napoleon Wallace – As sustainable entrepreneurship has evolved, the growing need for innovative resources that can provide support to this niche entrepreneur has become increasingly evident. The result has been a wave of innovation that is providing new platforms and resources so that good ideas can be nurtured to fruition for the benefit of both entrepreneurs and stakeholders.
One such company is, an online community that allows entrepreneurs to share and grow their business ideas. In addition, each month a “winning” idea is awarded $10,000 based on votes from the rest of the community.
I had the opportunity to speak with Ami Kassar, founder and the Chief Innovation Officer of Ideablob (his bio can be found here), to briefly discuss his thoughts on the growing need for resources that support new ideas, and Ideablob’s role in helping to fill this gap. He will be a part of the “Web 2.0 Panel” on Friday during the Net Impact North America Conference.

NW: Ideablob is obviously very entrepreneurial, and a great launching platform for ANY entrepreneur, yet over 30% of the ideas logged on the site can be considered “sustainable ventures”. What was the impetus behind placing such a significant focus on entrepreneurs within the social and green segments?
AK: When you build these things, you are really just focused on building a strong community…you end up leading and following at the same time. Truth is, it’s sometimes difficult to tell who is going to find the most value from a new platform. That being said, we are thrilled that such a large part of the community is comprised of sustainable, social and green entrepreneurs. Now that they are on the site, we are doing a lot to make sure that Ideablob fits to the needs of this burgeoning group.
NW: When asked about the materiality of sustainability in business models, mainstream investors and entrepreneurs have given the gamut of responses. How does Ideablob view sustainability and its integration into business?
AK: I travel a lot in my job, and I visit a ton of college campuses and from these interactions, I really believe that a lot of the future is driven by what students on entrepreneurial colleges are thinking about. As I’ve heard it quoted best, “this generation of young entrepreneurs is trying to save the world and while paying the rent”. Particularly in these economic times, there is a movement toward impacting the world with for-profit business models. We hope that Ideablob is helping to capture some of that energy, by providing these entrepreneurs with the resources, tools and connections to maximize the potential of their ideas.
NW: In its current incarnation, what is the essence of the value proposition that Ideablob delivers to the entrepreneurs that participate, both sustainable and mainstream?
AK: Community. We give entrepreneurs the opportunity to put their idea out there, get feedback from a nurturing network that will provide them with insights, validations and honest feedback. We belive the Ideablob community encapsulates the power of discussion that brings about new innovation. As each idea is vetted and it evolves, so grows the value of our community, and it’s worth to each entrepreneur.
NW: Inherently, Ideablob seems way too innovative and amorphous to become settled into one “box”. Given that, what’s the next big idea on the docket for Ideablob itself?
AK: We are always trying out little things…looking for nuggets that give more resources to our community members. We’ve recently begun working on a way to bring some of the power of our online community to the physical world. In some ways, the online voting is the game of it, and the real main events are our bloblive events. These are essentially open mic opportunities for entrepreneurs to share their ideas and get immediate and credible feedback. Currently there is a bloblive scheduled as part of the NI Conference on Friday, Nov 14th at 6-8pm in Huntsman Hall on the campus of UPenn.
Ahhh! There’s nothing quite like bouncing your fun, wild, money making, or world-changing idea off of a few like-minded big thinkers…I’ll bring the popcorn!

Net Impact 2010 will be hosted by the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Stay tuned for coverage!

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