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Venture capital

Entrepreneur Ecosystem World Map

It is, without a doubt, an ambitious undertaking.  David B. Lerner (@davidblerner) (entrepreneur, angel investor, Director of Columbia University Venture Lab, blogger, community organizer, golfer-in-exile”) wants to map the entrepreneurial world (literally).

In his own words on his blog, he describes the evolution of his idea:

“I wanted to provide a resource for entrepreneurs wherein they would be able to actually see the entire venture ecosystem in one glance… I wanted these maps to be interactive and eventually, crowdsourceable. That’s when I reached out to my good buddy Shane Snow… We’ve now created a crowdsourceable global map of what we hope will one day be the entire world’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Lerner admits that there are likely many errors on the map (due to the size and scope of the project and the difficulty with confirming company information), but he encourages each and every one of us to participate by correcting errors and contributing additional content (ah, the power of crowdsourcing!).

This venture is long overdue.  If successful, the Entrepreneur World Map will provide valuable information and resources to entrepreneurs and investors around the world.  Someone should fund this (no pun intended).

See the interactive, global map here.

Online Startup Quirky.com Receives $6 Million in Funding

Quirky can be innovative. Just ask the founders of Quirky.com (a startup that literally crowdsources innovation by asking users to submit design ideas and then using the wisdom of the crowd to refine and market the new product).

Being Quirky puts entrepreneur Ben Kaufman on the map.

According to Fast Company (@fastcompany), Quirky (@quirkyinc) (though initially consider a bit too “quirky” to be relevant by the business publication) has been awarded $6 million in Series A investment funding. Not bad for the oddball company that had to prove its relevance and, even more challenging, prove that being different is still worth gambling on.

Their company, service and website is so compelling that I’ve included the pitch and description of what Quirky actually does from their website:

“Everyone has a product idea…

Chances are, you do too. Several years ago, our entrepreneur-in-chief, Ben, launched two successful businesses based on this premise: mophie, an iPod/iPhone accessories line, and kluster, an online group decision-making platform.

While running these companies, he received literally thousands of emails from people all over the world asking the same question: I have an idea for a product and think you can help me get it out of my head and into the marketplace. How do I start?

The truth is, neither mophie nor kluster were created to answer that question. They did, however, uncover the solution to bringing virtually any product idea to life. Part platform, part process, Quirky is rapidly changing the way people think about product development by using a unique method to harness the power of creativity.”

Fast Company calls Quirky “the most interesting experiment in how products are designed and produce in recent memory.” It’s not only a social experiment, it’s the brainchild of an entrepreneur who had not even graduated college yet when the company was launched.

Quirky’s founder (23 year old Ben Kaufman@benkaufman) founded and launched Quirky in June 2009 with $1.6 million donated from friends and family (a cushion most entrepreneurs can only dream of). Now, with 20,000 users on its website and 12 products manufactured from its crowdsourcing design factory, the company is ready to move into the major leagues with funding from several VC firms (including RRE Ventures, Village Ventures, Contour Venture Partners, and Lowercase Capital) and unnamed angel investors. The Fast Company article can be found here.

Score one for the scrappy and quirky one-year old startup.

Betsy Shulman
The Elephant Entrepreneur
646.306.4721