With IdeaMarket, Idealab’s Bill Gross Wants To Create 1 Million Startups

From my Forbes blog:

You might wonder if perhaps there are a few too many startups these days, especially if you’re trying to rent a place in San Francisco or buy a house in Palo Alto. Bill Gross doesn’t–not one bit.

Gross’ Los Angeles tech startup incubator Idealab has created more than 125 since its founding in 1996, 40 of them making it to IPO or acquisition. But the company’s founder and CEO thinks he has come up with a way to multiply that sum by about 8,000, to as many as 1 million startups eventually. The new company he’s announcing this morning at the TechCrunch Disrupt startup-launching conference in San Francisco, IdeaMarket, is intended to be a startup marketplace that matches ideas with investors and especially entrepreneurs. “IdeaMarket is the culmination of my whole life,” Gross said in an interview. “It’s turning what I do into a machine.”

Something of a mashup of Kickstarter, Quirky, and XPrize, as well as Y Combinator and other incubator/accelerators, IdeaMarket will let anyone post an idea for a product or service that they don’t have the resources or desire to pursue themselves. They can invest in it, and so can other accredited investors, who may offer, say, $100,000 apiece to entrepreneurs who want to take the idea and run with it. An entrepreneurial team submits a plan for how they’d do that and the investors or IdeaMarket interview the candidates to make a choice. Visitors to the site can vote on them or suggest improvements, or even invest in them once they get accredited.

So far, prominent investors and tech figures have come up with more than 20 ideas. Listed already among 17 ideas with a combined $2.7 million in committed funding are a 3D printer than can print glasses lenses (from Index Ventures cofounder Neil Rimer); an app that tracks your app usage and puts the most-used ones at the top of your smartphone screen (from Google developer advocate Don Dodge); an Uber for trash pickup called Trashnado (from entrepreneur and angel investor Scott Banister); pizza delivery robots (from Gross himself) and (saving the strangest for last), Pray It Forward, “a web-based marketplace for people in times of trouble to quickly tap into the power of group prayer by connecting them with people who will pray for them” (from Affirm cofounder and CEO and former PayPal cofounder Max Levchin). They’re all also investors, along with others such as SherpaVentures cofounder and managing partner and former Menlo Ventures managing partner Shervin Pishevar.

While you can imagine IdeaMarket might spur yet another round of apps that we probably have too many of already, most of which will either wither or get sucked up by Google, Facebook, and the like, Gross is clearly hoping for more groundbreaking ideas as well. …

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