Build-up Phase Startup Essentials By Sourobh Das / December 21, 2017 I am sure everyone must have told you how important cash-flow is for any company. You yourself would know that cash-flow is more difficult to manage in the initial days of a company when profits are marginal and customers don’t even know you exist. That is when external funding comes into the picture. And irrespective of how tempting funding from an angel investor might look, you are letting go of a part of your company for that money.Wouldn’t it be great if I told you that there was an equally cool option to get funding for your startup and all you had to do was to promise to take care of a customer pain-point? I am sure you would agree that finding good employees for your company is a big pain. Getting work done on time or finding the right fit that suits your budget is even tougher.Wouldn’t it be great if I told you that there is an option to get your work done from an entire community out there in a manner most probably better than you could ever imagine?That option is none other than Crowdsourcing. Let me tell you what it is and how you can get the most out of it in a very comprehensive guide.Crowdsourcing DefinedThe word “Crowdsourcing” was coined in 2005 and is a portmanteau of the words Crowd and Outsourcing. It is a sourcing model that uses contributions from different people on the Internet to obtain services or ideas. Crowdsourcing is the process of getting work or funding from a large group of people in an online environment, although it has been in existence even before the Internet came into existence. But the Internet is what made it the phenomenon it is today. Thus crowdsourcing is the art of problem-solving in a distributed manner, powered by the Web and social media. You share your problems with the world and the world helps you get rid of those problems. Isn’t it wonderful?How Can Your Startup Benefit From CrowdsourcingCrowdsourcing can help your company in getting much-needed funds, accelerating innovation, saving costs, increasing efficiency, engaging the end-consumers, sharing ideas and co-creating and even reinventing your business and financial models.Your in-house team may not have the necessary skills for a new task or there may be some jobs that need to be performed only on certain occasions.You might need innovative ideas for the design of your logo or the next campaign. Your company might be on the verge of bankruptcy.Crowdsourcing can help you out in all these situations and much more. There are so many ways that a group of people can be engaged to solve your various problems only by providing some incentives that it is baffling that this method is not used more in companies. Of course, the control you have on the entire process is significantly reduced but the advantages far outweigh this factor.Types of CrowdsourcingCrowd LabourCrowd Labour fills the gap between supply and demand of labour by getting a distributed labour pool to perform tasks virtually.CrowdfundingCrowdfunding helps in raising capital for new products and businesses through donations and sponsorships from online investors and the general public.Open InnovationOpen innovation is companies asking people outside their organization for innovative ideas. Examples would be My Starbucks Idea or Cisco iPrize etc.Crowdsourcing DesignCompanies outsource the task of designing anything, from logos to product packaging, to freelancers. This reduces the company’s costs a lot. 99Designs is a great example of this type of crowdsourcing.Crowd CreativityWhen crowdsourcing is used for innovative media content, it is called crowd creativity. Crowdsourcing is often used to procure photographs, audio clips, short films etc.Distributed KnowledgeCrowdsourcing is also used to obtain knowledge and information on a particular topic. Citizen journalism is an important example of this type of crowdsourcing.Crowd VotingWhen your favourite contestant wins on the latest reality show, it is crowd voting in effect. Votes can be gathered for various decisions, from designing a product to the flavour of chips.Micro TasksSmall tasks that are outsourced to the public and do not require any particular skills are micro-tasks.Macro TasksMacro tasks, as the name suggests, are the exact opposite of micro tasks and need expertise in a particular area like coding or graphic designing.Crowdsourcing ExamplesThere are many examples from all across the world that show how powerful crowdsourcing can be. It all depends on how you decide to use it.AirbnbIf Airbnb as a platform wasn’t a truer example of crowdsourcing, even its marketing and advertising revolve around it. Their campaign #AirbnbShorts used all user-submitted videos to promote lesser-known destinations by giving viewers a peek into what people like them have themselves experienced.Lays – Do Us A FlavourLays’ “Do Us A Flavour” campaign was a masterstroke for the brand. The consumers had to create their own flavour and all the flavours fought to be the people’s favourite. This campaign was followed by an 8% increase in sales and a whole lot of buzz for the brand.MIT Climate CoLabI would term it as one of the most important crowdsourcing efforts in recent memory. MIT’s Climate CoLab brought more than 10,000 users together on its platform to devise solutions to tackle climate change.LegoLego is a crowdsourcing champion. Any user can submit a design that other users vote for. The idea with the highest number of votes is moved to production. While the designer gets a 1% royalty, the company enjoys increased customer engagement as well.PebblePebble’s very existence is due to crowdsourcing. From a simple idea to one of the most popular fund raising campaigns on Kickstarter, it became a product that could challenge the rival products of biggies like Samsung and Apple. It wasn’t just money that was pooled in this campaign but knowledge and ideas as well. No wonder it is hailed as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, crowdsourcing success stories till date.Some Crowdsourcing Platforms That Can Help Your StartupYour startup might benefit a lot from a few crowdsourcing platforms. The following list is not exhaustive by any means but it definitely tells you why you should seriously consider this option. The right platform for your exact needs is just a Google search away.Here are some of the most popular crowdsourcing platforms today:KickstarterWhen we talk about crowdsourcing, we cannot NOT think about Kickstarter, the most popular crowdfunding website in the world. While the focus of Kickstarter remains on creative arts and it cannot be used to fund businesses, it has been used to fund many products, including the Pebble. I have to say though that the submission process on Kickstarter is rigorous and the approvals to post on the platform can be quite tough to get.99Designs99Designs connects graphic and web designers with businesses that need design work to be done. The focus of this crowdsourcing platform is on artistic work like logos, packaging, clothing, illustrations etc.Amazon Mechanical TurkA business might have certain important projects or tasks that are simple and repetitive. With Amazon Mechanical Turk, you can find people across the world to complete these tasks and that too for pennies. The price is set per HIT (Human Intelligence Task) and the entire project is executed very quickly and in a cost-effective manner.DesignCrowdDesignCrowd is another platform like 99Designs that is used by large corporations as well as small businesses for finding designers for their products.FreelancerFreelancer helps businesses find freelancers in various fields such as animation, writing, coding, photography etc. You propose the projects and the freelancers set their bids. This platform lets you communicate with the freelancers virtually and even set their payments as per their deliverables.UpworkOne of the most comprehensive crowdsourcing websites, Upwork is another platform that helps companies find freelancers for both their short-term and long-term projects. Even giants like Amazon and Panasonic use this platform.uTestUsability testing is important for every business and uTest makes it easy for you. It lets you perform online testing by over 18,000 QA professionals from 150 countries. uTest is the best place to get your project tested in a professional manner.ChaordixChaordix lets businesses get opinions from experts for their projects. You can invite the experts to present their opinions on any business problem you might be facing. This platform is perfect for any startup which wants ideas from contributors. Now that you know what crowdsourcing is and how companies all over the world have leveraged the power of the crowd for their benefit, you should seek how you can do the same for your startup. The right use of crowdsourcing in any business process can be incredibly effective. Do not get left behind while your competition surges ahead with this tactic. The potential is huge. You just need to know how and when to use it.Go On, Tell Us What You Think!Did we miss something? Come on! Tell us what you think about our article on crowdsourcing in the comments section.