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For inventors and startups with limited time and resources, navigating the intellectual property landscape can be a sluggish and confusing affair. Taavi Raidma, co-founder and CEO of Estonia-based startup CrowdIPR, hopes to streamline the IP research process. Currently in private beta, CrowdIPR utilizes the collective work and wisdom of a crowd of IP experts to help startups and entrepreneurs determine the novelty and potential infringements of their product ideas. Below, we ask Raidmaa few questions about his new platform.
Crowdsourcing.org: Begin by introducing our readers to CrowdIPR. What is your collective intelligence platform all about?
Taavi Raidma: The intellectual property landscape has become very complex over the past couple of decades. From massive information overload to senseless patent wars, it has become increasingly difficult for smaller players to enter and survive in this environment.
Our aim is to use the collective knowledge and skills of IP and technology experts around the world to make IP services more accessible. From free initial IP research to connecting a patent-seeker to the most relevant patent attorney, we want to help tech companies and university research groups in finding the quickest and cheapest way to protect their ideas and inventions.
By utiziling a collective approach, we can improve the quality of services as well as lower the cost. It also allows us to design services — such as the free research — which are not possible in traditional IP firms.
How do you vet your “technology experts”?
Raidma: We connect a very mixed community — there are IP professionals, graduate students, law professionals, academics, etc. We allow anybody to sign up but require full profile data for payments to be received. For projects with confidential information, the researchers’ backgrounds are screened in-depth and NDAs signed with all.
How do you match these experts with the various inventors and startups using the platform — or do they select projects themselves? In essence, do you play matchmaker or simply provide the venue where the magic happens?
In essence, we provide a platform that helps researchers to find projects that they are interested in, and in turn provide our clients with a workforce which is into the topic they need research on.
How do you compensate your technology experts, and how do you utilize various gamification elements to encourage additional activity?
At the core of the platform we have algorithms that help us determine how much value each researcher provides to a specific study. Based on that we distribute the earnings pool between the researchers. From time to time, we also have projects with different motivation models — e.g., we pay for each reference that is rated highly relevant by our client. There’s also a competitive element to all the projects: researchers can accrue experience points in different research fields and through that increase their earnings potential.
Is idea theft ever a concern among your users that make their ideas semi-public within your platform? If so, how do you mitigate that trepidation?
We have discussed the topic with several of our clients and generally it doesn’t seem to be a problem. But certainly in some cases, for example when there’s a plan to patent the technology, we encourage our clients to engage with us before submitting the project through the platform. For projects that include confidential information, we will soon have a separate service where the client can choose the researchers who have access to the information and also NDAs are signed with every researcher.
According to Crunchbase, you received $135,000 in seed funding on February 6. How are you using that capital injection to improve your platform?
We are in the process of expanding our team to accelerate the development efforts towards a more social platform as well as ramp up marketing. We are very fortunate with our current investors Northstar Ventures and IP Group who have provided valuable guidance in the early stages and continue to actively support us.
Statistically, where is the platform at presently? How many members do you have, how many projects have been posted / completed, how fast is the site growing and so on? When do you plan to emerge from the private beta stage?
We have completed over 25 research projects for universities and tech companies from the U.K., Estonia and Russia. The platform currently connects over 500 researchers and we are growing the userbase by 10% to 20% per week. We plan to be out of the private beta phase within the next two months.
We'd like to thank CrowdIPR co-founder and CEO Taavi Raidma for talking with us about his new platform.