When you earn your keep vetting startups, it can come as a shock to hear someone say that the startup landscape isn’t as fully formed as it should be. The volume of companies sprouting up these days feels overwhelming at times. But my conversation with YouNoodle CEO Bob Goodson this morning put a new spin on the startup ecosystem. YouNoodle’s assertion is that, while there are plenty of ideas and companies floating around, there aren’t nearly enough being funded. That the entire entrepreneurial process could benefit from more efficiency, created in some part by computers.
YouNoodle launched last week to plenty of blog discussion, with everyone caught up in the idea of predicting the future. Goodson says that’s not exactly what the company is aiming for. (That’s a fine line to walk, though, in the hot field of prediction markets. When you claim the ability to valuate a startup three years in the future, you can’t blame journalists for going where they did.) Goodson asserted that the company never aims to replace humans in investing; the idea is simply to create an industry of tools that should already exist in the startup world. Though he won’t share specifics on what information is needed to crunch the numbers, others have stated that the algorithms may focus on the people within a startup and how connected they are.
The current YouNoodle community was in private beta for close to a year before launching and it shows. There are about 1000 companies in the community, each with their own contingent of team members and followers. Though it’s difficult for a newcomer to get acclimated, the site begins to gel once you really start swimming around in there. As someone knee-deep in startups, it’s already proving an excellent resource for me for company leads. (In fact, I stumbled on this company as I was writing this. Definitely worth investigating…) When YouNoodle launches the actual startup valuation tool, planned for next week, the site will likely merit an upgrade to my bookmarks toolbar.
Here’s why I’m not declaring it FAIL just yet (you’re missed, Ted), as others have been quicker to do. I doubt any of us in the tech sector – pundit, blogger, investor, or entrepreneur – think the current method of vetting and funding is foolproof. Forget foolproof, how about just plain enjoyable? If a recent heavily circulated VC-wear site is to be believed, the startup firehose needs a funnel. It remains to be seen whether YouNoodle’s AI can deliver that help but I’ll be keeping a close eye on the company. Like others in the space of idea/product/company valuation – Spigit, Virtual Ventures and Ideablob to name a few – the technology they’re honing could have significant ramifications for the tech landscape as we know it.