Monday, 7 June 2010

Business Stories : #1, the knowledge trading website

This week I'm profiling three companies who have developed ideas and products to solve age-old business problems. The first is start-up, who've come up with an idea to help small businesses fill their knowledge gaps.

When pharmaceutical data company CEO Charles Joynson was struggling to find out information about doing business in the Netherlands, his dilemma gave him an idea. What if businesses who had questions could connect with others who had the answers? The result is, a ‘knowledge trading' website where experts can trade their know-how online in the same way people buy and sell on EBay.

The idea was born from Charles’ own struggle to find detailed information to launch a new product, “critically we failed to uncover the key facts that in the end were crucial”, he explained. That was the catalyst for the website which connects businesses with experts. Gibli only launched in April 2010 and the site now has around 150 signed up members with 100 site visits a day.

Talking to potential users prior to launch revealed that many felt there was a gap between sourcing free advice on the internet and paying for a consultant, giving Charles the confidence that there was a niche that Gibli could fill. “They suggested that the free advice on the internet was questionable, and you couldn’t always tell who the writer was. But if you paid a consultant to help you it could cost thousands. So we decided to let experts charge what they liked for slices of their knowledge”.

Charles quickly learnt the importance of assembling a talented team to fill his own knowledge vacuums. Gibli was one of those projects which needed the input of other talented individuals to create something useful, rather than a single flash of inspiration on my part. In that way I was able to pull resources into the team to compensate for my own weaknesses.Charles acknowledges the irony in the discovery that if he couldn't solve it on his own, he needed to get help “If only had existed then, I could have solved my own problem!"

The initial idea evolved as he sought contributions from others, experiencing what he describes as a ‘series of little eureka moments’ along the way. His business mentor played a really valuable role; one of her early recommendations was the importance of design to deliver the optimum user-experience. Charles had always been cynical about the value of design in a project but his mentor introduced him to designers who helped visualize the concept, adding a lot of value to the offering.

The expertise he’s brought in has strengthened Gibli's offering, making it stronger than his initial idea. He's now a firm advocate of the need to seek advice from experts. "I now know that if your trust the talented people around you, you will end up with something considerably better than you could have done on your own. And that’s what Gibli is all about".


Eric Garner said...

Gibli is a great idea. We've added some of our best material from ManageTrainLearn. It's straightforward to upload. This should make a difference to a lot of small businesses.

Ian Sanders said...

thanks for your comment Eric