You have an idea. It’s brilliant. You know that it could work, that it would change the world or simply make life a little easier. But, you have no money and no head for business.
How many incredible concepts have been lost simply due to financial constraints or lack of know-how?
That’s the idea behind 2009 Brookwood High School graduate Ben Burger’s "Thought Market," a website devoted to trading ideas and creative projects as commodities.
Burger had his “Aha” moment as he watched a TED Talks speech by Don Tapscott (see attached video) about our role in building a “global computer.” He was attending the University of South Carolina at the time and realized that those of us who are building this enormous machine called the Internet should be compensated.
According to futurist Don Tapscott, “the recent generations have been bathed in connecting technology from birth, and as a result the world is transforming into one that is far more open and transparent.”
“Collaboration can occur on an astronomical basis,” said Tapscott.
Burger is part of what Tapscott calls the “net generation,” a generation immersed in technology and collaboration. Every time these digital natives upload content to the web or share things on social media, they are adding to the global supercomputer.
"We're setting up a marketplace where you can trade the rights to different things, like creative writing, computer applications or music in a stock-market type of environment," explained Burger.
This is how the Thought Market would work: you have an idea, like a smartphone application, but you have a full-time job, maybe a family, and don’t have time to market your idea, nor do you have the skills to manage the financial aspects of running a business. Instead, you post your description of your app on Thought Market, plus maybe the design and other useful information, and a buyer looking for the next big thing purchases the rights to your idea.
Burger and his associates would get a small percentage of the sale, like a stockbroker or the well-known KickStarter website.
A.J. Kooti, a former accounting professor of Burger’s at Georgia Gwinnett College, helped develop the business plan and is now a consultant for the start-up company.
“I think it’s going to be greatly successful,” said Kooti. “One of the challenges was that the concept is so detailed and in-depth that getting the pieces to work together took a lot of effort. But he’s covered all those areas now, and it’s gained a lot of traction.”
Burger comes from a family of entrepreneurs. His father, Allen, is what he terms a “serial entrepreneur.” He started a company that makes boat trailers, another that repaired cars, and was able to morph his skills to what the market needed at the time.
“Ben is more in touch with what’s going on in the digital market and intellectual properties than I am,” he said. “He feels very strongly about this concept… and it doesn’t surprise me that he wants to do this type of thing.”
Burger surrounds himself with similarly minded friends, including Shiloh High School graduate David Yarbrough, founder of 'Merica Clothing. His roommates collaborate regularly and form a sort of "think tank," hashing out big ideas and contributing to each other's business concepts. (Yarbrough's business continues to expand, most recently partnering with Peach State Pride to sell and distribute his clothing line.)
Other collaborators include Shiloh graduate Andrew Booth, a "programming genius," according to Burger, and Chris LaFay, a Brookwood and University of Georgia graduate, among others.