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The Idea Startup: Collaborate on Planning Business Ideas

There are plenty of apps that make collaboration a lot easier — at least once you’ve figured out what your actual project is going to be. But if you’re still in the kicking-around-ideas stage of planning your organization you could probably do with a specialized tool. The Idea Startup fulfills that need by offering collaborative tools geared specifically towards planning a startup. It has built-in features for sharing ideas during the business plan development phase, pulling together financial projections and sharing information in real time.

The Need for Specialized Collaboration Tools

The idea of specialized collaboration tools makes sense. We already have many tools built for different types of organizations; in different industries, for instance, project managers can have very different need.

Tools laid out with specialized templates are useful, as are tools that handle industry-specific reporting requirements. But specialized collaborative tools can go further. The Idea Startup is just one example of how tools built for businesses in different parts of their lifecycle could be useful. When you aren’t sure quite where your organization could go after the business plan is prepared, there’s no reason to invest time and money into a more robust project management tool.

The Idea Startup offers a trial account for free: for a bootstrapped startup with little money, that’s a good way to get on track. If the idea can be fleshed out to the point where the founders know whether they have enough to start diving deeper, the price tag of $24 per month for a premium account seems  well worth it. The additional features, such as five-year financial projections, may not be important during the initial effort to develop an idea, but it will be very useful in order to take a business plan to the next level.

The tool that grew into the Idea Startup is the result of a class project at Northeastern University, where groups were required to create full business plans, but realized that existing software didn’t allow for collaboration, and had quite a few other problems to boot.

Planning for the Future

If you take a look at the founders of startups, you’ll often find serial entrepreneurs: once someone has started one business, it’s not out of the question that they’ll come up with another good idea. That means that having a tool that allows you to consider multiple ideas makes sense. The Idea Startup allows users to keep track of more than one idea — letting you do preliminary work on future business plans whenever you like.

Furthermore, it’s worth considering that ideas are valuable. The Idea Startup takes precautions for security from the technological (providing split database storage) to legal (require team members sign non-disclosure agreements before accessing your ideas). The web application provides more security for your business plan than, say, passing around a Word document ever will, and it makes managing the information involved significantly easier as well.

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): How to Manage Consumer-Grade Collaborative Tools in the Workplace

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