Building great companies is tough. Many of us got help along the way and would be happy to help other people out, if given the chance.
kar·ma – ˈkärmə/
1. (in Hinduism and Buddhism) The sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
2. A new way for Israeli entrepreneurs to ask for help from each other.
We’ve all experienced a critical deal or an amazing connection that happened due to a bit of serendipity and the goodwill of a friend or a fellow entrepreneur. As we look at ways Aleph can help the startup ecosystem, we thought helping founders help each other was a great, untapped opportunity for innovation. So we built Karma.
A mobile app dedicated to entrepreneurs who want to help each other, Karma is not another social network or about growing a volume of users. We’ve built Karma to give members of the startup ecosystem a way to ask for help, give help and share knowledge. Karma is about value and access, not vanity.
Karma is also about experimenting. We’re diving this project with our eyes wide-open but with deep conviction in the sheer talent of individual entrepreneurs to continuously reinvent the world and help one another develop. We believe in the power of ecosystems, support networks and mentorship to be great sources of leverage and the foundations upon which great companies are built. Our hope is that Karma will be a great companion to many of you along the road to success – in large part, thanks to all your own contributions to each other.
We’d like Karma to be a place where you feel comfortable sharing your questions and needs. As such, Karma will be confined to members of the Israeli startup ecosystem and its global friends. We are launching Karma in beta to an even smaller group, which will expand over time. If you’d like to join the beta, feel free to apply here: http://bit.ly/1jqptzn
When building Karma, we kept a few key principles in mind:
GTD – First, we wanted Karma to be highly efficient. We wanted it to be all about Getting Things Done to help others. Building a company is a 200% job and the chances of us being able to help others is inversely proportionate to the overhead of providing the help.
We all are keenly familiar, for example, with the neverending back and forth email dance of introducing two people to one another. With Karma, all you have to do to make an intro is tap the ‘refer to’ button and pick the individual or group you think can help. As a bonus, you get several other benefits. First, the intro is very focused on a specific issue/request, so the receiver of the intro immediately understands the context and can respond inline. Second, since the receiver can choose to ignore transparently, you don’t have to worry about the appropriateness of the intro. No more back and forth ‘can I intro?’ loops.
Another feature aimed at efficiency is ‘Go Private’, which allows you to immediately respond with an email or text message to a request, in cases where offline response is more suitable.
Asking for help is also easy. All you need to do is tap the + button and enter your request as free text or as a quick poll – add a photo if you’d like. You can then choose whether to change the default audience or just go ahead and post your request.
User Generated Curation – We wanted to empower users to easily curate what they receive as well as where their outbound requests reach. When you sign into Karma, we ask you to choose groups you’d like to follow. However, creating a new group is as easy as adding a #newHashtag to your text. Every time you do that, a new group with the title “#newHashtag” is formed and people can start following it. Some groups will go on to grow and succeed, while others will wither and die. With that capability, the community will be able to continuously adapt and curate its interests.
Pay-It-Forward Economy – We help each other out of the goodness of our hearts, but sometimes incentives can be useful to get the ball rolling. That’s why we’ve added a pinch of gamification to Karma. Helping others and referring them to others will award you with Karma points. Karma has a leaderboard, where we celebrate the most helpful members of the community and some of the functionality of Karma, e.g. the breadth of audience to which your requests reach, will be dependent on your Karma points status. At Aleph, we will also provide unique ways for you to redeem your Karma points e.g. office hours and invitations to special events. Down the line, we envision Karma points becoming a currency and forming the basis of our pay-it-forward economy.
We are launching Karma today with an Android version that is already live on the Google Play Store at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=vc.aleph.karma. The iOS version is in the works and is expected to launch in the next few weeks. To be notified when it is out, sign up here: http://bit.ly/1rdqXj9. If you’ve gotten an email from us that you are in the beta, you can just go ahead, download the app and sign up. If you haven’t and would like to participate, feel free to join the waiting list by filling out this form: http://bit.ly/1jqptzn. As always, we’re looking forward to your feedback.
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