Crazy Startup Idea? Idea Pawnshops

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By Jacob Maslow

Stone WheelThe interesting thing about intellectual property is that for the longest time, people didn’t think ideas were property. People would have no problem looking at a shirt, a pair of shoes, or a computer as a property. However, they would have a tougher time wrapping their minds around the concept that an idea, whether reduced to physical form or burned on to a CD or displayed in video, is property and can be protected against theft.

Well, setting that issue aside, there is a big market for ideas. Ideas after all are the core of startup technology companies. For the most part, investors, whether angels or venture fund managers, are betting that the management team of a technology startup has the capability to shepherd an idea from concept to finished product. That’s the core of the investment and where the money is flowing to.

One interesting startup idea that may be worth investigating is why not set up some sort of online auction or exchange platform for ideas? I’m not talking about funding ideas. There are already different iterations of that model. Instead, I’m talking about ideas as collateral for financing. That’s right—maybe the time has come for idea pawnshops. Of course, there has to be a lot of research for this concept to work. At the very least, the idea has to either be patented or has a patent pending or under some sort of legal obligation. Otherwise, if it’s just some sort of free-floating idea, the person running the pawnshop platform runs the risk of getting sued by the actual legal owner of the idea.

If this concept sounds unfamiliar, it shouldn’t be. Just as people pawn domain name and websites, maybe the next step is to pawn ideas. I suspect that for this concept to truly take off, there has to be some sort of level of development involved. Maybe an idea encased or explored in a business plan along with some legal documentation. Regardless, I’m just throwing it out there because it seems like it might have some legs either now or shortly in the future. You have to remember that the technology landscape is driven and fueled by the power of ideas.

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