• Harry Sangree

In Search of an Elusive Solver: Strategies to Expand Our Crowd to 1,000,000

Updated: Nov 16


The premise of crowd-solving is that for many difficult problems, there is someone in the world that has a solution. The path to success requires the seeker to simply find the right person and incent them share their answer.

Our strategy at SeaFreight Labs has been to work with InnoCentive, a leading crowd-sourcing platform, because of the size and diversity of their crowd of registered solvers. In a prior blog entry I wrote about InnoCentive’s 500,000 creative and diverse minds from 195 countries. These people self-identify as having expertise in engineering, physical sciences, chemistry and life sciences. It is a valuable pool of expertise in which to search for the individual that might have a desired solution. There is a good chance that a person with a winning submission will be found in this group.

However, best-practice advice from successful practitioners of crowd-solving (such as US Air Force Research Lab) suggest that every challenge actively solicit additional solvers concurrent with InnoCentive’s marketing to their crowd. This effort has become one of the key ‘value-add’ services that a Project Advisor (such as SeaFreight Labs) can deliver to supplement InnoCentive’s core crowdsourcing service offering.

We have gone about this effort in an intentional way. Since all of the challenges that are currently underway (for World Vision and Habitat for Humanity) are technical in nature, it is imperative to connect with potential solvers with technical interests and capabilities. To maximize the effectiveness of our promotion efforts, we looked for ‘crowds’ of more than 100,000. To increase the diversity of perspectives, we searched for organizations with a global perspective, or at least not exclusively focused on North America.

This multi-month effort produced major success. We managed to achieve a more-than-doubling of the size of the crowd that will be exposed to the current challenges - to over 1,000,000 individuals! The table below summarizes the new crowds that supplement the InnoCentive crowd of potential solvers.

To gauge the effectiveness of each audience, we are using tracking links to identify the source of all visits to each challenge.

Expanding the size of the crowd involved with our challenges is a way to improve the odds of finding an attractive solution to each challenge. Early indications of traction with solvers are positive but the only measure that matter is the number of quality submissions. This won’t be known until January 2021, so stay tuned!

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