There is no shortage of ideas in the world, especially good ones. What there is a shortage of, is action. That lack of action is due to either individual(s) unwillingness or inability to take action, although oftentimes individuals will believe/claim that their barrier is inability when it is in fact their unwillingness. That said, one of the highest “inability barriers” is seed funding, or having the financial resources to act on an idea. I get excited when I find initiatives that seek to overcome that “inability barrier” by investing in action on ideas.
Pioneer seeks to find the “Lost Einsteins” of the world and fund their ideas through a peer voting process (similar to employee innovation programs). Taking it a step further, Pioneer seeks to create a strong support system for their winners by bringing them to Silicon Valley and setting them up with strong mentoring.
Emergent Ventures (EV) similarly seeks to discover otherwise overlooked individuals with ideas through both funding and mentoring. As might be expected from an organization run by an economist (and seed funded by the Thiel Foundation), EV seeks to minimize waste and bureaucracy and maximize the potential of the entrepreneur. For more on EV, also check out the Marginal Revolution blog, who takes credit for bringing my attention to both EV and Pioneer.
Both programs are accepting applications now, so if you have an idea worth pursuing and are simply seeking for a kick-start this is your chance, don’t waste it. Emergent Ventures application can be found here. The Pioneer application can be found here, with the deadline to apply being end-of-day February 3rd.
P.S. Another cool funding initiative I came across a couple years ago was started by a Texas based Venture Capital firm, Notley Ventures. Notley Ventures facilitates and funds an event called Phialnthropitch,that offers grants to non-profits via a start-up-pitch like event. Along with being a interesting concept, it is a great event to attend.