EquityOwl is a company that allows people to trade equity in their startup or idea, in exchange for professional services and talent. The company was co-founded in 2015 by Mitchell Trulli, Ryan Shaw and Alan Blashaw. The company deals with two classifications of people: people who have ideas they want to work on and people looking for ideas to work on. According to the EquityOwl site, the goal of the platform “is to help entrepreneurs succeed.”
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with one of the co-founders of EquityOwl, Ryan Shaw. Ryan is another young entrepreneur that StartupConvos has had the pleasure of speaking with about entrepreneurship and startups. It was great to be able to discuss EquityOwl with Ryan and see what it is truly all about.
According to Ryan, EquityOwl is a “service for people who have great business ideas, but not the capital to start up.” The way the platform works is as follows: the user posts an idea in return for equity and professionals on the platform can express their interest in the idea in exchange for equity compensation only. It is a pretty interesting concept in my opinion. The platform also has legal documents built into the site, which definitely helps the process move along more efficiently and swiftly. Instead of having to go off the site to handle hiring, EquityOwl uses the built-in legal documents to allow users to hire directly off the site. The site is a great way for freelancers to work on projects in exchange for equity.
Mitchell Trulli, one of the co-founders of EquityOwl came up with the idea for the platform about two years ago. The co-founders at the time (Mitchell and Ryan), kept trying to push forward new ideas, but had no way to bring them to life. They didn’t have the experience or money at the time (they were in high school). What did they do to address these issues? The co-founders decided to look at their own problems and thus created a business that could solve them. A business model was created that addressed exactly what they needed.
Ryan mentioned that there is some competition, but they are focused on compensation in the form of money. Some well-known competitors are www.guru.com and www.freelancer.com. The two companies have a similar idea in regards to EquityOwl, however the two companies are more concerned with finding jobs for hire, instead of finding jobs for equity (like EquityOwl does). Also, EquityOwl attracts high school and college students, as well as working professionals, whereas other competitors primarily attract working professionals only. One of the unique advantages of EquityOwl, according to Ryan is that EquityOwl utilizes legal document templates within the platform.
Ryan believes that he has always had an entrepreneurial mindset. Part of that comes from the fact that he has always had an interest in problems. One of the things Ryan has always done was look for problems and see what solutions he could develop. Ryan mentioned that after studying business more in college, he became even more interested in entrepreneurship.
Originally, the name of the company was SparkIdeas. However, the co-founders wanted a branded logo and felt that EquityOwl would allow them to create a good one (and they also liked how it sounded). The new name actually came from Alan Blashaw, who was brought on in October 2015 to be one of the partners. Everyone liked the name because it incorporated the term “equity” within it. Hearing the term EquityOwl let users and anyone else that was interested – understand that the platform revolved around equity, rather than money. Ryan mentioned that re-branding the company EquityOwl was a major turning point from being just an idea to becoming a company.
One of the biggest challenges for the co-founders was just getting started with the site. Some of the initial challenges that they ran into consisted of:
- Money to fund the site
- Refining the idea
- Developing who they were as a company
- Separating themselves from the competition
- Initial inexperience
- Trying to develop individual skill sets while developing the company
It was great to speak with yet another young entrepreneur. I really like the concept of EquityOwl and let’s face it, most of us out there have been in a situation where we would love to start a company, but don’t want to shell out the capital needed to hire the professionals that we need. Thanks to EquityOwl, that is no longer the case. Please be sure to check out EquityOwl’s site at http://www.equityowl.com/ and follow them on Twitter @JustEquityOwl
*StartupConvos has no investment in this company