Five Minutes With Calgary’s SolversMarket

Startup Calgary is hosting Launch Party 2011 on December 1, 2011, giving nine Calgary companies the opportunity to showcase their products to VCs, angel investors, and A100 members. Three companies will be selected for a two-minute pitch competition on the main stage, pitching their products to 250 members of the Calgary tech community. See the full list of startups here.

SolversMarket provides an innovative web platform for fast intelligence exchange on a paid basis. Unlike numerous free Questions & Answers websites, SolversMarket targets the underserved sector of Science and Engineering students. Leveraging the power of crowdsourcing, SolversMarket allows posters to pay to attract solvers, and encourage solvers to earn money by utilizing their knowledge and expertise.

The key to a successful startup is to offer a solution to a well-defined problem. What problem does SolversMarket address?

We provide a link between the people who possess necessary knowledge and the people who need prompt answers to their questions. At this point we are focused on science and engineering university students because this is where such a service is really necessary. However, this is a bigger problem – you can’t find answers to specific technological questions just by doing a Google search. At the same time, there are plenty of people in the world who know the answer and you just need to find them and ask. This is what SolversMarket is for.

How did you conceive SolversMarket?

As of today, we are a team of two Engineering PhDs and one MSc in Physics working in different areas of applied science and engineering. Often when solving a major problem, we had a situation when we needed to deal with many smaller problems which could be done much better and faster by specialists in the relevant fields. We came up with the business idea at the end of 2009. By that time, we were all just graduate students at the University of Calgary. Unhappy with the level of services for sharing scientific and engineering knowledge available online, we decided to develop our own platform for intelligence exchange where people looking for answers and people who can help them are brought together to collaborate for mutual benefit.

What is your biggest stumbling block as a startup? What steps have you taken to overcome this challenge?

It’s hard to name one, because we’ve been through a lot in the last year or so and we’ve had to deal with a number of issues. One of the biggest issues has been to manage the startup and our personal and professional lives. When we started, we were students. Now we all have families and full time jobs, so handling our time efficiently is a real necessity. How did we overcome this? Well, we just work as hard as we can and do our best. This has been working out so far. It’s much easier when you do something you love.

How has SolversMarket arranged its financing? Are you actively seeking investors?

Our first seed capital was prize money we won in the Student Technology Innovation Challenge organized by Innovate Calgary in 2010. Then we received an Alberta Innovation Voucher which helped us with a market opportunity assessment. We have also been investing our own money along with a lot of sweat equity. And yes, we are interested in talking with investors.

What’s the most exciting thing happening in the tech ecosystem in Calgary right now?

SolversMarket! But seriously, there is lots and lots of young entrepreneurs coming up with great ideas that can change our lives. They are the future and are really interesting to watch.