Start-up

PWIIC

Nathalie Devriese

2017
Collaborative economy | Circular economy
Social and solidarity-based economy
Digital economy (platform-based economy)
Platformcoop of PwiicHums (Made in Coop with love)

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What is Pwiic.com ?

Looking for a service or a particular item of some sort? Simply send a Pwiic!

A Pwiic is a 200-character phrase that PwiicBot (our intelligent robot) is able to interpret, understand and then send to the right people in your local area. Send your first Pwiic ! 

Pwiic.com is a web platform that connects individuals in a simple and efficient manner through the help of PwiicBot (an intelligent bot that can find anything).  Imagine if it were possible to simply write a basic sentence and the platform would then do all the required interpretation, geolo-cation and research, as well as the work involved in putting people in contact with one another. That would mean there would be no more manual searching.

What a great time saver for the web user. Well guess what? It’s actually possible! PwiicBot is able to understand phrases of 200 characters, establish their geographical location and send them to people in your local area matching your search details. So all you have to do is simply send a Pwiic and everything is in process!

Pwiic.com is a local social network that makes it possible to find, exchange and share goods and services… all kinds of goods or services, including in ways you wouldn’t traditionally think of, such as the exchange and sharing of services or items between private individuals (i.e. peer-to-peer lending/sharing and the collaborative economy).

New ways of doing things and of consuming goods and services are emerging all over the world. The collaborative economy is filtering into all sectors: housing, transport, person-to-person help services, the knowledge sharing sectors and even the food industry.

Asking a neighbour to look after your dog while you’re away, car sharing and sharing vegetable patches or gardens are all examples of what are known as «collaborative» practices. Borrowing a lawnmower from your neighbour instead of owning one yourself, is both more economical and more environmentally friendly as it provides a way of reducing overconsumption – and thus helping in saving the planet through a simple everyday action. Thanks to the collaborative economy (and thanks to the internet), we are making goods and services much more accessible than before. What an opportunity!

Pwiic.com brings all the various kinds of collaborative practices together on a single platform.

But because everything can be found on Pwiic.com, local tradespeople and professional service providers (plumbers, electricians, photographers, Chinese teachers, etc.) are present on the platform too. Pwiic.com is not exclusive.

The collaborative economy is not intended to replace the traditional economy. On Pwiic.com, we want to see an evolution taking place, not a revolution. The collaborative economy can integrate with the traditional economy without competing with it on an unfair basis. To ensure this happens, however, it needs to be properly organized and regulated, but without restricting it.

Our business model on Pwiic.com is not based on worker insecurity. In fact we are going to try to fight against this kind of insecurity by operating our company to a high standard: Pwiic.com supports the values of freedom, solidarity and equal opportunities. We strongly believe in creating a better world in which overconsumption will become something of the past, a world in which freedom (the liberty to work more freely) will not be achieved at the cost of the weakest (solidarity as opposed to worker insecurity).

But how do you go about establishing this kind of solidarity with a start-up? It’s simple! Pwiic.com is a digital cooperative. This means that on Pwiic.com, everything is shared, including the start-up itself! Are you familiar with the traditional kind of cooperatives first established in the 19th century (farming cooperatives, consumer cooperatives, cooperative banks, etc.)?

Cooperatives exist in all sectors of the economy. And this is the web version of those cooperatives. Welcome to the world of cooperative platforms (PlatformCoop). Acquire a stake in the start-up: become a PwiicHum! Help to build the project with us!

Technology must remain at the service of humans, because technology will never replace humans. It is for this reason that the humans of Pwiic (PwiicHums) will be working hand-in-hand with PwiicBot.

In order to keep making PwiicBot more and more intelligent, it needs humans to enrich it and teach it to improve itself. The more PwiicBot is used, the better it will become. Without the PwiicHums, PwiicBot would simply remain a baby bot incapable of interpreting anything. Imagine a future in which the internet does not belong to the giants of the web but to all the people who use it. Pwiic.com is a new way of doing things, of creating and sharing value, of communicating, of consuming, of working, of cooperating… Yes, that’s right, cooperating!

Put forward the singularity of your start-up, from its value added to its innovative dimension

 

What are the components of Pwiic?

Pwiic = collaborative economy

Pwiic is a project based on collaborative economy. Is collaborative economy an innovation in itself? Exchanging and sharing, we do that since time immemorial. Trade-off existed before the web… But the digitalization of economy facilitates the exchange and speed up the process. In the next 10 years, economy will become more and more digital. It is inevitable, each company is meant to become a digital platform and each individual or object will be connected. Some professions might disappear because of this digitalization, but others will be created… This evolution is not a bad thing, as long as humans remain at the very heart of concerns. Every technological project should first be based on human consideration, and in priority, the platforms which are targetting the “collaborative” market.

 

Pwiic = p2p

Collaborative economy is presented as something implying peer-to-peer (p2p) relationships: direct contact between peers, and private individuals. This statement raises two questions: direct contact? only between individuals?

Regarding the second question, Pwiic.com’s conviction is that it is not a good choice, for two reasons. The first reason is that it is not a good strategy, neither in terms of efficiency nor on the social front, to oppose private individuals and professionals. There are good and bad service providers either in one category or the other. Likewise, regarding the prices of their services. And, at this point in time, it would be more advisable to call for a professional rather than a private individual for certain things, and vice-and-versa. We must have the choice.

But most of all, second reason, we must consider it in a dynamic way: the frontier between the two will fade away. If the p2p succeeds, it will become less and less occasional, it will spread. And the private individuals will adopt behaviors we used to experience with professionals, who will then evolve towards more flexibility. The frontier which opposes the ones against the others will disappear. Pwiic.com does not confines itself to certain kinds of services, neither to a niche strategy. Pwiic.com wants to offer a general solution and aims to gather service providers, from DIY to Italian lessons, from web design to made-to-measure dresses…

Of course, this wide complete offer will not be available immediately. But the intention is here: to become THE website one would visit while searching for a service or an item, whatever it is, or if you wish to offer a service or an item, whatever it might be.

Regarding the first question – is the collaborative economy really about direct relationship ? – we must admit that, in a great majority of the cases, the platform which organizes the collaboration between individuals decides on its own, organizes on its own, it has the power and gets the widest part of added value. Some even select their providers, make them wear the company t-shirt, train them, exclude them out of the process if they think they are not providing a good work….

This is not what p2p is about. To speak in marketing terms, p2p is c2c.

This c2c often becomes c2b2c, the b standing for the platform… Pwiic.com wants to avoid this trap and to allow the establishing of a relationship, by managing and controling it as little as possible (a minimum is necessary, but the control, the evaluation and the trust must come from the users themselves) and collecting the smallest possible margin.

And this can happen only if the costs of our structure are low and if we do not need to remunerate an investor: no big fundrai-sing and a low-cost structure. How do we do that? Two things: the contribution of artificial intelligence (PwiicBot) and the collaboration of its members (PwiicHums).

 

Pwiic = artificial intelligence : PwiicBot

We will reach our objective of offering a general solution (every service and every item) at a minimal cost thanks to AI (artificial intelligence). PwiicBot allows a clear improvement of the user experience, and an open-ended number of services and items.

There is no limit. Pwiic.com is, to this day, the only collaborative platform which offers an integrated Bot. This is a major advantage, knowing that in the next 10 years, this is what the internet will head to.

 

Pwiic = human : PwiicHums

We do not bank everything on artificial intelligence, we are far from that. We are looking for active collaboration from those who will join us online. This co-creation is what will give us a tremendous impulse.

On Pwiic.com, each PwiicHum can take responsibilities for administrative tasks and receive credits to spend on the website in return: write an article for the blog, take care of a question asked by a new member, share a post on social media, etc. Pwiic.com is not a free website because we are convinced that free websites do not exist (or else, you are the product). To be able to offer services on the website, you must have credits, which you can either earn through PwiicHum actions, or buy.

Those who invest in the start-up can therefore be rewarded in proportion to their investment.

But the will to participate goes even further than this.

 

Pwiic = Cooperative

We expect even more from our PwiicHums. We want to share it all, including the company itself. A collaborative economy which gives power to local actors, thanks to a participave governance and a share of value. This is the reasons why Pwiic.com is a cooperative, a digital cooperative, which belongs to its users. Imagine thousands of people creating a project together. Imagine the internet belongs to those users. We wish to demonstrate that the cooperative model now gets its full meaning thanks to digital and collaborative economy.

What does it mean to be a cooperative? Several things.

In terms of governance: in respect to cooperative principals ACI, meaning free and voluntary subscription, (moderate) financial participation to the capital from the users, democraty by vote at the general assemblies, limitation of the capital remuneration, discounts for users under different forms, guarantee of the autonomy of both the company and the platform.

In terms of daily management of the website: participation, interaction, co-creation, solidarity, responsibility, co-responsibility, equality, honesty, transparency.

 

Collaborative economy + true p2p + artificial intelligence (PwiicBot) + human (PwiicHums) + cooperative = Pwiic ! 

If each component of what makes Pwiic is not necessarily a singularity itself, the whole is a singular set… Creating a business in another way, creating value in another way and sharing this value, this is what Pwiic.com aims to. We do not want to become a unicorn and raise millions of euros. If those unicorns become cost-efficient someday, it will be at the expense of those who contribute to it… Instead of spending thousands of euros in marketing to get to the top, wouldn’t it be easier to make our best to build a project so great that users would speak about it and spread the word, naturally. We would therefore create a start-up with a small amount of money. And this is not utopia. If the technology is innovative (PwiicBot), if the users love it and invest in it (PwiicHums), the structure can remain light and low-cost. Artificial intelligence and active participation from its members. Pwiic benefits from multiple tasks, which either PwiicBot or PwiicHums will take care of.

What were your motivations while creating the start-up?

The world is to be reinvented:
What a gigantic opportunity to create a business! Overconsumption, poverty, progressive destruction of our planet, inequalities raising, exclusion… We must react! We must be creative and suggest alternatives. And of course, these alternatives will hustle and affect traditional economy, it is inevitable. I believe in the philosophy of collaborative economy and peer-to-peer. I also believe in the collaboration between individuals. Not everything must be thrown away neither burnt in traditional economy. We must make things evolve, in respect to the law and the dignity of each economic actor. My motivation is to initiate collaborative, responsible and solidarity-based economy.

Entrepreneurship is to be reinvented:
I have the conviction that it is only the beginning for digital economy and that extraordinary developments are still ahead of us. I want to make digital economy differently. I want to create my own business differently, without basing everything on capitals. I want internet to become a common good (which belongs to its users). I also want to demonstrate that creating a business is accessible to everyone.

 

What obstacles did you face while creating it? 

Of course, you will face obstacles in every experience of entrepreneurship… But if we analyse each obstacle one by one, it is possible to turn them into opportunities. The first difficulty in this project is to make others understand that it is possible to create differently, even inside our own team. To do that, I first focus on the analysis of figures and facts.

When I am told that we must spend 5000€ per month on marketing campaigns, that we need to raise funds quickly, it makes me wonder, because it is not what Pwiic.com is about.

We must flee from whatever could affect our objective and our concept, which must remain clear and consistent. Listening every advice is important, but without deviating from our initial project.

“Creating a start-up without funds, such naivety…!” No no, look at the statistics of Pwiic.com. Launched on March 1st 2017, we already gather 10.000 members, only six months after, with a daily 10€ budget for marketing. QED.

 

Did being a woman, besides from being a creator, appear to be a singularity in the start-up world?

I think lots of entrepreneurs are creators. Pwiic.com is a real creation itself, because everything is new and must be (re-)invented all the time: the digital, the governance, the economy, the world…

To summarize, organizing consists in reducing the incertainty. Innovating means exactly the opposite: take advantage of incertainties to elaborate new products, new projects that are not conceived in the organisation process. – (Norbert Alter, The Ordinary Innovation, PUF, 2005, p.368)

 

What advices would you give to a future entrepreneur?

Do not be afraid of failure. Because, even if our entrepreneurial project is a failure, the acquired experience is worth it! At least, it would have offered something else. We can all learn from our mistakes, and re-start. Failure is a kind of success. Entrepreneurship is a success in itself.

Never forget that nobody holds THE truth and that nothing is impossible. Prejudices (even if they come from your close ones) are not always good. If you wish to iniate a project differently, you must answer my small riddle: 5 mice are racing.

They must climb an enormous mountain. They all give up, except one. Why ?

The answer:

Yes, this mouse must have a lot of courage, it must be an athlete, full of motivation. But the true reason of its success is that she is deaf. She did not hear the crowd shouting “they cannot make it”.

Yes, listen to others to gain in mind-openness. Positive critics can help you a lot in improving your concept. Collective intelligence is not artificial…! But, do not hesitate to hustle common prejudices, avoid the fear of change.

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