What started as a site to crowdsource ideas is now a venture capital community. VenCorps invites startups to share their businesses, then professionals and amateurs alike help select the best in periodic “showdowns.” Winners of showdowns receive a $50,000 investment (convertible debt, for the VC wannabes following along).
The service is in alpha, but still has managed to get some good attention. The company is funded by Spencer Trask and hired up former Flock-ster Will Pate to handle its community. Social software site Mashable is sponsoring a showdown.
The quality of the startups listed on VenCorps is surprising. Sure, there are a few nutty ones (several me-too social networks, plus a service that will launch your DNA into space), but there are also viable companies. Up-and-coming video site Viddler even listed itself.
VenCorps is an offshoot of crowdsourcing site Cambrian House, which invited the community to submit ideas. Then, other members would vote the ideas up or down. Finally, when the best ideas were determined, the community would pull together to build it. That was the concept, anyway, but it didn’t work like the founders hoped. Earlier this year, Cambrian House sold its assets to Spencer Trask.
VenCorps is different from Cambrian House in that it addresses a major drawback to the previous concept: a startup team matter more than an idea.