Case Number: 5-311-503, Year Published: 2011
HBS Number: KEL627
Business Plans, Business Policy, Competitive Strategy, E-Commerce, Entrepreneurship, Growth Strategy, Information Technology, Innovation, Social Media
MentorMob had sprung from the passions—for web development and for online communities—of the company’s co-founders, Kris Chinosorn (CEO) and Vince Leung (COO). The company pursued the ambitious goals of reinventing the way people learn and becoming the world’s utility for learning about anything. The website leveraged a crowdsourcing model for information sharing, teaching, and learning. By enabling participants to learn—and to crowdsource from each other while learning—the site sought to both engage users at different stages of learning and to develop a compelling experience unobtainable without a crowd. Chinosorn and Leung needed to prioritize in order to achieve the growth and scale needed to become world’s utility for learning. What should they do next to keep MentorMob’s growth on track? What issues should get their greatest attention?
The case examines the issues involved with a startup seeking to commercialize a disruptive new idea in the Web 2.0 space, and it looks at the earliest stages of growth and formation as a for-profit company. It introduces students to concepts typically found in the Web 2.0 world today and demonstrates how they work in a setting common among entrepreneurial startups. The case illustrates key concepts of crowdsourcing and community management of online platforms. It also examines many of the challenges faced by a startup in this space as the site attempts to begin the virtuous cycle of growth among the online communities it manages.
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