More than a decade ago, I had planned to pursue a PhD and study the social informatics around collaboration technology, and actually created this blog (back in 2002) as a way to catalog the various social platforms of the day as part of this plan of study. Due to work and family, I delayed my start a couple times, lost my placement, and then just never got back into the school mode (I could justify the expense of my MBA, but honestly, the PhD had questionable ROI). The premise of my idea was simple: If approached, people will gladly provide service. If I reach out to someone I know who is an expert in a particular field and ask for their help, they will most likely help me out. However, people do not go out of their way to look for those service opportunities, especially in the business world. So why not make it easier for people to ask for help -- and pair them with people willing to help?
From this idea, the SamaritanWeb non-profit was born. As I’ve tried to illustrate above, the purpose of SamaritanWeb is to create a simple set of tools that help identify experts within a community, and pair them with startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses in their local community. Subject matter experts (SMEs) come from all backgrounds: finance and accounting, marketing, web development, mobile development, business development, sales, and so forth. They create a simple profile, specify their expertise, and the amount of time they are willing to donate to help businesses in their community. These small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs then search the system for volunteers with the right background and, when found, connect with them and agree to a free “consulting” activity based on the volunteer time specified.
This is not a job-matching concept. There is no financial transaction. This is about developing community-based volunteerism. It's about improving the local economy, one small business at a time.
The goal of SamaritanWeb is to increase the success rate of businesses in our communities, ultimately sparking economic development. It’s Match.com-meets-LinkedIn. Think about it: we all benefit from strong economic development – and many of us are willing and able to donate time and expertise to helping others succeed. SamaritanWeb will help automate the process. And if more local businesses succeed, it helps the overall economy to grow.
SamaritanWeb is a registered non-profit (will be filing for 501c3 status soon), and there is no cost for participating in the system. I have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the funding needed to development the platform and launch the program within the Seattle area, with the intent of taking it nation-wide. I’d love your support! You can contact me through GoFundMe.com/samaritanWeb for more information