Executive Summary for WebCred

A. Product:

WebCred will take a leap forward in the way we interact on the Internet by establishing true online identity. Social Networks such as MySpace and Facebook emerged to facilitate basic interaction between individuals online. Simple text and photo exchanges between individuals have grown into more complex and innovative interactions, but they unfortunately all tie individual identities to the service on which they exist. WebCred takes a step back and looks to create an online identity which mimics real life identity as much as possible, where identity and hence reputation are tied to the user instead of the Social Networks. Regardless of whether you are going to the mall or the park, your identity, your face, your wallet, your friends, and your reputation in the real world is constant.  

                Our goal is to decouple identity and connections from the Social Networks and transform Social Networks into interaction platforms. With the emergence of a central identity and reputation in WebCred, the user can freely choose from competing, and therefore innovating interaction platforms without the present lock-in effects from today. Specifically, WebCred’s central reputation service is of importance in the emerging Collborative Consumption markets like eBay, AirBnB, and GetAround [1], because it increases trust and security among users and therefore decreases transaction costs.

WebCred’s novelty and focus is on making it dead-simple for developers to integrate our identity solution for their web service. As it is the first of a kind concept with the scope of leveraging central identity, it can facilitate much richer interactions between the multitude of current and emerging web services.

B. Market

Social Networks have already established huge user bases, most notably Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare. They have revenues in the billions of dollars and are valued cumulatively above 100 billion dollars. Social Networks create and deepen connections and interactions between users and customers in innovative ways both in social, commercial and entertaining terms. A key market for WebCred are the Collaborative Consumption markets, that are expected to emerge dramatically in the next few years. [1]

C. Customer Value & Need

The idea for WebCred originates from putting the user before the social networks. The need for maintaining multiple social networks and identities vanishes upon the emergence of WebCred as a central way to manage your connections and starting point for diverse interactions on interaction platforms. Customers will be able to choose interaction platforms by the actual value of the service they offer instead of the lock-in effect they produce. This creates value for the user as interaction platforms compete on the best interaction experience possible. The centralized aspect of having identity and connections can create immense value, but especially for the Collaborative Consumption Markets, a unified and centralized identity and therefore reputation allows easier and safer access for all users in the market. Establishing the same trust online that we have in the real world can reduce fraud and facilitate safer interactions.

D. Business Operational Model

WebCred’s Business Operational Model is that of a typical tech-startup: We will start out with a core of engineers and designers to build the minimum viable product to validate the idea. Given the first funding round, we will expand with growth in the core departments as well as a customer-relations and marketing department for user and market feedback. We will establish a product-centric culture in which the user comes first to deliver the best product possible. Similar to most social networks today, the main focus in the beginning will be on aggressive growth of user base, business model verification, and experience iteration. Long term, more corporate strategies can be implemented to ensure the vitality, values and goals of the company.

E. Revenue & Sustainbility

Plenty of revenue streams exist for a system like WebCred. First, the establishment of identity provides an easy platform for targeted advertisements. Secondly, WebCred could charge for premium identity verification, insurance, fraud detection, and mitigation of any risks that depend on identity. WebCred can leverage its trusted brand in interaction platforms by charging financial transaction fees for monetary exchange like Peer-2-Peer lending or even consider entering the banking and credit industry by leveraging its reputation data. WebCred provides a sustainable service with long term revenue potential by entering the market first and benefiting from lock-in effects.

F. Growth Potential

The Internet has always been about information exchange and facilitating connections. WebCred has the potential to be the ultimate solution for representing and utilizing identity for the synthesis of online and offline activities. Thus, this service has the potential to be used by anyone on the Internet. Besides just identity and reputation, there are many areas an identity platform could expand into, including real world advertising using online identity, corporate identification, age verification, customer relations, business fraud, payments, etc.

G. Team Potential

Alex Valentine, Nam Chu Hoai and Connor McEwen are Trustee Scholars and members of the Kilachand Honors College. Alex is pursuing a BS in Biomedical Engineering. He has worked in several medical research facilities, carries a 3.9 GPA, and has experience in UNIX, Python and Ruby on Rails. He will participate in conceptual design and front end modeling. Nam is pursuing the BA/MA program in Computer Science, and was a finalist for Peter Thiel’s inaugural 20 under 20 competition, which awarded $100k to students under 20 years of age to start their own company. Over the summer, he worked at Apture, a startup in San Fransisco which was recently acquired by Google. He will pursue this idea in a directed study next year with Professor Byers in the Computer Science department, a professor with significant startup experience. His extensive background in computational work leaves him responsible for building the backbone of WebCred’s online framework. Connor McEwen is pursuing the BS/MS program in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He was a member of the winning team in the BU Smart Lighting Challenge in Spring 2011, carries a 4.0 GPA, and was involved in research in the Smart Lighting Center. Connor is also fluent in Python, Ruby on Rails, and C++ computer languages. He will be responsible for most front-end development on WebCred. Alex, Nam, and Connor have considerable knowledge of the Internet service field. They also possess the problem solving skills necessary to sustain a start-up operation, and as such maintain the ability to quickly learn and adapt to new circumstances.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collaborative_consumption