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Online greenhouse grows new ideas

Start-up lets members vote on best ideas for companies and helps market them

A Canadian company is incorporating the community aspects of Web 2.0 applications to foster new start-ups.

Cambrian House, which calls itself a commercial "crowdsourcing" software company, lets people offer up ideas for new products and companies. If its members like the ideas, the Web site will help market them--sort of like an online, participatory greenhouse.

Since launching in February, Cambrian House has grown to more than 7,000 members, and more than 3,200 ideas have been submitted to the community. Cambrian House announced at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco this week the launch of its latest product--Robinhood Fund. It's a charity Web site where people pay $5 to make a wish, and the wishes with the most votes get money from the fund every week. One man who wished "to get my girlfriend back" received $200 to help pay to transfer to her university. A woman got $200 to send her mother to a spa, and another woman got $200 to help pay her vet bills.

The Web site also recently held a special IdeaWarz tournament. The winner was FundableFilms. FundableFilms founder Andy Doan, a producer of sci-fi podcasts, wants to create an online community where members can network on ideas and funding for films. For winning, he will receive both a Web site and an online marketing plan to determine market interest. If it is taken to market successfully, FundableFilms will receive royalties, as will others who participate in creating the Web site.

Because the voting results were close, Cambrian House said it would also market test the IdeaWarz runner-up's idea, "Spoil my Spouse." I can only imagine what type of reality show gimmick that involves.