Crowdsourcing in Paris with Angela Natividad: Interview with the VP - Marketing at from
Crowdsourcing in Paris with Angela Natividad: Interview with the VP - Marketing at from

Hey Willi,

As for a product that shines: I work at hypios, which uses "intelligent crowdsourcing" to help enterprises solve their R&D problems. In our view, a focus on long-term ecological sustainability is integral to innovation efforts.

Here's my long (well, not really) bio:
Angela Natividad is a compulsive communicator with insights on advertising, technology and life. From humble beginnings as a marketing director for, she spent the last handful of years serving as editor of CMSWire, MarketingVOX and Adrants.

I am VP-Marketing at, in-house ad critic at Vanksen's Culture-Buzz and co-hostess of AdVerve.

For more (and still more, and more still!), read my personal blog, or follow me at

* * * * * * *

Please define intelligent crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing is inspired by the idea that all the minds willing to work on a given variable are going to yield better results than an isolated group.

What happens, though, is that once you've reached enough scale, you end up with too much material to sort through, much of which is mediocre, unrelated to the original problem, or poor work. Great work doesn't rise to the top; and many of the best people, daunted by the odds, may walk away from participating altogether.

Intelligent crowdsourcing is about making the playing field broad without making it overwhelming. At hypios, our problems tend to be highly technical. So we attract potential problem-solvers that are likely to have either the education or the professional experience to tackle them.

That's not to say we only draw engineers or technicians into our midst; a sociologist or anthropologist willing to parse through many of the postings on may, in fact, find a diversity of problems that may be better addressed from a human, versus purely algorithmic, perspective. We also have internal semantic technology that recommends problems "intelligently" to those who may be most interested or most likely to solve them (based on record of submitted solutions).

In short, "intelligent crowdsourcing" isn't about taking a problem and flinging it into the ether. It's about broadcasting the problem to a specific crowd -- in this case, people who love thinking about problems, from all walks of life.

In your email, you said that "a focus on long-term ecological sustainability is integral to innovation efforts." What is your track record in support of green?

Green is deeply embedded into what we do:
  • In historical cases of broadcast search success, people had to travel to the source of a problem in order to gather enough information to solve it. With the right data and research effort, we maximize the chances of finding a solution without physically moving -- lowering the tax of travel on the environment.
  • Often, Solvers present Seekers with equally valid solutions. Seekers tend to choose the more sustainable one. (Creating greater efficiencies in business usually goes hand in hand with reducing wasted resources; the sustainable solution is often more long-term.)
  • Sometimes Solvers simply inform seekers that the problem they have has already been solved in another industry. Mere data exchange like this reduces the potential waste in money, human time and hard matter that would have gone into reinventing that wheel.

Can you barter at hypios?

No need to barter; Seekers set their own costs. In the event they wish to accept more than one Solver's solution, we help them disburse the funds.

Have you worked on non-R&D problems?

We get what constitutes as "non-R&D" problems all the time (someone on hypios is currently asking for a better HR task-management tool, for example). But we tend to target Fortune 500 companies that are not only able to pose questions; they have the infrastructure necessary to executing the solution.

This is an important distinction. hypios isn't in the business of implementation; the researcher who formulates the question, usually has the means to incorporate the answer into an existing innovation process.

Has the same need for your open innovation service remained unchanged since you began? What have you learned about seekers and solvers?

Yes and no. It's changed in the sense that we had to change the way we approached our business, and what we discovered was that we fit into a lot more places than we thought.

At first we believed hypios would naturally evolve into a consultancy, but that wasn't the case. Consulting is a hairy, complex business where problems aren't always clear-cut and are often related to company culture; what we found is that we make a nice complement to consultants.

On hypios, your problems must be solvable online. You decide the cost, the variables and the deadline. You only pay if you find a solution that is satisfactory. This means the result is custom-fit to your specifications; in the end though, you still need to have the tools to implement it yourself.

What have you learned about Seekers:

Sometimes a Seeker is looking for a steady, incremental innovation and find themselves facing a "disruptive" one that came from outside the industry and approaches the problem in a completely unexpected way. That's a nice surprise for everybody.

Solvers are mainly concerned about having their ideas stolen, and having enough creative license to come up with out-of-the-box solutions. To the first point: nobody but the company sees their proposed solutions, and they are under contract not to use ones they haven't paid for. To the second point: Sometimes Solvers come up with brilliant solutions that do not meet the specifics of the client, but the latter wants to buy it anyway. They're free to do that.

Do you use psychological data to profile, evaluate and enlist great participants?

We use semantic data -- stuff that's already out there -- to recommend problems to particular Solvers or even to find potential Solvers that have never heard of hypios. Often we'll contact them personally and ask them what they think, and whether they'd like to participate.

Who are your top three innovators?

Personally? I'm a fan of Tim Berners-Lee, Claude Shannon and the innovation philosophies of LEGO.

What do you think of the iPad?

It's a technology that's been so long expected that, upon launch, people behaved as if they already had the right to "ho hum" about it. I'd recommend not buying one until the second generation. And even then I might lean in the direction of the Google Tablet instead. =P

Connections -

Angela Natividad
Vice President, Marketing at
Angela natividad at gmail dot com
Vanksen's Culture-Buzz | AdVerve