Adam Glickman on The Idealists

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Adam Glickman, former CD/publisher of Tokion magazine and former BBH Labs partner, recently launched, an online creative marketplace that hopes to bring together clients, creatives and great ideas. Inspired by the efficient online business models of companies like eBay or, the members-only site invites creatives to post their ideas and what they think they're worth. Clients too are invited to list their briefs and budgets. The Idealists will then serve as an agent to help negotiate potential partnerships. Currently hosting briefs from the Diesel, The Guggenheim, Incase and Kanye West's nonprofit organization, the site hopes to provide bigger opportunities for creatives to realize their unsold ideas, while helping to address clients' increasingly targeted messaging needs.

Worried about tossing your babies into cyberspace? Glickman further explains how The Idealists works.

So, what inspired this new venture?

Tokion was a place where first you have a good idea, then you figured out a way to get it realized. Yet you were always wishing you had more money to fund bigger ideas. I had been lucky enough to work with really smart, forward thinking ad clients who effectively acted as patrons for our new ideas. The system worked quite well and both parties seemed to get proper value from the relationship.

In 2005, I saw the writing on the wall for print and decided it was time to step out in search of realizing even bigger ideas and ambitions, which is what, in a roundabout way, brought me into the advertising world. Once inside, I found that money was no longer an issue. If anything, there is too much money. Yet realizing big ideas is clearly harder, not easier.

So in publishing, the idea comes first and the budget follows. In advertising the budget is first and the ideas follow. Neither is necessarily right or wrong, but the hope with The idealists is to find that sweet spot between the two in order to service both creative ideas and creative needs better.

What's your selection/screening process for the invitees to The Idealists?

Members need to work in communications. They should also have a portfolio that reflects a certain level of quality and professional experience within their specific field. We want members to feel comfortable that they are sharing the space with people that can execute a quality deliverable.

We currently have about 400 members, a handful of whom are potential clients that are currently approving budgets and waiting for the right time to give it a try. It's really about maintaining a proper signal to noise ratio so if the noise grows to great or if demand grows to great, we will break categories off into their own vertical sites. So music might become its own site, fashion its own, design, etc. And the sites will overlap when fitting. I don't envision ever having more than a few thousand active users at any given time. I should also mention we will soon allow groups on the site and also offer white labeling services to companies that want to share within their own networks only.

How does this new venture differ from the crowdsourcing biz models we've seen out of Victors & Spoils, and others?  

It's better to view us an an agent more than an agency. While we do offer creative and production services, our core offering here is that of matchmaker.

The site raises some issues about intellectual property. Are there any safeguards against the ideas on the site getting stolen by someone else?

I'm glad you asked because the site actually provides more IP protection than the current process of selling ideas, which generally involves presenting in-person during closed meetings. Users have the option to give only a preview of their idea, and clients can also maintain full confidentiality. The core of an idea can remain locked behind a non-disclosure agreement built into the site. Viewers must agree to this NDA before being allowed to see the more confidential aspects of the idea. There are also records of who has seen each idea. These records are made visible to the owner.

So you have a much stronger paper trail here than you do pitching face-to-face. It's important to remember it's very hard to place value on a unrealized idea. That said, if a user feels his IP has been stolen or shared, we will attempt to mediate. If that isn't possible the offender will be kicked off the site in a public manner.

One last thing. And this is an observation, not a judgment, but in the short time Ive been discussing the site with people, freelancers, who are paid per idea (and therefore arguably have more to lose from IP theft) seem much more open to using the site than salaried creatives.

So what about compensation? Do you provide any sort of compensation guidelines/oversight as part of the site's service?

We proof everything that is submitted before approving the post. So we can offer advice on the best ways to structure pricing and set a fair rate. For jobs that we act as agent on, which are titled Powered by Idealists, billing will go through us. For jobs in which we aren't directly involved, well, just like we can set up the date, but it's really up to the parties to be polite once they get to dinner. This isn't really any different than how business is currently conducted among clients and vendors.

What's been the response so far? Has anyone "hooked up" yet?

It's picking up steam by the day. We are carefully curating posts in the beginning, but that said, they have been going up about two per week on average and I assume that will become one, maybe two a day eventually. Yes, there have been a few "hook-ups" and the first two ideas will hopefully be going into production this month.

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