Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Reinventing the wheel one directory at a time

I just saw this GrowLab post about an initiative to get local companies to get listed and link to a directory of Vancouver companies.

Now, I definitely think we can do more to celebrate being based here in Vancouver, as we digital creatives go out to sell to the entire world, but I hate seeing us once again starting yet another directory from scratch!

What other directories could we re-use the data from?

How about Crunchbase (143 companies listed)?

Or AngelList (172 startups listed in just Vancouver)?

Or the StartupNorth Index?

Even Techvibes has a company directory!

Now, of the four, I think only CrunchBase has a Creative Commons license that easily encourages re-use of the data. (And yes, I’m still waiting for to publish what their license is, and I’ve bitched … err, “suggested” … to Techvibes that they should have an open license, too).

But it means that companies have an incentive to fill out and keep the information up to date. Both StartupIndex and CrunchBase are wiki-style, meaning anyone can help keep the information up to date.

So, let’s re-think creating directories from scratch. Talk to some of these existing sites, and by all means make an interesting hub to tell the stories of these companies.

But more stale directories is not what we need.

(ironically, this might have been just a brief comment on the GrowLab site, but comments are turned off)


May 4, 2013: I originally posted this in February 2012, so the listings of startups in those other directories has only gone up.

StartupNorth did the right thing and now have a CC-By Attribution NC License on their index (still need to have that listed somewhere other than a comment, and non-commercial is less free than just going ahead and making it by attribution).

My pick for a startup-focused open data repository is StartupGenome (Vancouver list here). Their mission on their about page perfectly syncs with my thoughts on city/region level startup data:

We want to enable local startup communities to collect, curate and display their city's data anyway they want.

I’m working on a couple of things with Vancouver startup open data and Startup Genome, and had a super encouraging meeting with the Vancouver Economic Commission. Stay tuned!