Welcome to Centrly!
How many times have you had to in you personal or professional life had to: expand into a new region where you had no prior contacts (e.g. Chinese manufacturers), figure out the ropes of a new industry (e.g. cool radiation-resistant nuclear material you want to apply to space applications), or understand how to navigate a different type of community (e.g. academia approaching policy makers)? How was that experience? I've often found it frustrating, a drain of time, and leaving me thinking, "Am I sure I found all the best options?"
One specific example that comes to mind is when I was looking for host companies / universities to do my MS thesis at. I was in my 2nd year fall semester at EPFL in the Energy Management program and wanted to explore the efficacy of intermediary (i.e. matchmaking organizations) in helping match stakeholders in their community (the prelude to Centrly). If found an EPFL professor who agreed to supervise my work (Prof. Chris Tucci) and started searching around the world for someone who was similarly passionate about the topic. Where do I even start? I searched for key phrases like "collaboration brokering" on Google to generate a list of relevant academics and companies that seemed relevant (totaled to 100). I then emailed every single one of them with a 1-pg summary of the research objectives and proposal. I got about 20% replies and talked with 10% of the folks, mostly scholars. However, no one was interested in hosting me. One of the EPFL Energy Center Directors offered to introduce me to a company in Hong Kong, who may be interested... and they were! Although I decided to pursue my topic independently in the end and not take the HK offer, I found it surprising (and frustrating) in how much time I spent researching and trying to connect with an industry I knew little about (about 30hr total) and then a single person-to-person connection ended up bringing more results. Of course, I learned some as part of my search process (probably 8 of the 30h were valuable). If only there was a way to get a lay of the land and more efficiently search stakeholders (I'm guessing I'm not the only one with this challenge haha)...
As an engineer at heart, community-building enthusiast, and someone dedicated to having the biggest impact I can, I want to optimize it. Imagine a world where it was easy to find the right organizational partner to do a joint venture with? apply your cool tech in a different industry? collaborate on research? We could accelerate the rate of innovation and solve some of our most complex challenges faster, such as climate change, which is what Centrly is starting off with.
Feel free to reach out any any time with questions, comments, or recommendations.
Katia Paramonova - Founder, CEO of Centrly