Announcing MindSpread: Pay-It-Forward for Books

Announcing MindSpread: Pay-It-Forward for Books

Recently, I wrote a review of the book Rework. I asked people to comment about their favorite business philosophy and I would buy them a copy of Rework for free. The only stipulation was that they had to give it to someone else. It was a success. Most people that I communicated with were enthusiastic about receiving the book and then passing it on.

My business partners and I were at dinner before the opening event of Big Omaha. An idea emerged. We wanted to start a non-profit called MindSpread. The mission of MindSpread is to encourage the spreading of knowledge and culture throughout the world. It could quickly be described as pay-it-forward for books. We shared this idea at Big Omaha and most people responded very enthusiastically. Now, we want to share it with you.

How would MindSpread do this? Simple. We would build a website that would help each participants visualize their impact upon the world. The minimum viable product (MVP) would work something like this:

  • Let’s say that you bought three copies of Rework to give away. You’ve then given them away to whomever meets your criteria. You get each of their email addresses.
  • You go to and start typing in Rework. would then leverage Amazon’s book APIs and as you type the book title in, the textbox input would autocomplete the rest of the title. Simplicity is key here.
  • Next there would be a numeric input for you to enter in the number of copies. For our specific example you would enter in three.
  • Based on what you input for the number of copies, in this case, three text inputs appear that prompt you for an email address. You enter in an email address in each textbox input field.
  • You then click submit. If you don’t have an account, you would be prompted to create one via Facebook connect.
  • The three people who you gave Rework to would receive an email about MindSpread and the vision. A link would be included in the email for them to signup and then enter in an email address for the person they gave the book to.
  • You would be able to visit your profile page and see a Google Maps visualization of where your books have been and how many people have received them. Thus, visualizing your impact upon the world.

That’s just the MVP. The possibilities are endless. A ranking system could be added on books that are spread the quickest and the most books in the system. A scoring system could be setup for each individual to see who has the most impact upon the world. You could connect with people who have interest in similar books that you do.

It is critical that this be a non-profit, as I would like to protect the sanctity of the site. That is to say, I want to protect its altruistic nature and encourage giving. I would also like to reassure people that their email addresses are not going to be used for commercial aspects. The site could generate money by Amazon affiliate links.

There is one problem, we don’t have much time, we unfortunately can’t make this a priority now to do this by ourselves. But, we want to see this happen. I in conjunction with Reflect7 will pay for hosting, initial non-profit registration, and other misc. costs. I think that to build the MVP, it could be done in a weekend with a few programmers and a couple of designers. Kind of like Startup Weekend. I would be more than willing to set this up and find sponsorship.

Please share your criticism and comments. Will you spare some time to help with this endeavor? Will you help to spread knowledge and culture throughout the world? Will you help us change the world?

You can follow me on Twitter @jprichardson

-JP Richardson

If you made it this far, you should follow me on Twitter.  


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