One of the most exciting opportunities to participate in the emerging innovation economy that largely remains unknown to disconnected minority populations is the role of a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Within the context of technology-based entrepreneurship and the emerging innovation economy, SMEs are generally highly experienced individuals in a particular industry or field of expertise who offer their insights and knowledge to assist investors, economic development professionals, and other key decision makers as they consider which promising business opportunities to support. A standard component of most business “incubators” and “accelerators” is a screening, vetting and overall evaluation process to determine the overall viability of a potential business. SMEs are typically called upon to help these incubators and accelerators analyze market opportunities, understand shifting trends, and identify potential competing businesses and alternatives, to name just a few. Additionally, SMEs should bring real-world examples, best practices, and other “tricks of the trade” that will positively impact the decision making process.
SMEs can be seasoned entrepreneurs, senior-level business executives, educators and professors in academia, or any other environment that has enabled a truly in-depth knowledge or understanding of a given subject. Other common characteristics of quality SMEs include:
A documented history of working with small business and transaction processing such as merchant account services, cash advance, credit card processing. Specificly in the area for which they are a high risk merchant expert.
Hands-on, practical experience of having actually successfully performed the work in question. They not only understand the challenges, but the details within those challenges.
An understanding of industry best practices and the ability to effectively communicate those insights.
An understanding of user needs, market acceptance, and keen insights into the motivations and desires of the intended audience for a given product or service.
SMEs are also commonly rewarded for their expertise by frequently becoming part of the ongoing advisory team of promising businesses; invited to become part of the investor team; or any of a number of other unique opportunities that emerge simply be offering their initial expertise.
If you believe you meet the requisite background of a Subject Matter Expert and would like to get connected to promising businesses in the innovation economy click here to become part of the MSIA network.