It all started, improbably, with marbles. Virtual ones.
In October 2012, a group of graduate students in London, including an American ex-pat named Daniel Perez and German national named Gabriel Mecklenburg, launched Marblar. The platform attempted to help governments R&D shops and other inventors find entrepreneurs willing to license their old, unused patents. Here's how TechCrunch described it at the time:
"The authors of un-commercialised discoveries work with the Marblar team to post a listing of their invention — distilled in an accessible, yet comprehensive form — from which the crowd are tasked with drilling further into its capabilities and, in contest form, enter ideas for possible commercial uses. Each ‘entry’ is then voted upon by the Marblar community, while there’s a wiki-like Q&A section so that users can interact with and bounce ideas off of the invention’s