So Ty and I submitted our startup project’s pitch to the Amazon Startup Challenge last night. Wish us luck!
The idea (currently implemented as a working prototype, albeit with a number of rough edges) has to do with micropatronage, a concept that is near and dear to my heart. In a nutshell we believe that content authors should be rewarded for their efforts, and we think we’re on to a way to make that fun and rewarding for patrons too.
It’s something we’ve been developing on and off for months now, in between various other client gigs and open source initiatives. We have no illusions about being chosen (although it sure would be nice if we were!), but if nothing else the contest has given us the kick in the butt that we needed to get back on track with it and formalize a number of principles in writing. Writing things down, and trying to explain them to people whom you’ve never met before, always helps to clarify your vision. It’s quite amazing, really.
Anyway, I love seeing contests like this, even when I don’t win (which is most of the time). I thoroughly enjoyed my role as an organizer of the Rails Rumble event we ran in September, and I look forward to similarly-minded events like the upcoming BlitzWeekend (hi Heri!), and even the more VC-involved “contests” like Seedcamp and of course Y Combinator.
I particularly enjoy following startup contests and events where creativity is a key factor; where instead of just implementing a common spec to see who can do it fastest or “best”, teams are actually challenged to invent something totally new, implement it, throw it against a wall and see if it sticks. Hey, now that’s entrepreneurial; it’s brave, it’s somewhat reckless (in it’s purest form, anyway), and it’s a great way to hatch new disruptive ideas in front of a live audience.
Some of the projects will be great, most of them will suck, but everyone will learn something. It’s important to remember, too, that the “winning” team won’t necessarily be the long term winner — it’s a distance running event, not a short sprint. In the end, it’s all about development — and I mean that in the personal growth sense, not in the geeks-behind-glass sense.
Of course, you don’t need a contest or money or really anything at all to go invent something new, especially these days when launching a company doesn’t cost anything more than the skills, free time, and a VPS. But sometimes a little extra motivation goes a long way.