Getting to "yes" in a world of "no"…


Anyone pitching startups in London must have something of a deathwish (though if it’s any consolation, Surrey seems even worse), because the process is so inherently biased towards rejection – yes, the 99:1 ratio of the post title is a low estimate – that you can be pretty certain of which way the wind will blow long before the weather vane starts to turn.

Yet we keep on doing it. How does that old adage go – that repeating something but expecting a different outcome is a sign of madness?

Anyhoo, right now the biggest deal of the day is the Technology Strategy Board’s Tech City Launchpad 1 £100K funding competition (and not a whiff of equity, though you have to find matching funding soon afterwards). Round One (which closes in just a few days’ time) involves startups / SMEs submitting a two minute video pitch for a digital tech project to be executed somewhere near Silicon Roundabout. From the TSB’s point of view, this is intended as an efficient way of winnowing away the chaff thousands of high-quality entries they presumably expect: as I understand the process, at the round’s closing date it then hands the task of judging these over to a set of independent arbiters to score them, allowing it to start round two with only twenty companies in play – a far more manageable number.

The TSB also says that it will also take note of public opinion, by which it presumably means comments left on each video submission’s YouTube page during the assessment period (i.e. until the end of June 2011), if you choose to let it have public visibility. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? As with all things Internetty, it’s hard to tell: probably safest to say that YouTube commentry will always be somewhat problematic as a class of supporting evidence. Or perhaps it simply means that if a video goes viral but the judges all hated it, then the TSB reserves the right to advance the application to round two regardless. 🙂

So far, I’ve only managed to find two submitted applications: Robin Young and one another I can’t now find (but it was for an energy efficient internal combustion engine). Note that there are also quite a few other two-minute TSB video pitches all submitted in September 2010 (clicking on the stats button just below the video shows you when it first went live), so it’s clearly a first-round competition format the TSB has been toying with for a while.

I’m surprised that there aren’t more entries already, but perhaps the other 9,998 entrepreneurs are busy preparing their videos this weekend, and will all submit them microseconds before the deadline (noon on 26 May 2011, just so you know). Perhaps the combined video upload spike will bring YouTube to its knees, who knows? We shall see!

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