New York, NY – Do you have the next great technology idea but don't have the money or resources to bring your idea to market? Don't fret. A new contest has emerged where you can submit your idea to an expert panel of judges, receive seasoned feedback, and then have a chance to see your idea become a real business. Welcome You Be The VC.
Having already been stamped a reality TV idea gone online, You Be The VC is really a hybrid of American Idol, a panel of seasoned tech experts, and a business incubator. Backed by a prestigious group of sponsors such as Deloitte & Touche, one of the big accounting firms, Vator.tv, and Foley & Lardner, a prestigious law firm, they have already offered to lend their support for this innovative project. Even more impressive is the panel of judges who have signed on to offer up their expertise and wisdom to help streamline the best of ideas. Marissa Mayer, Google VP of search and products and user experience; Craig Walker, co-founder of GrandCentral Communications; world champion Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, and other tech pundits and executives from well-known Web 2.0 corporations have all agreed to be judges for this contest.
Summary of Contest
You Be The VC is looking for innovative Web 2.0 ideas that can be submitted off their website. The expert panel of judges will narrow down the field to the top 100 submissions by February 15, 2008. Contestants who make the 100 group will then submit a more detailed business plan and a video pitch within two weeks. Then, the elite panel will narrow down the field to the top 20. Finally, the viewing public will get to watch the videos and select the top three winners.
Winners not only receive seed funding, but an array of services such as office space in Cambridge, legal, accounting, and web programming support. Not bad for simply submitting a great idea.
In October, Bang Ventures, Inc, (BV) contacted Skylar Design to discuss the YouBeTheVC.com contest which was launched in September. They were specifically looking for a web firm who could handle the critical task of redesigning the website which uses Web 2.0 technologies. The company felt it didn't have the look it needed to capture the attention of budding entrepreneurs, nor did it represent the quality of sponsors and elite judges who were lending their support for such a significant endeavor.
The project not only needed a complete redesign of the public side of the site but also the member's only areas. These included areas where members could create an account, submit their business ideas, and interact with other contestants via blogs, group forums, online chat, and use other social network services.
As for the overall site objective, it was simple: create the ability for contestants to create an account and submit their ideas. That was clear; nonetheless, how we got people to do that with the new designs was the real task at hand. Skylar gladly took on the challenge and committed to creating an outstanding new visual site.
Prior to sketching out new ideas, Skylar gathered lots of information from BV. Feedback from key management personnel, e-mails from focus groups, and conversations the BV team had were heard, read, and reviewed. And there sure was a lot of data to process. But it was this research that helped set the context for how Skylar would approach this particular project.
An analysis of the existing site also was key to understanding what worked and what didn't. It wasn't just the design that was scrutinized, but the choices users had to make right off the landing page and then after they logged into the site.
After reviewing all of this information, some key "essentials" quickly surfaced which Skylar felt were a must for the new site:
- Communicate within a few seconds what the contest was all about
- Layout must be simplified
- Section areas must be defined and intuitive
- Better use of colors
- Strategic use of typography
- Improve the ability for users to find their way around the site (via icons, good signage, colors, etc.)
- Clear navigation systems and use of words (1st, 2nd, 3rd tiers)
- Highlight the elite group of judges who agreed to partake in the contest
- Help better define areas for site users and still have a place for key advertisements
The biggest challenge for Skylar was communicating within a few seconds what this contest was all about. People don't have time to read lengthy documents especially off the Internet, but they will make time to hear a great idea. In light of that, this simple equation came to mind:
1. YOUR IDEA + 2. OUR SUPPORT = 3. YOUR COMPANY
This set the tone for the entire project and the rest was history. The equation captures the very essence of the contest, which users can find directly off the new homepage. Also, since the primary objective was to help users create an account and submit their idea, we added a bright-colored button for people to clearly see how to sign-up and become a part of an already growing community.
What's even more exciting is the fact that the new site has already been featured on CNBC. Google Vice President Marissa Mayer made an appearance to discuss the contest and the potential of the project. You can watch the video off of the You Be The VC press release page. We've also been told by Managing director and co-founder Mark F. Mark Modezeleski of BV that since the new site launch and its recent appearance on CNBC, "literally thousands of new members and applications have come roaring in."
We're excited to see what new ideas are birthed in 2008 as a result of the You Be the VC contest. Thank you Bang Ventures for allowing Skylar to be a part of this amazing project.