Being an entrepreneur is hard. It’s challenging, exhilarating, a labor of love. But it’s still hard and filled with ups and downs, as well as personal and financial risk. When you’re first starting out, you pour your life into developing great products and services and you have little time left to figure out the best ways to actually run your business. You need advice and support in order to learn from others who have been in your shoes.
That’s why I’m so excited to discuss G2 Technology Group’s contest, Boston’s Big Idea (BBI). I recently sat down with my long-time friend and serial entrepreneur, Glenn Grant, CEO of G2, to talk about the contest and get his take on why this initiative is so important for entrepreneurs.
Chris Merrill: Glenn, how and why was Boston’s Big Idea conceived?
Glenn Grant: Chris, as you know, being an entrepreneur is a lot like being adrift at sea. We develop a business plan, work really hard to bring our ideas to fruition and often have to learn things the hard way. We cultivate social networks around entrepreneurship, share ideas, and talk about better ways of doing things over a couple of beers. And then, if we have done a lot of things right, we come out the other side with a thriving, growing company. This was my personal experience and given what I know now, I have a strong desire to “pay it forward.”
Boston’s Big Idea was born out of this concept. In 2013, with Amazon as our first sponsor, G2 Technology Group launched this contest as a way to help entrepreneurs and showcase their work, but more importantly, to grow and nurture the entrepreneurial community in Massachusetts.
CM: How does the contest work and what makes it unique?
GG: The goal of the contest is to recognize and celebrate entrepreneurs who are out there developing innovative solutions and to help them promote their ventures. But what makes Boston’s Big Idea unique is that we make it easy for entrepreneurs to enter the contest.
With an executive summary of your business proposition and a short elevator pitch, entrants from Massachusetts who have annual sales of less then $1M and have raised no more than $5M in capital investment funds can enter the contest. We know that entrepreneurs are already doing so much hard work so it’s our goal to minimize requirements and to not place additional burdens on them. Additionally, there is no expectation of equity in return. The goal is really to help other great businesses get off the ground and acquire knowledge that will help to “clear the path” to this success.
Once all the submissions have been received, the judging panel will select 10 finalists who will be asked to create a three-minute video and give a short presentation to the judging panel. Judging is based upon the following criteria:
Innovation and creativity
Likelihood of long term success and scalability
Effectiveness in addressing a need in the marketplace
All finalists will be invited to attend the awards ceremony in June where the videos will be presented to the community and to VCs.
CM: Okay, so let’s get to the awesome prizes. What does the winner receive?
GG: The prizes are awesome and include so many great resources to help you build your business. The grand prize includes:
Cash – $5K in CASH!
Credit – $10K in Amazon Web Services credits from AWS Activate
Community – One year membership to FounderSociety.co
Finance – One year of bookkeeping and accounting management from Smartbooks
Strategy – Strategic business plan development and executive coaching from Crews Coaching Group
Technology – One year of managed devops accelerator from G2 Technology Group
Web – One year of managed website services from WhatArmy
Also, 10 finalists will receive a one-year Founder Society membership, and everyone who enters will receive $250 in credits to Amazon Web Services from AWS Activate.
CM: I know that there are some great events planned around the contest that will provide entrants and winners with the opportunity to network and learn from other entrepreneurs. Tell us about those.
GG: We’re really excited about these events because this is really where the magic happens. There are two events scheduled around Boston’s Big Idea that will give entrants and the Massachusetts startup community the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs, exchange ideas and advice, and also to celebrate all the great work that’s happening here. A few details about these events:
Startup Social: March 10, 6-9 p.m.
This event will include a short panel and cocktail mixer. You’ll get to hear some “war stories” and get great advice from other entrepreneurs who have been in your shoes. Check out the event and register.
Awards Ceremony: June 23 at District Hall, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.
The awards ceremony is a live event where all finalists, the startup community and VCs will come together to learn more about your business, celebrate entrepreneurship and announce the Grand Prize Winner.
CM: Tell us about the winner from the last BBI.
GG: Boston’s Big Idea winner from 2013 is VerbalCare, a company that connects patients to health care providers and professionals through mobile technology.
VerbalCare was in its early startup stages when they won BBI and received a phenomenal prize package. Since then, VerbalCare has been acquired, re-launching under the umbrella of new company. Founder Nick Dougherty recalls that it wasn’t an easy road and that the BBI prizes and relationships that were established were incredibly helpful during those early stages:
“Boston’s Big Idea is a lot more than a contest,” said Nick. “It’s an opportunity for entrepreneurs to connect with other like minded individuals and to feel truly supported by this amazing community. That said, one of the most valuable outcomes of winning the competition is the relationship we have established with G2 who has assisted us all along the way and with no strings attached; this support has been invaluable to us at VerbalCare. And the prizes have all been extremely useful. Our involvement in BBI has really helped us to overcome the challenges that we have faced in building and growing a successful company.”
CM: So how do Massachusetts-based entrepreneurs enter the contest?
GG: As we already mentioned, it’s incredibly easy to enter. Just go to the Boston’s Big Idea webpage to get all the details and fill out the short form provided. And feel free to share this link with other entrepreneurs who might be interested.
WhatArmy is thrilled to be a sponsor and an integral part of Boston’s Big Idea to support the Boston entrepreneurial community. We have met so many visionary entrepreneurs who have helped us to achieve amazing things over the years and we are excited to be able to give back to this group. In this spirit, we hope you will join us in growing this community and being a part of this amazing effort.
Image via WhatArmy.