Making Connections at the Innovation Awards: Don’t Judge Me. Judge Them.

Posted by Gena Folts on Thu, Mar 24, 2011

This post was written by Marc Girolimetti, Co-Founder of Actslike, contributor on Technorati and BFF of MITX and our Innovation Awards.

MITX is my version of a career BFF. They have been there for me, and I for them, since the late '90s (AKA the MIMC days). This organization has done wonders for me, including jumpstarting an agency I founded with one simple e-mail, and as a result I will bend over backwards to do anything for them. So when it comes time to judge the Innovation Awards, I’m the first in line to volunteer.

innovation awards resized 600On a general level the networking opportunities are fantastic. Every judging panel I have ever been on has been diverse and has offered me direct insight into industries outside of my bubble. On top of that you walk out with 5-6 new contacts in your network, some of whom have benefited me by meeting outside of our MITX responsibilities.

Having been in this space for over 15 years now, each year the judging and presentation nights are a reunion. Typically co-workers, clients or vendors from my past are participating as fellow judges, or as finalists presenting their companies. The reunion aspect is far more reaching than anything Facebook could ever provide.

If you’re in this space, there is a little bit of nerd in you, and that nerd wants to see some cool technology. I guarantee you will. I’ve gotten to see organizations like Gotuit (a frequent member of the finalists club, who never quite got to the top) absolutely kill it with their product and easily win last year. I was blown away by scrappy little SCVNGR when Seth Priebatsch was just another college dropout pursuing a dream. When Seth walked into a room full of experienced veterans and blew us away with his enthusiasm and a product that screamed "right place, right time," believe me, it was a moment. We all knew. For all you entrants need I remind you that this event for SCVNGR led to multiple rounds of financing from such powerhouses as Highland Capital and Google Ventures. MITX can be your launchpad.

As an entrepreneur with his own start-up I have a soft spot for anyone who has jumped into this suicide pool. Last year I met Rich Dibona from Episend, a product he built during nights and weekends over the course of 2 years, that ended up winning. Rich and I have built a great friendship, because I took interest in him and his product and wanted to volunteer my time to help in any way I could. Naturally when two entrepreneurs get together good things happen. Products are improved, new ideas are fostered, and an amazing working relationship is the end result.

Speaking of the future, 2 years after meeting Seth I ended up at a Celtics game with SCVNGR co-founder, Michael Hagan. Outside of being a customer there hasn’t been a reason for me to interact with SCVNGR, but I’m working on a side project where integrating SCVNGR would be a tremendous value-ad to the product. Now I have my reason.

MITX and the MITX Innovation Awards isn’t a networking quickie. It’s a long-term investment in the local technology scene. It’s the best opportunity to thank those who have helped put Boston on the map, and to support those who are poised to keep us there. You never know what is going to come out of these events, but I can assure you something positive always happens. That's the beauty of it.

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