The Innovation Awards are coming soon (in June!), and that means one thing. Well, it means a lot of things. But what it means RIGHT NOW is that we are calling on you for the next fun installment: Community Recommendations!
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.
What is the Gap? If you are familiar with the Tube (London’s version of the T), you’ll know that riders are frequently told to “mind the gap” – meaning, the space between the train and the platform. But, how does minding the gap apply to your application for the Innovation Awards?
In terms of your Awards application, the Gap is the fine line between giving the judges too much information about your product, and too little. The key is to give them just enough information to communicate how innovative your product is, without overselling it. You are the train, and the awards are your platform to share with the world.
With this in mind, I sat down with judge and advisory group member Matthew Witheiler of Flybridge Capital Partners to chat about what entrants should consider when writing their applications, and how to write a strong application.
Lindsey (L) : Hi Matthew. Thank you for taking the time to chat. Let’s jump right into the questions – What does an entrant need to think about when writing their submission?
Matthew (M): Remember that the people judging your presentation will not have the benefit of hearing your voice when evaluating the material for the first time. You need to make sure the material speaks for itself – a pretty PowerPoint presentation with few words may work great when you're pitching to people live, but is difficult to make sense of without the narrative.
L: What needs to be – or should be – included in the submission?
M: Cover relevant background – Who you are? Why is what you are working on unique? And why is the concept innovative? Try and keep it simple enough to get the judges excited, but meaty enough for the judges to understand what innovative new thing you are working on. Some judges prefer a short slide presentation to a lengthy business plan, so if it makes sense, add a short pitch deck where the application asks for it. Make sure you're presenting the big vision and getting the audience excited about what you are building.
L: These are great tips. Now, the big question, what makes a strong application?
M: A strong application is one that gets the judges excited about the innovation your company is working on. If you can, convey the sense of excitement you have for the product/business through the material, and therefore on to the judging audience.
L: How do you make your submission stand out in the crowd?
M: Try to keep the judges engaged as they read through your material. More isn't always better!
In short, mind the gap! Tell the judges how you are innovative, and keep them engaged, entertained, and excited. We are looking forward to your application, innovation, and seeing how you stand out from the crowd!
Some things that cross your path are destined for greatness -- but you may not know at first glance. When you were invited to see the new movie about a Mumbai teen growing up in the slums and becoming a contestant on the Indian "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" you probably weren’t totally sold on seeing the Bollywood version of a show that fell out of favor in 2001. However, thanks to Roger Ebert, The New York Times, and the numerous Oscars it won, you knew Slumdog Millionaire was one of the best movies of 2008, and you got yourself to the theater!
Well hello, friendly MITX members! We are happy to announce that we've recently completed some super fun changes to our website. They took us a billion years to complete, so please get excited about this. (If you need help channeling excitement, think about beer! Or puppies!) Some things on the website look different, so in the interest of dissolving your confusion (you, before reading this: "I'm so confused!") read on and learn about them!
Scott Kirsner, Globe writer and all around innovation oracle remarked recently that people in these parts have a “Yankee gene” that keeps us from shouting about our accomplishments as much as people do in some other parts of the country. His take was that we need to “shout louder and prouder” about the incredibly innovative and exciting stuff that’s taking place in our region. Well, Scott, I couldn’t agree more.
Guest post by John Francis, MITX Board member and co-chair of the 2011 MITX Innovation Awards program. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
SCVNGR, Gemvara, Nasuni, Akamai, or Brightcove; whether shining the light of public attention on promising early-stage technology companies, or acknowledging transformational technology in our midst, MITX has always honored companies for their innovation. And, like the fast-moving technology ecosystem itself, the MITX Innovation Awards (formerly the MITX Technology Awards) program is evolving.
Innovation tends to happen at the intersection of different technologies, continually blurring the line between discrete product categories. To reflect this tendency, we have recast our submission categories. We hope that this will simplify things for our submitters, and better capture the trends that are driving web technology forward. See our recent blog post for a description of these new categories.
As a longtime participant in the judging process, I look forward to the opportunity to take a closer look at the incredible innovation delivered by our entrants and the trends highlighted by the mix of applications that we will see this year. From incredible Monitoring & Analytics software to thoughtful Customer Engagement tools to amazing User Experience for even the most robust of products, the judging process provides a fascinating look into where the technology sector is heading.
In addition to revising our categories, we are introducing a streamlined judging process and tapping into you, our community, to crowdsource recommended entrants who might otherwise be overlooked. Our goal remains the same: including the most innovative applications from around New England and ensuring that we do an exemplary job of highlighting companies that are transforming their sectors. Whether through their creation of totally new product classes (like SCVNGR two years ago) or the introduction of a novel twist around their business model (like Gemvara last year), our goal is to highlight “What’s Next.” By using the most capable judges and evaluating these innovative entrants as efficiently as possible, we look forward to continuing to deliver the best Innovation Awards program in New England.
The application process is open, so if you or someone you know has developed a product that might make sense for the 2011 MITX Innovation Awards program, make sure to enter here. The call for entries has already gone out, and the competition will be open through April 8th.
Our 2010 finalists included such innovative companies as Netezza (now public), Vertica Systems, Modiv Media, ZipCar, DataXu, Brightcove, ITA Software (acquired by Google since their win) and Spring Partners – a diverse and interesting group! We love helping to shine a light on firms like Sproxil and Vitality or acknowledging the industry leadership that Brightcove and Netezza are delivering.
Best "Doing Good" Innovation
Do you "do good"? This category acknowledges the innovative technologies that are directly or indirectly driving contributions to society.
As spring, hopefully, approaches the Boston area, many companies are feeling excited about hiring newly minted graduates to help them create the next generation of superstar employees. It can often be challenging to find young talent – especially when our market space is changing so quickly. How do you find someone with the right skills, or even just the right raw materials to get up to speed quickly?
Two of MITX’s biggest and funnest (fine, most fun) events are our annual awards shows. You may recall the Technology Awards—it’s been happening for 7 consecutive years. Well, we thought it was good, but when we sat down to plan this year’s show (there was a lot of head scratching and beer drinking), we decided that we were ready for a change. A BIG change. Here’s what we realized: