We seem to live in an age of hackathons, accelerators and challenge prizes. Taking part in one may often seem very time-consuming and a lot of work. Why would you bother joining in? Let us give you five (plus one!) reasons why.
By Kalle Nieminen
1. Validate your idea
Do you have a change making idea? The idea that truly creates value for customers and makes a positive impact on society? Guess what. You are not the only one. An open competition is a good way to validate your idea. When you compete against other developers, hackers and change makers, you can get a lot of important feedback on your idea.
2. Raise awareness
OK, now you’re sure you really have a game-changing solution with an enormous market potential. You still need to reach potential customers, partners and funders. It has been studied, that innovation competition is the excellent way to raise awareness of your idea and spread the word. With social innovations especially, part of the solution is giving the public – in on one way or another – more knowledge about the actual complex problem and potential solutions.
3. The best networking opportunity of your life
Every entrepreneur knows how valuable a good network is. To have a good mentor (or a dozen) never hurt anybody. This is also something where accelerators and competitions are competing against each other.
Who can offer best opportunities to meet new like-minded people? Or who throws the best cocktail parties? As an entrepreneur, you should also see another positive side effect here. Being a recognised finalist in a significant innovation competition is a perfect pretext for a cold call to the mentor of your dreams.
4. Learn, learn and learn
Number four could have easily also been: “Make your idea better”. As a competition organiser, that is of course what we hope. And yes, we will do everything in our power to help you proof your idea. That is also likely to happen when like-minded people, experts from various sectors and other contestants come together in facilitated workshops.
But sometimes failing fast is better than keeping on hitting your head on the wall. Accelerator or innovation competition is the place where you work hard but could end up saying: “This is not working”. And it’s totally ok IF you learned something.
5. Win a shed load of money
C’mon, it’s still a competition! Someone has to win!
+1. Make a difference
Today, if ever, we all want to change something in the world we are living in. We need social innovations to tackle a heap of current social problems. And we have seen that it is not only politician, kings and queens or multi-millionaires who can make the difference.
You can. And we would like to help.
The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra has launched a challenge prize to tackle challenges related to the recognition of competences and their better utilisation.