In July, we covered the launch of a new Vaporware Labs (a software company that makes social, mobile, and web apps, like Steve Young Football for the iPad and iPhone, and MEETorDIE) service, called Commonred, which is attempting to take the “cold call/email/approach out of the networking process”. Commonred was essentially launched to not only help startup founders — but anyone in need of some professional networking — to more easily find shared points of interest between themselves and those they want to meet, network, or learn from. (Without the awkwardness.)
To beef up its offerings for entrepreneurs and founders out there looking to have their ideas heard by people who matter, Commonred has launched a series of VIP meetings contests in which founders and entrepreneurs now have the opportunity to pitch VCs, journalists, Angels, and tech big wigs in an effort to push their businesses forward. The pitch with the most votes then wins a meeting with the person of interest, and, hopefully, the rest is history.
Traditionally, for those founders and entrepreneurs who may not necessarily have access to VCs or angels, or may not have had success with AngelList, accelerators, or pitching their ideas to media outlets, the road to victory can be a tough one. Which is what makes Commonred’s contests appealing to aspiring entrepreneurs out there.
What’s more, the startups has already run contests for people like Tony Conrad, the founder of About.me and True Ventures, Ryan Spoon of Polaris Ventures and Dogpatch Labs, and Nick Efstratis, Managing Director of Epic Ventures. TechCrunch’s own MG Siegler was even a participator; you can see his contest here, which led to a meeting for the winning startup, GetComparisons (and to TC coverage last week).
Commonred is currently running contests to get meetings with notables like David Bradford, the Chairman of publicly traded Fusion-io, who also has advisory and team roles with companies like Omniture, Novell, SCP Worldwide, as well as product designer, angel investor, TechCrunch contributor, and former CEO of Ustream, Chris Yeh.
Generally speaking, Vaporware and Commonred Founder Derek Andersen told us, it takes between 10 and 100 votes to win constests, and once an idea is chosen, the founder receives a meeting of up to one hour in duration with the VC, angel, or journalist hosting the contest.
For VCs and journalists, this is a great way to meet an awesome new entrepreneur without clogging their inbox with pitches, and for VCs et al to give back to the community — with the process allowing the best founders and ideas to rise to the top.
The contests are ongoing, with five contests usually running at any given time. This week in particular, Commonred will have eight to ten running simultaneously. As to how entrepreneurs and their ideas might stand out amidst the onslaught of pitches from eager founders? Andersen said that submitting parties should find common threads with the person reviewing pitches: “If the VIP went to MIT, mention that you did too. If they invested in a company like yours 10-yrs ago, mention the link. Show that you care enough to do some homework”.
And, again, with winners receiving coverage from tech publications and beyond (Andersen told me that one winner received a referral and interview for 500 Startups’ program), this can potentially be a game changer for startups looking for a jump start.
For more, check out Commonred’s VIP Contests here.