Now A German VC Wants To Use TV To Launch Tech Companies

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Yesterday it was revealed that TV guru Simon Cowell planned to create a new TV show to find the next tech superstar, in the same way X-Factor launches the careers of new musicians. The Sun, newspaper said the former American Idol and current X Factor judge was teaming up with Black Eyed Peas rapper Will.i.am to develop the show, probably in the UK. And it now seems other companies are jumping on the TV bandwagon. A German company now plans to use TV to launch new tech companies – but there’s a twist.

SevenVentures, the venture subsidiary of the ProSiebenSat.1 Group, plans to run a pitch competition for startups, the prize for which will be millions of Euros worth of advertising time on Germany’s biggest TV network.

The “SevenVentures Pitch Day” will take place during the NOAH Conference on November 6 – 7, 2012, in London, TV. But the prize is not cash but TV advertising time valued at €7 million. Thus the winner of 1st place wins €4 million, 2nd wins €2 million and 3rd place €1 million. We’re told the high amounts involved reflect the fact that the ad slots will be in prime-time slots.

Applying startups will have to be younger than three years old in the consumer space. So no B2B kids. And they don’t just want German start-ups but also international ones that want to enter the German-speaking market. A group of seven teams will be pre-selected for the pitch day, which will be live streamed and judged by “6 tech scene veterans” and the audience both in the venue and online. The submission deadline for applications is October 21 st, 2012. You can apply here.

The main upside for the startups is that SevenVentures is not asking for any equity, so if you win you’d get €4 million of free TV ads. The problem of course is that you’d still have to spend cash on making the TV ad in the first place, plus it might just not be the right thing for your company. TV ads can be a double-edged sword. Furthermore, an international startup wanting to appeal in Germany would have to quickly re-tool their app and/or/site for the German language, entailing costs. Then again, it could be a great shot in the arm for a young company.

It’s likely that this is going to appeal to startups which are up and running and already have investors – in which case SevenVentures might find its offer of further funding might fall of deaf ears.

Personally I’m waiting for the “German Tech Idol” – perhaps Simon Cowell is onto something after all.