Our process for selecting our 10 finalists, and 5 winners, is a little complicated (but effective, we think), so here it is explained:
Round 1, the voting round
Round 2, the jury round
Round 3, the finals
The Method Behind the Madness
Why such a complicated process?
In order to spread the word about the contest and get as many entrants as possible, and as much engagement as possible, we decided to do a video contest. This engages the public much more than a simple business plan competition, and also lets our jury 'meet' the entrepreneurs behind the ideas. It also forces the entrepreneur contestants reach out to their friends and family and start building a network that will help him/her out once they launch their business.
To limit the 'popularity contest' effect, whereby a bad idea can get lots of votes, we brought in the jury process. Because the jury's score counts for much more (80% vs 20%) of the overall score than voting, this ensures that only the best ideas make it to the finals while still giving some weight to the public voting process (good ideas will get more random votes, and having a big network of friends to vote on your video also means you may have more help once you launch your business).
Finally, we wanted our contestants to work hard to get their chance at $25,000, so we introduced the business plan phase. The life of an entrepreneur is a difficult one and requires lots of blood, sweat and tears. The effort our finalists put into their business plans will be directly reflected in their chances at winning the contest!
And, if nothing else comes of it, our 5 non-winning finalists will still have a great business plan that they can use to help guide their business and reach out to other means of support.
So that's it in a very big nutshell, and why the process seems kinda complicated...