The pandemic highlighted several problems both in the economy and in innovation. Of course, real innovators are constantly looking for solutions and see the opportunity for change in the current situation.
The trend of innovation competitions and hackathons is the same age as the startup ecosystem. Talents can try their hand at thousands of competitions worldwide, programmers can compare their knowledge, or dreamers of future startups can validate their ideas and projects. News pops up every week about the ideas proclaimed to the world savior, we can read enthusiastic articles about talents that have revolutionized entire industries, but unfortunately, we never hear from most of them again; we don’t know what happened to them.
What is happening with the talent?
I’ve often heard that working on a startup is just an extravagant fad for bored young people. Indeed, some only start an adventure in building a project, but these attempts usually fail quickly due to a lack of perseverance and commitment.
The plethora of startup competitions and ideathons does not provide lasting cohesion, as most applicants come to the competitions without a team, and the organizers offer neither opportunities for further development nor development for participants or winners. Most of the time, jury members – well-known investors, corporate executives, and professional mentors – are not open to offering long-term opportunities to the winners after a two-day brainstorming session. Therefore, according to the usual scenario, after the pitches performed by the enthusiastically preparing competitors, the winners announced according to the given criteria will receive the 15-minute reputation due to them. After greetings and speeches praising everyone go their separate ways.
Depending on the size of the cash prize awarded, the enormous enthusiasm of the winners will persist for a while, but then pretty slowly, everyone’s attention will wane, and they will forget about it all. Nothing will be reminiscent of either the ideas or the participants, only a resounding article from the past that, as another unrealized concept, increases the multitude of discarded solutions.
The sad lesson of my last 13 years is that I haven’t done my competitions better either. However, from the experience of 50 hackathons, the solution emerged at a given moment, which now helps users registered from 50 countries to validate their concepts and build their projects.
Can’t we network while locked up?
During the epidemic, as in many other areas, international and local startup events and competitions fell short. It has caused severe problems for those thinking about global expansion, scalable problem solving, and world-saving ideas.
Most of the competitions also missed, and those who still tried to organize their online events suffered greatly from the lack of relevant, purpose-built services. The best example is the nationwide online competition, which aimed to solve the problems of the pandemic.
About 1,000 valuable thinkers, 100+ mentors worked hard online for days. Furthermore, serious grants have sacrificed time and money to make the nascent projects a reality. The result was disappointing. Of the starting 200+ projects, only 125 made it to the jury, and a dozen winners received some prize. The media described the competition as a success. However, a week after the competition, it was impossible to find the winners on the organizers’ website. Not to mention the others, since their names, their efforts were not recorded anywhere, by no one.
At this point, I have decided that after these, I am willing to organize a hackathon or demo day only if we can actively involve the participants and their ideas born in some way in the life of the startup communities in the long run. It was the moment how my forced rest turned into a time dedicated to implementing my project – Pozi.io. The long-cherished talent- mapping project has thus been added to the online collection of idea competitions, where projects and the dreamers who invent them never disappear again.
International innovation meeting point
When I dreamed of the platform, I didn’t think that one day I would be able to help talents working on the other side of the world or that business angels would look for me to find valuable projects for them. However, I was not surprised that after launching Pozi.io, our users realized relatively quickly that they could use Pozi.io to build relationships that could underpin their success in international markets. Through the platform, the assumptions can be validated efficiently and promptly, and talents can also help each other worldwide.
Of course, Pozi.io is still a long way from high traffic numbers compared to gigantic social networking sites, but we can build our future on more and more partnerships due to conscious construction and ever-expanding opportunities. The aim is to provide an open innovation platform accessible to all, through which those who have so far only been able to implement these events traditionally can organize events and startup competitions. The difference, of course, is that participants in the competitions will later be available to the organizers, and the ideas will never disappear again because they remain retrievable even after the event is closed.
We need to make innovation and the implementation of ideas sustainable and efficient. We need real answers to our problems in our changing world; we cannot waste any more projects and talents. The time competitions is over, where only a few of the thousands of applicants will be successful; the other talents also deserve attention and support.
Tamás Péter Turcsán is the Founder of Pozi.io, Startup expert, Hackathon organizer