I was recently asked, “What is Tech-Prize”? While there are a lot of things that could be said, essentially Tech-Prize does 3 things:
- We find or help create great ideas by working with idea creators to express their idea in a way that allows investors to understand the value that idea brings.
- We help implement a process supporting the creative engagement that develops ideas into viable business models/plans, in our communities and across our country, and throughout the world.
- We seek to provide resources that make those ideas a reality through various events that help idea generators refine their ideas and prime them to present to investors successfully through a vast array of tools and “Special Sauce” education necessary to make those ideas ready to fund.
In the 1960s our hometown of Racine, Wisconsin was identified as “Invention City”. More patents were created in Racine, on a per-capita basis, than anywhere else in the nation. Back then, location was a key aspect (major manufacturing drove innovation). In today’s “Zoom-Connected” world, we can awaken this innovation across our great country and even the world.
We believe we can achieve this by creating an environment of innovation through what we call “The Tech-Prize Experience”. This process offers three broad forums and tools through which idea creators can “learn the ropes” to develop their ideas.
- Education – to learn that “Special Sauce” needed to bring an idea to market.
- Competitions – to sharpen our skills by gaining experience to effectively communicate the value and model of our ideas.
- Networking & Exposure – to gain access to those that can provide the funding to make ideas happen.
It starts with Creative People who have Creative Ideas
Tech-Prize looks for creative people with creative ideas that make life better for our citizens. The idea could result in a business, but it could also simply improve lives in our community or the world. We ask idea creators to start by asking; “What do you as a person want to see improved in our community”. Then ask; “How do you make that happen”. Lots of people have “problems or things that want to see improved”. Far less have “Ideas” on how to make those things happen. The goal of Tech-Prize is to create or find “ideas” that can actually be implemented in our communities. Doing this can fundamentally change the future for both the inventor and the community.
Use The Tech-Prize Experience To Develop Your Idea & Find Funding
The process to create and launch ideas into the world has happened since the beginning of time. The methods to develop ideas are varied, challenging to understand, and even harder to follow.
People see a problem and say “I’ve got a better way”…the challenge is how to develop that idea into something that the market will accept. Most ideas languish for lack of knowledge on what to do next.
Those that do decide to go further, are met with a host of questions and expectations. When you attempt to explain your idea to someone, they ask questions like; Is your idea protected? What is the business model? What returns would I get if I invest in it? Who are your customers and how will you take it to market?
The Tech-Prize Experience is walking through this effort with people who actually care about your journey to success and are willing to show you the way…
Is this a Good Process? Read on…
The Tech-Prize Process establishes a “Method” to work through the steps to take an idea from raw concept to the market. As illustrated in the Tech-Prize Experience Graphic, the process is organized in a logical progression.
The basic questions and expectations are contained in each step. Mentors are made available to help people through those steps. The ultimate goal is to make as many of these great ideas a reality as possible.
Let’s get your idea implemented in the world. Ideally, right here in our community!
Experience, Scale, and Scope are Key
The Tech-Prize team is made up of individuals that have done this. They have done this in companies, education, civic and philanthropic groups. They have done this in the local community and around the world. They have done this in groups that range from a few individuals to thousands of employees and customers. They have done it for revenue sizes ranging from a few thousand dollars to billions of dollars.
Connect with Incubators, Competitions, and Resources
Tech-Prize works with several national incubator groups to offer the best benchmark processes to present these ideas to active investors from throughout the region. Tech-Prize then offers competitions through which participants can hone their skills and walk away with cash prizes, scholarships, and even more importantly, exposure to investors.
This Loud, Proud, and Engaging set of competitions, draws our community together where individuals can meet others like them, and find resources to help them get through the challenges every idea faces. Participants compete to improve their ability to explain their idea, present their business model and go to market plan effectively with the ultimate goal – for the best ideas to find funding.
Participants have the opportunity to engage a community that is purposefully designing a process and the support to enable them. It is expected that civic and business leaders will be judged superior and in doing so, the innovator would find this community and region and place to call home.
Investors are Frustrated!
The Tech-Prize team strongly considered developing our own Venture Capital fund. As we spoke with many investors, what we found was that our region has a wealth of investment groups seeking great ideas. But…investors very clearly let us know they are frustrated. There was a specific individual that stated to us their view of the problem:
“A cottage industry has developed that prepares people to make a 5-minute pitch that is as polished and professional as anything you can imagine. They are great and impressive. However, I’ve listened to 200+ pitches in the last year. I’ve only been able to invest in one of those. When you ask questions beyond what is included in the ‘Pitch’, the content has not yet matured. Someone needs to take the bull by the horns and commit to work to make ideas capable of investment. That is the shortcoming.”
There is no lack of capital. What is lacking are ideas that are mature enough and ready to actually receive investment!
This specific point defines where Tech-Prize has created what is important – this is the mission. We are not here to have a party, or have a pitch competition. We are here to create a culture and process that makes ideas reality!
So the answer to the question? “Yes – Tech-Prize is a great process!”
How do I use Tech-Prize?
Align with the Mission
The Tech-Prize teams’ mission is to “Create a Culture and Process that Make Ideas Reality”. This isn’t just talk. We have developed and are refining this “Tech-Prize Experience” made up of best practice processes across the spectrum of activities that innovators and start-up teams must complete in order to get the attention of investors (and FUNDING is the objective!).
Our Mission: Create a Culture and Process that Make Ideas Reality
These “Founders” have vastly different levels of experience and capabilities. Some need a lot of help, others not so much. But the Tech-Prize Experience starts from the premise that we meet the innovator where they are. Evaluate what they know, and where they need help and help them develop the best plan forward to get investor attention.
We want these founders to exploit us!
Exploit the Resources
As we evaluate a Founders’ readiness, we allow them to exploit what we call “Special Sauce” skills. These are the skills that individuals do not find in formal education. These are the knowledge pieces that are learned out in the world on “How to make things happen”.
Special Sauce Skills are at the Center of The Tech-Prize Experience.
These skills are shared and developed through different methods and steps – all part of the Tech-Prize Experience:
- Incubator to “Maker” – The community is preparing space and relationships that will enable an innovator to progress as their idea and capacity progress. This can include physical space for offices and meetings, connections to funding through investors, grants, and loans, and also expansion into space for whatever suits their needs. Individual discussions will determine the need for that person or group and then enable the correct result.
- Mentoring: Competitors entering a Tech-Prize competition, will be offered an individual mentor, to meet them where they are, and evaluate what that person or group needs to do. While the process has defined steps, figuring out where an idea is at in that process and how to proceed efficiently are very important steps. As an output of that evaluation, the individual will be able to compete more effectively in the competition series, but also have outstanding guidance on what steps they need to take next. An enhanced opportunity for more detailed mentoring can then come as the next step in several ways
- Biz-Shops – These are educational sessions, normally formed as introductions in a panel format discussion. They are all recorded on the Tech-Prize.org website, under “Past Events”. In addition to the content discussed, each of the panelists has offered to make themselves available to innovators to help address basic questions. For those needing to go significantly deeper, arrangements can be made to enable the support to make that happen
- Incubator to Launch – For ideas that win the competitions, or ideas identified as “High Potential”, long-term mentoring and incubator programs are in place and available. These are formalized programs that require a commitment from the innovator and also the lead mentor. The entry-level to these programs does not require a financial commitment. The full-depth levels do require modest financial participation from the innovator as a commitment to the diligence required to make that idea reality. Scholarships are available for specific needs.
Take the Next Step!
So that is The Tech-Prize Experience! Are you ready to develop your idea?
Take the next step – join us!
You can register for a Tech-Prize competition and join the excitement of developing your idea and pitching to investors
Register for Idea Competition – https://www.tech-prize.org/idea-competition
Register for Pitch Competition – https://www.tech-prize.org/pitch-competition