Business plan competitions support innovation and seek to identify the most creative and promising startups. Although these contests promote business creativity, an often debilitating problem is that they can require an extensive amount of work and resources, tending to draw in more experienced entrepreneurs and those with the ability to plan out detailed business ideas.
On the other spectrum, their shorter, simpler sibling, the elevator pitch contest, allows us to expand our reach into the entrepreneurial community. Allowing an individual no more than a few minutes (and often less), these competitions ask for only a small sample of an idea to be presented. At these “bite-sized” competitions we tend to see an increase of participation from younger, less experienced entrepreneurs. The pitch makes a daunting business plan contest a more approachable project, encouraging people at all levels to engage in entrepreneurship, which is very important in innovation.
Similar to the way in which OpenIDEO opens its creative forum to any willing participant of the online community, the idea of reach and accessibility can be applied to supporting the growth of online startups. From this competition anecdote we can see the importance of reaching out to a variety of demographics, especially those not normally heard from, to ensure that we create opportunity for all creative input in the context of web entrepreneurship.
We live in an increasingly connected world, one that allows information to travel at unbelievable speeds. If we can find more effective ways to reach into the online community for creative input, perhaps we can sustain a diverse dialogue that can keep up with this rapid pace to provide some effective changes for online development.