So what’s the BizIdea?

3 May 2007

That was the question implicitly posed at last night’s business idea competition final from the University of the West of England, here in Bristol. They’ve refocused from awarding for the best business plan to the best business idea, which is a good thing I think. Alan Patrick over at Broadstuff does quite a good retrospective of Incubation1.0 and why it wasn’t as successful as marketed. Alan was prompted by Sam Sethi at Vecosys who reflected on the emerging Incubation2.0 models emerging from the US (YCombinator, Hitforge, and others sponsored by Universities) and already seeing some parallels in Europe with YEurope (not affiliated with YCombinator but inspired by them, according to the rather small disclaimer at the bottom of their site).

All this start up start-up support has even prompted OnStartups to make those that didn’t get into YCombinator an offer (so long as you’re prepared to work on someone else’s idea). All of which brings me back to last night at the Holiday Inn next door to UWE.

After a very entertaining ‘story so far’ from Stuart Avery and Mike Bennett (founders of E3 Media and now proud restaurateurs with Goldbrick House) we got on to the main event which was a 20 mintute video of the finalists and the awards.

Of the 12 finalists, 5 were in a Social Entrepreneur category and the remaining 7 were Business. The Social Winner was Self Help Association for Social Confidence (SHASC, audio CD’s and resources for the socially anxious) and the runner up was the Bristol Design Festival (still a holding page) and both of which have clear potential for making money as well as social impact (OK, the Design Festival might not make Neil Ferguson and his team millionaires but it’s a very cool addition to the Bristol scene). The Business Winner was CoolBoard and the Runner up was GuessWhen (an online gambling site that is in stealth mode, they didn’t even have a speaking part on the video just a scrolling message to watch their web sites for info).

This is only the 4th year of UWE’s competition and all the judges praised the high standards (which I guess they sort of would) but with solid support from the business community (Osborne Clarke, Lloyds TBS Business, Haseltine Lake, Business Link and the Chartered Institute of Marketing), next year’s should be even better.

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