Team HipSnip from the UK has been kind enough to share words of wisdom about their journey with last year's competition. Their encouragement is sure to inspire you. And this is only the beginning...
Now in its third year, the EAA is an annual event that looks for new and unreleased applications that have the potential to impact people's lives. It’s different to other app contests out there – this one won’t be won by Angry Birds or a big venture funded business. As we discovered, any size of company can win, even a humble start-up working out of their locker-sized office. Here’s our experience of the whole competition, and where I think the value lies for a start-up at each stage.
I learned about the 2011 EAA while browsing Twitter so I signed up and embarked on the process.
The awards started with some optional, but very useful stages, and we entered at the video submission stage. This asked for teams to submit a two-minute video about what their application was going to do – so this was before it was finished: it was screen shots and concept. This sort of exercise is enormously helpful for any start-up, as it really forces you to crystallize the value of what you’re doing. We spent some time writing the script, trying to make it clear what we were up to, and were bowled over to win this stage of the competition - which bagged us a couple of Sony Ericsson Arc phones, very useful for app demos! So this preliminary part of the competition really helps teams to clarify what they’re doing and the value it will create. Important if you make it through to later stages.
So what’s the value of these early stages?
Developing your elevator pitch and being really clear what your app is really doing for people.
After that, the main competition was on, with a strict deadline. And this deadline is another great reason for a start-up to enter the EAA. Having deadlines is something many start-ups can miss out on, and so again the competition was great as it forced us to build towards the competition deadline as our release date. After several late nights, we hit the deadline, and submitted the app.
So what’s the value of entering your app?
Getting the app actually developed and live...I’ve seen too many start-ups drag their feet going live.
Here’s where it gets interesting, and the value to start-ups becomes even greater:
First of all the applications were narrowed down to 10 semi-finalists (five businesses, and five student teams). Then a panel of some 1000 people evaluated the apps, and voted through their favourite two to the final. We made it through, which is awesome validation: you can tell clients, investors and the press that 1000 people voted through YOUR app. Getting through to each stage is a great milestone, and we used the fact we were through to the semi-finals, and then the finals, in all our meetings with investors and others.
So what’s the value of getting through to the next stages?
Milestones, milestones, milestones. This really gives your start-up something impressive to talk about.
Getting to the final meant an awesome trip to Stockholm, which is a fantastic city - although the drinks are rather pricey! Each team got a demonstration booth from where they had to pitch the app to a panel of top-tier executives from Ericsson, Sony Ericsson and the telecom community. A tough bunch to pitch to and one you need to be ready for because they want to see more than a good app: they want a business model, a marketing strategy, a clear proposition.
Having to get all these things ready adds real value for a start-up, as you need more than just a good application.
Winning the awards was great for us. But ultimately what did it get us, and why would I recommend a start-up, or anyone aspiring to build an awesome app apply for the Ericsson Application Awards? What’s the value?
And of course the cash prize helps pay the bills!
For us, it got us all these things and it also helped us secure a round of angel funding that has now allowed us to really push our business forwards.
So get signed up and get building some awesome apps that push the limits of what computer technology can do!
Best of luck to the EAA2012 entrants.