As a second-year MBA student at Brigham Young University, I’ve been involved on the leadership team for the Miller (named for Larry H. and Gail Miller family) New Venture Challenge. The leadership team basically runs everything. Formerly the Business Plan Competition, we’ve made a number of really awesome changes this year (including renaming it to the NVC). One of the biggest changes is that we’ve created a “BYU Launchpad”, which is essentially modeled after an incubator program. So instead of giving away large amounts of money to first, second, and third-place teams, we’ve decided to award EACH of the top EIGHT teams at least $15,000. During the course of the summer, these 8 teams will continue working on their business, and next October come back again for an opportunity to raise capital from investors.
This year, we had 50 teams enter the competition. In the first round of judging, we recruited about 65 judges, and each entry was reviewed independently by at least 9 different judges. The top 20 teams then had the opportunity to present live yesterday to a panel of VC judges (REES Capital, Pelion Partners, Peterson Ventures, Kickstart, Alta Ventures), who selected our eight winning teams.
At the beginning on the year, we paid $3,000 to purchase a software service called MyReviewRoom, which was going to allow us to collect submissions and enable the judges to review each entry. As I was getting it all setup for our first-round of judging… Well, let’s just say it would have been extremely cumbersome to use, and would have required several minutes of manual labor (including typing in YouTube URLs by hand) for each judge just to get the entry pulled up, not even counting the review time. These judges are so busy, and have been very generous in agreeing to donate so much time during a short turn-around period to help with the judging. Consequently, I didn’t want to have to put them through the torture of using MyReviewRoom to do their judging.
So, I took a few hours and built my own submission judging system. It automatically randomly assigned entries to judges, and allowed the judges to go in and review each entry. The YouTube videos were embedded on the page, and a link was provided right there to download the Executive Summary. Judges could then enter their scores for the entry, add feedback and comments, and then move on to their next assignment. When all the judging was complete, all the applicants received an email where they were able to go in and view the scores and comments anonymously from all the 9+ judges who looked at their entry.
Needless to say, this quick little web app saved TONS of time and frustration for these busy judges!