Advice From Last Year's Featured Projects - N2Y2
As a representative of one of the N2Y3 featured projects (the KnowMore.org Firefox Extension), I thought it would be helpful to e-mail all of the N2Y2 featured projects and ask them for their best piece of advice for this year's featured projects. WOW! Over the last few days, I got some AMAZING responses from 11 of last year's featured projects including last year's top three prize winners! They're both practical and inspiring and definitely worth checking out - even if you're not a N2Y3 featured project!
"First impressions count and the time limit you are given to present your project initially is a very short amount of time. Really think about how you want people to remember your project. For many, this is their first introduction into hearing you speak about your work, so definitely make the most of it! Be creative and make your project stand out!
The other aspect of NetSquared that was really valuable for us was the time we spent networking with the other featured projects. Although we were all "competing" for the same prize we all spent a lot of time together chatting about the work that we do- a great learning experience. A lot of great collaborations came out of this event for us!"
Jennifer Corriero & Kirsten Jordan TakingITGlobal.com
"30 second elevator pitch - 30 second elevator pitch -30 second elevator pitch. I don't know about anyone else's projects but trying to paint a clear picture of what we do in 30 seconds - for me - was a little easier than solving world hunger. You can't spend enough time preparing for this. DO IT ANYWAY!
Albeit an over-simplified answer, the 30 second elevator pitch was a tremendously valuable - yet somewhat painful - learning experience. How to share your vision when you may only have 30 seconds to do so it critical.
Network your tail off. You will probably find it difficult to spend a couple days with a more interesting and dynamic group of people, not to mention a group you'll want to maintain personal relationships with. This group - as a whole rocks!"
Randy Roberson H.E.L.P
"The thing that helped us last year was the splitting up of our wish list into practical jobs/questions, which were typed on separate cards, along with a some general background information and room to fill in your name. These were copied and handed out. They proved to be a useful tool to get people to take up specific tasks."
Siegfried Woldhek, Nabuur.com
"The biggest piece I took home with me was seeing that I was not alone. We sort of each toil away in our respective guest bedrooms doing everything we can to make our little cause sprout roots and to make Planet Earth just a teensy bit better against all the odds. We don't care about getting rich, our spouses may often wonder what we could possibly be thinking and it's a tough online world out there. So, yes, coming together for this gathering helped me to realize that I am not alone -- Other nutty people are out there trying to add their own little positive piece to the universe's puzzle, despite what the evening news tells them, despite the muck we often have to wade thru day in and day out and despite the odds. Netsquared helps tip the odds a bit and sort of helps me to feel 'Odds be damned, this feels good to me and I'm going to keep doing, and, hey, so are they!'"
Deron Beal, FreeCycle
"Put your technology out front -- the three top placing projects all had technical assets with substantial user-bases. Be ready to show off whatever you've got and talk about who is using it. If you have anything new waiting in the wings or not quite ready, you might want to consider an early launch or preview.
The sustainability question tripped up more than one project at N2Y2: "Will you be around in x years?" Have a good answer for that one be ready to back it up with whatever statistics, plans, or current renewable income sources you've got."
Dean Jansen, Miro
"Our greatest success at last year's Net2 was our 5 minute initial project presentation. At the beginning of last year's event, each team had 5 minutes to present it's project to all attendees. Rather than standing up at the podium and giving an outline of our project like the other projects had done, my business partner Anand and I got up on stage and performed a funny skit that outlined what we were doing. Anand played a social innovation addict starved for information on the field and I played his therapist who was introducing him to Innovatorz, the project that would provide him with all the social innovation media his heart desired. The audience laughed and gave us a standing ovation. Doing that skit ensured that people understood and remembered our project because they had a story to associate it with. Plus, the skit was a lot of fun and gave us something to feel proud of."
Jesse Patel, Innovatorz.org
"- Be positive. Be optimistic. About your project, about the conference and about the experience. Consider that if your project is one of the 21 featured ones, you are already a winner.
- Use your two minute intro and two minute wrap up very wisely. It will be the only chance you will get to talk to all the attendees (voters).
- Don ´t count on visual support for your presentation (powerpoint/keynote). Maybe you won ´t have any, so count on your speech and your body language.
- Use your time and your table at the Carnival to show more about your project and to answer questions. Also, remember that it ´s called "Carnival", so be creative.
- Be ready to answer questions like:
Why you are the best one to do the project you are proposing?
Why is this innovative/different from other existing approaches?
How is it going to help people?
How is it going to scale?
Is there anything, besides money, that you think you can get from your
What would you do with the prize money in case you win?
How much money you require to fully develop your initiative?"
Eduardo Bejar, Yankana.org
"We emphasized explaining what we do in a non-technical, accessible, understandable way."
Dan Newman, MAPLight.org
"- Be sure to take advantage of meeting people and networking. We had a great time in the evenings over dinner and at the hotel bar. The day seemed to be packed with events so it was more difficult to network. But when I did make an effort to meet people over lunch and other breaks - the people were amazing.
- Spend some time on the intro speeches. I think we had 5 minutes last year - 2 minutes is REALLY short. It goes by so quickly, but that is your main opportunity to make an impact. I would suggest running it by some people (and practice) to see if it makes the best impact for your organization and project. That is one of the only
opportunities to speak to the entire group.
- Bring marketing materials. There was a table open for marketing materials throughout the entire conference. Last year, there was an open session with tables for project displays with an opportunity for people to review each project and ask questions. That was a great opportunity to get peoples attention and some people had brought some creative items for display."
Jennifer Sly, YouthAssets
"The best piece of advise that I can give to this year's participants is to take advantage of the Business Mentor that Netsquared assigns you. Mine asked me very probing and reflective questions that made me see and think of things I had not thought about. I thought I had everything figured out until he started asking questions. My second piece of advice is take advantage of the networking opportunities that the conference provides. You will be in the company of folks like you who share the same passion and vision of changing the world. There is an electrifying synergy in the room. Tap into that synergy and identify folks you could link up with to further your project in the future. Make lasting connections."
Sam Chege, MyKenyanSpace
"The main tip I gave to Ushahidi and OneWorld, the two finalist projects I am closest to, was to not expect too much from what happens at the actual Netsquared conference to get their projects off the ground. Instead, it's a great opportunity to generate interest in their projects through their blogs etc and they should work very hard in the weeks and months ahead of the conference to find collaborators and funders for their proposal. Ideally the conference would be an opportunity to celebrate their successful in-progress projects with like-minded people."
Tobias Eigen, Kabissa