Recapping NWEN’s First Look Forum 2011

I always enjoy attending business plan events such as NWEN’s First Look Forum, the UW Biz Plan Competition, Startup Riot, etc… I tend not to call them competitions, and lean towards words like “showcases.” Sure the teams may be competing for a prize, but what they are really doing is showing the public the amount of work they’ve done on taking an idea from imagination to execution.

The real inspiring part of days like this is to see people striving to reach or exceed what is generally concluded as their “potential.” For every 100 people sitting in Westlake Park complaining that the world is unfair and out to get them, there was 1 person in the NWEN First Look Forum pitching an idea that they believed would create jobs and money. If I had my way, that would be the 1% / 99% ratio we should be trying to change.

This was the first year I was involved with a team (Relaborate) that made it through the process, even succeeding down to the final 5 companies. And now I’l use the term “competitor” because from the team’s viewpoint, making it from 37 to 20 to 12 to 5 really is a gauntlet, and you do feel a measure of success each time your name is called to advance.

But when you look at the other 11 companies, you can’t call it a competition, because I don’t know how any consumer would ever be making a choice between any of our products.

  • BAM Testing, What’s your athletic potential.
  • FanZappy, “Social-to-Store” service attracts social fans to local businesses and further converts fans to repeat in-store customer via our mobile app.
  • Glacier Peak, Nature does nothing uselessly.
  • Green Simian, Renewable Mobile Power.
  • Grid Mobility, Connecting Power to People.
  • Lacuna Systems, Expert Web Performance Management.
  • MotoVolta, Inc., High Performance Electric Motorcycles.
  • Mountain Logic, Halves heating and cooling costs for 100 million homeowners with central forced air by only conditioning occupied rooms.
  • Phytelligence, Smarter plants.
  • ProtoSec, Creating the next wave of Internet and Web vulnerability detection giving enterprise customers novel and low-cost vulnerability information about their applications, helping them meet compliance and security requirements.
  • Radiate, The Future of Internet Radio.
  • Relaborate, Blogging Made Easy.
But no matter what, here are 12 people – from an original list of 37 – who are attempting to build and create jobs, not protest that no one is creating jobs for them.  Maybe not all of these will turn a “profit” some day, but if you are looking for ways to stimulate an economy, I think these are the kinds of events and people you should be investing in.  They may not all show a return, but at least there’s a chance.

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