David Miller
by David Miller
Wed Oct 15th 2008 at 9:46am UTC

Russell Simmons Gets Spiky

Entrepreneur Russell Simmons understands the spiky nature of the creative economy and has launched a new creative industries “bplan like” contest called the The Race to Be: The Creative Entrepreneurship Contest. The event is the centerpiece of this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week (Nov. 17- Nov. 23).

The contest has three categories: film, fashion, and music. Applications can be submitted online and the finals of each category will take place on-site in spikes of industry/artistic excellence: film in LA, music in Austin, and fashion in NY. From the contest website:

The competition targets 18 to 29 year olds interested in film, music and fashion who want to become young entrepreneurs. From Oct. 2 through Oct. 31, applicants may apply online at www.racetobeusa.com and submit a sample of an existing creative work to compete.

• Five finalists from each category will be selected from the online submissions and will bring their portfolio of completed creative work to the event where they will compete in an onsite challenge. Each genre’s competition will be held in its respective artistic center:

oFilm – BE. The Story on November 17, Sony Pictures Studios, Los Angeles
oMusic – BE. The Sound on November 19, Austin, Venue TBD
oFashion – BE. The Style on November 21, New York Stock Exchange, New York

At each event, a panel of industry experts will serve as mentors and conduct a workshop focused on the importance of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in today’s business world. Each finalist will be paired with a mentor who will work with the individual to create an entrepreneurial concept and develop a marketing pitch for their work.

• At the end of the day, each finalist will present his or her work and make a “pitch” to the panel of judges. The judges will score each presentation in four categories: creative content, business viability, marketability, and the “it” factor.

• The winner of each competition will receive $5,000, a mentoring opportunity, possible internship and post-event PR exposure for their winning concept.

I have been researching business plan competitions for four years now and it’s amazing how the model has evolved and moved way beyond the campus.

This competition speaks directly to the creative economy and the creative class and while its cash prize doesn’t distinguish it, Russell Simmons, the categories and format, and the opportunities to network make it a special case. It also, obviously, underscores the great concentrations of talent that exist.

Check out the application (deadline is Oct. 31) and share your great ideas or works in progress with Russell Simmons and the world during Global Entrepreneurship Week. Good luck!

3 Responses to “Russell Simmons Gets Spiky”

  1. Elizabeth M Says:

    I think it’s interesting that Russell Simmons seems to be one of those people who has himself in a little bit of everything. Do you think the celebrity attached to this will make it a successful venture? What do you think have been some of the most successful business plan competitions, David?

  2. David J. Miller Says:

    I think the link between all of Simmon’s businesses are their ties to the creative economy and ‘lifestyle’ products.

    The problem that they may have with this contest is getting the word out. The same challenge that every ‘pure play’ internet venture faces…. Their window for apps is pretty tight (I just heard about the comp a few days ago and I have ‘google alerts’ etc.. looking for these)… Hopefully they have some good ‘real world’ partners who can put the comp in front of good targets (students in these fields at universities, etc)…

    The most successful contest (on a number of measures) is Moot Corp at U of Texas. It was the first and has grown brilliantly and expanded through partnerships into a truly global event. They still focus on students at universities though, which limits their universe of entrants.

    I like what Vator.tv is doing online with their contests and I think some policy makers (see Gov of Wisconsin’s BizPlan contest) are leading the way for those who want to use contests as an economic development tool.

    Also, there is a huge rise in the green and social entrepreneurship categories. Some exist as stand alone contests and others are categories within traditional contests.

    Contests are great teaching, engagement, and promotional tools for entrepreneurship and can serve as important ‘bridging’ events for firms/individuals that are still early stage and need feedback, networking, and funding in order to move forward effectively. Being an early stage entrepreneur is a lonely experience and events like bplan contests can be very helpful in some cases.

  3. Raymond Tuttle Says:

    Odd… I just stumbled on your blog by looking for ‘financial spreadbetting’ on Bing. But I haven’t found any articles about that on here?