Reality programming meets venture capital world

New contest to find next Web 2.0 company

It has been billed by some as American Idol meets Silicon Valley -- a new contest that will award three would-be entrepreneurs venture capital and other amenities needed to launch new Web 2.0 companies.

YoubetheVC, a contest sponsored by New York City-based investment firm Bang Ventures, calls for applicants to submit ideas for new Web 2.0 companies by February 2008. The proposals will be vetted by judges from companies like Google, and whittled down to a final list that will be presented to Internet users for a vote.

Those winning the Internet vote will receive seed funding and an array of services like office space, legal services, Web development services and accountants to help launch the new company next northern summer. Bang Ventures will hold a stake in the winning companies. Sponsors, including Deloitte & Touche, will provide the services.

Although the contest officially launched in late September, it only lately received widespread notice by signing on judges like Marissa Mayer, Google vice president of search products and user experience, Craig Walker, co-founder of Grand Central and senior director of voice products at Google, and executives from high-profile Web 2.0 start-ups Pownce and Slide.

The judges will whittle the list to 20 finalists, each of which will then create a video about their idea that will be available to online voters.

F. Mark Modzelewski, founder of Bang, said in an interview with CNBC posted on the contest site that because many Web 2.0 companies are dependent upon being accepted by online users, the contest seemed like a good way to do market research. He expects that there will be ideas for new social networks and search technology companies submitted, among others, he noted.

"We're going to see a lot of the bad and the ugly and on top of that we'll see some rise to the top," he noted in the interview video. "This seems like a way of tapping the actual audience early on. What better way to get the public involved in an early stage start-up than asking them to be part of its inception ...and development."

The funding will vary from several hundred thousand dollars to substantially less, he added, depending on the type of companies that win the contest, he added.

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Heather Havenstein

Computerworld

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