By: Bradley Walker
I am in absolute awe of the massive amounts of funding that is available for the best and worst ideas in the tech space. It is amazing what can be accomplished when you have a good team and almost surreal what can be built when you operate in Silicon Valley. It seems to be the place where ideas come to life. There is almost nothing I’d rather do than come up with a great product. Jotting ideas on napkins or whatever else is handy has been something I’ve enjoyed my entire life. One of the most difficult aspects of transitioning an idea into a great product is getting the idea in front of the right people to get seed funding. However, some products inspire so much FOMO (fear of missing out) among the tech world; they are catapulted to success by angel investors or established Venture Capital (VC) funds.
Uber teamed up with Techweek and VC’s to create UberVenture. Entrepreneurs and startups across the country submitted ideas and overviews of existing businesses for an opportunity to pitch representatives from a variety of VC’s and equity groups during Techweek Chicago. An independent firm evaluated all of the submissions against private criteria and selected the candidates that would move forward in the process. Finalists were notified and told to be within a designated area of Chicago between 11 AM and 2 PM on pitch day. A “Venture” ride option would be available in the Uber app that would request a black car SUV to the candidate’s location with VC reps in tow.
Some candidates sent requests for the full 3-hour period and were unable get a ride. There are numerous social media posts that condemned the process; a number of participants traveled from out of town and even out of state to participate in the event. After initially dismissing the email as spam, I read it after a friend forwarded it to me in awe of the concept behind UberVenture. I decided to submit an idea I’d had the week prior on the spot.
Less than a week later, I was blessed enough to have my idea selected but was anxious about pitching something that wasn’t even a prototype yet. But the guidelines allowed pure ideas, and I’m not really a rule breaker. So, I embraced the fact that I really had nothing to lose when I laid out my idea for judgment by people that evaluate pitches and products for a living.
It turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Once everyone got settled in the car, we took a 15-minute ride, and I started pitching the idea, in hopes of getting funding. I pitched for about 3 minutes and spent the rest of the time discussing the ins and outs with two representatives from Independence Equity. It seemed like a winner to them, and they have my contact info. Hopefully, they reach out before another group beats them to the punch.