Howdy to all our applicants, sponsors, volunteers and friends of the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition! You are very important to the Texas startup economy, and our thoughts are with you, your families, and your businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”― John F. Kennedy
I know everyone is inundated with messages about how different companies, organizations, and events are coping with COVID-19. However, we have a little different message to share around how TNVC, with your help, is going to be able to continue being a positive impact to the Texas entrepreneurial ecosystem at a time when it needs it the most.
TNVC is excited to announce that we will be entirely virtual for 2020, sticking as closely as possible to the already set timeline leading up to the May 14 competition.
How are we going to pull this off and deliver the same quality and impact we have shown to be true in years past? By continuing what we know works, as well as utilizing state-of-the-art technology we had been planning to implement for 2020 before COVID-19, and adapting it to meet the evolving circumstances.
TNVC has always been substantially virtual. With its statewide reach and months long vetting process, applications and screening have been entirely online since we started in 2015. Our network of over 50 subject matter, intellectual property, and business experts are evaluating our pool of 84 applicants via our online platform right now, just as they have done for the last 5 years. We are confident that this will result in a short list of Texas’ best deep technology startups that will then participate in online video coaching sessions, again, just as we have done in the past. Ultimately, the top 16 companies will be invited to compete for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes.
You may recall that we piloted the TNVC event app based on the Socio platform as well as live streaming last year’s finals. The app allowed the audience to network, learn about the companies and sponsors, and vote on the best elevator pitch. For this year, we had been planning to add live polling and audience Q&A via the app, as well as allowing virtual audience and sponsor participation for those that could not join us in person in College Station. With an App we already know works great, and the Texas A&M Information Technology team at our backs, we are now preparing to accommodate virtual pitches by our competitors using the very robust online education and video-conferencing systems we already have in place.
This will result in an entirely online experience, with competitors pitching from their homes or offices to online judges and audience members. We believe that we can at least match the results and impact of previous years and perhaps even grow the audience and prize pool, with there being limited outlets for funds already earmarked for startups!
As a final thought, it would be much easier for the TNVC team and our volunteers to sit back and let this season pass us by. Our sponsors represent some of the most successful companies in Texas and they too could wait until next year. However, I feel very strongly that the greatest opportunities for impact come at the toughest of times.
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.” ― John F. Kennedy
The startups and the Texas entrepreneurial ecosystem we serve CAN NOT WAIT. In fact, the funds and relationships that will come out of TNVC 2020 are more critical than ever. Despite the adversity we face, I am invigorated and motivated by the even greater impact that we can have this year, and hope you are as well. Please stay tuned (via email and our social media) for further details and updates. I look forward to working with you over the coming months to make TNVC 2020 a success, and (virtually) seeing many of you in May!
Chris Scotti, TNVC Chair