What's the deal with TheNextWeb's Startup Awards?

Jan 29, 2013
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TNW Startup Awards FranceI’m a pretty big fan of TNW. So much so that I’ve been syndicating RB Content on their site for the past few months, and they’re pretty much involved with everything cool going on in the European Startup Scene; however, for the past few weeks I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure our their whole “TNW Startup Awards” thing. In the past few weeks, I’ve received a few emails from the team – the first of which was to tell me that the event would be happening, 3 weeks from the time of the email, and that it would be great if I could make some noise about it. Of course, I did, and had no problem doing so, but, for a company which originally got its start organizing conferences, I have to say that these Startup Awards, which sound eerily similar to The Europas, haven’t really held up the TNW standards I’m used to.

I thought, perhaps, that it was just in France that things weren’t in order – after all, France is like the lamest place to do a startup, right? But then, out visiting Berlin last week, I heard that the TNW Startup Awards for Germany were a disaster, with nearly none, if any, of the winning startups/individuals being present at the award ceremony, probably due to the lack of communication around the event. Out here in Paris, the rules have changed mid-contest – I assume they’ve changed for all other countries as well – so that now all the voting is being done online. Through January 31st, you can vote here for Best UX, Best Mobile, Best Web, Best Founder, Best VC & Best Startup of the year – if you’re the kind of guy who only likes to bet on winners, try voting after looking at the ‘standings’ page, which reveals all but too easily the startups that have the most & least votes.

On January 31st, TNW co-founder Patrick de Laive will be coming to Paris – I’d love to tell you where & when, but two days before the event, they still haven’t picked a location. I hope to be there – I’ve never met Patrick before – though I doubt he’ll be too thrilled to get my feedback on the event series so far.

This whole mini-event thing smells eerily similar to Web Summit, the company behind Dublin Web Summit, London Web Summit, what will be 100 Pub Summits across Europe this year, f.ounders, START Europe, The Europas, and a few US events as well. They’ve been animating the community with local events, originally started as pub crawls in Dublin.  If this is the model TNW is going for, they sure need to work on their local organization – I’ve got two or three contacts in Web Summit and they regularly check in about local events – TNW shot me a press release and a request for nominations early on, but I haven’t seen too much hands-on in the community.

I’ve mentioned that there’s too many startup award ceremonies, and I’ve heard plenty of people say there are too many events in Europe; regardless, there’s never going to be room for international events which engage poorly on the local level. If TNW is trying to keep its April conference in Amsterdam as a conference that invites people from all over Europe, then they’re going to have to invest a little more time and effort into these events. For now, this Paris event, is sponsored by a Rocket Internet company, a TNW company, and the company that the two event organizers are behind – it does quite scream ‘local engagement  to me.