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

What’s the deal with TheNextWeb’s Startup Awards?
Innovation

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.

7 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Martin Mignot

    The London one wasn’t great either – I went there to pick up an award only to be told there was actually no award but that I could grab a free beer at the bar if I wanted to hang around…

  2. Avatar
    Javier E. Gonzalez

    The TNW (paid) Meetup on the 31st has been “postponed until further notice, with any luck, it should take place within the month”. Not classy at all, horrible communication.

  3. Avatar
    Zee.

    Guys, to say that is has’ been messy and unprofessional is an understatement…and this is coming from myself, the CEO, and the buck stops with me…. I can completley understand your thoughts Liam and the feelings of Martin & Javier below. The awards are very important to us but the offline aspect (venue & awards event) has been fraught with issues and needless to say we’ve learned a lot for next year’s awards & the years ahead. Apologies to everyone who has been negatively impacted, I take full responsibility.

    • Avatar
      Martin Mignot

      Hey Zee, no need to kill yourself over it either. I was still happy to meet up with you and grab my beer 😉
      And judging by the voting activity, it looks like people are really keen on having these local awards. There will never be enough spotlight on European startups so I think this initiative has done much more good than harm (very concretely I can tell you that getting the award means something for the startups in terms of awareness, recognition, and even traffic). If you can deal with the offline part better, then next year will be great.

  4. Avatar
    Rousseau Olivier

    Wow Zee, that is what I call being open and honest.

    So is the event cancelled, or just delayed?

  5. Avatar
    Patrick de Laive

    Hi Liam,

    In addition to Zee’s remark below. Its been quite a challenge for us. I’ll still be coming to Paris tomorrow and Thursday, but the official meetup will be postponed until further notice. We had difficulties with finding a good venue.

    We’ve had support from you (appreciated) and the awesome peeps at Hackfwd (merci beaucoup), but even with their great help and advice it is hard to put up an event that would meet our standards and the expectations of our readers, like the standard of our conferences (and the blame is on us, we underestimated the impact of the Awards). So we have changed the format indeed after Germany.

    The Startup Awards are an online only competition, and as we’d love to meet up with the local tech scene we’ve decided to organize small and intimate meetups in each city instead of an award ceremony.

    For Paris the story is a bit different as we just don’t have a venue and we were trying to find one until… well last night.
    That said, I’ll be in Paris tomorrow and Thursday and would love to meet you and other French peeps from the scene. I’ll be hanging in a coffee bar somewhere near Le Marais (Rue St Martin).

    If you want to meet up (and I hope you do), please ping me via email (patrick at thenextweb dot com) or twitter @twitter-4485601:disqus

  6. Avatar
    bcurdy

    Good point Liam. I love startups but I’m suffering of heavy Startup Awards fatigue. Every startup and its investor seems to have received an award of some kind these days. I barely heard anybody talking about LeWeb competition last December, I didn’t even know that the Europas awards were over and so on. When I saw that TNW was organizing such an event, I didn’t think much of it (although I did vote). It’s not a differentiator anymore, for a conference or a blog.

    Now, I love the fact that TNW went out of its confort zone and tried something new. Same for the honesty. So all in all, it still gives me another reason to like them 😉

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