Big50-2017 Round 1 – Rules of Engagement

Round 1 of the Big50 startup competition is the voting round. Visitors to get to vote for what they believe are the Top 5 startups in each of the 3 groups.

Group 1’s vote kicks off on Wednesday, May 17 at 9 AM PT.

The group rosters and schedule are available here:

Big50-2017 Group rosters and schedule

You won’t just vote for yourself, but for 4 other startups too. (Please don’t worry about gaming the system. Don’t vote for yourself plus what you think are 4 weak startups. More startups will make the cut than miss it, so vote for the startups you truly believe have the best shot at being successful. Those are the ones we want in the Big50.)

Startups were assigned to these groups at random, and in this round, startups are only competing against the other startups in their group. What happens in other groups will not impact you.

The top 24 vote-getters from each group (72 total) move on to round 2.

10 ways to improve your startup’s chances of making it to round 2

1. Find your startup’s group and voting period and be ready to start promoting yourself on the day the vote opens. The final roster and schedule is available here:

Big50-2017 Group rosters and schedule

2. Encourage your startup’s employees, partners, supporters, followers, etc. to vote for your startup. Send out an email, a Slack message, smoke signals, or whatever you use to motivate people internally.

Each person may vote ONCE per day. Any more than one vote per day will be considered cheating.Voters will vote for their top 5 in each group. The vote is weighted, so make sure you tell supporters to put you in the #1 position, obviously.

3. Leverage social media to encourage your employees, followers, and supporters to vote for your startup. The voting page will post on Startup50’s homepage for each group. It’ll be right at the top of the page.

The voting posts will follow this format (these pages don’t exist yet, so if you promote early, you’ll want to mention that the voting pages won’t be up until the vote actually starts):

4. Follow @Startup_50 and @JWVance on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn,

Once we’re connected, I will be RTing and sharing posts generated by startups.

(I’m not using Facebook for this competition – or much at all anymore, for that matter – so invites there will be a waste of your time.)

5. When posting about the competition, use these hashtags, so your posts are easier for us to find and RT:


Which one to use? It’s up to you, but it’ll probably depend on the length of your tweet.

6. If you come up with other good hashtags, tweet them at @JWVance or @Startup_50, and we’ll put them in the mix, especially if you’re already getting traction with them.

7. When encouraging people to vote, encourage them to only vote ONCE each day. Please actively discourage your followers from cheating.

The survey service I’m using isn’t very good at blocking fraud – it’s not what it was designed for – but it is good at collecting the metadata that makes the patterns associated with fraud easy to spot – but only after the fact.

Last year, fraud was enough of an issue that we seriously considered not running this competition again. Please don’t force my team to waste our time on this.

Cheaters will be penalized or disqualified.

We’ve changed the structure of the vote this time, so hopefully fraud will be a non-issue. (Fingers crossed.) So, please don’t ruin it for everyone else! If my team wastes too much time on fraud, this will be the last time we sponsor this competition. Vote only once each day, please!

8. If other startups in your group (or in other groups) are partners or friends, feel free to support one another. Cross-promotions are encouraged!

9. Think of this as a content amplification dry run. Approach the vote as you would a mini-marketing campaign. Come up with strategies, content templates, and amplification techniques that you can reuse in the future.

If you’re sending out a bunch of messages and tweets, consider A/B testing.In other words, start building up the content and marketing infrastructure that you know you’re going to need sooner rather than later.

10. Keep your sense of perspective. Don’t take the vote too seriously and don’t stress out trying to win. Look, more startups will make it into round 2 than won’t, so proceed accordingly.

Good luck and have fun!