Using Vator.tv to host your competition

by Joe

Here’s an intriguing and easy way for an organizer to promote and even conduct a business plan competition: stage it on Vator.tv.

That’s what the organizers of the UC Irvine Business Plan Competition at The Paul Merage School of Business are doing for a portion of their 2010 competition.

The UCI People’s Choice Poll awards $1,500 to the entrant that attracts the most votes based on its elevator pitch video posted on Vator.tv. The voting deadline is Wednesday, May 19.

The traditional judged portions of the competition will award $30,000 in prize money to 6 winners in two divisions. The finals take place on May 21, 2010 at the UC Irvine Student Center.

We viewed the 15 competitor pitch videos on Vator.tv and cast a vote for AlcoGum, an idea for a chewing gum that substitutes for a breathalyzer. The gum would change colors to indicate the blood alcohol content of the gum chewer. The pitch was delivered well and it was easy to see how the gum might become popular.

Vator.tv made the viewing and voting easy. You must register in order to vote but that process went smoothly too. Registering ensures that you can vote for only team. Besides the video you can access additional information about each competitor.

Only after submitting our vote for AlcoGum did we decide to do a little more research about the concept. A simple Google search immediately revealed a potential problem: Alcogum is already registered and trademarked as the name of a certain synthetic thickener.

How significant a problem is it that the UCI team apparently overlooked a basic IP step? Could the product idea itself already be invented and protected?

And if we wanted to change our vote, could we?

Sure, no problem. The Vator.tv poll allows you to easily cancel your vote so that you can switch your support to a different team. But before doing that we performed a quick check of ideas from one of our favorite sources – halfbakery.com.

There, a search on the term “gum” revealed dozens of half-baked ideas involving the chewed substance, including pothole repair gum and tape measurer bubble gum. There was even an idea for beer gum, which might precede your switching to AlcoGum.

But we found nothing akin to alcohol-content-measuring gum. So we are keeping our vote with AlcoGum, even if they do have to change the name.

Photo credit: gaminrey

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Joe Hurley is a CPA, author of "The Best Way to Save for College - A Complete Guide to 529 Plans", founder of Savingforcollege.com, and co-founder of Bizplancompetitions.com. He has also recently started making maple syrup.
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