A new festival in Charlottesville is putting $1000 up for grabs, and it's up to the community who gets to walk away with it. The TomTom Founders Festival invites you to hear ten promising pitches, and vote for who will have some extra spending cash.
The groups in the running for the $1000 prize range from artists to entrepreneurs to University of Virginia students to small businesses in the city. It may be a relatively small chunk of change, but the goal is to push more innovation and creativity in the Charlottesville community.
The TomTom Founders Festival is hoping at least 100 people will fill the old Quince space in the downtown Gleason Building Thursday night. Each participant is asked to pay $10 at the door, and that donation buys them a vote.
Ten finalist groups will make their best pitches, with ideas spanning from taxi-tracking phone applications to an elementary school mural project to expanding a market to sell healthy foods to area neighbors. The concept with the most crowd support earns the $1000.
TomTom Founders Festival Innovation Programmer Oliver Platts-Mills said, "We feel like the money is something fun, it brings people into it, it makes people interested, but we think that, really, the value of this event is all ten individuals are getting to grow their networks in Charlottesville, and when you're trying to start a small business, money is just one really small part of that component."
As far as Platts-Mills and other organizers know, this is a one-of-a-kind event. Pitch nights are popular in the commercial technology realm as an easy way to get companies' ideas in front of folks. However, those events are usually done with expert panels. Platts-Mills says the festival wanted to make sure this experience was more of a grassroots process.
Platts-Mills also mentions that this event is less about the money and more about the connections these people are able to make to further grow and develop ideas in the city. He did receive 40 applications for this event and narrowed those down to the final ten.
The "crowd-sourced pitch night" starts at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Gleason Building in downtown Charlottesville. This is just part of the festival's push for innovation in the city. There are a number of events going on in the next week or so, trying to show people Charlottesville is not just a nice place to live, but a good place to startup business as well. Click here for a full schedule and more information.
Dannika Lewis joined the NBC29 news team as a general assignment reporter in June 2010. She started her ventures in broadcast news at Elon University where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story