Blog Series: Competition Types - Part IV of IV

Reviewr|Reviewr|July 3, 2015

Welcome back! If you haven’t read any other parts in the series, I’d recommend starting with part one. When planning a business or innovation competition, it’s always a good idea to understand the many different elements available, learning to assemble them in the way that best fits your goals.

In the last blog (part 3), I wrote about a number of alternative competition types including innovation competitions, case study competitions, and hack-a-thons. These are all great formats for groups looking to stay industry specific, solving a problem or soliciting innovation through technology or other means.

This final blog of the series focuses on the different elements that are available for competitions in supplement to the competition types. Once a group has select a format or series of formats for their event, there are a number of other elements that need to be considered, all possibly boosting value for participants.

These are multi-track competitions, mentorship elements, combination events, and prizes.

Multi-Track Competition

Engage different groups of applicants with a multi-track competition. From younger students to established community members, everyone has an idea they want to pursue. Give them all a chance to compete against their peers, awarding prizes based on track winner and overall winner. Many groups also like to divide their competitions among disciplines, awarding ideas from the same industry or sector.

For organizations that encompass and support a variety of different industries, a multi-track competition is a perfect solution, splitting the initial vetting processes into industry segments, placing similar applicants into pools for relevant reviewing. There’s no sense in comparing apples or oranges when apples can be compared to other apples. This often concludes with an overall winner, taking the winner of each track and placing them head-to-head. While this does end with an apples to oranges final, it’s a lot easier to compare one or two from each industry and recognizes the top from each.

Mentorship Elements

Constructive feedback is the most important element of many competitions. It provides all applicants a tangible takeaway, giving them the foundation for business actualization. Include a round strictly for subjective feedback, allowing competitors to edit their application after the round concludes. Or provide feedback at the end of the competition, allowing competitors to know where they can improve.

I would argue this is the most important element of any business centered competition. So many times, applicants are not awarded valuable feedback, therefore continually making the same mistakes. By adding mentorship elements to a competition, organizations can provide a tangible takeaway for all applicants, maximizing value and engagement. What’s more, this also serves as a fantastic way to build a network around the program, connecting applicants, reviewers, and community members.

Combination Events

Many engaging events combine several of the competition types to create a unique experience for applicants. One example would be a business plan competition with a business pitch competition. Applications would be scored not only on their plans, but also their ability to present their ideas.

I’ve already written a good deal about combination events, but it deserves a lot of attention. To maximize the effectiveness of competitions, it’s always a good idea to combine a number of different elements specifically designed to accomplish the programs goals. For instance, let’s say that business actualization is the goal. An interesting structure would be a first round business idea, second round full business plan, third round mentorship, and final round business pitch. By combining all of these different elements, organizations can provide a variety of different experiences and deliverables to applicants, even forming lasting relationships with community mentors. This theory can be applied for a variety of different events, from innovation to awards.


Prizes are a great way of providing incentive for applicants to apply. Cash prizes are a great way of building excitement, but do not have to be the only option. Other great prize packages can include acceptance into an incubator, scholarships, tickets to entrepreneurship conferences, or free business support or services. In fact, constructive feedback is a great prize in itself!

Lastly, no event is complete without some sort of incentive. But the purpose of this segment is not to tell you how much money you have to give winners. Sure, money is a great incentive, but there are countless other prizes that promote engagement in programs. A few ideas might be, acceptance into a local incubator, scholarships, business services from local b2b organizations, or equipment. Again, as I mentioned above, feedback is the best prize (though not always the most enticing), allowing everyone involved to take something home.

Has our blog series given you the itch to run a competition of your own?

We would love to chat with you about how to engage partipants through any number of competition types.