Through the financial and staffing support of the City of Johnson City, the local university (East Tennessee State University), private businesses, and other organizations, the first-ever Will This Float (www.willthisfloat.com) Business Pitch Competition was held in November 2008. The mission: have fun, bring people and ideas together, and to change the world. In this competition, the judges are most interested in ideas that will FLOAT: Few or no direct competitors, Low adoption/switching costs for users, On-time, Addresses unfilled need or want/solves a real problem, and Target market is identified and large. In its first year, more than 20 entrepreneurs submitted ideas to pitch on-stage in a game show format complete with stage and sound and visual effects. Five ideas were selected for the actual event. The entrepreneurs pitched to a panel of three judges who critiqued the ideas; however, ultimately it was the audience members who chose the winner via text messaging. An innovative Web site named Fellowtip (www.fellowtip.com) – a forum where users could actually tip each other for shared information – won the first-ever Will This Float competition. The winner received $1,000 to help in start-up costs as well as support from the East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Innovation Lab business incubator.
This document was submitted to the Alliance for Innovation for consideration for a 2010 Innovation Award.