By Becky Peterso
In the first round, entrepreneurs have to pitch their idea in 25 words or less.
What kind of business would you start if someone suddenly handed you $100,000?
The marketing software company HubSpot wants to know, and writing just 25 words on its Facebook page could put you one step closer to working for yourself instead of someone else. HubSpot is asking prospective entrepreneurs to share their wildest, most disruptive business ideas; the person who offers the best one will win the dough.
“The data showed us that entrepreneurs that started their own businesses were happier,” said Ryan Bonnici, senior director of global marketing at HubSpot. “They attributed their success to money, tools, and mentorship. We wanted to pool those things together to help people re-envision the dreams they had as a kid.”
Bonnici expects at least 25,000 entrants to the contest. Initially, Bonnici’s team plans to to narrow those down to those with the 1,000 best ideas. After vetting those candidates to make sure they are qualified for the contest and have followed the rules, the marketing company plans to have a panel of CEOs evaluate the remaining proposals. Those executives, which will include leaders from Netflix and the Harvard Business School, will work with HubSpot to choose a final winner sometime around mid-August.
In addition to the cash, the winner will get to work closely with the panel of CEOs to figure out how to make their company succeed.
This isn’t the first time HubSpot has put money into a startup. In May, the company invested in both the account-based marketing firm Terminus and the B2B sales platform PandaDoc.
“We’re incredibly passionate about investing in the ecosystem,” Bonnici said. “It’s about reinventing the way businesses work.”
As you might expect, HubSpot’s contest isn’t entirely altruistic. The company specializes in “inbound marketing,” which seeks to encourage consumers to find out information about a company and its products on their own rather than giving them a hard sell. The contest itself is an example of inbound marketing, and in this case, it’s promoting HubSpot itself.
“We wrote the book on this around 10 years ago,” said Bonnici. “The whole idea is creating content that people actually care about and attracting them to your business and brand instead of selling to them.”