Monday was the first ever SXSW Accelerator, and the roster was packed with 40% Texas companies, which I thought was pretty cool. I didn’t know that the rotating panel of judges was scoring the companies, but it’s a good idea to have the SXSW version of the DEMO God award. Despite the shortness of the 2-minute pitches, the judges had some really quality Q&A after the pitch with each company. After all the interactions, each judge would fill out their scoring form.
If there are four awards then my simplistic math says that 40% from Texas equals for sure one, possibly two awards for Texas companies. Somehow in a miraculous moment of clarity the west coast heavy panel chose all California companies as winners. Huh? Seriously?
I don’t want to take anything away from the companies themselves that won, but I’m not sure the playing field is even. Let’s take Ribbit for instance. Ribbit was founded in February of 2005 (is that still a startup?) and was sold to British Telecom for $105M in July of last year. So, of course Ribbit has a well rehearsed 2-minute pitch and a solid business model. Lack of feces, Mr. Holmes.
So what does Ribbit have in common with companies like Hourville, or OtherInBox, or Piryx that are being bootstrapped by their founders and are starting to get some incredible traction? It makes me wonder what the judging criteria is.
Weardrobe was another winner, and a great idea. I thought it was cool two years ago when Ian Clarke’s fiance did the same thing. For the record, the other two winners were Tubemogul, and Popcuts. Congratulations to all the winners, I’m just not sure exactly what “winning” means.