Get In the Ring is an international showcase of talented startup companies on three different valuation levels, ranging from less than $1 million to beyond $10 million. There is no monetary prize, but teams compete and gain immensely from the worldwide publicity that this opportunity entails. This experience connects some of the world’s best startup companies with potential high value investors, as well as gaining new connections and clients. Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network opened the ceremony with his support for all the competing teams and how they have brought innovation to Medellín and beyond.
The figures were staggering: more than 5,000 companies applied, from more than 80 countries, through 130-plus events and more than 20,000 visitors prior to the final pitch alone. This scale is inspiring and illustrates the opportunity of such a platform, in particular with the grand champions of judges of incredible success.
Five intense rounds enable the judges to fire questions, namely how the startups plan to provide the returns investors demand. This kind of platform also allows the audience to be better informed through their responses to any criticisms or vulnerabilities highlighted in the judges’ critiques. Team, achievements, market and financials form the basis of the 30 second rounds, leading up to the freestyle stage before a champion is crowned.
LIK in no way claims to have invented the advertising industry, however, its simple yet efficient concept gives people free call credit while giving companies direct exposure to publicize to target markets. At the moment, the startup founder is asking for $1.5 million in return for a 20-percent equity with a planned exit strategy should investors have any hesitation. Currently, the confidence lies in the tested model that has proven to be of success due to geo location and specific targeting – which has already caught the support of large companies such as P&G and Coca Cola.
In contrast, SpeekEZ, another one of the competing startups in the final competition, was asking for a much higher sum of $5 million, was considered more innovative in the sense that it is a revolutionary concept of real-time human translation. For example, the founder criticized Google for its lack of accuracy in translating more complex and colloquial language.
Although both companies are clearly different in their aims, value and mission, there is no denying the fact that their founding teas are central to their passion and desire to be a success. In the freestyle round, when asked why they would be better than their opponent, it was the contrast of safety and practicality in keeping supply and demand balanced with ongoing innovation, versus LIK’s higher “sure bet” nature and exit strategy contingency.
In the end, Lik was victorious – a worthy victory given its innovative and clever stance on a simple concept, while still providing connectivity for the local community.
Dominic Keogh and Winnie Liu are University of Sheffield students, who reported from the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Medellín, Colombia