Founder of Digital Experts United, one of the organizers of the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition, Christian Fenner explains how the competition works and how it differs from other contests for young people. Christian is also the founder of the SEM/SEA online marketing agency digitaleheimat in Berlin. Find out more details on the different stages of the competition, the role of the online community and how each of the stages benefits the contestants (video below)
How does the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition differ from other entrepreneurship competitions?
„When Gunter Faltin and I were working on the concept, we had a competition in mind that combines learning and actually go-to-market functionalities. We wanted people with a very initial idea of entrepreneurship to be able to take part which is why we let people register and submit an idea with only three sentences. During the course of them being part of the entrepreneurship community, we give them tasks to do and give and eLearning lessons to take in order to be able to work on their idea and then to come up the next phase. It is the public working phase, where they actually need to learn how to promote their idea. It’s a very successful campaign integrated into our competition and this differs the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition from all the other platforms that I know.”
How many people and from how many countries around the world have competed over the years in the competition?
„We have people from over 140 countries so basically from all small and big countries that have access to the internet and that have a UNESCO chapter that told them about us. So far we’re doing the comp for the fourth time and more than 38,000 people have registered for being part of our community.”
What are the different stages of the competition and how are people able to engage with them?
„There are three different stages: The first is registering, taking the lessons, and submitting the idea. The second stage is the sparring partner stage where the users can share their ideas and projects and comment on other and help each other in pursue and become in explaining what they want to do and how they are doing it and answering questions. The third stage is the public voting part when the users and we as the organizers try to get as more people possible at the platform to look at the ideas and projects and to vote for those that they like.”
How does one go about voting for a project that they like?
„If you’re not a registered user, if you go to the platform you just go at the idea that you like and if you want to vote, you need to double opt with your email address and then you have access to voting for all the ideas and projects that you like.”
What about the voting process and how the competition has evolved to reduce fraud?
„During the last couples of years we had many cases when people tried to commit fraud and get a lot of votes and we looked into the best technologies that prevent fraud on the site and we found that a mixture of checking IP addresses as a double opt with an existing email address would help us reduce fraud which has done so in the last competition by 80 percent. This is why votes have gone down but all the fraud votes are not coming in anymore. Every idea will get an equal amount of votes.”
What’s the general atmosphere between competitors in the online community?
„It a very friendly atmosphere. During the first year that we did this competition, we found out that we need to use a little bit of gamification in order to ignite communication between the users that have registered. We look to it from an entrepreneurial view, we know that you can get much better than you are by sharing and by helping other entrepreneurs to become so what we did. We have a factor that runs in the background and gives the user points for each and every action that the user takes, which makes this idea come up and become better in competition to all other ideas and projects. This gamification concept has really worked well so people that are on the platform and that want their ideas and projects to succeed know that they can get a better status in the competition by helping others through commenting and doing all kind of activities that you do on the platform.”
What advice would you have for any young person looking to grow their entrepreneurial goals?
„I think that it consists of three parts that you need to do: Firstly you need to become really-really good in your entrepreneurial design. You need to really-really think through what you want to pursue because once you start pursuing it, you don’t have time to work on that very well anymore and this is the main focus of our platform here. It gives you the lessons and the education you need to learn the skill of becoming a great idea designer The second part is the network, so you can’t do things alone. This is why we have a community and a network that use techniques like commenting and helping each other. The third part is learning the skills of promoting your ideas and projects so a critical mass of people will know what you are doing. All these three things combined we tried to put to our competition.”