Is Your Idea Worth $1 Million?

I have been asked to help judge Nokia’s Growth Economy Venture Challenge, a contest seeking the best idea for a new mobile product or solution designed to can dramatically improve the lives of people who live in developing countries where the average income is under $5 a day.  The winning start-up will receive a $1 million venture capital investment and support from Nokia to help turn the idea into reality.

Nokia  is looking for an idea that will radically change the way people use Nokia devices. The company stresses that this is “not a gift, grant or prize. It’s an investment aimed a business that will also improve people’s lives.” The winning proposal in the Growth Economy Venture Challenge must meet the following criteria:

  • Include a clear mission statement; and provide a product or service plan that will undeniably raise the standard of living, and/or enhance the lives of people living in emerging market countries today.
  • The initial target market must be located in a region with per capita income significantly lower than what is found in industrialized nations today (e.g., sub-$5 per day).
  • It must include a viable business model that has a high likelihood of providing a strong return on investment for the venture funding provided.

Submissions are due by July 31.

This is a chance for a start-up to significantly improve the health and wealth of some of the world’s poorest people while taking advantage of Nokia’s deep pockets and strong reach. I hope we get a large number of applicants from start-ups who would not otherwise get on to the radar of  big handset makers or the global venture capital community.

Beside myself, judges for the contest include:

June Cohen, Executive Producer of TED Media: June led the charge to bring the TED conference online, launching TEDTalks in 2006 and the new in 2007. She also co-produces the annual conference and manages the media team;
Jesse Dylan, director, filmmaker and Creative Director and CEO of Form: Jesse is well known for directing his Emmy Award winning video YES WE CAN SONG, inspired by Barack Obama. Jesse is also the founder of Lybba, a non-profit organization that uses research, design, technology, and media to drive change in healthcare;
Erik Hersman, Blogger: Raised in Sudan and Kenya, Erik writes two different technology blogs including: AfriGadget and WhiteAfrican. One dedicated to low-tech African ingenuity, and the other to high-tech mobile and web changes happening throughout Africa; Erik is also founder of Ushahidi, the crowd-sourced disaster response site.
Ram Shriram, Industry Insider: As founder of Sherpalo, Ram helps guide technology entrepreneurs in the process of turning ideas into successful businesses. Prior to Sherpalo, Ram was an officer at, president of Junglee and a member of the Netscape executive team. Ram is a founding board member of Google Inc. and;
Rodolfo Lara Torres heads the Technology Pioneers Programme of the World Economic Forum: Rodolfo’s worked in various strategic management positions with Siemens in Germany and was named a Global Leadership Fellow of the World Economic Forum in 2006;
Yossi Vardi, high-tech veteran: Known as the “godfather”, Vardi is the founding investor and the former chairman of Mirabilis Ltd, the creator of the highly popular instant messaging program ICQ.


This is a great opportunity for any start-up in the mobile space. Take advantage of it!

The prize will be awarded on Sept. 15 at Nokia’s Developer Summit by Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo

To download and complete an application form and submit your proposal click here.





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