For several years now, INTX has sought to foster innovation with a competition taking place right on the show floor. Past events have produced a student hackathon, an app challenge and a short film competition—which, appropriately, took place in Tinseltown. This year, it’s a startup pitch competition in Boston not unlike ABC’s “Shark Tank.” But it’s dubbed The Lobstah Tank because we’re in Beantown, and who doesn’t love a Boston accent? The lobstahs duking it out are entrepreneurs who’ve come to INTX ready with an idea—and hoping to land the grand prize of $10,000 and a chance to meet with potential investors.
Why the startup theme? Boston itself is a hub of innovation, NCTA industry affairs vp Mark Bell explained. “It’s no secret that they have an incredible entrepreneurial community. And we think it’s a great opportunity to engage that community around our platform.” Holding the competition is both a way to introduce outsiders to the industry and a way for the industry to get an idea of the next generation’s take on media.
But the ideas aren’t all about TV—and that’s part of what makes it innovative. “It’s the first time we’re not looking to build something in 24-48 hours,” according to Bell. “[The companies] really already have an idea and are looking to get it out there to industries who’d use it.” NCTA cast a wide net in its search for contestants. “When we made our call to the Boston community for applicants, we didn’t frame it that it has to do with the television industry.” Those ideas are included in the mix, of course, but there’s “an incredibly wide variety” of ideas across numerous verticals—not just ‘how to make TV better.’
Come May 16, a group of 20 entrepreneurs will have been whittled down to 6. And those finalists will get six minutes to pitch a panel of judges—made up of industry execs, local VCs and maybe even city officials—in Imagine Park on May 17 at 3pm. Above all, these competitions have become part of INTX’s fabric and seek “to involve bright young thinkers,” Bell said. And this one in particular shows how companies are leveraging disruption—a key theme at INTX—for growth.