Today is a great day for I, Cringely and for me. It is the day we launch the special web site for Cringely’s (NOT in Silicon Valley) Startup Tour. I wrote a column last month announcing the Tour, which you can read here, but today marks the actual start of this summer’s adventure, because it opens nominations.
Visit the new web site here, but please remember to come back and finish reading this column.
This new web site is strictly for readers to nominate startup companies, discuss them, vote for favorites, then see the results as we come up with the top 24 companies in six different categories.
You have to register in order to nominate or vote, though not to just read. Many people won’t have to register if they login with their Facebook or Twitter IDs. Registration is important because that’s how we keep people from stuffing our ballot box. That’s the only reason we have registration. I won’t sell your name to anyone, I promise.
Notice that the site (unlike this one you are reading right now) doesn’t even have ads. I want to keep the new site completely transparent and above-board, because I think this might be one of the most important things I ever do in my career so I want to do it right.
As I am writing this, the new site stands empty. There are no nominated companies. That’s your job, not mine. So here is how to do your job. Click on the nomination form and fill it in for any startup company that you think is doing exciting work and deserves recognition. The very act of being considered and discussed by 500,000 readers will give these companies more publicity than most of them would otherwise ever get. So in this case it is an honor just to be nominated. But having said that, please only nominate really good companies that actually qualify.
After my first column about the Tour I received e-mail from many startups wanting to be considered and one of those was Facebook. I have nothing against Facebook, but I hardly think it qualifies for this project. If the company you are pushing has zillions in the bank and more than, say, 50 employees, it is too darned big. No Facebooks.
Beyond that it is okay to nominate companies that have been around for awhile. It is okay to nominate your own company. This isn’t frigging Wikipedia.
You can add all kinds of supporting information to the nomination including documents and even videos for voters to consider. And remember that not only the nominator can submit such materials, any registered user of the site can do so. This requires registration because there are as my Mom, Mrs. Cringely, would say, assholes out there who will submit all sorts of useless or disruptive crap. This new site is a No-Asshole Zone, so let me know if you come across any nonsense and I’ll take the garbage out myself.
This is an ongoing process that will take at least eight weeks to find our 24 companies. Keep coming back to see the new companies that have been nominated and to discuss them and vote. While the winners won’t be final until the very end, I’ll make sure you have some sense of the deliberations as they go along, so come back for that, too.
Just to recap what I announced last month, my family and I will this summer saddle-up our 1996 Winnebago motor home to visit all 24 finalists, taking with us a TV camera crew. We’ll spend two days at every company, camped in the parking lot or in the CEO’s driveway. Two days is how long it usually takes for my kids to use up all the water and demand a trip to Redbox for new videos.
In addition to two months of ongoing text, audio, and video coverage right here, the 24 finalists will appear in my 12-hour reality TV series which will be on a BIG cable channel, one you have actually heard of that does not include the word “shopping” in its name.
I am also looking for a few good experts to consult on this project and for the TV series. That’s because I want to do more than just publicize the work of these new companies, I want to help them. So if you have been a successful startup CEO, CFO, CTO — anything with a C at the front — and are willing to share a bit of your expertise, please let me know. Experts on startup financing, including venture capitalists and angels, are especially encouraged to apply (bring money — preferably small bills with non-sequential serial numbers).
Some of these experts will come with me to the companies, some will appear only on video, depending on the time they can give to the project.
Not all experts will be accepted. This is my project and I’ll be the one to decide if you get to play or not. Frankly there are plenty of people out there who know a lot but have a hard time being helpful. We’re here to encourage. If any company made the top 24, they are already successful. We aren’t here to tell them how dumb they are and how smart we are.
All decisions are final.
Finally, I want to thank the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City for their support for this project, which they jumped on within minutes of hearing about it. Kauffman is the foundation of entrepreneurism and that’s what this startup tour is all about — helping to make America even greater.
But Kauffman and I can’t do it all by ourselves, so if your organization wants to become involved please get in touch with me because I’d like to make this tour an annual event and to help technology startups become as important to television as Survivor or The Apprentice.
Go to the new site and register now.