When we launched our inaugural 30under30 Awards in April (Anthill’s award program to recognise young entrepreneurs), we were immediately surprised at the lack of female entries (initially three percent).
We threw out a rally-to-arms, posing the controversial question: Are women less likely to self-promote? Quickly, our three percent figure jumped to over 30 percent.
The question has since been rendered moot (or at least proven wrong), as our women readers have embraced the Cool Company Awards with gusto, representing 42 percent of companies entered.
What we have found surprising is the low number of web companies to enter. This completely contradicted our expectations.
Firstly, it would be no surprise to our readers that we are borderline obsessed with online business models. We try to moderate our exuberance and cover a range of industries, but due to the internet’s power to radically disrupt traditional business models, we often can’t help ourselves and keep coming back to those three influential Ws.
Secondly, our 30under30 Awards attracted online entrepreneurs in droves. Among our young entrepreneurs, by far the greatest interest in the awards came from online business owners. We even went so far as to create a section to recognise in our magazine online economy finalists (‘Behold the New Economy’).
Thirdly, we made a concerted effort to make the awards easier for online businesses to enter, reducing the requisite time in business from 24-months to 12-months. We recognise that many companies in this space may not have existed 12-months ago. Indeed, the technology may not have been available for them to exist 12-months ago.
Lastly, so many online businesses are very, very cool!
They are innovative, they are constantly reinventing themselves, they are generally driven by entrepreneurial ‘futurists’, they are born global and often they have the X-Factor (frequently like no other).
So, why the absence?
It could be the $49 application free.
Online businesses have grown accustomed to ‘free’ goods and services, a staple of internet businesses, from new media to open-source tools. But a barrier to entry is sometimes necessary. It sorts the leaders from the also-rans. (If you can’t afford $49 to gain a better understanding of your business and maybe even win some accolades, there’s something intrinsically wrong with your business.)
It could be the cynicism of online entrepreneurs.
While the web community often likes to ‘stick it to the man’, I don’t think Anthill yet qualifies as ‘part of the establishment’. (To check out a video about our humble beginnings, click here.) The irony is that it is currently easier than ever for an online entrepreneur to come up trumps in the Cool Company Awards, simply due the lack of competition.
What we desperately hope is that the poor showing is not a reflection of the industry as a whole. We voiced our anger at the close of Commercial Ready and I recently heard rumour that the ICT Secrets program has also been put on hold.
What is going on?!
Should we simply close this category and give up on our webtreneurs?
- If you would like to nominate an online business (maybe your own), click here.
- If you represent an industry association and would like to help, click here. (Does anyone have any contacts at AIIA or AIMIA?)
- If you represent a popular blog, why not click here and join our ‘League of Champions’.
- If you have any thoughts, leave ’em below.