$10,000, Incubator Deal for Your Broadband Vision

“Worse than being blind is being able to see, but having no vision.”

Helen Keller

Earlier this week I posted a list of 12 tasks critical to the successful implementation of a community broadband network. This framework is applicable whether we’re talking public-private partnership, private, nonprofit or public ownership. We’ll explore each step here and via Communities United for Broadband’s online collaboration and social network tools.

The list leads off with vision since you need a clear, concise motivational vision to drive your broadband efforts. Vision should not be confused with desire. Everybody can say “I want a gigabit broadband connection,” but that’s desire.

Vision is more about how you’re going to elevate others’ present condition, or achieve a goal that’s unique or earthshaking in its implication. “We’re going to use a broadband network to reduce unemployment in our area 50% and increase home-based businesses 20% year over year.” That’s a vision of where you’re going and how you’ll know when you get there.

More on the steps for creating a good vision statement in a little bit, but knowing how some of you are, you probably want to know about the money and the incubator deal first. Our group’s enticing more community do-it-yourself broadband planning with these creative ideas.

$10,000 Gigabit Genius Grant

The Gigabit Genius Grant is a $10,000 cash prize for the world’s best gigabit technology idea. It was created and funded by the grassroots technology and creative communities in Philadelphia in order to drive global conversation about the potential of gigabit to revolutionize communities. Communities anywhere can then share and adopt these ideas to make the case for local gigabit investment.

Ideas must be submitted on http://www.gigabitcity.com. The ideas that receive the most votes will become finalists and a panel of experts will choose the winner. The deadline to submit ideas and votes is April 30. So far, just over 1000 people have voted on 104 ideas submitted.

Blake Jennelle, the Philadelphia entrepreneur and broadband advocate behind the Gigabit Genius Grant program, has joined forces with Communities United for Broadband. He’s a professional entrepreneur (my description) who knows the value of good broadband vision, which GGG encourages. He, our co-collaborator Jay and I are making as many communities as possible aware of this grant program, so check it out.

Time to incubate

In addition to the $10,000 (plus a $1,000 separate aware for the idea garnering the most votes), you and everyone submitting an idea will be considered for a special broadband incubator program. You can apply for the incubator program even if you don’t submit an idea.

I was asked by a major mid-western university to be their official scout in search individuals and organizations that have great gigabit broadband technologies and applications that need a testbed to prove out their potential value. The university is building out a fiber network in a community. They are setting aside several square blocks of residents and businesses in which your products can be tested.

Your product or service has to be in one of four categories: 1) healthcare, 2) education, 3) local public safety, 4) smart grid related. It has to be late alpha, meaning working, able to be deployed to 125 or so customers, actively managed (you have to live in or near the testbed) and able to be scaled up to serve entire communities and go national at least.

I’ll make more details available once I know them, but a venture fund and some business support services are being evaluated. We’re still getting clear on the ground rules.

So, about that vision thing

Now that you have two clear near-term paydays to drive your thinking process, let’s talk about how you get to that winning broadband vision. Check out this post from my blog on Broadband Properties Magazine. Go to the link I provided and show us your genius ideas. Contact me directly if you want to learn more about the incubator program – craig@successful.com.


3 Responses

  1. Craig, great post. It’s amazing how the campaign for gigabit and higher-speed broadband is starting to really catch on. You’re at the center of it and we’re all the better for it.

  2. This seed money can start to do some interesting things for organizations that are patching together funding for Broadband and other technology and personnel projects. As a grant writer and project manager, you look for well cooked plans–desire vs. vision, in your words–and publishing their objectives makes it a real thing and makes it happen. This in turn often stimulates the thought process for furthering the footprint and creating other technology solutions, all requiring additional funding.

    I appreciate the grass roots nature of stimulating this process in incremental ways. The Gates foundation is pushing the technology into libraries and this is a natural migration toward finishing the final mile, across the country.

    Kudos for YOUR vision, Craig! I look forward to encouraging folks for their own submissions and drawing from the well.


    Andrew Yinger
    YingCorp, Ltd.

  3. Andrew,

    Thank you for your support. Hopefully we’ll all be able to see some fruits of our labors before too long.

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