As part of the push to get Ajax out to a wide audience, I’ve been entering the app in a bout of contests with various titles such as “Best App Ever” or “Top 10 apps of Whatever”.
Almost all of them require an entrance fee of somesort, so you are basically buying your way into being considered a good thing. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but until I saw behind the curatin, I was operating under the assumption that the apps that do make it onto those lists are there by their merit alone.
So, we entered a contest to become the “Best App of CES” in the Mobile Apps Showdown for 1000$. And lo and behold, we quickly became a finalist for the top 25! But then, to advance, we needed to get people to vote for us online. We were up against legitimate companies like Adobe with massive customer reach, so not surprisingly, we got like .08 percent of the popular vote. I had just fired off an email complaining that because we were a tiny startup there was no way we could reach an audience to compete, but apparently the judges thought Ajax was so cool, we ended up in the top 10.
OK, so that’s a good thing right?
Well, turns out the way they pick the top app is to have you come to CES in Vegas and present your app live on stage. Apps aren’t easy to present and not nearly as flashy as a new flatscreen, so they have the devs each do a little 4 min stage show. Audience applause decides the winner.
Here’s an example of a decent presentation.
I wasn’t expecting to present Ajax live on stage, but I figured fuck it, I’m a teacher. I am used to getting up in front of a room full of strangers and sounding like I know a thing. I can do this. So I spent hours writing a presentation, bought 2 plane tickets, rented a vintage 3 piece suit, and prepared to dazzle the crowd.
Ikka and I arrived in Vegas on Tuesday and spent all Wednesday feverishly rehearsing and revising our presentation. I had rewritten and rewritten for days trying to get all the right points in with a ton of feedback from the rest of my team.
We showed up for rehearsal on Wednesday afternoon, and the the AV team confirmed our iPads hooked up to the projector and sound system. Good to go.
Thursday, showtime. The room is packed, people are nervous. We hang out for Last Gadget Standing, and watch what other companies do. And the other apps? They’re ok, a bike computer, canned special effects for your iPhone videos. You know, app stuff.
We get on stage, my heart is pounding. I start my lines, and then… they can’t get our iPads to output video or sound! We only have 4 minutes, the clock is counting down. I’m doing my monologue best I can, but after a minute or so, its obvious we need to show people this app.
Finally, they have the camera man come over and just film Ikka using the iPad, but there’s no sound! I’m trying to explain to the crowd that there’s a film quality score, etc. Finally the audio kicks in, and we have like a minute left to present.
In short it was a complete disaster. All our prep down the tubes. I wasn’t able to do any dramatic announcement about a movie deal. And yet, despite all that, we still got second place…
They even managed to lose my iPad dongle and my macbook charger. Just a dash of $132 insult to injury.
In short, we wasted 4 days and about 2000$.