The Bing Casting Call series is a startup video experiment. With the help of Bing’s Ted Roduner (a colleague with a camera) and master promoter Marcelo Calbucci, originator of the Seattle 2.0 Web site, we set out to capture the startup experience from the horse’s mouth. Our aim was to create a platform where startups could share, convene and learn from one another. With this in mind, we put out a call to startups who wanted to share their experiences on film.
By doing the Bing Casting Call, we were able to provide startups from Seattle (who to be fair is not on our official list of startup cities for Bing Booster program, we just live here) a chance to tell their story and learn from their peers.
Applicants had less than a week to prepare 3 video scripts to submit to our judges:
a) 30-second pitch of their company (video clips can’t run longer than 30 seconds)
b) Up to 3 minutes of the startup tips they want to share with other startups in Seattle and around the country.
c) 1 minute demo footage
We chose the seven startups based on the strength of those scripts, having a product or prototype that was public and could be demoed, and having need for future funding. We tried for a variety of products and business models and the startups picked represent varying levels of startup experience.
For Bing, Web innovation is central to what we do, and we had a great time seeing what people were doing regardless of their technology stack. Entrants ranged from recent post graduates, Microsoft employees moonlighting on their projects, to entrepreneurs working with the Microsoft Bizspark program.
The process provided great insight into the everyday challenges facing start-ups. We found script readiness was an indicator of a startup’s “maturity in the process” as well as a great exercise for them to understand what they’d actually expect to the day of the shoot. This was valuable to startups for the following reasons: You may run into a VC at an event and only have 30 seconds to pitch them. If you can’t quickly talk for 3 minutes about what you learned in your time as a startup, how will you answer VC review questions about why they should risk their money with you? And what we have learned at Bing ourselves in launching a new search product is that you have to be ready with a one minute feature demo, wherever you are.
Just the exercise of applying for the shoot, forced many startups to tighten their pitches. So our hope is that even those who did not win a shoot slot became more ready to pitch for funding just having applied. Of course, some of the selection was serendipity or arose out of this being our first time trying to do this. Some capable startups simply couldn’t accommodate the time slots, and some had business fire-drills that interrupted them day of shoot.
Another thing that was fascinating to us was the advice startups gave each other in these videos. From picking cofounders to understanding what to focus on, the joy and the terror of startup is that you are captain of your own destiny and could do, frankly, anything. But to make money and get funded, there is a subset of “anything” you need to do really well, and folks that have already navigated the stormy startup waters are the best guides.
Blog posts on each startup’s video offering will be posted on http://www.bingbooster.com. Those looking for the videos alone can check out http://www.ustream.tv/bingbooster
If you are interested in what else Bing
might have to offer startups, check out the rest of the Bing Booster site. Bing
Booster is a pilot initiative and part of the Microsoft BizSpark program available
in select US tech hubs –
New York City, Boston, San Francisco/Bay Area – designed to help accelerate the success of startups by offering at no cost, tools and resources, technical guidance and market visibility.
– Betsy Aoki, Senior Program Manager, Bing