by Tanya Klich Forbes Staff
Serial entrepreneur and VaynerX chairman Gary Vaynerchuk judges dozens of startup competitions a year and is kicking off 2019 with the WeWork Creator Global Finals in Los Angeles. The worldwide competition has lured tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, artists and nonprofits from around the world; the applicant pool was then whittled down to hundreds at the regional level. Ultimately, the following eight made the cut for the global finals, each already pocketing some prize funding:
- Afrocenchix, London Creator Awards – $360,000 (natural and organic hair care products for women of diverse ethnicities with curly hair)
- Amutat Kaima, Jerusalem Creator Awards – $72,000 (reengages disenfranchised or at-risk youth through organic farming programs)
- Angel House Cerebral Palsy, Shanghai Creator Awards – $202,000 (a charity organization serving individuals with cerebral palsy)
- Change Please, London Creator Awards – $72,000 (tackles homelessness by training people to become baristas and other jobs in hospitality)
- Medina’s Health, San Francisco Creator Awards – $360,000 (prevents waste in the medical equipment sector by connecting large hospitals with smaller ones)
- Modoo, Shanghai Creator Awards – $360,000(developing the world’s smallest fetus monitoring device, enabling mothers-to-be to safely monitor the unborn baby’s heart rate and health anytime)
- Queen of Raw, Nashville Creator Awards – $360,000 (a marketplace for textile producers to sell unused textiles to brands and creators. Typically, these unused products end up as waste in a landfill or incinerator. Its goal is to save over 4 billion gallons of water by 2025.)
- Raizs, Sao Paulo Creator Awards – $360,000 (a digital platform that helps rural farmers gain better access to city markets)
Vaynerchuk and fellow judges, including venture capitalist Kirsten Green and actor Ashton Kutcher, will decide which of the WeWork Creator’s final eight will win millions in funding at tonight’s event. He says no matter who emerges as champ, here are some key tips and trends that could help purpose-driven founders or any entrepreneur—as well as his plans for crushing his own startup goals in 2019:
Tanya Klich: What should entrepreneurs know about your approach to judging and vetting startups, especially at pitching competitions?
Gary Vaynerchuk: I don’t like coming into a pitch night with preconceived notions about who should win, so I actually don’t do much research beforehand. Instead of poring through decks, I first have to be there and listen to the pitch where I ask myself three fundamental questions: Do I think it’s a successful business? And if it’s not, the conversation ends there. But if I do believe in the business idea, I next ask myself whether I believe this person has the capability to drive the mission of the business. The last question is, if things go awry, is this founder also capable of adjusting to that reality and correcting the course? I’m judging the person’s grasp of the technology or industry as well as relying on my decade of experience in Internet investing. It’s a mix of intuition and living in the moment of the founder’s live pitch.