It’s not often that one is monetarily rewarded simply for an idea. But the prospect of Google building its ultra-high speed broadband Internet here is raising the stakes.
This morning, Philly Startup Leaders announced that it will award a prize of $5,000 – donated from the organization’s own coffer – for the best idea submitted to Gigabit Philly supporting the city’s grassroots effort to convince Google to build ultra-high speed fiber in Philadelphia.
In a matter of hours, six individuals and organizations have pledged to donate to the prize offering, bringing the award to more than $8,000, Startup Leaders founder Blake Jennelle told Technically Philly in a phone interview this morning. Startup Leaders hopes that the prize will continue to increase as Google’s deadline on Mar. 26 quickly approaches.
“We’ll consider this a victory if it shines a light on the grassroots movement in Philadelphia. We take things into our hands, step up to the plate, move quickly and rally together,” Jennelle says.
Only ideas submitted at GigabitPhilly.com will be included in the contest. Organizers are urging folks to spread the word on Twitter with the hashtag #gigabitphilly.
The City of Philadelphia announced its intent to apply for Google’s pilot program two weeks ago, as we reported. City officials are positioning Philadelphia’s strengths, like its wireless network infrastructure, and say that the technology would spur job creation and economic development from a potential influx of technology firms.
Councilman Bill Green and city Chief Technology Officer Allan Frank have worked together on the application, turning to members of the community for advice and support, like coworking space Independents Hall, which hosted a hackday to create Gigabit Philly’s Web presence to market the pitch to the broader community.
But support has been slow compared to other cities, says Jennelle, who participated with the Hackday. “When I looked at the numbers a week ago, we had a few dozen [submissions] and a lot of them were from the people that built the Web site.”
Last night, Frank presented his vision for bringing Google fiber to the city at a Philly Startup Leaders fishbowl, a monthly event that lets businesses vet ideas before a group of entrepreneurs. It was there, frustrated by the city’s lack of action, that Jennelle posited the idea of the contest.
“[Frank] has been helpful and is certainly trying to get Google here, but he doesn’t seem to have the power to get the city to commit to anything big on its own,” he says. “We’d love to see the city step up and use its marketing muscle and its money to make some noise about it.”
“We have eight days to turn this campaign around. That’s what we hope this is going to do,” he says.