This year's global competition was a bit different that 2012. Each city was able to submit 2 teams to the "Champions Circle" and there were more prizes in different categories, called circles. The second place team in Toronto, Pawly, entered in the Champions circle and another team for Toronto, Life Capsule, entered in the AWS Activate circle.
griflens had initially focused on getting votes for just the Champions circle, but after a few days, and only a few hundred votes compared to some teams thousands of votes (Pawly was in the top few teams) in the Champions circle, the strategy was shifted to focus on the other four circles. The two circles that the team really wanted to qualify for the final judging round were AWS' Activate and BigCommerce's eCommerce circles. They were both offering fabulous prizes that would help accelerate the success of griflens.
To move into the final judging round, each team had to place in the top 15 in worldwide votes. On Friday morning, with about 19 hours to go until voting closed, griflens was 9th in the Activate circle but only 18th in the eCommerce. It was time to pull out all the stops and reach out to past colleagues and school mates from many years ago. To help with the mass emails, Alison created a MailChimp account and imported all of her contacts from her email and LinkedIn address books. Using her expertise in direct marketing, she created a template that customized the greeting, first paragraph and closing line based on how she knew the contact and how long it had been since she had last been in touch. Tracking email opens and click throughs gave her an idea of who was voting and who to reach out to in other channels (Facebook, LinkedIn messages and the old-fashioned telephone). The other members of the griflens team used a mix of guerrilla street requests, contacting friends and family all over the world, and social media. Some on the team, who still had their "day jobs", even went desk to desk to ask colleagues for votes. The biggest hurdle was not getting people excited by the idea or getting them to vote, but having them click the confirmation link in the email that sometimes was directed to the junk folder.
The voting process actually helped validate the griflens product even more. The word spread about griflens and in the process more sales were made through the BigCommerce site from complete strangers.
At 3:01AM, the last griflens team member still up, Lorna, emailed the team:
Subject line: Congratulations
Hey, griflens. At 3:00am we were fifth in the Activate Circle and tenth in the e-commerce circle. I'm assuming those are the final figures. Good work, everyone. I'm going to bed now.Lorna
Now we await the results from the judges and we can focus on getting our first sales shipped!
Blog post by Alison Gibbins