At first glance, their crest is very traditional: a unicorn, rampant upon a bed of oak leaves. It would make a handsome addition to any preppie golf shirt. That is, until one takes a closer look. The unicorn seems to be playing an electric guitar.
It’s that sort of juxtaposition of serious purpose and whimsical attitude that has made the Awesome Shit Club (ASC) the talk of Victoria. It all began with Kris Constable, a self-described serial entrepreneur and owner of several successful businesses. He and a group of similarly entrepreneurial friends started a group they called Ideas Victoria.
They knew that lots of folks were out there who had any number of great ideas; “awesome shit that only needed a little encouragement and funding to get going.” The question was how to incentivize those people so the ideas didn’t die.
The ASC was born.
“The name was controversial right from the start,” says Constable. “We knew that established businesses and the media would find it hard to be involved with a name like that. Still, it expressed the spirit of the concept, so we stuck with it.”
And that concept is simple. The club invites up to 20 people to join as ‘Awesomites.’ Each of them contributes $50 to a fund, all of which is given to the best idea at the next meeting.
People with ideas register as ‘Awesomers.’ The ASC meets every four months at the Fort Street Café, where these petitioners have the opportunity to pitch their awesome idea and be judged by the Awesomites. The best idea gets the cash; no strings attached.
“We’ve had some great ideas,” says Constable. The December 2011 winner developed a low-cost, open concept Braille display that dropped the price of this service to the blind from $5,000 to about $200.
That’s the sort of thing that’s caught the attention of the media and businessmen in the community. They seem to have gotten past the ASC name and embraced the concept.
An example of that acceptance is the current sponsorship by the Victoria Film Festival and Tectoria (a local technology group). As a special promotion for the film Something Ventured they have topped up this month’s prize with an additional $2,500. The first part of the judging will take place, as usual, at the Fort Street Café on Feb. 6 where three finalists will be chosen. Then, on Feb. 9, those three finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their idea to the entire audience at the screening of Something Ventured. The winner, by popular vote of the audience, will receive the $3,500 prize.
It’s a fitting venue. Something Ventured is a documentary film by Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller that celebrates venture capitalism and the vision of the people behind companies like Apple and Google.
Incidentally, Constable has even bigger plans on the horizon. His group is about to announce details on a new group called Ideas Worth Funding. “It’s a kind of grown up version of the ASC,” says Constable.
No word yet on what the new group’s logo will look like. M
Something Ventured Review by Ian Lambert
Something Ventured is something amazing. This well-assembled film illuminates the audience on the birth and evolution of venture capitalism. The business behind the brains that allowed a handful of Fortune 500 companies to be started in the latter-half of the twentieth century. Apple, Intel, Atari and Cisco are some of the companies that were nothing before a group of brilliant and foresight-full people changed the way business happens. By taking risks and imparting proper business techniques, venture capitalism was born.
The story of two cowboy capitalists is well-documented and presented proficiently by the filmmakers. The film presents a great history of some of the most significant accounts of venture capitalism. It also presents the flip side of the coin — the ethics or, in some cases, lack of ethics in big business.
Overall, I loved the film and found it very interesting and informative. I would recommend it, especially to the men and women of the business world. Not all rebels and rule breakers fit the anti-hero stereotype, these capitalists prove that.
n Thurs. • Feb. 9 • Odeon Th2 • 7pm
Directors: Dayna Goldfine, Dan Geller
USA • 2011 • 85 min • HDCam