Workplace Innovation Award – 2021

New Venture Competition at George Washington University

Workplace Innovation Award New Venture Competition

What is the New Venture Competition?

I like that Anymouse is an award-winning software now. Workplace Innovation no less, but there is a little story to tell about that. When the pandemic started, I was in the process of going back to flying full time. As many of us have experienced, plans changed and I had an opportunity to pursue my MBA. If I wanted to build a world-class software company it couldn’t hurt to learn how to run a business. George Washington University met all my criteria so I enrolled.

As the monotony of lockdown life dragged on, one day I received an email one day mentioning the New Venture Competition, something that a professor had also mentioned would be a good opportunity to explore if you had a new business. As Anymouse was still very much a new thing and I decided it would be a good learning opportunity to enter. Later, I learned that there were a record 466 participants with 193 teams in the competition. The chance of winning a prize seemed pretty slim.

What Was it Like to Compete in the NVC?

The competition consists of several rounds, where teams competing have to complete certain documents, create videos, or pitch their entry to a team of judges. I’ve included the 2022 rounds in this post so that you can get an idea of what that looks like. Contestants are informed soon after the deadline if they’ve made it to the next round. There was a lot of great feedback from a lot of experienced people, which I found particularly useful to orient myself to how a new venture is developed. I still get a lot of the lingo wrong which outs me I suppose. Still, I think my exuberance for the product went a long way.

Workplace Innovation Prize. NVC rounds

The rapid pace (which doesn’t seem that fast on paper) keeps you on your toes. I think the most challenging element though was having to explain yourself to so many people who come from various backgrounds. It helped a lot to take a step back and see the project from a different perspective. I was very surprised to hear that my little project had made it all the way to the semi-final round. I think that the chance to perform a pitch in a remote setting was really challenging in its own way and I was happy that Anymouse would be eligible for a category prize.

Workplace Innovation Prize New Venture Competition

Workplace Innovation Prize

From the outset, I was sure to place Anymouse in the category for workplace innovation which seemed like an ideal prize for what I’m trying to do. ParagonLabs provided the funding for this award and it was great to see considerations made for the often less sexy need for AI in solving everyday workplace problems. I’m very thankful for the folks at ParagonLabs for their help in making this prize possible and helping nudge Anymouse along in its development. I think it was a rather humbling experience to see just how much I didn’t know about running a startup.

Overall, I found the NVC to be a great experience and would recommend if you’re eligible to apply when you can. I want to thank the staff at GWU and all those who participated in the unorthodox competition for 2021. The NVC staff were very adaptable to the virtual environment, even though I’m sure everyone wanted to go back to in person events. I know I did, I always wanted one of those comically large oversized checks.

Links to the NVC page are found throughout this post. Please go and take a look at other prize winners and the finalists for 2021. There is also a link to a Forbes article with more information on NVCs in general.

Liam McKeever

Anymouse Founder and CEO



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