Sharon Chang, Yoxi: Competitions to Foster Social Innovation

7th Mar 2011
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Yoxi is a creative competition to discover big ideas and bright stars in social innovation. The folks at Yoxi identify existing and emerging social issues and put out challenges that ask teams of 3 people to find innovative solutions. Through the platform Yoxi provides structure and motivation for people who want to bring their ideas to reality. Yoxi founder Sharon Chang answered a few questions about Yoxi.Tell us more about how the platform works

We run 4 competitions a year. For each competition there are three rounds of video assignments: the first to look at the teams' perspectives on the social issue, the second to showcase their solutions, and the final one to present a campaign to drive action. We select 10 teams to participate, and since this is an elimination challenge, only 2 finalists will enter round 3 to compete for the prize: up to $40,000 in cash and access to mentors and experts during a post-competition incubation program.

An online audience vote during each round to determine the winners, and a panel of judges made up of renowned experts or influential cultural icons provide comments on all the video entries to help guide the democratic voting process.

In addition to being an entertaining video platform for social issues, Yoxi also employs a light social game to encourage audience participation. The more you "play", the more votes your will have at your disposal (each new user only has one vote per round, additional votes need to be earned), and therefore the more influence you will have in the competition outcome.

What was the idea behind having competition and social games?

People are naturally competitive. When you create a competition around something there is usually higher motivation for people to participate. People also love to watch competitions. A linear presentation of ideas is not nearly as effective in capturing people's imagination and holding their attention. This is why we focus on creating a compelling competition format that not only gives participating teams a meaningful structure to work with, but also a "stage to perform" so they can build an audience interested in both their ideas, their process, and most importantly, who they are and why they care.

Social game is another element that's based on human nature. People love to play, people love to be rewarded, people love to share their accomplishment. A social game has all these dimensions. If checking in on Foursquare and playing Farmville have become hugely popular, then why can't the same insight be applied to driving social change?

We want to change the perception that social innovation is a niche and academic pursuit. Great ideas to change the world belong to all of us, and finding those ideas should be a fun and exciting journey.

How do you come up with/decide on the competitions?

We investigate a wide range of topics, and generally prefer issues that are actionable and relatable to everyday people. At a more granular level, we follow a set of criteria to identify issues that require:

1. widespread, mainstream awareness

2. attitude and behavior changes on an individual level

3. innovation

BFasically, we want to engage a mainstream audience, bring innovative solutions to everyone's attention through a fun process, and ultimately inspire everyone to take action.

To know more about Yoxi visit them here : http://yoxi.tv/

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