Last year's Courvoisier Future 500 was the first time the list of the top 500 'ones to watch' was selected across a range of business arenas.
This year it's back for more, and here IGA's Ed Bartlett explains why the list is important, and how it's relevant to the videogames industry.
Courvoisier Future 500 is more than simply a list, it's an active, hand-picked network of some of the brightest individuals from a range of different industries. We wanted to find and nurture potential industry leaders of the future rather than simply celebrating the established leaders of today, highlighting both their individual and collective stories to the press whilst offering them a secure forum for networking.
For the inaugural Future 500 last year we had 10 specific categories each with an 'expert' judge from the relevant sector or industry. This year we have a more focused panel of four judges, whose job it is to sift through the applications in search of the new network members for 2008. The focus will be on a number of specific key metrics but also looking for that special 'X Factor'. Once we have agreed the new entrants, 100 will be selected to feature in a special magazine and the 5 candidates deemed to have the strongest potential will go on to pitch in person to the four judges for the chance of GBP 5000 cash to put towards achieving something personally important to them.
The response from last year from all of the categories was far in excess of any of our expectations, and the calibre of applicants was equally high. The games industry in particular featured strongly amongst the applicants, with around seven individuals making the final list including the overall winner in the media category. Each of the category winners has gone on to secure significant profile pieces in vertical trade press, with some even cutting through to mainstream media, which speaks volumes to the quality of the network.
It is my opinion that games are at the forefront of the media landscape today and will continue to drive the agenda on a range of critical content issues in coming years, and so it is only right that some of the amazing talent in our sector is recognised alongside their more traditionally recognised peers.
Well, I think we underestimated the work involved with vetting enough applicants to find the inaugural 500! There were some very late nights! This year we have created an online judging system to help with vetting the new membership as it's important that the list remains fresh, active and relevant. To that end we have also been focusing much more on keeping members engaged, both online and via regular events and offers.
Aside from the significant PR profile (The Observer is a key partner) and the kudos of being one of only 500 individuals in the UK to be given access to the network, every member gets access to a bespoke online business networking portal where users can exchange contacts and ideas, browse the calendar of exclusive regular member events across the country. We also actively encourage members to set up their own events, which has been fantastically successful so far. There are also a regular special offers and promotions for members which deliver real value as well as larger networking events.
I know from personal experience how important networking, support and mentorship has been in my own career, but these things were very difficult to seek out even looking back a handful of years, especially outside of London, and so the chance to put something back in to help people on a project of this scale was too good to miss. Too many people get caught up in their own success stories to help other people, but there are few things better than seeing that entrepreneurial glint in somebody's eye and listening to them speak with passion about their ideas and hopefully giving them the kind of guidance you wish you were given at that stage.
Courvoisier is an extremely aspirational brand, but they understand that success is something which has to be earned. They wanted to do something cutting edge which was more than simply a brand-building exercise, with a focus on actively helping and encouraging people to become successful. Based upon the results of last year's campaign and the volume of signups we already have for this year, as well as the growing roster of exclusive activities and benefits, I'd say the Future 500 itself is one to watch over the coming years.
Ed Bartlett is a judge on the Future 500 panel.