What Makes A Winning ‘Cotel’ Submission

Co-founder of Arts Thread Alex Brownless shares his advice to entrants of 17 John, a crowdsourced competition to design a hotel that meets the needs of the modern business traveler.

PSFK has partnered with real-estate crowdfunding company Prodigy Network to crowdsource the designs for their most recent project 17John, an innovative hotel in the heart of New York City’s Financial District. This series of articles provides inspiration for readers wishing to be a part of the project and join the crowd in designing the first Cotel.

Don’t miss your chance to help design the business hotel of the future. Did we mention there will be 50k in prizes?

With less than 10 days to go, PSFK and real-estate crowdfunding company PRODIGY NETWORK remind readers to submit their designs for both the physical and virtual components of the ‘Cotel’ in Manhattan’s Financial District. The main competition will run through April 21st and offer $50k of prizes around the three competition categories of Collaborative/Public Space, Private Space and Digital Services. More details can be found here.

We reached out to one of the competition judges Alex Brownless, to get his thoughts on what constitutes a successful submission and his advice for all entrants to 17 John. Alex is the co-founder of Arts Thread, an online educational tool designed to connect industry, universities/schools & students worldwide within the field of design which additionally hosts crowdsourced competitions. Alex shares his thoughts on how to be sure your submission catches not only his eye, but those of his fellow judges as well.

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Please introduce yourself and tell us about ArtsThread, specifically with regard to some of your work hosting competitions.

I’m Alex Brownless, Co-Founder of Arts Thread. We are a digital platform that launches new creatives worldwide. We have been hosting competitions with such companies as Nike, Urban Outfitters, BBC Worldwide, Milan Design Week, London Design Festival, Equip’Hotel. Through our relationships with these companies, tradeshows and events, we have successfully launched hundreds of very talented new creatives. It is difficult for new creatives to get a break, as they have little knowledge of where to show, or how to show their work and also have limited access to funds…that’s where Arts Thread comes in!

Why is crowdsourcing such a powerful source of innovation? How can host organizations help ensure that they’re getting the best and most relevant submissions?

It’s very powerful as the client is far more likely going to get what they want if they have loads of creatives coming up with loads of new ideas. It’s also fantastic PR and marketing as each and everyone participating promotes the contest. Host organizations are far more likely to get exactly what they need by marketing the contest through the most relevant channels such as Arts Thread & PSFK.

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In your experience, what makes a successful entry? What should people keep in mind to set themselves apart? Any specific insights to share with prospective entrants to 17 John?

A thorough understanding of a brief. It’s no coincidence that our winners have clearly done a great deal of research and have told a story that’s engaging. Originality and execution are clear requirements too.

Here is a recent guide from Arts Thread on how to succeed in competitions.

Key Points:

DON’T LEAVE IT UNTIL THE NIGHT BEFORE THE DEADLINE – allow yourself sufficient time to tweak your entry.

READ THE BRIEF – it’s stating the obvious, but if it’s not ultra simple, print it off and check off you have covered all the points it makes.

DO YOUR RESEARCH – visit the website of the competition provider and see what they produce – what is their taste/style?

CHECK HOW YOUR PAGE WILL LOOK – before you start check out the uploading website for previous competitions to see how the work is displayed.

FINALLY – Check for spelling and grammar.

INTRO BLURB – Imagine being a judge and looking through 100s of competition entries, usually under huge time pressure – how pleased you are when you come across a well designed and easy to understand entry.

There is no doubt that a well laid out and considered entry can raise your chances of winning any competition that calls for online entries. It cannot make you win – but a badly thought-out entry – even if the design is a good one – may cause the judges to skip over it.

Any other advice?

Actually questions. Who is the hotel aimed at? Looking at what’s out there now, how much will it cost to stay there? Where would these people be staying now? How long do you see them staying there on average?

Thanks Alex!

How To Enter

Visit Prodigy’s site to read the full brief and join the competition. Teams or individuals entering the competition are eligible to enter one, two or all three competition categories. For more inspiration around the project visit PSFK’s microsite.

Prodigy Network is known as a pioneer in crowdfunding for real estate. In 2009—after more than 29 projects—Prodigy Network developed an innovative investment  model for crowdfunding in real estate, becoming the world’s leading platform in the field. By doing so, Prodigy introduced a way of democratizing investment opportunities for large-scale projects. Prodigy Network believes that community and transparency are essential to success in real estate.