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Alok's Posts / Most Popular / Startup

Saying NO to Red Herring. NO. NO. NO

Updated 18/6/2013:

The moot point is that the entire concept is what I would consider FALSE. After all the charade of selection, pitching, elimination, etc etc – the event in Hong Kong is PAID FOR! You HAVE TO BUY TICKETS TO THE GALA EVENT! 

In short – you are PAYING for the award.


As written in August 2011:

NO. Don’t want it.

Well, that’s what I think I said to Red Herring a couple of minutes ago – when I hung up after a call with them.


– They informed us a few months back that we (games2win) were ‘qualification’ material for the Red Herring 100 Award. We acknowledged the same.

– They asked us to fill out the form, etc. We did.

– They sent us mails to clarify lots of points including some confidential data. We clarified and gave them data.

– This morning we received a mail saying, “Call us or let us call you.” I let them call me 🙁

– The call was pleasant and kinda, “How is the weather” type of talk (read – “Entrepreneurs are this and that”, etc) – I participated and humored the caller.

– In the end I was told, “We like to see the entrepreneurs. We want them to come to Hong Kong and present in front of a jury. On that day in September, something will happen at 4pm, then something at 5pm and winners will be announced at 8pm. So please come.”

I said NO.

This is the point I made:

– Entrepreneurs don’t have time to pitch for awards and mentions. They have time to do business.

– As an award, you have done lots of research on all the companies concerned.

This is the age of the INTERNET!

You are not awarding the Top 100 ‘Secret Companies in North Korea’ prize, that you need to determine if the Company is a human or a cockroach!

– Hey! Look up games2win on google! Look at our blogs! Check out twitter… There is a world out there that has done diligence on us.

All points were acknowledged but not accepted.

I hung up.

Parting shot – Grammys and Oscars are given on work DONE. Not on last day pitches. The work is what gets an award – not the person or the tuxedo he wears; and not based on if he can control his voice and speak well.

Oh, and if the Red Herring is the Corporate version of Miss Universe – will I be asked, “If you had one regret in life, what would that be?”

Well, I don’t want to be the dandy standing there in my bikini shorts saying, “I regret having come here.”


Give my Red Herring to someone else.




Also read – Red Herring Top 100 Asia: to go or not to go is the question 



First Published on: Aug 8, 2012



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  1. you and only you could have done this. anyone else would have given into their demand and accepted to do that pitch.

  2. Alok, agree on the shallowness in most of the so-called B-Plan Competitions or Demo Days. More often than not, the award is presented based on how you presented and answered a few prickly questions than the actual ingenuity of the idea. Having said that, a lot of start-ups could use the free publicity generated by winning/participating in these competitions. I know of a Data Analytics company based in Bangalore who was a recipient of the award a couple of years back and there were able to attract a few clients from Hong Kong & China. Two edged sword really, tread carefully! 🙂

  3. You have done a great job. As all awards are being given on the basis of past work in corporate world. This is first time i am hearing that award will be given on basis of pitch. I have also applied for the same for the company i work with. Hope my boss will also not be going to pitch!

  4. The same happened with me. was ‘qualified’ & I got to know further talking to them that out of 200 invited finalists, they would select 100 winners “on-spot” based on a final presentation (Though they say they have other selection criteria that I am not sure of..). The fee is not a nominal one though… approx 25,000-50,000 dollars excluding air fares & hotel 🙂

    So another NO this time 🙂

  5. Only you could have done that, Alok.

    Brilliant!  i  evenwonder what, if they would have asked “Kya aapke toothpaste mein namak hai”?

  6. I did this exact same thing last year when my company XLabz got shortlisted as the finalist. I denied to go in person to collect the award saying a startup like us cannot afford to travel all the way to Hong Kong in the “hopes” of getting a award. I told them I am just happy having a Red Herring Finalist badge without having to pay anything for it.

    To add to the agony, you would have to pay $1000 or more as registration fees (do the math, 100 Finalists x $1000 – now that’s a easy $100K) which they would have asked you to pay if all well with this first call.

    They have send a mail again this year that we are now shortlisted for the Red Herring Top 100 Global and this time I didn’t even care to fill up the form since I am sure they are again going to ask me to travel to Hong Kong and pay a hefty registration fee. 

    Awards should be based on merit and originality, not based on revenues and a impressive CEO lineup so the event looks star-studded.

  7. sent the CEO of Red herring this note:



    looks like a lot of people are having trouble accepting your ‘new’ business model




    You will lose lots of credibility, very very soon.


    Sorry – this is entrepreneur to entrepreneur and I hope you accept it in the right spirit.

  8. Alok, Thanks for discussing. Yes, their business model may not work. Charging to entrepreneur would not bring top guys. I would suggest if they can find sponsors rather charging to entrepreneur. 

  9. Actually this reminds of those “UK, US, ESPN, Coca Cola Star Sports Awards of 1, 2 or 3 million pounds etc” mails which most of us normal people wont think for even a sec b4 pressing SPAM button… but surprising to see “a Young Company n Not a Start Up” almost falling for it….Its written all over this event that it is meant to make a fool out of people.. how can there be 100 winners out of 200!!!… even better make all of them winners,, atleast they will all go happy…

    trust me on the “happiness” part. if they were foolish enough to go there at the first place, i wont be surprised to see them feeling inflated with pride on this “new found recognition”

    Also reminds me of the Timtara front page…. its more decorated than a Field Marshal!!!! 

    if something is too good to be true,, it probably is…

  10. Ye hui naa baat!

  11. I am told that the Participation fee for the conference in Hong Kong is $2500 🙂

    At this rate they will make more money than Timtara (with their innovative duping practises) has been making off late :p


    “Dear Mr. Kejriwal,

    Greetings from World Consulting & Research Corporation!

    It gives us immense pleasure to inform and congratulate Mr. Alok Kejriwal, CEO GAMES2WIN MEDIA being nominated for“Emerging Business Leaders of Asia Award 2014”.

    With the tremendous growth of the Asian economy over the last 2 decades there has been an emergence of the next generation of business leaders who have driven the exponential growth of the Asian economy to the next level. To celebrate the success of these next gen business leaders WCRC Leader’s Asia is featuring & awarding the top 100 emerging business leaders from various industries across South Asia, GCC & South East Asia. All the emerging business leaders would be featured in the July 2014 issue of WCRC Leaders Asia Magazine. We are also awarding these top emerging business leaders at a grand function on 21st July 2014 in London on the eve of “Brand & Leadership Summit 2014”. 

    Ernst & Young (LLP) India – is the official tabulator for “Emerging Business Leaders of Asia 2014” – a WCRC Leaders Asia andibrands 360 research initiative.

    Kindly find attached with the mail the concept note & proposal on the “Emerging Business Leader’s of Asia 2014”. Also attached is a list of some of the other confirmed leaders from Asian countries.

    We would like to meet you in person at a time convenient to you to discuss about the final participation procedure in the top 100 list.  

    Looking forward to hear from you on the same.”


  13. Only you could have done this! Pl accept my heartfelt salute…

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