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Battlers, Organizers, teams, voters: we know a lot of you out there are eagerly awaiting the next steps of Global Startup Battle and learning who the winners are! As you know, the voting phase wrapped up before the weekend.

We planned to send the Top 15 of each Circle on to the judging phase today, but we’re going to be pushing the deadline back and giving judges some extra time to watch videos. The modified schedule goes as follows:

Schedule

  • December 11th, 2013: Final Top 15 teams for each Circle will be announced

  • December 16th: Winners for the Innovator, Women, Activate, and Bigcommerce Circles will be announced

  • December 17th or 18th: Winners of the Championship Circle powered by Google for Entrepreneurs will be announced

Cheating

The primary reason for this change is that it is taking quite some time to thoroughly vet the votes we received this year. We want to make sure that the teams we send on to judging received their votes legitimately, that no rules were broken, and that the emails used to vote were real. We hope you’ll understand us taking the extra day to be as thorough as possible and make certain that things were fair.

Many of you have reported suspicious voting activity and our team as well as the team running the voting platform are going through all the votes (a big task) to identify fraudulent votes.

The good news is that the platform was was not hacked, meaning there weren’t any cases of ‘brute force’ being used to add votes. The bad news is, there was clear evidence that many teams received fake votes.

In an effort to be transparent, here are some examples of what we are looking for and the types of votes that we are removing from final counts:

  • Votes from disposable email services. The rules specifically state that any effort to give a person more than one vote would not be allowed. These emails are not verifiable since they are temporary and disposable and do not count toward a team’s total. Examples include but are not limited to sharklasers.com, guerrillamail.de, fakeinbox.com, etc.

  • We looked for trends where many votes came in at the same time or in a short window. We then look at those emails to see if they are real, many times they were tied to a domain with a dummy site or the site or a team member that had created a bunch or name@dummydomain.com. Those do not count.

  • Voting strings that look like this:

  • Votes/emails that were added by a bot (and not a very smart bot). This is indicated when there is gibberish in the ‘City’ field and the email address was generated ‘randomly’. Hint: They still leave an obvious pattern.

  • Any other suspicious trends or addresses that the team couldn’t verify.

Teams that finished in the Top 15 in terms of votes received will be notified if they have had votes removed and how it affected their positioning.  As stated in the Official Rules, there is not an appeals process and we won’t be entering into discussions with those teams to re-admit the removed votes. Disqualifications of votes are final and up to our discretion.

We recognize that there will be some teams that did not set out to cheat or even engage in cheating themselves, but ultimately the rules make the teams responsible for the actions of their supporters. Taking that into account, we did our best in every case to only remove fraudulent votes from the final score rather than entirely removing a team with fake votes. In many cases, the team’s total votes dropped so much when fake votes were removed that they were no longer part of the Top 15.

When a team was disqualified or a team’s votes were reduced, we moved the team with the next highest vote count up until the final top 15 was made up of all teams with real votes.

This is an unfortunate reality of a large contest such as GSB, but we’re working really hard to make it fair and assure that everyone is put on an equal playing field.

Innovator’s Circle

In the case of the Innovator’s Circle powered by .CO, we have already established a Top 15, gone through judging, and privately named a winner. The prize for this Circle is attendance to LeWeb or Lean Startup Conference (this week), which necessitated us moving quicker. The Top 15 will be named with the others on December 11th and the winners announced on December 16th. The winning team in this Circle has already been contacted.

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Mitchell Cuevas
(@mcuevasm) I am the Sr. Marketing Director here at Techstars, am passionate about helping entrepreneurs, and am obsessed with finding, playing with, and implementing all the best new marketing (and other) technology I can get my hands on.



  • Can’t wait to see if any of the Australian teams, such as Amble, have made it through. Thanks for sharing the info about the fake voting, it’s actually a peculiar side benefit to study the ways people try to game the system. I did a the Stanford startup MOOC recently, and learned as much from studying the attempts to fake votes as I did from the course. Smart people find smart ways to do dumb things!

    For those interested in the Australian competition, we had a quick chat with Amble about their Global Startup Battle here: http://techtidal.com/2013/12/06/brisbanes-amble-takes-world-global-startup-battle/

  • Arwa Alariqi

    good job

  • Mohammed Touban

    good to hear that 😀

  • Samantha Deakin

    Thanks Mitchell – this is really useful. And great to see that it is being dealt with so fairly this year. Thanks again!

  • Shiera Aryev

    Glad to hear that Global Startup Battle was taking the vote cheating seriously. Our team worked so hard for every single vote that we got, and it would be impossible to compete with others that are doing it the easy way.