A little bit Kickstarter and Pepsi Refresh Project but with a layer of ‘savvy mentors’ and backing by Britain's Barclays Bank (with media help by Channel 4), The Stake is a competition with a £100,000 reward for ideas that get the most support from the public. It's open to youths living in the U.K. (age 16-21) who have a fantastic idea and a smart plan for how to spend that £100,000.
The ideas could be "anything, from the heart warming to the hilarious, whether it’s a streetwear start-up, a new school skate ramp or a major charitable donation." Applicants can apply at TheStake.co.uk or on Facebook, where users can pitch or back their ideas. What makes it fun and engaging: by completing challenges along the way, they can increase the number of voting stakes out of a possible total of six.
According to Channel 4's press release, the peer-to-peer game with the big jackpot "aims to show the UK's young people that business and social enterprise can be creative, fun, challenging and that good ideas and passion can be rewarded."
The top 20 ideas with the most stakes by December 23, 11:59 pm will be shortlisted and judged by a panel comprised of Channel 4 and Barclays execs. As many as six winners will be announced in January 2012, with each receiving up to £20,000, and the winning ideas brought to fruition between January and March.
For Channel 4, the project comes under their education arm that's responsible for commissioning projects that enhance life skills in youths.
For Barclays, funding the online competition taps into their commitment to invest in the community, and also help young people improve their financial skills with a real-world incentive.
The Stake is one of the money management projects Barclays supports in the U.K. through its Barclays Money Skills program, teaching younger and first-time customers the basics of opening a bank account, budgeting, saving and spending, as well as guidance when something goes wrong.
"We're trying to save the world through marketing," quipped Sam Conniff, the co-founder of Livity, Barclays’ youth engagement agency executing The Stake, to The Guardian.
Livity is an old hand at this kind of project, having backed Live magazine, a youth-run publication that distributes 35,000 free copies in south and east London; last month it was joined by a second youth publication, targeting North London, called Deadline.
"As soon as the first issue of (Live) magazine went out, the real social networks came into play and we got increasing numbers of young people through the door. This led to the most dynamic and exciting environment I've ever worked in," as Conniff told The Guardian.
As for real-life inspiration, Gregor Lawson, co-founder of Morphsuits, a Stake mentor, has earned enough money that he doesn’t need to think about it anymore.
Think of The Stake as a friendlier version of a program on Channel 4's rival (the BBC's Dragons' Den) to inspire and fund youthful entrepreneurs — and create a model that may resonate and ripple across the pond at a time in U.S. banking when such mentoring is rare and needed.