Post image for Outsourcing admissions at Singularity University ignites pockets of innovation

Outsourcing admissions at Singularity University ignites pockets of innovation

on September 29, 2010

I’ve been attending the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco shooting interviews for Yammer. Check out more coverage from the event on the Yammer blog.

The executive director of Singularity University Salim Ismail was drowning in admission forms. Last year he had more than 1,600 applications from 85 countries for only 80 available slots. With a staff of about seven people to pour through all these applications, it was taking them months to get through them all.

Ismail had no choice but to innovate a new solution. He thought about his admissions backlog as a distributed computing problem. To solve it, he’d have to push the problem out to the edges. He tested an idea with a university in Brazil and simply said, we’ll reserve one spot at our university for you. All you have to do is run a contest to get people to come up with an idea that will impact 1 million people in your area, and then they have to start implementing it. The Brazilian university took the challenge and ran the contest for two months. During that time 230 projects had been conceived and then had the best one coming and studying at Singularity University.

Ismail was so thrilled with the outcome he now wants to roll out the contest for admissions at Singularity University in other cities around the world that could really benefit from the local innovative minds. In the end all these cities will benefit from this powerful thought power and Ismail will have eliminated the problem of filtering thousands of applications.

I have found that contests like Ismail’s become so incredibly successful if the prize is something people really want, but can’t be bought. And if that prize can be something that’s experiential and life changing, then it’s even more successful. That’s why Ismail’s contest did so well, and will continue to have a major impact.

See my other interview with Salim here: Success for distributed development requires an initial face-to-face meeting

For a less life changing contest, yet still fun, enter Yammer’s “Workplace Communications Horror Story!” Sweepstakes for a chance to win a free iPad. Deadline is Oct. 15th, 2010.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Outsourcing Philippines September 30, 2010 at 2:41 am

Brilliant move, since those applications aren't going to process themselves. Back-office functions are best executed by a third-party provider, especially for operations with few staff.

seaman loan January 16, 2012 at 1:54 am


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