Victor Cho

By The Editors
September 16, 2013 9:00 am

SpaceShipOne and Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight — both completed for prize money. Now one man is betting that prize money can incentivize the world’s do-gooders, too. Meet Victor Cho, InsideHook’s Man of the Month for September.

SpaceShipOne — that gleaming, porthole-pocked airship, the first ever private manned spaceplane — was born of one man’s irrepressible desire to breach the Karman Line … and claim a $10 million prize.

Marine chronometer, same thing: created by a watchmaker in the 18th century to help sailors determine longitude at sea — and win £20,000.

Hell, even Lindbergh flew for the love of bullion. It was called the Orteig Prize. When Lindy’s booted foot touched Parisian terra firma, he became $25k richer.

Inducement prizes, each of them.

And if you suspect they’ve become more popular in recent years, you’d be on the money, so to speak. The N-Prize for tiny satellites. The H-Prize for hydrogen research. The DARPA Grand Challenge for self-driven battle-cars.

The list goes on. And on. And on. And that’s where Victor Cho comes in.

He’s 42. He’s a bit of a web geek, a Bay Area vet of Microsoft and Kodak. And he’s betting that inducement prizes are good not only for creating spaceships and robo-cars, but for creating projects for social good as well.

His company is called They publish do-good ideas — e.g., “Let’s make a more affordable tornado shelter” — and then galvanize people to fund that idea.

His bet: that the Internet connects a critical mass of people who care … and have a few dollars to spare.

In other words, BigLeap is a Kickstarter for competitions: they’re not funding the creation of the shelter. They’re funding the creation of a competition that will attract innovators to compete to create the best shelter.

Or to put it another way, money is actually the root of all good.

Yes, Cho says. And thinking that way will change the world.

“We know that competitions can drive creativity and innovation,” Cho says. “We know crowdfunding works. We’re just putting both of those things together for the first time.”

To learn more about Victor Cho and, check out the web site and fund the first project: Games That Can Make All Kids Smarter.

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