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Meet the judges for Expand NY's Insert Coin competition: Ryan Block, Ben Heck, Hilary Mason and Peter Rojas

Michael Gorman, @Numeson
September 26, 2013

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There are but two days left (including today) for all you makers and would-be entrepreneurs to submit your projects for our Insert Coin competition for Expand NY. And, you may be wondering, who, exactly will be judging the worthiness of your work? Well, MAKE Magazine Editor-in-Chief Mark Frauenfelder will once again be helping present the five finalists on stage, and we've got quartet of tech industry insiders who will decide which project gets our $10,000 Judge's Choice prize. (There's also a $15,000 winner chosen by you, our dear readers.) Our judges are:

  • Ryan Block, VP of Product, Aol; Editor Emeritus, Engadget
  • Ben Heck, Master Modder on element14's, The Ben Heck Show
  • Hilary Mason, Data Scientist in Residence, Accel Partners
  • Peter Rojas, VP, Strategy, Aol Brand Group

So, if you've got a bright idea, but haven't already signed up for the chance to put it in front of our judges panel, what are you waiting for? Head past the break for all the pertinent info, then fill out this form -- YOU could wind up winning!

Prize Details

  • 10 semifinalists will receive tickets to Expand NY and a $1,000 travel stipend to cover costs while appearing at the event.

  • 5 finalists will be chosen by the judges-only vote on day 1 of Expand NY, who will be eligible for the 2 prizes below.

  • 1 Judges' Choice winner will receive $10,000 and a product review on Engadget.

  • 1 Readers' Choice winner will receive $15,000 and a product review on Engadget.

The Process

Phase 1: Submissions

Submissions accepted: 06/17/2013 to 11:59 PM EDT on 09/27/13

Submit all of the details about your project and your contact information using this form -- keep in mind: you must not have an existing crowdfunding effort underway for this project already! Your product must also not be launched or in production currently; we would prefer that your project not have received widespread media coverage to date, but if you have already attracted attention, we will take these individual projects on a case-by-case basis.

Engadget editors will review all submissions and select 20 contenders. We will be judging according to the following criteria: Project connection on an intellectual level, Project connection on a behavioral level, Project connection on an emotional level, Market potential, Ability of creator / team to deliver it to market, Level of solution (coarse to refined), Social impact, Environmental benefits and Ingenuity. After submissions close, we will begin contacting the 20 prospective contenders the following week to confirm eligibility requirements, so please be sure to provide current and accurate contact information.

Phase 2: Online voting 10/4/2013 - 10/10/2013

After the 20 contenders are selected, Engadget will open online voting from 10/4/2013 to 10/10/2013 to let the audience choose 10 semifinalists that will appear at Expand NY and receive a $1,000 travel stipend. We will announce the slate of 10 semifinalists on 10/14/2013.

Phase 3: Semifinalists at Expand NY 11/9/2013 - 11/10/2013

On Day 1 of Expand NY: All 10 semifinalists will take the stage to give a demo and presentation of their gadgets in groups of three or four. Judges will select the top 5 finalists by their vote, and we will open up online audience voting for the Readers' Choice award after the finalists have been announced.

On Day 2 of Expand NY: The 5 finalists will take the stage again to give a quick demo one last time before the judges cast their votes for the Judges' Choice award.

*Please note all 10 semifinalists are also given space on the showroom floor.

Phase 4: Winners crowned on 11/10/13

We will crown two winners on Day 2 according to the following criteria:

  • Judges' Choice: Selected by the judges based on presentations and a list of criteria. Winner will receive $10,000 to help fund the project, as well as a review on Engadget.

  • Readers' Choice: The project with the greatest number of votes from the total pool of online voting will receive $15,000 to help fund the product, as well as a review on Engadget.


  • Existing products / updates to existing products will not be accepted.

  • Product should not be announced, though those with limited coverage will be assessed on an individual basis at Engadget editorial's sole discretion.

  • Product must not have an existing Kickstarter, Indiegogo or other crowdfunding effort already underway.

  • Companies must be ready to launch crowdfunding campaigns around the event.

  • Products must fall within Engadget's coverage scope, as determined by Engadget editorial.

  • Products must have a hardware component and not be purely software or web services in origin.

  • Inventors who are selected as Semifinalists will need a working prototype or other presentation for a team of Engadget editors ahead of the event.

  • Simulations or product renderings will not suffice to enter Insert Coin; what you have to show to us must be functional.

  • No products from major manufacturers will be accepted.

Full official rules: For the full legalese, please be sure to read the Official Rules. Most notably in addition to the above, you must be 13 years of age or older and reside in the US or Canada (excluding Quebec).

If you have questions about the contest, its rules or whether your project meets the submission criteria, please contact expand[at]

Good luck, and may the best project(s) win!

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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