Spring Free EV contest

The Spring Free EV Contest is a project to increase the pace of EV sales using a Mileage Purchase Agreement (MPA), a new idea to buy down the initial cost of an electric vehicle in exchange for a small payment per mile of use.

Contestants will compete to validate or invalidate the product-market fit for the MPA idea.

why participate?

This is an opportunity to help solve climate change while learning startup methods and the opportunity to win $10,000. Winners may also get to join  a startup. 

Benefits to those participating:

- Help tackle the climate crisis by contributing to a new idea 

- Learn and gain experience with lean startup methods from Silicon Valley’s top entrepreneurs 

- Learn more about electric vehicles and a novel financing mechanism

- Get more accomplished to validate* an idea than you ever thought possible.

- Meet other people around the world interested in accelerating the deployment of EVs

- For all who submit proposals:

  • Review and feedback from Sunil and other co-sponsors

- For everyone who has a winning proposal:

  •  Budget of up to $1,000 to spend on direct costs (advertising, materials, etc)
  • Weekly 1-on-1 sessions with Sunil and other successful startup entrepreneurs to review progress 

- For runner ups:

  • Linkedin recommendation and ongoing advice from Sunil 
  • Potential to join a company that results
  • Other prizes being considered

- For the winner:

  • $10,000 
  • Opportunity to be a founder of a company with Sunil to pursue this product 

*Invalidating the idea is as useful as validating it. Invalidation would be evidence of fatal flaw in the idea. Validation would consist of answers to the questions posed above with as much quantification and data as possible. This mostly means data from a lean startup approach, not a consulting approach. In other words, high level data on the number of people who have purchased EVs in a geography is not as valuable as a list of people or organizations who have demonstrated willingness to use the product (e.g. provided an email address or other contact information; provided certain information; etc – the more effort required on their part, the stronger the signal)

Get more people driving EVs like this Tesla &  learn from top entrepreneurs. Winner gets $10,000

Get more people driving EVs like this Tesla &  learn from top entrepreneurs. Winner gets $10,000

Who is Eligible

We want participants from anywhere in the world, of all genders, of many ethnicities, races and religions. While the initial idea was conceived for the US market, there is no reason it cannot be explored for other markets. 

You can be an individual or a team. Organizations (including non-profits) are also eligible.

All genders, ethnicities, nationalities welcome!

All genders, ethnicities, nationalities welcome!


Timeline and expectations

Participants will be sourced for about 2 weeks during which time they can provide input on this plan and submit a very short proposal. 

A proposal can be submitted at anytime before the deadline of December 13, 2019. 

One page proposal requirements:

- Who is involved and their contact information. If a team, individuals should be separately identified. Please provide links to their Linkedin profiles

- The general approach you plan to take. The point of the plan is to have you state a clear thesis on what might work. 

- The plan should (ideally) quantify the anticipated results

- An example would be, "I propose to test advertising campaigns on social media and search engines. My hypothesis is that we can iterate to find the characteristics of the market for the MPA. I estimate we can sign up over 100 people with extensive details on their plans to purchase an EV."

- You do NOT have to stick to the plan, however, an initial idea and plan (hypothesis) is vital. In the end, what matters are the results. 

- The proposal can be no longer than one page (8.5x11 inch, 12 point font, standard margins). 

- You can submit a proposal at any time until the Deadline and begin the project after the proposal is accepted.

- Once your proposal is accepted, Spring Ventures will reimburse expenses for direct costs up to $1,000 and you will have access to Sunil Paul and other successful entrepreneurs for feedback  and guidance.

Deadline: December 13, 2019 at 6:00PM (Pacific)

Proposal winners notified no later than Dec. 16. Proposals that are not accepted will receive feedback on how they could have been improved.

Week of December  16 – kick-off meetings followed by  check in meetings as scheduled for mentorship and feedback. Note: if your proposal is submitted earlier than Dec. 13, expect an earlier kick off meeting.

December 23 to January 3 – no weekly check in meetings these two weeks

Weeks of January 6 through January 24  check in meetings as scheduled for mentorship and feedback

Week of January 27 Meeting to review / present final results to judging panel - and announcement of the winners including the $10,000 prize

February 2020 Anticipate funding to execute on the MPA with about 100 vehicles

NOTE: all the dates are subject to change. Get on the mailing list and follow on Linkedin  updates.

Judging Criteria

Judging for the prize will depend on success in demonstrating product-market fit and answer questions such as:

  • Which consumers or fleets that want this solution immediately? What are their characteristics (geography, demographics, etc)
  • What is the value proposition or positioning that results in #1 above?
  • What are some effective distribution channels for customers to find out about this product? 
  • What are the price points (up front capital and payment per mile) that are most effective? Are they different for different segments?
  • Are changes needed to the product to achieve product-market fit or make it better?

Specific criteria will include:

1. The number of potential EVs purchased and their buyers who indicate a willingness to use the MPA product

2. The likelihood that indication of interest will convert to a real contract

3. The amount of money spent achieving #1 and #2

4. The degree of ongoing discussion and word-of-mouth generated by #1 

5. The total opportunity represented by the category of potential EV buyers

6. The potential carbon impact of the results of 1-5 above.

The importance of these criteria are in rough order of priority with #1 being the most important.

Quantified results from actual customers will have higher credibility. 



Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Is there a geographical limit? Does this have to be in the United States? 

A: There is no geographical limit. The idea might make more sense in other countries.

Q: What if an organization (company or non-profit) wins the prize? Will you be offering a sort of M&A model?

A: We will be flexible about how a future model can work with an existing organization. If an organization wins, they have the option to just accept the prize money. If it is a for-profit private company, we might invest in that company. An M&A model is too complex for this stage of the idea.

Q. Is private personal vehicle operation the target or can contestants propose approaches oriented toward commercial and institutional fleets (motorpools)?

A: Fleets are very much an option and might be a better path than consumers. They each have their challenges and opportunities. 

Q. Are light-duty vehicles the target or can contestants propose approaches for medium- or heavy-duty vehicle operations?

A: Light-duty was the original focus, however, larger or smaller vehicles are also possibilities. The key for any idea is to find the traction -- evidence of willingness to buy the product.  

Q: Are the terms for the MPA fully described anywhere?

A: Other than what is in this document, no. Part of the objective for this contest is to figure out which aspects of a mileage purchase agreement (the product) would gain the most traction with a particular population of buyers (the market). In other words, the definition of the terms is part of product-market fit. You may draw inspiration from what is done in other pay-for-service financing models like those done in solar, building efficiency, fertility treatment, and other sectors.

Q: How much information about the MPA should potential customers know before signing up?

A: It really depends on the market opportunity and depth of evidence you want to go for. For example, most fleet customers will probably want more detail than most consumers.  Note that the judging criteria above has two top factors, number of potential EVs purchased (n) and the likelihood of conversion (c). The judging criteria will be a multiplier of the two factors. n*c

Q: Can contestants propose alternative approaches to accelerate EV adoption? 

A: You are encouraged to focus innovation on the MPA idea or variations of it for the contest. If you have a totally different way to accelerate EV adoption we are open to that too, but it is not part of the contest. Please drop us a note via Spring Ventures.