I’ve won quite a lot of things over the past few year’s using more or less the same technique. I’m going to focus on the two instances where I won R10 000 cash.

My first R10 000

In my first year of University I was in Eendrag Men’s Residence at Stellenbosch. The then CEO of Naspers, Koos Bekker, an old boy of Eendrag decided to start an Entrepreneurship competition.  The competitions aim was to stimulate Entrepreneurship in Eendrag. He pledged to give R10 000 to 5 Eendragters every year for ten years.

I’ve always seen myself as an Entrepreneur, but at that stage I didn’t have any ongoing initiatives.  I immediately started to brainstorm, trying to come up with an idea. At the same time I tried to find out how many other people were thinking about entering. To my surprise there weren’t that many students interested in the competition. Most students immediately gave up, thinking there is no way that they will win an entrepreneurship competition.

This gave me more confidence that even a simple idea would be able to land me the prize.  Finally after about two weeks of brainstorming and going over ideas with friends, I came up with the idea for ActiveSquirrel. A community platform for students to share fun activities that you can do in and around Stellenbosch.  I had limited website knowledge at that time, but in about 2 weeks I learned enough to register and design the basic site. I uploaded a few activities that I’ve done and also asked a few friends to do the same.

When the time came for nominations I asked three people to nominate me, highlighting different positive aspects of the platform.  I kept asking around to see who else was in the run for the competition. There were about 8 other students with initiatives, but some of them weren’t very exciting or good. I thus had a very good feeling that I was going to win. At the prize giving only 3 projects won, including me and my roommate.

My second R10 000

Three year’s later a friend sent me a link to a competition by our local student centre, the Neelsie. Again R10 000 was up for grabs.  In order to win you had to make a video featuring every single shop in the centre and it had to be under 80 seconds.  The only videos I’ve made so far was timelapses and slideshows.  Somehow I knew not many people were firstly going to see the competition, as it was only advertised on their website. And secondly most students would think that it is too much trouble to make a video for a small chance of winning. For this exact reason I knew I had a big chance of winning, even without good video editing skills.

The finished video had to be uploaded to YouTube, so I kept checking to see if others have done so. Only one video of a guy running through the centre was uploaded. This gave me the final confidence to put in more effort. I waited until a week before the deadline and then took all the shots with the help of a friend.  I sat glued to the computer for the last 3 days before the deadline to acquire the necessary skills while making the video.

After submitting the video I constantly emailed and phoned the centre asking when the winner will be announced. Finally after almost three months I received the phone call to inform me that I won the competition.

See my amateur attempt below:

Lessons learned

Find competitions where few other people will enter and give it your all so that you know that you will win before you even started. I’ve only entered 6 competitions (to the value of R37 700) that took more than half an hour’s time and I won every single one of them.  Each time I first worked out my probability of winning by checking out the competition and then I gave it my everything to secure the prize.

Even though I was very confident about winning each of these prizes, it wouldn’t have felt like wasted time if I didn’t win. I acquired many skills that is arguably even more valuable than the prize money.

Over to you: Have you won a competition? Were you positive that you were going to win? Tell us in the comments below.