When the CEO wanted to find and support innovative entrepreneurs in areas like healthcare, education, and transportation, Verizon chose Quesnay to run their signature social impact competition, the $6M Powerful Answers Award.

Category: Innovation Competition
Client: Verizon
Market: Global


As the top mobile network operator in the US, Verizon has more than 100MM wireless customers and more than $125B in annual revenue. After many years of growth from rapidly increasing wireless penetration, the company found itself in a market competing for new subscribers. In order to continue growing, Verizon has looked to expand their lines of business and transform into a technology company. 

They found that the same high rates of mobile penetration that were making it harder to find new wireless customers were also creating new opportunities to serve existing customers with digital products and services that did not exist just a few years ago. Expansion in areas like cloud services and key areas of the internet of things, like healthcare, connected cities, and smart agriculture has allowed them to create a new base from which to grow and has changed consumers expectations of what a wireless carrier can be.


The potential impact of innovation in these new areas, both for consumers and for the business, were not lost on the executive team, who in partnership with the Verizon Ventures team and the Verizon Foundation decided to launch a global startup competition aimed at finding and rewarding the most promising new high-impact technology businesses around the world.



With Quesnay’s help, they designed a program that has provided more than $12M in cash prizes to support the growth and development of new mobile-centric social enterprises from around the world, created new integration and engagement pathways for startups across the Verizon organization, and led to multiple corporate venture investments, product partnerships, and commercial relationships.

As the program manager, Quesnay was able to use a combination of competition experience and best practices along with a clear understanding of the perspectives and organizational structures within the company to bring together valuable executive time and team resources to not only execute the competition smoothly, but to allow the process to open doors for experience and knowledge to pass between Verizon and the entrepreneurs they selected to support financially.

The Verizon team had clear objectives for the scope and scale at which they wanted to compete for these young organizations valuable time and attention. They wanted global reach, a wide and diverse net, and a chance to look at hundreds of new ideas taking shape in targeted categories like education, sustainability, healthcare, transportation, emergency response, and the internet of things.

Quesnay took the message to the streets through viral earned media campaigns, direct outreach, sponsored content, and unique event marketing, in addition to management of traditional marketing campaigns through global media organizations and partners. These efforts were able to reach communities in the US that may not have traditionally looked to Verizon as a source of support for innovation and communities globally that were not familiar with the brand, but were shown the value the organization could bring their businesses. 



In the end the winning companies were selected by industry executives and Verizon leadership from the more than 2,000 highly-qualified companies from 78 different countries, including high percentages of women and minority entrepreneurs, who applied to the Powerful Answers Award, exceeding any expectations for success.

Quesnay and our partners have experience running more than 300 innovation competitions awarding more that $90M over 10 years. Large or small, we can help you design and execute yours.