Looking to pitch your idea at a startup competition?
You might have the greatest product or idea, but it takes a lot more to bring it to the market. You will be faced with many obstacles when launching a startup. Some of them include restricted assets and resources, worries of cash flow and the lack of exposure. One way to overcome these obstacles is by participating in startup competitions.
Participating in a startup competition could be one of the most powerful experiences for startups, especially in their early stages as it can help to bring their business to the next level. Even if the prizes are a great motivator to participate in such events, no one leaves empty handed. There is a lot to gain including possible investments, media exposure, and potential strategic partnerships.
In a previous post “The Startup Pitches That Won Incredible Awards“, we explained how to prepare an exceptional speech and get ready for a startup competition, along with a list of the winning startups and the prizes they won. But what are the perks and advantages that come with participating in such events and which events should you attend in 2019?
Valuer.ai has created the ultimate list with some of the best pitch competitions worldwide and the possible prizes and awards you can win in 2019.
Staying relevant is key
In the startup culture, pitch competitions have become increasingly popular. Wherever you are living in the world, there are events that revolve around pitching. The winners receive exclusive prizes like cash or funding, helping them to bring their business idea to reality. However, it could be costly and time-consuming to participate in such events as startups, at least some of the time, are required to pay a fee to enter.
There is no limit to the number of startup competitions you can attend. But if you are attending every event year after year without success, the judges and audience might question your idea and product. Therefore, before choosing which competition’s to enter, it’s necessary to evaluate the event and select which one is going to bring the most benefits to you and your business.
Most events and pitch competitions have their own themes and topics so make sure your startup is eligible and relevant. For example, if your startup can classify itself as a social enterprise, look for competitions in the relevant niche. Participating in big and general startup events could be exciting but sometimes the smaller industry events could bring more value to your startup.
The quality of the audience varies from event to event. How can you benefit from the audience? One of the attendees could be your next investor, partner, team member or even a product buyer. Be selective to make the best out of a startup competition. Choose the events where the audience is similar to your target market and the attendees are investors your business could benefit from.
The list of startup competitions in 2019
|The winning startup will be fast-tracked directly to the Pioneers Challenge Top 50 at Pioneers’19||7th||Munich, Germany|
|TechChill - Fifty Founders Battle|
|€10,000 & chance to get fast-tracked to Startup World Cup Finals in San Francisco in May 2019||21-22nd||Riga, Lavia|
|4 Years From Now|
|Space on exhibition, promotion and free international press, possible funding, entry to Accelerator program||25-27th||Barcelona, Spain|
|Get In the Ring|
|Place at Global Meetup 2019 for a 3-day retreat and business networking opportunity||28th||Osaka, Japan|
|The Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge|
|Winner gets €500,000 and runner up €200,000. Other three finalists will win €100,000||1st - 1st of May||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|$250,000||until November||Beijing, Tel Aviv, Dubai,|
Riyadh, Silicon Valley, Sao Paulo,
|Possible Funding||7-8th||Gothenburg, Sweden|
|UNWTO Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition Spain 2019|
|5 finalist startups will be sponsored to pitch their idea to a panel of experts, governments and industry leaders at the 5th edition of the World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism in Spain on 2-3 May 2019||Deadline to apply : 5th of March||Basque Country, Spain|
|SXSW Startup Night|
|Funding opportuntiies, Media Exposure||9-10th||Austin, Texas|
|HATCH Pitch Summit|
|Polar Bear Pitching|
|€10,000, media exposure and funding opportunities||12-13th||Oulu, Finland|
|Possible funding from investors||14-16th||Innsbruck, Austria.|
|One €100K Grand Prize for the best early stage startup and Equity-free & Eleven €15K prizes||14-15th||Paris,France|
|European Social Innovation Competition|
|20.000-25.000 CHF||21-22nd||St. Gallen,Switzerland|
|$100,000 in funding||27th||Zug, Switzerland|
|The Proving Ground 2019|
|Up to $17,500||28th||South Carolina,US|
|2019 Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge|
|$100,000 in seed funding||28th||Idaho, US|
|Up to €250,000 in prizes||3-4th||Luxemburg|
|$50,000 cash grand prize offered, as well as all-inclusive trips to Silicon Vallery for the top five finalists||4th||Toronto,Canada|
|Seedstars World Competition|
|Equity investment of up to $1,000,000||4-5th||Lausannne, Switzerland|
|Rice Business Plan Competition|
|$300,000 investment||4-6th||Lausannne, Switzerland|
|€2,500 EUR||9th||Palma Mallorca, Spain|
|Dublin Tech Summit|
|Women in Tech Awards & possible funding for participation in Startup 100 Pitch Competition||10-11th||Dublin, Ireland|
|Startup Camp Pitch Marathon|
|Startup Turkey Demo Day|
|Possible funding||15-16th||Istanbul, Turkey|
|Northwest Entrepreneur Competition 2019|
|Total of $42,000 in prize money and $20,000 in professional resources,||18th||District Columbia, US|
|2019 GW New Venture Competition|
|Over $300,000 in prizes||18th||District Columbia, US|
|Urban Future Prize Competition|
|Over $300,000 in prizes||22nd||New York, US|
|ITS A START 2019|
|Cash prize and opportunity to attend Beijing’s Overseas Talent Entrepreneurship Conference (OTEC).||25-27th||Toronto,Canada|
|EU-Startups Summit 2019|
|Prize package worth of €70,000||2-3rd||Barcelona, Spain|
|infoShare Startup Contest|
|€ 20,000||8-9th||Gdansk, Poland|
|NIBS Worldwide Business Plan Competition|
|TNW Pitch Competition|
|Potential Investment||9-10th||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|International Business Model Competition|
|Startup World Cup|
|$1,000,000||11th||North and South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa|
|€ 200,000 seed investment||13-15th||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|Innovation of Things World Series|
|The Mark Challenge|
|Monetary and other prizes||16th||Monaco|
|Latitude59's Pitch Competition|
|Investment from Nordic Angel Program for up to €250 000, equity free cash & more prizes||16-17th||Tallinn, Estonia|
|Monetary prize||20-23rd||Toronto, Canada|
|All-inclusive & tailor-made one week program for 2 team members in one of the global startup hubs||21-22nd||Maribor, Slovenia|
|Spark.me Startup Competition|
|Sponsored trip to attend TechCrunch Disrupt in San Franscisco||25-26th||Tivat, Montenegro|
|Opportunity for a syndicate deal from Nordic & Baltic angel investors||5-6th||Helsinki, Finland|
|MidemLab Music Startup Competition|
|Possible funding||6th||Cannes, France|
|Possible funding||5-7th||Nantes, France|
|Techsylvania Pitch Competition|
|All expenses paid trip to Silicon Valley||8-11th||Cluj-Napoca, Romania|
|Heureka VC Pitch|
|Israel Mobile Summit|
|TBA||12th||Tel Aviv, Israel|
|The Founder Institute|
|Possible funding||13th||Copenhagen, Denmark|
|Possible funding||19-20th||Sydney, Australia|
|Startup Extreme Competition|
|PIRATE Summit "Walk-the-Plank" Pitch Competition|
|Business trip to San Francisco, London or Berlin||26-28th||Cologne, Germany|
|Up to € 50,000 plus many prizes||2-5th||Berlin, Germany|
|The Europass European TechStartup Awards|
|Award||3rd||London, United Kingdom|
|BBVA Open Talent|
|PITCH at RISE|
|US$100,000 worth of service products||9-12th||Hong Kong, China|
|Over $750,000 worth of prizes and investments||9-13th||Montréal, Canada|
|Unbound Pitch Competition|
|Monetary prizes TBA||17-18th||London, UK|
|Sevan Startup Summit|
|Up to $50,000 divided for each category||TBA||Yerevan,Armenia|
|over $67,000||31st||Texas, USA|
|Y Combinator Demo Day|
|Disrupt SF Startup Battlefield|
|$100,000||5-7th||San Francisco, USA|
|Queens StartUP! competition|
|$50,000||8-20th||New York, USA|
|ITU Telecom World Awards 2019|
|Funding opportunities and media exposure||10-13th||Budapest, Hungary|
|SevenVentures Pitch Day|
|New York StartUP! 2018 Business Plan Competition|
|$15,000||14th||New York, USA|
|Blast Roma Pitch Competition|
|Possible funding, exposure, access to VIP events||19-20th||Rome, Italy|
|ElevateR Pitch: AI Edition|
|over Can$1,000,000||21-27th||Toronto, Canada|
|Oslo Innovation Week|
|Monetary prize||23-27th||Oslo, Norway|
|FinCon FinTech Startup Competition|
|$10,000, entry to accelerator programs and more prizes||27-29th||Lviv, Ukraine|
|Bitz & Pretzels|
|Golden Pretzel Award||29th of September - 1st of October||Munich, Germany|
|Female Founders Competition|
|$2,000,000||until November||Tel Aviv, Seattle, London, San Francisco, New York|
|Pitch for the Purse|
|$150,000 - 1,000,000||until February||Canada|
|$1,000,000||3rd||Buffalo, New York, USA|
|Pitch Competition: Canadian Innovation in Sustainable Textile and Apparel|
|Can$ 10,000||3rd||Toronto, Canada|
|South Summit Startup Competition|
|Participation in Startup World Cup||3-5th||Madrid, Spain|
|GITEX Future Stars 2019|
|Grand winner gets $100,000||6-9th||Dubai, UAE|
|The New Energy Challenge 2018|
|€100,000||18th||Amsterdam, the Netherlands|
|Aurora Chamber Business & Technology Summit|
|Ideaspace 7th Startup Competition|
|Equity-free grant for product and market development and up to P 1,000,000 in equity funding||19th||Makati City, Philippines|
|SaaStock 2019 Dublin|
|$25,000 & more prizes||14-16th||Dublin, Ireland|
|NOME Start-up Competition|
|Possible funding||24th||Copenhagen, Denmark|
|Nordic Startup Awards|
|University Startup World Cup Competition|
|EIT Digital Challenge|
|Growth support from EIT Digital Accelerator worth 50,000 & cash prize of €50,000||TBA||Brussels, Belgium|
|Wolves Summit Great Pitch|
|Winner will be invited to take part in the Grand Finale of Startup World Cup in San Franscisco||TBA||Warsaw, Poland|
|Entrance to the Nordic Angel program||TBA||Copenhagen, Denmark|
|Venture Cup Denmark Startup Competition|
|DKK 100,000||TBA||Copenhagen, Denmark|
|Varsity Pitch Competition|
|£10,000||12th||London, United Kingdom|
|Madrid Mobile Summit Contest|
|Participation in Mobile World Congress||13th||Madrid, Spain|
|U.Pitch National Elevator Pitch Competition & Showcase|
|$10,000||15th||Chicago, Illinois, USA|
|The Arch Grants Global Startup Competition|
|$50,000||16th||Washington DC, USA|
|Arab Startup Competition|
|up to $160,000||18th||Arab Region|
|Ignite Capital Competition|
|up to $15,000||TBA||Ontario, Canada|
|$1,000,000||TBA||Singapore, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin, Jakarta, Seoul, Shanghai, Regional VIC, Manila, Sydney, Auckland NZ, Chennai|
|MIT $100K Competition|
|Web Summit PITCH|
|Creative Business Investors Pitch|
|€ 5,000||TBA||Copenhagen, Denmark|
|Betapitch Global Startup Competition|
|A flight to Silicon Valley + € 5,000||TBA||Berlin, Germany|
|Giant Health Event|
|Cash prize, consulting, media packages and more prizes||TBA||London UK|
|StartUp Serbia Competition|
|Media exposure and funding opportunities||TBA||Novi Sad, Serbia|
|The Vator Investment Club|
|$150,000 - 500,000||31st||San Francisco, Oakland Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, Stanford, San Jose|
|Slush Pitch Competition|
|Are you China ready?|
|27 Semi-finalists get all-expenses paid trip to China and grand prize is $25,000||TBA||Guanghzou, China|
Where are these competitions located?
The perks of entering a startup competition
The prizes that come with your participation are only the tip of the iceberg. Even if you don’t win the grand prize, the opportunities that come with such events could benefit you tremendously. It isn’t always about winning, it is also about meeting the right people and receiving exposure. So if you are only looking to enter competitions for the prizes, open your eyes to the other possibilities.
If you are questioning whether attending a competition is worth your time, ask yourself “is this competition going to help us reach our goal?“. Depending if you are looking for some new partnerships, team members, a potential investor, or media exposure, would the event help you achieve any of these goals?
To better understand the advantages that could come with such events, Valuer.ai has listed the potential opportunities that come with presenting at startup competitions.
Winning exclusive prizes
The greatest motivator that encourages people to participate in startup competitions are the prizes. The prizes are different in each event and could vary from a couple of thousands to millions of dollars. Startups can take advantage of their prize and use it to scale their startup and move forward towards their goals and ambitions.
However, in many cases, the prizes are not limited to monetary ones. Some of the pitch competitions offer covered business trips to some of the greatest startups events in the world, entry to accelerator programs and access to co-working spaces and incubators.
Receiving constructive feedback
You might be thinking that your product is the greatest in the world and there is nothing stopping you from conquering the world. It is important to receive some feedback to know how others perceive your product and idea.
Perhaps the people sitting in the judging panel have years of experience in the field that allows them to detect any holes in your business that you need to address. Judges can often give you constructive criticism that will help you improve and guide you in the right direction. Even the potential clients can provide you with their insight and opinion on your product that will help you adapt or develop your idea further.
Unfortunately, feedback is often avoided and feared in the startup world. Entrepreneurs tend to gracefully accept positive feedback but at the sight of negative feedback, they become quite defensive. Lucas Pols, CEO, and Founder of Spark xyz, has highlighted the importance of feedback and how to receive it in order to benefit your startup.
In his words,
“If we can get back to listening to each other and truly hearing the other person, it could be the difference between your startup succeeding and failing.”
Growing your network
Startup competitions bring together extraordinary groups of highly-skilled entrepreneurs with different experience levels and backgrounds who are looking to connect with like-minded people, share their ideas and create long-lasting relationships.
You never know who you will meet during the event. One of the most commonly shared sayings among entrepreneurs is “Your network is your net worth.” And it’s true. As your business network is growing, you will realize that more and more doors are opening. A person you meet today might have a significant impact in the next few years.
Let’s not forget that many venture capitalists (VC’s) and angel investors attend such events looking for the next big thing to invest in. Meeting investors who will not fund your company could be valuable since they can lead you to other investors. Networking usually happens off stage at the exhibition or at the after-event parties the hosts are organizing.
Building your confidence
If there is one trait that you need as an entrepreneur, it is confidence. From the moment you decide to start a business, you have to believe in yourself and your ability to successfully make deals, negotiate with partners and lead your team. Investors are looking to invest in confident people that are sure of their products and ideas as its an indicator of their competence and credibility.
However, no matter how confident you are, pitching at a competition can be stressful. It is a personal experience, you have to bare your soul and in just a couple of minutes present your mission and vision in front of hundreds of people and expect to get feedback from top leaders. It won’t always be positive. However, going through the process can help you build your confidence even more. Later in life, you might look back and say “If I competed in a startup competition with that big of an audience, then I can do this.”
Mastering your pitch
Normally when participating in a startup competition you are given a set time constraint to present your idea in the most compelling way. And let’s face it – pitching is important! An entrepreneur should be able to convince the audience that the idea is great. If the audience doesn’t believe in the idea, who is going to buy your product?
Startup competitions force you to practice your pitch. It is a good way to start mastering the art of pitching. The more you practice, the better you get and the more people begin to believe in your idea.
At some pitch competitions, you encouraged to present a pitch deck – a brief presentation in powerpoint form which provides an overview of your business plan. Check out our post on the secrets to creating a great pitch deck for an in-depth checklist and examples of what to include in your pitch deck!
Gaining media exposure and free publicity
If they select your startup for the finals and you get on stage, all the eyes are on you. Especially when participating in startup competitions that are happening on a global scale and attract international visitors. Examples of such competitions are the PITCH-Websummit in Lisbon or Collision Pitch in Toronto. Big events attract local and global media. Expect to see journalists from many parts of the world attending such events, looking to write about the next success story or any honorable mentions.
In case your startup is among the winners, it is almost certain that your accomplishment will be written about. You will attract readers with you and your product. So don’t underestimate the power of a startup competition and the publicity that will follow. Don’t forget about the publicity you can get from the audience while you are on stage and presenting your product. The audience could be your target market and presenting in front of them could cultivate their interest and eventually lead them to become your first buyers.
Getting a spot at the exhibition
Most of the times the event hosts are giving to the participants their own exhibition booth where they can display the product in their own way. Having your own exhibition spot gives you more personal space and it’s a lot less nerve-wracking having one to one interactions than pitching your idea in front of hundreds of people, light beaming down on you, sweat patches visible for all to see.
Exhibitions are a great way to connect with fellow entrepreneurs that are in the same industry and can help you expand your network. Also, it’s a good opportunity to meet prominent Business Angels and Venture Capitalists that are wandering through the exhibition space and are looking to expand their business portfolio.
Being recognized for your hard work
You have been spending all this time and energy to bring your idea to reality because you are passionate about it and a strong believer that one day it will work out. Being an entrepreneur is not an easy task and many times you will be disappointed. The whole idea of entrepreneurship comes at a great cost whether it’s time, money or emotional investment.
When winning a startup competition, it can motivate you to keep doing what you are doing because it feels good to know that other people believe in your idea too. Winning creates a sense of purpose and identity and being able to say that you won a global competition makes you stick out from the rest of the pack.
Winning presentation tips
1. Practice – it’s true what they say – practice makes perfect! Practice your speech in front of the mirror, your friends, rehearse and refine continuously until it leads to the final presentation.
2. Tell the story and show the product – judges, investors, and media are human beings and they connect with a good story. Think of a good pitch just like a Hollywood movie – you need a cool intro, an engaging middle, and an epic finale. In his blog post, Paul Alex Gray is explaining how to use storytelling to win your audience.
3. Keep it short and simple – a winning pitch should be straightforward and simple, cut off the superfluous material and slides that don’t give any value to your proposition.
“You really need to be able to convey what you do in the first 30 to 60 seconds,” Sanjay Parekh
4. Be prepared – what would the judges possibly ask you? Watch videos on YouTube or read relevant articles that will help you prepare for any possible questions that may come up.
5. Know your numbers – backing up your idea with some stats will strengthen your credibility and will make your points stand out. How big is the market? Are there any competitors? What is the break-even analysis? What are the estimated revenues?
6. Be authentic – no one likes copycats! So be yourself and tell your story in your own unique way.
Startup competitions could take your business to a new level if done right. It’s important for you to evaluate each competition and participate where you think it will bring the most benefits.
Winning a competition is the cherry on the cake. There is a plethora of advantages and perks that come with your participation in pitch competitions such as networking opportunities, gaining media exposure and receiving feedback that should be not overlooked when applying.
Any new company requires fundraising along with self-promotion. A good solution to build your brand is by taking part in challenging events. Events like this are picking up in speed and gaining popularity worldwide!