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Startup Competition Guide: A Giant List of The Best Business Contests

Startup competitions. The trial-by-fire opportunity that could launch your dream into reality.

You don’t have to win a startup competition to experience the benefits. Each competition that we have carefully researched offers networking and resource opportunities for every participant. But winning sure does come with its perks, too!

In total, the competitions below offer more than $3 million in fuel for your dreams. Ready to grab your piece of the pie?

Additions, Recommendations, and Media

For media, press or blog inquires, and to suggest new competitions for this guide, contact our team at content@grasshopper.com.

This resource contains:

 


 

The Hult Prize 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 12/21/2014

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The Hult Prize is a start-up accelerator for budding young social entrepreneurs emerging from the world’s universities. Named as one of the top five ideas changing the world by President Bill Clinton and TIME Magazine, the annual competition for the the Hult Prize aims to identify and launch the most compelling social business ideas—start-up enterprises that tackle grave issues faced by billions of people. Winners receive USD 1 million in seed capital, as well as mentorship and advice from the international business community.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: a team of 4 -5 students

Awards & Prizes: $1,000,000 in startup funding

Sponsors: Hult Business School, Clinton Global Initiative, and many more

Year Started: 2010

Previous Winners: Aspire Food Group, Sunny Money, m.Paani, and many more

 


 

Hatch Pitch 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 12/30/2014

ENTRY FEE: N/A

DESCRIPTION: HATCH pitch is the revolutionary pitch competition for startup companies making life better. We will select 12 finalists to present their business plans to a panel of corporate, angel, and venture investor judges in front of a well-connected audience at SXSW in Austin, TX in March.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: A company’s product / service must have launched no earlier than January 1, 2011. A company’s product / service must have a planned launch no later than June 30, 2014. Companies will be allowed to submit only one product / service to HATCH pitch. Founders of the applying startup must retain some portion of ownership in the company to be eligible to participate. Have raised less than two million dollars in funding from combined sources. The presenter must actively participate in the educational and coaching components of HATCH pitch. Each startup is to be represented by two individuals who are in attendance at check-in time at the event venue. At the designated time, one person will present the startup while the other person will operate the accompanying slide deck. Startups are responsible for covering all costs to attend the event, including SXSW badges for both presenters. Present their pitch using the official software and laptop(s) designated by HATCH pitch. Sign any necessary video or similar releases. If you applied to the SXSW Accelerator, you are welcome to apply for HATCH pitch. However, if you are selected as a finalist or alternate for both events, you will have to choose one or the other. A company cannot present at both HATCH pitch AND SXSW Accelerator.

Awards & Prizes: N/A

Sponsors: Osha Liang LLp, Blue Lance, Qukku, Mbira Group, Authentic Brand Soup, and many more

Year Started: 2012

Previous Winners: Seratis, YouEarnedIt, SmartestK12, and many more

 


 

William James Foundation Sustainable Business Plan Competition 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/15/2015

ENTRY FEE: No Fee

DESCRIPTION: Presents an excellent opportunity for entrants to receive high end constructive comments on their sustainable business plans, as well as interact with mentors, make valuable connections, and compete for cash, in-kind prizes and various awards. Winners are selected from both Idea-Phase and Venture-Phase categories in this decade-old contest.

JUDGING CRITERIA: Judged on the quality of the business plan’s product/service, market, strategy, operations, financials, team, presentation, and social and/or environmental impact, along with overall viability.

Eligibility: Be creating or managing a for-profit company (planned or existing) that has defined social, environmental, and/or cultural goals built into how your business makes money. If you can imagine a non-profit with the same goals as your for-profit company, you will probably qualify. Be a company in the planning stage or considering a significant change of direction in how your company operates. Our primary benefit is mentor feedback on your business plan. Don’t enter if you’re not in a position to do something with that feedback. Be an entrepreneur with a leadership role in the business and expect at least one person to be making (or planning to make) a full time, living-wage income from your business. You can be of any age or educational status, and you can be based anywhere in the world. Submit your business plan in English.

Awards & Prizes: Cash prizes from $500-$3,000 and in-kind prizes worth up to $50,000

Sponsors: The Acacia Fund, Stiefel Family Foundation, Worldways Social Marketing and many more

Year Started: 2004

Previous Winners: LuminAID, DayOne Response, and many more

 


 

LAUNCH Festival 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/19/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: 40 companies will launch for the first time (1.0 Track) or launch new products (2.0 Track) and compete for titles like Best Design, Best Technology and Best Overall with 10,000+ attendees making it the largest live audience in technology. $250K will be available from the LAUNCH Fund.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: https://launch.submittable.com/submit/36488

Awards & Prizes: Up to $250,000 in cash

Sponsors: Forbes, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and many more

Year Started: 2007

Previous Winners: Mint, Yammer, Dropbox, and many more

 


 

GW Business Plan Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/20/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The GW Business Plan Competition was created to give GW students, faculty, staff and alumni a real-world, experiential learning opportunity in entrepreneurship. It is also designed to foster an entrepreneurial climate at GW and allow GW Business Plan Competition winners to actually launch and operate their ventures while maintaining complete control of their business through the issuance of non-dilutive cash grants as prize money. As the Competition continues into 2015, it retains its two overarching goals: To deliver an excellent, broad-based learning experience in innovation and creative problem solving for all GW students. To nurture sustainable, scalable and profitable ventures that create wealth and have social impact.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: http://bizplan.gwu.edu/eligibility

Awards & Prizes: Almost $200,000 in cash and in-kind prizes

Sponsors: Luther King Capital Management, AARP, Blank Rome, and many more

Year Started: 2009

Previous Winners: Sensamir, BitGrid, Yapper, and many more

 


 

Tufts $100k New Ventures Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/22/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: A university-wide event, the competition draws entries from recent alumni, faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate applicants from across the university. New in 2015, we are adding a Life Science / Medical track to the existing Social Impact and General tracks.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: Competition is open to anyone with a Tufts affiliation – students, faculty, staff and recent alumni are eligible to enter.

Awards & Prizes: $100,000 in cash prizes and in-kind services

Sponsors: Articulate Persuasion, The Allied Mind, The Capital Network, Burns Levinson, and many more

Year Started: 2004

Previous Winners: Benevolent Technologies for Health, GearCommons, Myoelectra, Teemplay, and many more

 


 

FastPitch Competition 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/26/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: If you are a STUDENT, FACULTY, or LOCAL ENTREPRENEUR with an innovative IDEA then FastPitch is for you! This concept allows for entrepreneurs to MAKE a 3-MINUTE PITCH of their innovative venture and be assessed as to the viability of the ventures by local community leaders, academics, and investors. COACHING and FEEDBACK will be provided before, during, and after to better prepare you, your idea, and your presentation of that idea

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: All ages, all levels of education, open to the entire South East region

Awards & Prizes: Prize money TBD: $1,000 grand prize is a minimum estimation

Sponsors: Georgia Southern University, The Creative Coast, City of Savannah, and many more

Year Started: 2011

Previous Winners: Go Local, Gyrl Talk, Yes Love Weddings, Gyrl Talk, and many more

 


 

The UNM Business Plan Challenge 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/27/2015

ENTRY FEE: No Fee

DESCRIPTION: The UNM Business Plan Competition, held on April 11, 2014, offers students and alumni (since 2007) from UNM the opportunity to compete for a total of $75,000 in startup funds. Teams may compete in one of two tracks, Technology Ventures Track, for startups utilizing IP, and Entrepreneurial Track for generalist startups

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: The competition is open to all University of New Mexico students enrolled in at least one course during the summer 2013, fall 2013, or spring 2014 semester and UNM alumni who have graduated after January 1, 2007

Awards & Prizes: Up to $25,000 cash prize

Sponsors: Lockheed Martin, US Bank, Technology Ventures Corporation , and many more

Year Started: 2007

Previous Winners: Don Chalmers Ford, City of Alberquerque Economic Development Department, Cavelli, and many more

 


 

MaRS Up-Start! Competition 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/30/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The Up-Start! Competition is a business pitch competition open to participants in the Entrepreneurship 101 lecture series. Individuals, or teams, must give a ten-minute presentation on an idea for a business in the following industry categories: Information & Communications Technology (ICT). Cleantech, Health. The business must be one that they wish to implement or have already started. Entrants are expected to apply the concepts that they have learned from the course to their business idea and to make a compelling case that this will lead to a very successful business.

JUDGING CRITERIA: (a) Has the summary/presentation clearly articulated the value proposition? (b) Has the summary/presentation demonstrated market opportunity? (c) Has the summary/presentation demonstrated a sustainable business model that will make money, or, in the case of a venture with a social purpose, make money and have the desired social impact? (d) Has the summary/presentation demonstrated competitive differentiation/intellectual capital? (e) How effective was the overall presentation? (f) Would you invest or back this opportunity?

Eligibility: 1. The individual presenting (or the designated head of the team) must be enrolled in Entrepreneurship 101 and have attended at least 20 out of 30 lectures of Entrepreneurship 101 in person and/or by webcast; 2. Entrants’ businesses must fall into one of three categories: ICT, cleantech, or health;

Awards & Prizes: Up to $47,500 in cash and prizes

Sponsors: KPMG, Gilbert’s LLP, Hill + Knowlton Strategies

Year Started: 2006

Previous Winners: Vessel Innovations, TrendyMED, LIFEbike, and many more

 


 

2015 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/31/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The mission of the Governor’s Business Plan Contest is to encourage entrepreneurs in the seed, startup and early growth stages of high-tech businesses in Wisconsin. The contest links up-and-coming entrepreneurs with a statewide network of community resources, expert advice, high-quality education, management talent and possible sources of capital.

JUDGING CRITERIA: BPC judges include investors, academics, experienced entrepreneurs and other professionals interested in the development of high-growth companies that will define Wisconsin’s future

Eligibility: Wisconsin residents 18 years old or older, and who have a business plan that employs or leverages technology. Examples of technology include an eCommerce platform, a life sciences application or an advanced manufacturing process or system.
Are a Wisconsin-based firm and/or plan to locate a business in Wisconsin.
Have received less than $25,000 in private equity funding for an idea in its current form. For the purposes of this contest, private equity funding includes ONLY angel or venture funding. It does not include SBIR/STTR, bank loans or funding from friends or family who are not angels or venture capitalists.

Awards & Prizes: $100,000 in cash prizes

Sponsors: AT&T, Pieper Properties, Madison Gas & Electric, Cresa Madison, and many more

Year Started: 2004

Previous Winners: Elucent Medical, Laura King, NitricGen Inc., Frederick Montgomery, and many more

 


 

2015 French American Entrepreneurship Award

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/31/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The French-American Entrepreneurship Award – the sixth annual business plan competition that recognizes young francophone entrepreneurs launching businesses in the United States.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: In order to be eligible to participate in the FAEA business plan competition: Entrants must enter one of the following two categories: Digital Innovation: New digital solutions / tools that offer enhanced customer value. Art de Vivre: New products or services associated with the traditional French way of living: luxury, home, beauty, food and wine, fashion etc… Entrant can submit more than one business plan. However, they cannot enter the same business plan in both categories. The project must be in an early stage, less than three years in business with a product or service commercially viable and the demonstrated ability to generate revenue. The venture must be operated in and for the US market. The entrant must be the founder-entrepreneur fluent in French and English, thirty-five years old or younger. Each entrant is expected to email to ssarian@transmarkpartners.com, a scanned photo ID, jpeg 300dpi headshot, as well as a short biography or resume. Plan submission indicates full acceptance of the Official Contest Rules

Awards & Prizes: $10,000 cash prize, Office space for six-month in one of the seven “Corporate Suites” business centers in New York City, A business fare round trip ticket New York-Paris on La Compagnie airline, $15,000 in strategy/accounting/legal in-kind services by Club 600 members, One year membership to the FACC-New York, International/national media exposure

Sponsors: French American Chamber of Commerce, Club 600, Deloitte, and many others

Year Started: 2008

Previous Winners: Poutsch, Tomi Otee, Les Caneles de Celine, and many more

 


 

NH Startup Challenge 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/1/2015

ENTRY FEE: N/A

DESCRIPTION: Accelerate NH is New Hampshire’s startup accelerator. We built Accelerate NH with one simple goal in mind: help great people with great ideas build great companies. We at Alpha Loft are actively building an ecosystem supporting the next generation of innovative, growth-oriented companies in New Hampshire. We have built an infrastructure and community to support, nurture, and fund early stage startups. Accelerate NH will take a small batch of startups through an aggressive program to iterate through their business and product hypothesis to identify what works, and grow.

JUDGING CRITERIA: Market Opportunity – is there a clear market need presented and way to take advantage of it? Distinctive Competence – company provides some novel/unique/special that gives it a competitive advantage in its market. Management capability – team can effectively develop the company and handle the risks associated with the venture. Financial understanding – team has a solid understanding of financial requirements of the business. Investment potential – business represents a real investment opportunity in which you would consider investing. Pitch – pitch performance.

Eligibility: Applicant must be a NH resident or the startup must be headquartered in NH. Applicant must be an owner or founder. Startups must be for-profit, have been in existence for less than 2 years, have raised under $100k in funding and generated under $100k in 2014 revenue.

Awards & Prizes: Cash: A minimum of $5,000 to help build and grow your startup. Coaching: 1-on-1 mentorship with leading entrepreneurs with experience in related industry. Connections: introductions to successful entrepreneurs, VCs, angel investors, and other appropriate parties. Curriculum: A weekly seminar series and regular check-ins with your Mentors and Alpha Loft staff. Community: Peers who will become lifelong friends/colleagues & a collaborative work-space at Alpha Loft. Demo Day: the culmination of the program where you will present your polished idea with a pitch to a group of investors, media, business leaders, and the public.

Sponsors: Dyn, Cook Little Rosenblatt & Manson , GY&K, and many more

Year Started: N/A

Previous Winners: Gear Freedom

 


 

New Venture Competition 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/8/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: NVC is the premier business competition in the Pacific Northwest. It was founded by the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business to help graduate students make their business plans a reality. We invite students from the best MBA programs worldwide to gather in Portland for an opportunity to get feedback from our world-class judges and gain recognition amongst investors.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: http://nvc.uoregon.edu/team-requirements/eligibility-rules-2/

Awards & Prizes: $60,000 in cash prizes

Sponsors: PaloAlto Softwware, Columbia, Blue Star Gas, and many more

Year Started: 1992

Previous Winners: Redigen, Awair & Agcerez, Lifeline Innovations, and many more

 


 

MIT Clean Energy Prize 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/8/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The MIT Clean Energy Prize (CEP) is a multi-stage, student-organized business plan competitions in which teams compete for a $225,000 Grand Prize and category prizes. University teams from across the United States enter their business ideas in one of three categories: Energy Efficiency –Renewable – Energy Infrastructure & Resources .

JUDGING CRITERIA: If the business is successful, will it have a significant environmental impact? To what degree will the business idea affect the clean energy industry? Has there been a similar idea beforehand? Does the project offer new and creative solutions to solve existing problems in the field? To what extent does it improve existing products or business models currently in the market? To what degree does the business idea change the industry? Is the business model sound and realistic? Does the team have a coherent and well-structured execution plan? Are financial and business growth forecasts realistic? Does the business plan offer realistic assumptions on scaling production of the product? Does the team have clear and viable ideas about how to finance the company? Does the team already have a patent? / Is it viable that the team will acquire IP in the future? Does the team demonstrate thorough knowledge of the market they are entering (e.g. market size, competitive landscape, substitutes, stakeholders, regulatory and policy framework)? Was primary customer research carried out to support market assessment? Does the team demonstrate evidence of demand for product? Does the team understand the customers and their needs? Are there realistic plans to deal with possible competitors? Does the team have a long-term strategy? ·  Does the team have a well-balanced mix of expertise and backgrounds (e.g. technological, entrepreneurial, business, policy)? Are the team members working well together? Are responsibilities spread equally among the various team members? Does the team appear to be committed to stay together for the short to medium term? Does the team have a clear strategy to cope with future growth, including adding new members to the management team, as necessary?

Eligibility: http://cep.mit.edu/structure/rules-conditions-of-eligibility/

Awards & Prizes: Over $300,000 in cash and awards

Sponsors: Nstar, Us Department of Energy, Chevron, Shell and many more

Year Started: 2009

Previous Winners: Unified Solar, Picasolar, Radiator Labs, SolidEnergy, and many more

 


 

MassChallenge Startup Accelerator 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/11/2015

ENTRY FEE: $49-$99

DESCRIPTION: MassChallenge connects entrepreneurs with the resources they need to launch and succeed immediately. It is the largest-ever startup accelerator, and the first to support high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs with no strings attached.

JUDGING CRITERIA: Round 1 judging (online reviews, March and April) and Round 2 judging (in person, May) determine which teams get into the accelerator program.  Final judging occurs at the end of the accelerator in October and determines the winners.

Eligibility: Anyone can enter MassChallenge, with any startup idea, from anywhere around the world (including non-profits). Startups do not need to originate or headquarter in Massachusetts. To qualify, your company must be a seed- or early-stage startup. As we define it, this means you probably haven’t raised over $500K of investment, and probably don’t have more than $1M in annual revenue. You can still apply if you exceed these guidelines – a special judging panel will review your application to determine if you are ‘early stage.Teams are required to attend events and meetings in Massachusetts in person as part of the Accelertor Program. Therefore, non-US entrants will need to demonstrate viable accessibility to the United States for the duration of the Acclerator Program; i.e., access to visas and funding for travel starting in mid-June and extending through mid-October. MassChallenge can work with entrants to facilitate access to visas, sponsorship and/or local accommodations, but we make no guarantees.

Awards & Prizes: Up to $100,000 grant

Sponsors: Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Fidelity Investments, Altus Dental, and many more

Year Started: 2010

Previous Winners: Catie’s Closet, 99Degrees Custom, Hemova Medical, and many more.

 


 

FAU Business Plan Competition 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/15/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: Welcome to Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Business Plan Competition. The competition is offered each spring semester. All students, faculty, and entrepreneurs within the community may be eligible to participate. The competition is hosted by the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship (ACE) and the College of Business in Boca Raton, Florida designed to impact the local economy through the spirit of entrepreneurism.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: N/A

Awards & Prizes: Cash prizes and mentoring for the winners

Sponsors: Research Park at FAU, The Chester Foundation, Gunster, and many more

Year Started: 2009

Previous Winners: BedaBox, Modulux Lighting, Fresh Start Beverage Company, and many more

 


 

San Diego Social Innovation Challenge

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/16/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The Social Innovation Challenge (SIC) is a student social venture competition organized by the Center for Peace and Commerce at the University of San Diego. Through the SIC, university students in San Diego generate ideas for innovative ventures that respond to a social or environmental issue of their choice, and compete for seed funding to launch or expand their ventures. Social ventures may be for-profit, non-profit, or hybrid models with a domestic or international focus.

JUDGING CRITERIA: http://www.bizplancompetitions.com/browse/?c_url=http://www.sandiego.edu/cpc/sic

Eligibility: This is a student-based, academic challenge. In order to be eligible to apply for the “San Diego Track” of the University of San Diego Social Innovation Challenge, you must be a degree-seeking university student enrolled in at least 12 credits (per semester) as an undergraduate or 6 units (per semester) as a graduate student during at least one of the semesters or quarters of the 2014-2015 academic school year. Students must be enrolled in a university which is physically based in San Diego County and attend that branch/extension located within the county for those attending universities headquartered outside of San Diego with branches in the county. Students must comply with the Social Innovation Challenge deadlines to be eligible to enter the competition. Late entries will not be eligible. Students enrolled in the aforementioned colleges or universities will be eligible for the “San Diego Track” award money only; only University of San Diego students will be eligible for the internal University of San Diego Social Innovation Challenge award money. A minimum of $17,500 and a maximum of $35,000 will be awarded to student projects in the “San Diego Track.” In the case of proposals for nonprofit or for-profit businesses, you must be a C-level officer or director of the organization (e.g., Executive Director, CEO, COO) and, in the case of a for-profit organization, a majority owner, or part of a team of eligible students who are a combined majority owner.

Awards & Prizes: Up to $35,000 in cash

Sponsors: The University of San Diego

Year Started: 2011

Previous Winners: Rice Pollution Solution, Green Room, Memoria, and many more

 


 

The Amazing Entrepreneur Contest 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/20/2015

ENTRY FEE: N/A

DESCRIPTION: The Annual Amazing Entrepreneur Business Plan Competition is an initiative by Gwinnett Chamber Economic Development and The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to foster new business development in Gwinnett County.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: N/A

Awards & Prizes: $10,000 cash prize and numerous in-kind prizes

Sponsors: SBDC Georgia, Jackson, Lan Systems, The Myers Group, and many more

Year Started: 2011

Previous Winners: Palmetto Grant Consulting, Flairtab, Cubevibe, and many more

 


 

2015 North of Boston Business Plan Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/20/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: Are you a new, emerging or growing company located in Essex County or Merrimack Valley? We are looking for companies to enter the eleventh annual North of Boston Business Plan Competition.

JUDGING CRITERIA: http://enterprisectr.org/programs/2015-business-plan-competition/judging-criteria/

Eligibility: Startups (including not yet operational) less than 3 years old may apply and early stage growth businesses may apply. Growth companies may be older than 3 years but developing growth through a new product, service line, expansion or implementing a new strategic plan. Growth trajectory MUST be clear to be eligible. Applicants must be located in the North of Boston/Merrimack Valley or must relocate to the area. If the plan is for a startup business, that business must commit to locating in the North of Boston/Merrimack Valley. Businesses with existing professional venture investment are not eligible. Any non-venture funded Business is eligible. Business must have plans to grow by at least 5 full time or FTE employees in addition to the founders or existing workforce within three years. Non-profit organizations are ineligible.

Awards & Prizes: Up to $10,000 cash

Sponsors: Salem State University

Year Started: N/A

Previous Winners: CrowdComfort, LearLabs, Women On The Move, and many more

 


 

Innotribe Startup Challenge 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/22/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: Launched by SWIFT, the Innotribe Startup Challenge introduces financial industry decision makers and early-stage investors to the emerging innovations poised to transform the financial services industry. The Challenge is a year-round program that features three regional showcases in the US, Asia, and Europe where participants gather for fast-paced company pitches, insightful discussion of emerging innovations, and social networking events.

JUDGING CRITERIA: Challenge Judges, who include angel and venture investors, fintech and financial services entrepreneurs and technology industry executives, as well as senior executives from the financial industry, bring years of experience working with startups and innovations in the financial industry

Eligibility: The Challenge is open to innovative technology and technology-enabled financial services companies from any geography and of any stage working in areas such as payments, securities, trading, social media tools, big data/data analytics, security, identity, b2b or b2b2c mobile, small business apps & services &/or IT infrastructure. Consulting and outsourcing firms are not eligible. Eligible ‘Startup’ companies will be less than 3-years old and have no more than $1M in combined revenue and investment in the last 12 months. Eligible ‘Innovator’ companies may be of any level of maturity, revenue or funding, but must be proposing products or services that are largely ‘under the radar’. All applicants must also: Be able to clearly explain why banks or other organizations in the financial industry are ideal customers or partners. Have a demonstrable “beta” product (no concept or idea stage companies, products or services).Have the financial resources required to cover the costs as described below. Applicants may be physically located anywhere in the world. Applicants not selected as semi-finalists for a given Showcase may reapply to be evaluated for subsequent Showcases.

Awards & Prizes: $50,000 in prizes

Sponsors: HP, SWIFT, SAP, Invest NI and others

Year Started: 2009

Previous Winners: Waratek, Playmoolah, Klickex and others

 


 

TowsonGlobal Business Plan Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/23/2015

ENTRY FEE: N/A

DESCRIPTION: The TowsonGlobal Business Plan Competition is a region-wide initiative, open to anyone in the Baltimore-Washington area. The goal of this competition is to encourage entrepreneurship, small business growth, and innovation.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: Pre-start up or early stage innovative businesses or entrepreneurs from the Baltimore-Washington, DC, region (including university faculty, staff and students and the broader community) - A fairly well developed idea or technology  – An interest in receiving practical support to develop the business and open to considering new ideas and suggestions from external advisers - In compliance with all federal, state, and local laws/regulations – Entrants may be submitted by individuals or teams (no minimum or maximum for the amount of people involved)  – Entries generating revenues are allowed to compete, as long as annual revenues do not exceed $500,000. Companies exceeding $500,000 in annual revenues are not eligible – Entries receiving institutional investment from venture capital firms or related professional investors are not eligible – Entries receiving limited grant funding, such as SBIR, TEDCO, or DBED grants, are eligible provided that funding does not exceed $500,000.

Awards & Prizes: Cash prize along with 90 day membership at Towson Global valued at $5,000

Sponsors: Carrollton Partners, Century, M&T Bank, and many more

Year Started: 2011

Previous Winners: Rehabtics, Tutela Bedside Technologies, Autonomy Engine, PathoS, and many more

 


 

The Carnegie Mellon Venture Challenge

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/24/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The Carnegie Mellon Venture Challenge is an annual undergraduate only business plan competition. This year’s competition will feature $12,000 in prizes and is sponsored by Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, The Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association, and CMU’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: Submissions should be submitted by an individual or a team of up to five members. All participants MUST be undergraduate students. Teams with graduate students or students not enrolled in a university are not eligible to participate. Teams with member(s) taking a leave of absence are still eligible to participate. Participants are NOT required to be Carnegie Mellon students. The CMUVC is open to any and all undergraduate students. Submissions should be the individual or teams original work.

Awards & Prizes: $12,000 worth of cash prizes and legal services

Sponsors: Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Meyer, Unkovic, & Scott, Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association, and many more

Year Started: N/A

Previous Winners: Chesscademy, ARCH Accessory, Million Dollar Scholar, and many more

 


 

Rice Business Plan Competition 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/27/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The competition is designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience to fine tune their business plans and elevator pitches to generate funding to successfully commercialize their product. Judges will evaluate the teams as real-world entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early stage investors and venture capital firms.

JUDGING CRITERIA: The judges are asked to rank the presentations based on which company they would most likely invest. 76% of judges surveyed considered investing in a team that presented at the 2013 RBPC or referred a team to a third-party investor.

Eligibility: http://alliance.rice.edu/Eligibility/

Awards & Prizes: Chance to receive mentoring from investors and experienced entrepreneurs, Scheduled opportunities to network with potential venture capitalists and other investors for three days, High caliber of judges, all senior level investors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders, Opportunities to receive individual feedback during 3 separate sessions, 2014: $1.5 Million + in prize money was awarded with all teams winning at least one cash award.

Sponsors: Insperity, The Owl, Wells Fargo, NASA, and many more

Year Started: 2001

Previous Winners: EcoLight, BlackLocus, Auditude, and many more

 


 

The Startup Challenge 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3/9/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The Startup Challenge and our educational, government, business and institutional partners have put together a process that we hope serves you and your new or emerging business, and at the same time helps to showcase the vibrant start-up environment of the Monterey Bay Crescent and its tri-county region.

JUDGING CRITERIA: Judges will be a panel of experienced investors.

Eligibility: Anyone is aEligible but if they are under 21, their legal guardians must sign the entry form.

Awards & Prizes: Unknown

Sponsors: Driscoll’s, City of Monterey, Sand City, and many more

Year Started: 2009

Previous Winners: ShowerPonic Produce, Open Ground Studios, Tablet Command, and many more

 


 

MIT 100k Entrepreneurship Competition 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3/10/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: Launch is where it all comes together in preparation for funding and business creation. All entries into the Business Plan Contest will be eligible for more than $350,000 in cash and prizes to put toward their new venture. In addition, semi-finalist teams receive formal mentoring, and an expense account to refine your idea, and prepare to pitch to a group of judges in a simulated funding meeting. Of course, the winner of the competition gets a check for $100,000.

JUDGING CRITERIA: No info

Eligibility: http://www.mit100k.org/team-info/rules/

Awards & Prizes: 100000

Sponsors: Segal Family Foundation, Qatar Science & Technology Park, WilmerHale, and many more

Year Started: 1989

Previous Winners: Disease Diagnostic Group, 3DIM, Ink, Sanergy, and many more

 


 

Rhode Island Business Plan Competition 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3/30/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The Rhode Island Business Plan Competition has been organized to promote entrepreneurship and the development of start-up and early stage companies in Rhode Island by encouraging submission of plans of original business concepts that will lead to the development of new growth businesses in Rhode Island.

JUDGING CRITERIA: The judges will rely on the following criteria in judging the Competition:1) The commercial potential of the business, with high-potential, growth oriented businesses likely to be viewed more favorably. 2) The innovative nature and technical feasibility of the idea. 3) The likelihood that the business described in the plan can achieve a sustainable, competitive advantage. 4) The credibility of the individuals behind the proposal.

Eligibility: Entrepreneur track — Open to any entrepreneur or would-be entrepreneur, 18 years of age or older.Student track — Open to any student, 18 years of age or older, enrolled in and attending an accredited college or university at the undergraduate or graduate level. All key members of the team must be students. Technology award — Open to anyone, 18 years of age or older, who is developing a technology related business

Awards & Prizes: $200,000 worth of prizes

Sponsors: Providence Journal Charitable Fund, Cumulus Media-Providence, Edwards Wildman, and many more

Year Started: 2001

Previous Winners: Nordic Technology Group, Haverhill Incorporated, JumpOffCampus, and many more

 


 

Shopify Build a Business

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3/31/2015

ENTRY FEE: Shopify store fees

DESCRIPTION: Shopify hosts a competition for online entrepreneurs to think up a product idea, create an online shop and then successfully market and sell the product. Entrants receive mentorship from four well-known, successful entrepreneurs as well as guidance and advice from the Shopify community.

JUDGING CRITERIA: The four Shopify stores that sell the most over a two-month period, through a certain date.

Eligibility: Shopify stores opened during a certain time period.

Awards & Prizes: Trip to Entrepreneur Island and mentorship opportunity with one of four industry leaders

Sponsors: Google, Virgin Unite, PayPal, and many more

Year Started: 2010

Previous Winners: Coffee Joulies, DODOcase, GameKlip, GoldieBlox, and many more

 


 

2015 Elevator Pitch Competition 

ENTRY DEADLINE: 4/17/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: Is your business pitch on point? Need capital infusion? Enter the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition now! You’ve got nothing to lose–just record and upload your best business pitch (under two minutes, please) and send it to us. The top 10 finalists will be invited to the 2015 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit where they will pitch their idea to judges and a live audience for a chance to win $10,000

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: N/A

Awards & Prizes: Up to $10,000 in cash

Sponsors: Black Enterprise, Nationwide

Year Started: N/A

Previous Winners: Naturalicious and many more

 


 

The Big Sell

ENTRY DEADLINE: 4/18/2015

ENTRY FEE: N/A

DESCRIPTION: The top 50 applicants will be selected to pitch their idea. Every applicant who is selected will have two minutes to sell their idea to a large audience that electronically votes for the best ideas and a panel of judges. Those that make it to the final round will have another two minutes to pitch their idea and the judges will have two minutes to ask the team questions. There will be two winners from each of the three categories that will share the prizes.

JUDGING CRITERIA: Innovative nature of the idea (why will your idea work?)Economic impact of the idea Likelihood that this idea will make it to market and what it will take (money, etc.). Credibility (knowledge and experience) of the presenters and their ability to bring the idea to market. All completed applications will be reviewed by a committee which will then select the top 50 ideas to compete on March 23, 2013

Eligibility: Ideas submitted to this competition may come from an individual or a team from anywhere in the United States. •There is no limit to the number of members on a team, but team entrants must select one team member (a spokesperson) to present the idea. Any area of business is valid. Must select under which category the team will compete. All ideas must be original work or an improvement upon an existing idea without infringements. •If the applicants are involved in an existing venture or company, the existing venture must have only been established for a year or less at the time of the competition

Awards & Prizes: More than $120,000 in cash and prizes

Sponsors: City of Hammond, NIPSCO, The Idea Factory, and many more

Year Started: 2011

Previous Winners: John Wangercyn, Keith Schroeder, Paul Foese, and many more

 


 

New York StartUP! 2015 Business Plan Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 6/9/2015

ENTRY FEE: N/A

DESCRIPTION: The New York Public Library in conjunction with its sponsor, Citi Foundation, is proud to announce the 5th Annual New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition for New York-based startup entrepreneurs with cash prizes totaling over $30,000. Entrants gain practical insights about starting and growing a business, while using the comprehensive small business resources at NYPL’s Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL).

JUDGING CRITERIA: The judges will evaluate each Business Plan based on the following: 1) Content of the plan, including the thoroughness and quality of the analysis 2) Effective use of business information and research 3) Clear communication. 4) Effective use and impact of the prize money 5) Probability of successful launch 6) Community Impact and job creation potential 7) Quality and effectiveness of final presentation (in the event the applicant becomes a finalist and is invited to present)

Eligibility: You must be 18 years of age or older, live in Manhattan, The Bronx, or Staten Island as a legal resident or US citizen, and wish to start a business in Manhattan, The Bronx, or Staten Island. Start Ups Only. All businesses must have ideas or business models in the start-up phase. Operating businesses that have earned more than $10,000 in revenue are not eligible to enter the competition. This competition is for For–Profit Businesses ONLY. Non-profits are NOT eligible.

Awards & Prizes: 1st Place Award: $15,000 2nd Place Award: $7,500 3rd Place Award: $5,000  4th Place Award: $1,500  5th Place Award: $1,500

Sponsors: Citi Foundation

Year Started: 2010

Previous Winners: Curatio HCS, Wheatless and Meatless, iEvoke and others

 


 

TechCrunch Disrupt (Startup Battlefield) NY 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: Rolling

ENTRY FEE: N/A

DESCRIPTION: Welcome to the Startup Battlefield, the premiere startup competition presented by TechCrunch. Over the next month, hopeful founders and entrepreneurs can apply to have their young, unseen startup  launch on technology’s biggest stage. Up for grabs is the $50,000 prize, the coveted “Disrupt Cup,” feedback from an all-star panel of judges, and a wealth of press exposure. For a quick overview, check out the video below.

JUDGING CRITERIA: Startups judged on their “wow” factor, innovation, and potential change for and growth in sector.

Eligibility: At time of application submission startups must be live for less than three months. Companies that have presented at other public launch events are not eligible.

Awards & Prizes: $50,000 prize and the “Disrupt Cup”

Sponsors: Younoodle, Sequoia Capitalm, Eventbrite, ChallengePost and many more

Year Started: 2011

Previous Winners: Mint.com, Dropbox, Yammer and many more

 


 

The Pitch 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: TBD

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: Founded in 2008, The Pitch is Britain’s biggest small business competition which offers an amazing business support prize package to the winner.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: N/A

Awards & Prizes: http://www.thepitchuk.com/pitch-prize-package

Sponsors: AVG, Constant Contact, Microsoft, and many more

Year Started: 2008

Previous Winners: propertECO, BioBean, AdvancetoGo, and many more


 

Startup Jackpot

ENTRY DEADLINE: Varies

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: Startup Jackpot is a grassroots startup competition, organized by, run by and funded by startup entrepreneurs and startup loving companies. We give away tens of thousands of dollars in no-strings-attached cash and over a hundred thousand dollars in prizes to startups around the globe. We also bring out incredible speakers to offer startup stories that offer practical, actionable advice and mentorship to entrepreneurs.

JUDGING CRITERIA: The Idea (33%): Make us believe. What are you solving? Is it an actual problem? What’s the size of the problem? Who is the customer? Why you? The Roadmap (33%): Make us see. Can you actually do it? How will you get there? What are the unsolved risks you need to answer? Which risk will you test and attempt to answer first? How will you test and (hopefully) mitigate these risks? The Money (33%): Make us vote. If you win, how will you use the jackpot money? Will the money make a meaningful impact to your business? More importantly, how will the jackpot money help you reach that next milestone? How does it close your gap to profitability or seed investment? This is what it’s all about, so take it seriously.

Eligibility: The Jackpot is open to any early-stage startup between idea stage and having serious traction. Funded startups are allowed to compete AS LONG as they have raised less than $250,000 in funding. If you’re beyond that, you’re already on your way and we don’t think the Jackpot can make a meaningful impact to your business.

Awards & Prizes: Over $200,000 in cash and prizes

Sponsors: Google, Goodwin Proctor, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and many more

Year Started: 2013

Previous Winners: N/A

 


 

eMerge Americas 2015 Startup Showcase

ENTRY DEADLINE: N/A

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: eMerge America’s Startup Showcase brings together a world-class array of early and later stage companies to highlight innovation and disruptive technology.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: Companies which provide products and/or services that are: Innovative, Software, Hardware, Mobile, Web-Based In the following sectors: Health, Media & Entertainment, Finance, Education, Government/Smart Cities, Logistics, Hospitality

Awards & Prizes: Up to $150,000 in cash and prizes

Sponsors: American Airlines, HP, Monster Media, and many more

Year Started: 2014

Previous Winners: Hair Construction, Modernizing Medicine

 


 

N100 Startup Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3/8/15

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The N100 Startup Competition is an annual opportunity for startups to compete for a $100,000 investment that will support key milestones in their development. N100 is designed to accelerate high growth potential startups and to position them for follow-on investment. While startups currently located anywhere are eligible to compete, ultimately they must establish operations in Northumberland, Ontario in order to receive the $100,000 investment.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: Operations must be established in Northumberland, ON

Awards & Prizes: $100,000 and entrepreneurial support

Sponsors: MathWorks and many more

Year Started: 2012

Previous Winners: Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation & Linkitz

 


 

International Startup Competitions

 

Axel Spring Plug & Play Accelerator

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/11/2015

ENTRY FEE: N/A

DESCRIPTION: Launched in 2013, the Axel Springer Plug & Play Accelerator is a Berlin-based accelerator looking for digital entrepreneurs. They provide global opportunities from day one, through their international network in Europe and Silicon Valley.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: N/A

Awards & Prizes: http://www.axelspringerplugandplay.com/program/

Sponsors: N/A

Year Started: 2013

Previous Winners: Attensee, Carbeat, Coyno, and many more

 


 

Hello Tomorrow Challenge

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/15/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: A global start-up competition covering all major fields of technology.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: The challenge is open to start-ups and innovative projects which… Are based on an innovative technology, Are under 2 years old, Have raised under €250.000

Awards & Prizes: Up to €100,000 in funding

Sponsors: N/A

Year Started: N/A

Previous Winners: N/A

 


 

CIMA Global Business Challenge 2015

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3/23/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The CIMA global business challenge (GBC) is an international business competition designed to bring out the best in the young business leaders of tomorrow. This is a great opportunity for students around the world to showcase their talent in business management. The competition is organised in partnership with Barclays, who share CIMA’s vision in developing and nurturing young talent around the world.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: The competition is open to full time and part time students who are undergraduates or equivalent, studying in universities, colleges or education institutions, doing their first degree, at the point of registration. Each team must have four members, a team leader and a team name for reference purposes. All members of a team must belong to the same university/ institution. There can be up to two members per team who are currently also studying or holding a professional qualification, and/or up to four members who are studying CIMA full time or part time, at Certificate or Operations level. Each student may join only one team. Postgraduates and MBA students and holders are NOT eligible to participate in this competition. Mentors or supervisors are not mandatory to form a team. For teams that make it through to regional, national and/or the global final all members of the team must contribute verbally during the presentation. CIMA’s decision is final should there be any discrepancy.

Awards & Prizes: Cash and in-kind prizes

Sponsors: Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Barclays

Year Started: N/A

Previous Winners: Corporate Consultants, M2M, University Consulting Group, and many more

 


 

International Business Model Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3/31/2015

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The International Business Model Competition represents a radical departure from the past and the crest of a new paradigm in entrepreneurship. The IBMC is not a business plan competition. Participants won’t be rewarded for doing research, creating fancy graphs, writing an archaic business plan, or crafting the perfect VC investor pitch. Instead the IBMC rewards students for: 1. breaking down their idea into the key business model assumptions, 2. getting outside the building and testing their assumptions with customers, 3. applying Customer Development / Lean Startup principles to make sure they nail the pain and solution, and, 4. learning to pivot (change) until they have arrived at a customer-validated business model.

JUDGING CRITERIA: http://www.businessmodelcompetition.com/judging-criteria.html

Eligibility: STUDENT TEAM: Competing teams should consist of at least 2 and no more than 5 degree-seeking students who are enrolled part-time (minimum of 6 credit hours) or full-time in a semester during the competition year. In general, a member of the student team should be CEO, COO, or President of the venture, or members of the student team should occupy 50% or more of the functional area management positions that report directly to the CEO, COO, or President. OWNERSHIP: The student team must have a minimum of 20% ownership in the venture. CONTROL: The student team must control a minimum of 51% of the venture’s voting rights. The IBMC organizers recommend maintaining this control for at least 2 years beyond the date of the competition. REVENUE: Because revenue is often the best form of validation, minimal revenues gained in the process of validation are allowable for the competition. Excessive revenues will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the IBMC organizers. INVESTMENT: No more than $100,000 will be allowed from friends and family, debt (any source — convertible, venture, traditional), and accelerators. Any convertible debt must be in the form of a standard debt note with a separate agreement specifying the rules for conversion. Conversion cannot occur for at least 2 years from the date of the competition.  NATURE OF VENTURE: Ventures cannot be a buyout, an expansion of an existing company, a real estate syndication, a tax shelter, a franchise, a licensing agreement for distribution in a different geographical area, or a spin-out from an existing corporation. Licensing technologies from universities or research labs is encouraged, assuming they have not been commercialized previously. PRIOR ACTIVITY: Ventures may compete in the IBMC only once.

Awards & Prizes: Up to $25,000 cash prize

Sponsors: Brigham Young University, US Department of Energy, Lockheed Martin, and many more

Year Started: 2011

Previous Winners: Veritas Medical, XoomPark, Excelegrade, and many more


 

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