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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:

 


 

ReleaseIt at SXSW

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/16/2016

ENTRY FEE: $10

DESCRIPTION: ReleaseIt at SXSW is a special pitch competition in Startup Village® on the opening day of the SXSW Interactive Festival. Ten cutting-edge companies launching a new product or service during the 2016 SXSW season will present to a panel of industry experts and a winner will be chosen based on which product or service is most likely to succeed in the marketplace.

JUDGING CRITERIA: A committee of technology experts will screen each application to make sure that they meet all requirements, and review each entry to decide which products or services are the most innovative.

Eligibility: A company’s product / service must have launched no earlier than Friday, January 1, 2016. A company’s product / service must not be launched after Tuesday March 15, 2016. Companies will be allowed to submit only one product or service to ReleaseIt at SXSW.

Companies who submit more than one product or service will not be eligible to participate in ReleaseIt at SXSW. Companies can not have presented in any of the following events: SXSW Accelerator, SXSW ECO Startup Showcase, SXSW V2Venture or LAUNCHedu.

Awards & Prizes: N/A

Sponsors: AllianceTech, Umbel, Brightcove, and many more

Year Started: 2009

Previous Winners: Honest Dollar, Cord Cruncher, DRAFT, and many more

 


 

BodyHacking Con 2016 Startup Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/16/2016

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: Trammell Ventures is sponsoring an early stage startup pitch and business plan competition during BDYHAX —the $25,000 StartPrize™—  taking place on February 20, 2016 at the Austin Convention Center.

JUDGING CRITERIA: Innovativeness of idea, Scalability of business including market potential, feasibility, market competition, and business model, Team fit, Execution to date

Eligibility: A company’s product or service must have launched no earlier than October 15th, 2015. A company’s product or service must not be launched after March 16th, 2016. Only 1 StartPrize™ product or service entry per company or founder team. Founder(s) must by equity owners in the company. You must be present to pitch in person at the Austin Convention Center on Saturday, February 20th, 2016.

Awards & Prizes: Up to $25,000 cash plus mentorship and VC introductions

Sponsors: Trammell Ventures

Year Started: 2016

Previous Winners: N/A

 


 

GW New Venture Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/19/2016

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The GW New Venture Competition (formerly the GW Business Plan Competition) provides GW students, faculty, staff and alumni with a real-world educational experience in developing, testing, and launching their own startup ventures.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

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

Awards & Prizes: Over $220,000 in cash and in-kind prizes

Sponsors: Luther King Capital Management, AARP, WeWork, and many more

Year Started: 2009

Previous Winners: Means Database, Quorum, Asepsis, and many more

 


 

Taffer Virtual Teaching Entrepreneurship Contest

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/22/2016

ENTRY FEE: N/A

DESCRIPTION: The Taffer Virtual Teaching Entrepreneurship Contest aims to provide resources to ambitious individuals who need help jumpstarting their business idea. 

JUDGING CRITERIA: Applicants must submit a 60-second video sharing their business idea and why they deserve to win the contest. 

Eligibility: U.S. citizens 18 and over. Business must be in the startup stage.

Awards & Prizes: One winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize for their business, a meet-and-greet with Jon Taffer, a trip to Las Vegas with roundtrip airfare and lodging, and a subscription to Taffer Virtual Teaching.

Sponsors: Jon Taffer

Year Started: 2016

Previous Winners: N/A

 


 

2016 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest

ENTRY DEADLINE: 1/31/2016

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.

Awards & Prizes: $100,000 in cash prizes

Sponsors: SCORE, AT&T, Nordic, and many more

Year Started: 2004

Previous Winners: bluDiagnostics, Intelligent Composites, Hunt Butler, and many more

 


 

The UNM Business Plan Challenge 2016

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/2/2016

ENTRY FEE: No Fee

DESCRIPTION: The UNM Business Plan Competition offers a high-profile, real-world challenge at the University of New Mexico where student teams present business ideas to judges from the local entrepreneurial, industry and government sectors to compete for startup funding and other prizes in two competitive categories.

The Competition offers the participating teams exposure to community business leaders and to potential funding from venture capitalists for their firms. Over the past 10 years, the UNM Business Plan Competition has awarded $575,000 in prize money to 45 student companies in the past 10 years.

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, Sandia National Labs, TVC, and many more

Year Started: 2005

Previous Winners: Postgrad App, Ground State, As Girls Grow, and many more

 


 

New Venture Championship 2016

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/8/2016

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The New Venture Championship (NVC) is presented annually by the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business. It is the original six-round business competition for graduate students.

NVC has evolved into the premiere international entrepreneurial investment competition since it was founded in 1992. The 16 accepted teams have an opportunity to share their ventures and grow as both entrepreneurs and students.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: http://www.bizplancompetitions.com/browse/?c_url=http://nvc.uoregon.edu/

Awards & Prizes: $60,000 in cash prizes

Sponsors: Columbia Sportswear, Palo Alto Software, Rogue Venture Partners, and many more

Year Started: 1992

Previous Winners: Ecogent, Thammasat University, Redigen, and many more

 


 

Carnegie Mellon University Venture Challenge

ENTRY DEADLINE: 02/14/2016

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The Carnegie Mellon University Venture Challenge is a yearly business plan competition open only to undergraduate students. The CMUVC offers opportunities in which students can receive feedback from experts in the entrepreneurial community, win monetary prizes, and acquire legal services that will help advance an idea to the next stage in the entrepreneurial process.

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: Up to $12,000 in prizes

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

Year Started: 2013

Previous Winners: uDIYu, Quorum, Chesscademy, and many more

 


 

Impact Pediatric Health Pitch Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/15/2016

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: We need targeted and innovative solutions that address the unique challenges of pediatrics. If you’re tackling pediatric problems through a digital health or medtech solution, you’ll have the opportunity to pitch to leading hospitals that might be in need of your technology, investors with a unique interest in pediatrics, and healthcare stakeholders at the forefront of pediatric and health innovation.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: Startups — both digital health and medical device — focused on the pediatric market are encouraged to apply. Young medical device companies, which may not be considered “startup” are also eligible.

Awards & Prizes: $50,000

Sponsors: Boston Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Texas Children’s Hospital

Year Started: 2015

Previous Winners: CareAline, Owlet, and many more

 


 

San Diego Social Innovation Challenge

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/15/2016

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The Social Innovation Challenge (SIC) is a student social venture contest 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, economic, environmental, or justice 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.sandiego.edu/cpc/sic/project-criteria.php

Eligibility: This is a student-based, academic challenge. Any USD student, graduate or undergraduate, is eligible to compete in the “USD Track”.

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 (or quarter equivalent) as an undergraduate or 6 units per semester (or quarter equivalent) as a graduate student during at least one of the semesters or quarters of the 2015-2016 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.

Awards & Prizes: Up to $18,000 in cash and prizes

Sponsors: Moxie Foundation, Verizon, University of San Diego, and many more

Year Started: 2011

Previous Winners: CAPE, Foxbat Dynamics, Pacific Clean Tech, and many more

 


 

French American Entrepreneurship Award

ENTRY DEADLINE: 02/22/2016

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The French American Entrepreneurship Award (FAEA) is an annual startup competition. The Award was launched in 2008 as an initiative of Club600; its goal is to help young French American entrepreneurs launch their business ventures in the US and to provide guidance from experienced business leaders.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: FAEA is open to company founders who are 35 years of age or under and are fluent in both French and English. Geared to early stage projects (three years or fewer in business), eligible entries must offer a product or a service that is commercially viable with a demonstrated ability to generate revenues.

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

Sponsors: La Compagnie, French American Chamber of Commerce, Corporate Suites, and many more

Year Started: 2008

Previous Winners: Afineur, Streamroot, Jellynote, and many more

 


 

TU Incubator

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/22/2016

ENTRY FEE: N/A

DESCRIPTION: Our annual 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.

The winner receives a 90-day incubator membership valued at $5,000, including office space, and mentoring and advisory services, along with a cash prize.

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)

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

Sponsors: M&T Bank, Odd Brain Creative, 99designs, and many more

Year Started: 2010

Previous Winners: SeeFuture, ShapeU, Rehabtics, and many more

 


 

2016 North of Boston Business Plan Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/27/2016

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/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: 128 Innovation Capital Group, Amesbury Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bertolon School of Business, and many more

Year Started: N/A

Previous Winners: Far From The Tree, CrowdComfort, LearLabs, and many more

 


 

FAU Business Plan Competition 2016

ENTRY DEADLINE: 2/28/2016

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: Eligibility to participate in the FAU Business Plan Competition is initially determined by meeting the deadlines and submission requirements. FAU Student and Entrepreneur Track participants should review all eligibility criteria as detailed within the competition Office Rules.

FAU faculty and staff will select judges based on their business experience and investing expertise particularly in connection with entrepreneurship, and their interest in supporting early stage entrepreneurs. Past judges include representatives from Fortune 100 companies, prominent local law firms, finance consultants and venture capital investors. Business plan submissions are made and screened in a preliminary round by faculty & subject matter experts.

A total of 16 finalist teams (eight in each track) will advance to the final round to compete in the FAU Business Plan Competition. For more information on the judging process please download the Official Competition Rules.

Awards & Prizes: Up to $51,000 in cash plus mentoring

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

Year Started: 2009

Previous Winners: SoFla Sunwear, Rotation Manager, Let It Rot, and many more

 


 

Health Innovation@50+ LivePitch Event

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3/4/2016

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: Innovation@50+ is a one day pitch competition for emerging startups in the healthy living space with a focus on caregiving.   At the pitch competition, 10 finalist companies will present their business focus on stage in a rapid 3 minute presentation to a panel of industry expert judges, most of whom are venture capitalists and angel investors focused on the aging health tech space.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: Companies will be focused on consumer-oriented health technologies for the “50 and over” market. Companies will have launched their product/service within 24 months of the April 27th, 2016 event date. Companies will not have raised more than $7 million in funding.

Awards & Prizes: Free publicity and investment opportunity

Sponsors: Pfizer, UnitedHealthcare, Prezi, and many more

Year Started: 2012

Previous Winners: Audicus, Constant Therapy, First Derm, and many more

 


 

N100 Startup Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3/8/2016

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: Northumberland, Ontario, Canada’s annual $100,000 startup competition.

JUDGING CRITERIA: N/A

Eligibility: Teams in Northumberland with high growth potential that are tech-driven

Awards & Prizes: $100,000 and entrepreneurial support

Sponsors: Spark Centre, MathWorks, PitchBurner, and many more

Year Started: 2012

Previous Winners: Qoints, Linkitz, UCIC, and many more

 


 

The Startup Challenge 2016

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3/14/2016

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: The Startup Challenge new venture competition held in Monterey, California is an opportunity for prospective entrepreneurs, start-ups and emerging companies to showcase their ideas and business concepts.

The Challenge connects regional entrepreneurs to other entrepreneurs, funders, consultants, support programs, regional and local angels and venture capitalists. The Challenge is a tool that strengthens our regional start-ups and emerging businesses by providing entrepreneurs with the best foundation possible.

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: Up to $20,000 cash plus $10,000 in legal and other services

Sponsors: FORA, Wells Fargo, Salinas, and many more

Year Started: 2009

Previous Winners: Mooki, Eagle Eye Agricultural Technologies, Cridder Ridder, and many more

 


 

Rhode Island Business Plan Competition 2016

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3/28/2016

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: http://www.ri-bizplan.com/RulesPrizes/JudgingCriteriaJudges.aspx#49460-criteria

Eligibility:

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: 3/31/2016

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: We determine the winners based on your Highest Gross Sales for your two months with the highest revenue, whether those months are consecutive or not.

For example, if your store’s top two sales months are October and December, we would calculate your Highest Gross Sales by adding October and December’s sales. For the competition, we will use the top two calendar months between October 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016.

Eligibility: Shopify stores opened during a certain time period.

Awards & Prizes: An exclusive week of hands-on mentorship with some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs in the world, as well as exclusive access and full accommodations at the world-famous Oheka Castle — aka The Great Gatsby mansion.

Sponsors: PayPal, MailChimp, Xero, and many more

Year Started: 2010

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

 


 

eMerge Americas 2016 Startup Showcase

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3/31/2016

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: UNIVERSITY TRACK CRITERIA

EARLY STAGE TRACK CRITERIA:

LATER STAGE TRACK CRITERIA:

Awards & Prizes: Up to $100,000 in cash and prizes

Sponsors: Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade County, Medina Capital, and many more

Year Started: 2014

Previous Winners: Joox Music, Symptify LLC, VSN Mobil Inc, and many more

 


 

New York StartUP! 2016 Business Plan Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: 6/7/2016

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

Eligibility: You must live in Manhattan, The Bronx, or Staten Island. Your business must be in Manhattan, The Bronx, or Staten Island. All businesses must have ideas or business models in the start-up phase and have earned less than $10,000.

Awards & Prizes: Cash prizes of up to $15,000

Sponsors: Citi Foundation & New York Public Library

Year Started: 2010

Previous Winners: Harlem Chocolate Factory, Just Jazzy Cakes, Field & Clover, and many more

 


 

1ST50K Startup Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: Rolling

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: 1ST50K is a startup competition for startup business ideas that offers extensive support from a broad business network, pro-bono development services, and up to $50,000 in cash grants to entrepreneurs to establish or locate their businesses in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

JUDGING CRITERIA: As our judges and competition committee review applications, they will consider: the innovation of the product, technology or service; product-market fit; the scalability of the business model; the total impact (including sales, social value, impact on users, partners, etc.); and the qualities of the entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team – their level of talent, diversity, and qualities which are value additive to the company.

Eligibility: 1ST50K is looking for innovative technologies, products, or services, driven by scalable business models with regional, national or international impact. We seek to attract entrepreneurs who are already located in Cape Girardeau OR are willing to relocate here. Basing your business in Cape Girardeau is a prerequisite for receiving a grant.

Our network of entrepreneurs, partners and business leaders are investing their time and resources in making the Cape Girardeau startup scene even stronger. 1ST50K Startup Competition is an industry-agnostic competition. Our focus is on supporting businesses that are innovative and scalable, regardless of the industry.

Awards & Prizes: Up to $50,000 in cash grants plus business development services, pro bono services, and access to a broad network of successful entrepreneurs

Sponsors: Codefi, Cape Girardeau Area Magnet, The Bank of Missouri, Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce

Year Started: 2015

Previous Winners: Nutlock

 


 

Schoolpreneur.Biz Business Competition

ENTRY DEADLINE: N/A

ENTRY FEE: No fee

DESCRIPTION: Schoolpreneur.Biz is a startup platform for School children, which helps them presented their ideas and businesses to global audience. Schoolpreneur.Biz is promoted by TMA Worldwide LLC, a media & marketing organization with interests in publishing, events, advertising, pr and digital marketing. TMA Worldwide’s vision is based on social enterprise to empower individuals and communities.

JUDGING CRITERIA:

Eligibility: Students from kindergarten through high school

Awards & Prizes: Seed investment

Sponsors: TMA Worldwide

Year Started: 2015

Previous Winners: N/A

 


 

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