Startup Competitions Calendar: Plan Your Pitch Path

Startup Competitions and Accelerators

We think all entrepreneurs should consider startup competitions, including accelerators. They provide helpful feedback, networking, mentorship, visibility, validation and sometimes cash!

We list “Grants and Prizes” as the second Color of Money, after Bootstrapping, because participating in startup competitions is usually a low cost form of capital if you win, except in terms of your time. But we’re including seed equity accelerators here too, which provide expensive capital in return for extensive mentorship, networking and visibility along with their cash.

There are a lot of different entrepreneurship competitions to consider. Startup competitions vary by reason (why they exist), stage of company development, work required, and timing.

We’re going to help you sort through the top startup competition options quickly.

First of all, you can’t enter startup competitions that had a deadline last month. To help you sort through your options, then, we’ve assembled this startup competitions calendar, focused on the most prestigious events.

Elsewhere we have much longer lists sorted by geography for university students and US businesses.

RELATED: Business Plan Competitions for College Students [List]

RELATED: Business Plan Competitions for US Businesses

Types of Startup Competitions

Before we share the pitching competition list, here’s a quick review of the different types of startup competitions to consider.

  • Accelerators are programs that help startups through mentorship, training, connections and usually funding – mostly equity but sometimes grants. Here we just include deadlines for the Top 10 accelerator programs, according to several different sources. Equity funding accelerators ultimately make money as investors, so they are looking for high potential investments.
  • University startup competitions help students become successful, but also build prestige for the university, connections to successful alumni, and hopefully help jump start future successful alumni who will show their love with big endowment checks.
  • Conferences organize startup competitions to attract (entertain?) and inform conference attendees. You get visibility, networking, and often funding, usually grants but sometimes equity.
  • Impact startup competitions try to change the world for the better in a specific way. You’ll get visibility, networking, sometimes training, funding, and possibly partners. Funding is usually grants.
  • Deal Flow startup competitions are designed to help investors or others discover and evaluate new opportunities. The “others” can include accelerators or other program providers.
  • Corporate startup competitions are designed to support and enhance a large company’s brand image.
  • Membership startup competitions are a vehicle to help membership organizations recruit new members.
  • Economic Development startup competitions try to spur job creation and tax growth in a particular geographic area. You get visibility, networking, sometimes training, and funding that ranges from grants to debt to equity.

Which types of startup competitions are best suited for your company?

As with all things entrepreneurial it’s not all about you! Startup competition organizers have their own WIIFM – What’s In It For Me – that will have a huge impact on whether or not you have a chance of winning.

Can your startup help the competition organizers achieve their goals?

Startup Competitions Calendar

The following quick summary is designed to help you see what deadlines are looming.

In some cases the exact deadlines are not yet publicized. We have taken our best guess based on their 2017 or 2018 deadlines when we could find them. We’ve put a (?) next to those dates, so make sure you check!

September 2018 Deadlines Startup Competitions

September 14

Hello Tomorrow Challenge (Deal Flow)  $100,000 1st prize

October 2018 Deadlines Startup Competitions

October 1 

Baylor Business New Venture Competition (University)  $50,000 1st prize

October 1 (?)

Angelpad Spring (Accelerator) $50K + $4K per founder

October 2

Y Combinator Winter (Accelerator) $120,000 equity

Various dates Oct-Dec in 104 locations around the globe

Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (Membership)  $20,000 1st prize

October 14

Techstars (Accelerator) $120,000 equity

October 17 (?)

Techstars (Accelerator) $120,000 equity

November 2018 Deadlines Startup Competitions

November 1 (?)

StartX Spring (Accelerator) zero equity upfront, resources, Stanford seed fund

November 13 (?)

SPIE Startup Challenge (Conference) $50,000 1st prize

November 30 (?)

Hult Prize (Impact)  $1,000,000  1st prize

December 2018 Deadlines Startup Competitions

December 10 (?)

Tigerlaunch (University)  $30,000 1st prize

January 2019 Deadlines Startup Competitions

January 19 (?)

500 Startups San Francisco (Accelerator) net $112,500 equity

February 2019 Deadlines Startup Competitions

February 10 or 11 (?)

Rice University Business Plan Competition (University)  $300,000 1st prize

StartX Summer (Accelerator) zero equity upfront, resources, Stanford seed fund

February 17 (?)

MIT Clean Energy Prize (University)  $100,000 1st prize

February 20 (?)

New Venture Championship (University) $20,000 1st prize

March 2019 Deadlines Startup Competitions

March 24 (?)

Y Combinator Summer (Accelerator) $120,000 equity

April 2019 Deadlines Startup Competitions

April 1

International Business Model Competition (University) $30,000 1st prize

April 8 (?) $120,000 equity

April 15 (?)

Megawatt Ventures (University) $50,000 1st prize

April 26 (?)

Newspace Business Plan Competition (Conference) $100,000 1st prize

April 29 or 30 (?)

Gener8tor (Accelerator) up to $140K

Amplify LA (Accelerator) $150k-$300k equity

May 2019 Deadlines Startup Competitions

All of these are currently based on 2018 deadlines.

May 5

Alchemist (Accelerator) $36,000 equity

May 13

Techstars (Accelerator) $120,000 equity

June 2019 Deadlines Startup Competitions

All of these are currently based on 2018 deadlines.

June 1

Postcard Lottery Green Challenge (Impact) € 500,000 1st prize

Mucker Lab (Accelerator) $21,000 to $150,000 equity

June 15

Techstars (Accelerator) $120,000 equity

June 16

Angelpad (Accelerator) $50K + $4K per founder

June 24

StartX Fall (Accelerator) zero equity upfront, resources, Stanford seed fund

June 28

University Startup World Cup (University)  $20,000  1st prize

July 2019 Deadlines Startup Competitions

July 1

Angelpad (Accelerator) $50K + $4K per founder

July 31

Orcelle® and Neptune Awards (Conference)  $100,000 1st prize

August 2019 Deadlines Startup Competitions

August 10 (? rolling applications up to 25 teams)

Alchemist Enterprise Accelerator $36,000 equity

August 31

Extreme Tech Challenge (Conference) Priceless finals on Richard Branson’s island!

August 31

Cartier Women’s Initiative (Corporate)  $100,000  1st prize

Don Gooding

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