If you are the owner of a startup who’s cash flow isn’t yet in the positive, you have likely turned to bootstrapping to keep your company afloat. We know it is tough, we’ve been there too. That’s why we have put together this list of startup contests.
Put your idea to the test with these low risk, high reward opportunities and take a crack at some really great prizes. Here are just a few Canadian and American competitions to get you started. Get pitching experience, test out your business model, and gain valuable feedback from some top notch mentors.
1. Mastercard Women In Entrepreneurship (Runs March to April)
- Open to female entrepreneurs who are the current founder, co-founder or CEO of a startup.
- Six winners awarded $10,000 worth of prizes. A $5,000 pre-paid MasterCard and admission to the DMZ.
The $60,000 program will fuel the success of six women-led startups through cash prizes and placement at the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University (DMZ), the top-ranked university-based incubator in Canada and one of the largest co-working spaces for entrepreneurs.
2. USASBE Launch! (Runs November to March)
- This is a FOUR STAGE competition, drop-in to any stage before its deadline.
- 1. Launch’s Top Idea Ninja
- 2. Launch’s Best Business Model
- 3. Launch’s Best Crowdfunding Campaign
- 4. Launch’s Big Traction Challenge
- Presented by the United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, but open to students from any school, discipline, and country.
- Students can win coaching from some of the world’s best entrepreneurship mentors and coaches, valuable prize packages, and considerable bragging rights!
The goal is to provoke and reward students from any discipline for great ideas, beautiful business models, and evidence of traction. Oh ya, and it’s FREE!
3. The Next Big Idea in Sport Competition (Runs February to May)
- Open to Canadian Startups solving sport and sport industry problems through innovative applications of technology.
- Up to 10 companies will receive four months of incubation at the DMZ.
- At the end of the incubation period, the top three startups — as selected by a panel of judges — will receive cash prizes of $50,000, $30,000 and $20,000.
The Next Big Idea in Sport competition will encourage and support startup companies to explore innovation opportunities within the sports industry, ranging from the use of biometric wearable sensors for the collection and analysis of in-game data, to delivering unprecedented fan experiences, to advancing the business of sport management, to driving social innovation — and more.
4. The Hult Prize (Runs March to May)
- Open to MBA candidates and college students looking to pursue startups with a focus on social good.
- Competition involves four stages, including the “Hult Accelerator,” a six-week program during which finalists attend intensive entrepreneurial seminars.
- A chance to win the top prize of $1,000,000.
The online edition of the Hult Prize serves as a wildcard round, granting the winning team a coveted spot in the Hult Prize Accelerator and Global Finals – joining the regional champions from Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai.
Finding startup capital is one of the most common roadblocks to getting your project up and running. Competitions are one of the quickest ways to get that small chunk of change you need to help you take the first big step in launching your project. Best of all- they happen all the time.
Allison Rhodes | Director of Creative Innovation at KahootsHQ
Allison is a graduate of the Entrepreneurship program at Ryerson University, is a Masters of Digital Media candidate and one of the co-founders of KahootsHQ.com.