Startups are known for three things – hustle, grit and an uncanny ability to keep going despite how hard things get.
The Annual Startup of the Year program, created by TechCo, is looking for DFW’s biggest hustlers, startup hustlers that is, for the ultimate tech competition going down October 15-17 in Boston this year at Innovate Celebrate 2018.
Over the past decade, Startup of the Year has built a solid reputation as more than just your average pitch competition. The 100 semifinalists selected have an incredible opportunity to not only showcase their startup, but also meet with investors (Google Ventures, Intel Capital, Revolution Ventures to name a few), advisors, and network with some of the industry’s top leaders. GrubHub, Groupon, Maxwell Health and thousands more have participated over the years.
“When we first started our program, our startups pitched locally at live events we hosted, but typically there wasn’t an actual competition,” said Frank Gruber, co-founder TechCo. “Over the years we began to introduce the competition aspect across the country and nationally at our SXSW events, then eventually decided that one of the biggest benefits was when we gathered them all together. So in 2012 we invited 50 companies to Downtown Las Vegas to compete for the title. It’s been amazing to think back to those early events and all the stellar entrepreneurs who demo’d throughout the years.”
In 2017, Startup of the Year searched the globe for the hottest, emerging startups and what resulted was one of competition’s most diverse applicant pool ever – 43% female founders, 47% minority; 43 states and 46 countries were represented. “Diversity takes work – it doesn’t just happen by accident,” states Gruber. Through the years we’ve worked with individuals and organizations across the world to connect with entrepreneurs anywhere they might exist and to let them know they are welcome here. But it doesn’t stop there. We do multiple rounds of judging, and have found it’s imperative to have a diverse group of judges at each stage – and diverse in many ways.
Having judges come from wildly different backgrounds often leads to very different feedback about the companies, which is the best thing we can do for ourselves. We all have our own lenses and blinders, which can often cause us to completely miss or dismiss something that has incredible potential. Our job is to create a process and environment that helps us see through all that, to really find the best companies and entrepreneurs out there.”
What’s Next? Innovate Celebrate
The Launch DFW team is already counting down to making our way to Beantown this fall to take part in one of the coolest tech events of the year. Innovate Celebrate, co-hosted by Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ is the premiere global conference celebrating corporate innovation and entrepreneurship, where the biggest names in tech intersect with the world’s most cutting-edge startups.
For event newbies, expect to check out keynotes, fireside chats and industry panels guaranteed to inspire, 1-on-1 meetings with high-profile investors, entrepreneurs, mentors, and startup experts, cool excursions, and of course the 6th Annual Startup of the Year Competition & Party. The event continues to evolve as its popularity grows as well. “We moved the event from the California Bay Area to Boston, so that’s a huge change for us,” Gruber shares. “We’re focusing on facilitating more connections between the startups, investors, and the corporations who attend as part of the CTA meetings. Mentor sessions and networking time has always been a key part of what we do but expect to see some cool new opportunities at the event that are aimed at really creating valuable relationships for all involved. We hope to see you there.”
Avoid Total FOMO. Apply Now
Are you an early-stage founder here in the Metroplex ready to take your innovative startup to the next level? You’ve got until May 31st to apply to the 6th Annual Startup of the Year competition. Don’t miss out on your chance to compete at the Innovate Celebrate conference in Boston this fall. Learn more, and apply today.