Neil Patel

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want help with your fundraising or acquisition, just book a call click here.

Tech competitions for early-stage funding could be the best strategy to launch your business and get maximum visibility for it. Entering competitions is a great way to test your business concepts and IP in the market to gauge their viability.

Pitching your wits against other founders is also a great way to get valuable feedback. You’ll improve on the product designs and seek out potential partners to build strategic alliances. Creating robust networking opportunities for investors sets the stage for future fundraising and mentoring.

You’ll get the invaluable opportunity to present the business idea to a panel of venture capitalists and industry experts. Although winning the cash prize is the best incentive, getting selected to compete validates your ideas and gets market recognition.

The most attractive incentive for entering into these tech competitions for early-stage funding is that founders can get funding. Usually without ceding equity or decision-making powers, though this condition depends on individual organizers.

Underrepresented demographics like, for instance, women, colored, and disabled founders can also enter these meets.

As for the prizes, founders can expect cash ranging from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. Grants and mentoring are also made available to deserving candidates, depending on the particular program and its rules. Below is a list of the top competitions organized in the US and some details.

Detail page image


The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

Startup World Cup

The venture capital firm Pegasus Tech Ventures, based in Silicon Valley, organizes the Startup World Cup each year. The competition starts out with 60 regional events, ending in the Grand Finale, which is held in Silicon Valley. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Contestants from worldwide locations are welcome to participate
  • The prize is investment money worth $1M. This prize is given in exchange for equity in the fledgling company or a convertible note.
  • More than 50,000 people attend the competition each year, including 2,500 investors.
  • Participants get the opportunity to network with the top players in the industry and attend workshops. Industry professionals and top experts lead the workshops and offer valuable training and mentoring.
  • The only criterion for participation is that the applicant should be a legal entity.
  • This event targets entrepreneurs in segments like financial technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), IoT, healthcare, and robotics. Other focus industries include augmented reality, agriculture, and logistics.
  • Judges and speakers from previous years are Netflix’s Marc Randolph, Apple’s Steve Wozniak, and LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman.
  • Past years’ winners are UniFa, Leuko, and Abivin.
  • The Grand Finale for 2024 is on October 4th, 2024, in San Francisco.

Slush Pitching Competition

More than winning funding, the Slush pitching competition is about integrating into the community and networking with investors and founders. This event originated in Helsinki, and since then, meets take place every year in Singapore, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Helsinki. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Entry into the competition is free of cost
  • The focus industry is tech
  • Contestants can hope to win a €1M or $1,077,235 investment from 5 top tier VCs.
  • Slush claims to be the largest conference of venture capital investors globally and is the most popular pitching competition in Europe.
  • The next competition is scheduled for November 20-21, 2024.
  • In 2023, Slush had 5,000 startup entrepreneurs and operators and 3,000 investors, representing $3T in assets under management.
  • Any startup founded a maximum of three years ago with equity of less than €500,000 or $538,000 can apply.
  • Accel, General Catalyst, Lightspeed Venture Partners, NEA, and Northzone are some of the early-stage funds in Europe supporting Slush.
  • Past year participants include Viewalk, Fungies, NiftPad, and Zeely.
  • Contestants selected as the top 20 can access hands-on mentoring and guidance that experts from the startup ecosystem provide.
  • To apply to enter these 2024 tech competitions for early-stage funding, you’ll note that the deadline is September 8th.


See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Or Acquisition Efforts

  • Fundraising or Acquisition Process: get guidance from A to Z.
  • Materials: our team creates epic pitch decks and financial models.
  • Investor and Buyer Access: connect with the right investors or buyers for your business and close them.

Book a Call

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024

The Startup Battlefield at the Disrupt SF is ideal for early-stage founders looking to showcase their companies and concepts. The competition is held in San Francisco and is open to multiple industries. This event is one of the most prestigious worldwide. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Past year winners include companies like Trello, Vurb, Yammer, Readbeacon, Soluto, and Dropbox.
  • The event accepts up to 200 contestants who get access to investor networking meetings, training sessions, and workshops.
  • 20 finalists receive invitations to pitch in the final round.
  • The prize is a $100k equity-free investment.
  • Registering early gets you a discount of $500.
  • Focus industries include fintech, health tech, robotics, virtual reality, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • Participants get opportunities to attend networking events like roundtables and parties.
  • More than 1100 entrepreneurs have successfully competed in this competition to raise $29B.
  • Application and competition dates are to be decided at the time of writing this post.

South Summit Startup Competition

The South Summit Startup Competition is the primary technology event in Southern Europe. Entering it assures founders of getting recognition for their brands since getting selected as a finalist adds credibility. Events are organized in Porto Alegre and Madrid. Close to 50% of the entrants are of Spanish origin. Here’s what you need to know.

  • The application deadline is March 31, and contestants operating in all business verticals are welcome to apply.
  • Ticket prices range from €153 or $164 to €1,364 or $1469. These charges depend on the type of ticket and the areas you wish to access.
  • Startup owners can enter free of cost.
  • The final 100 selected participants get access to mentoring from renowned industry experts and networking opportunities with top investors.
  • The judges select 50 finalists to enter the competition.
  • In 2024, the competition will be held in two locations, Porto Alegre in Brazil, on March 20-22, 2024. And, Madrid, Spain on June 5-7, 2024.
  • More than 32,000 founders have entered this competition to date, building 7 unicorns.
  • The finalists have successfully raised a total of $14B so far.
  • Entrepreneurs pitch their ideas on an open stage.
  • Past year winners include Glovo, Cabify, Wallbox, Jobandtalent, PlayGiga, and GIVO.
  • The attending funds are offering a total fund management of US$123B.
  • US$19B is allocated to founders specifically from Latin America.
  • Entering these tech competitions for early-stage funding can open opportunities to earn you prizes worth $100K.

PITCH by Web Summit

The PITCH by Web Summit is particularly designed for early-stage startups looking to boost their exposure. An independent panel of renowned judges assesses the top 105 finalists in the ultimate battle that is conducted live. This competition is held in Lisbon, Portugal. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Startups around three years old and have accessed less than €5M in funding can apply. If founders haven’t experienced any significant changes in the business can enter for the visibility that can get them a leg up.
  • The registration cost is €950, but if you apply ahead of time, you can get an extra ticket free.
  • The competition will be organized on November 11-14, 2024.
  • This event is specifically geared toward tech companies.
  • This competition is not about prize money; the opportunity to stand in the spotlight is valuable.
  • Founders who display potential get the chance to connect with the most influential investors and companies worldwide.
  • More than 2.500 journalists will be attending the event, guaranteeing visibility in the media.
  • Past year winners include Torch, Nutrix, AirHelp, Lifeina,, and Zapzap Math.


Keep in mind that in fundraising, storytelling is everything. In this regard, for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge

Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge is geared toward deep-tech startups developing radical solutions to critical problems with the environment and humans. Startups in their early stages up to Series A can enter this competition. Here’s what you need to know.

  • This event is for founders to come up with solutions that can bring about a positive impact on the world. It is open to companies from all industries.
  • Applicants must demonstrate ideas that integrate new innovations and technology, develop scientific discoveries, or deploy complex engineering protocols.
  • Since the program’s inception in 2014, winners and finalists have raised more than $3B.
  • The first place prize is €100,000 or $107723, while the second prize is €30,000 or $32317. A third prize is also given out for €20,000 or $21544. No conditions apply.
  • Startups must have a team of at least two people.
  • Past year winners include Agora Energy Technologies, Sweetch Energy, RxAll, and Nanosystems
  • The final competition will be held in Paris on March 21-22, 2024.
  • Participants can leverage the opportunity to connect with industry-specific experts to give demos of their ideas. They can also interview with potential venture capitalists.
  • The ticket cost ranges from €370 or $398 to €1,290 or $1389.
  • More than 3000 people attend the event.
  • The final contestants pitch to a 400-strong audience and a panel of deep tech expert judges.

Startup.Network Unicorn Cup

The Startup.Network Unicorn Cup is one of the largest tech competitions for early-stage funding. It is designed specifically for fast-growing startups that have the potential to become unicorns. This contest is a highly prestigious event where founders get exposure to angel investors, corporations, and venture capitalists. Here’s what you need to know.

  • The competition kicks off with preliminary events like the GSD Demo Day on February 28th. And The Future of Tech: AI, Blockchain Startup Pitch Competition on February 29th. The Unicorn Pitches: SaaS, AI, Fintech, Cybersecurity, and MilitaryTech is on March 13th. Finally, the Unicorn Pitches in Lisbon. Cutting-edge Creators: Next-Generation AI and Fintech Startup Competition is on March 28th, 2024.
  • The Unicorn Battles are the semi-finals organized on March 8, 2024 in Palo Alto. This event is the Unicorn Startup Battle & Top VC Funds.
  • The Unicorn Cup is the World Finals event and is open to the winners of the semi-finals. Famous investors and top venture capitalists judge the contest.
  • Startups have successfully raised a total of $962,6M in these competitions.
  • Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to interact directly with investors and build long-term connections.
  • Participation is free of cost, and founders can sign up for events according to the solutions they’ll present and their geographical location.
  • Startups from 125 countries worldwide enter this competition every year, pitching ideas to investors online and onsite.


Entering competitions is only one of the different fundraising strategies. Need more information on how to raise startup capital for your business? Check out this video I have made to help you with some great tips.

WMF Startup Competition 2024

The WMF Startup Competition is one of the largest competitions worldwide and is geared toward innovative projects in Southern Europe. Participants and contestants from 89 countries attend this event. WMF is the acronym for We Make Future. Here’s what you need to know.

  • The Jury Award has a potential prize of €1M or $1.08M. It grants winners access to the Startup World Cup Final, which is organized in San Francisco.
  • Next is the Audience Award for €160,000 or $172,529, and the Special Mention Award wins €15,000 or $ 16,174. However, this prize is in the form of services the Search On Media Group offers.
  • This competition is dedicated to showcasing projects and solutions that can have a valuable impact on communities, the planet, and the environment.
  • Applications must outline the specific challenges of the future they hope to address. For instance, in areas like finance, education, insurance, food and agriculture, and employment.
  • This program has been organized each year for the last 10 years. It is a congregation of the most influential entities in the world of innovation from all over the world.
  • Past year entries include Cyrkl, Wallife, and Yalla.
  • The final event will be held on Jane 13-15, 2024, at the Rimini EXPO Centre in Italy.
  • Entry cost is €549 or $592 exclusive of VAT.
  • The final event has 6 finalists, each of which must present a 3-minute pitch. Winners are decided by vote.

Tech Competitions for Early-Stage Funding – Grab the Opportunity

The list above is only a few selected tech competitions for early-stage funding. As a founder, do the research to look for similar tech-driven programs worldwide. You’ll apply to the ones that align with your vision and mission for the startup you’re building.

Put together a pitch deck and use the opportunities these contests offer to launch your business. You can also get funding and use the mentoring and training to ensure success for the startup.

You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There, you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.

Facebook Comments

Neil Patel

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want help with your fundraising or acquisition, just book a call

Book a Call

Swipe Up To Get More Funding!


Want To Raise Millions?

Get the FREE bundle used by over 160,000 entrepreneurs showing you exactly what you need to do to get more funding.

We will address your fundraising challenges, investor appeal, and market opportunities.