A hand-picked list of the 18 top startup pitch competitions of 2021


Wondering what are the best pitch contests for you to showcase your ideas in 2021? Check out our hand-picked roundup and start applying!

Pitching competitions are to startup entrepreneurs what skydiving is to most people: a bucket-list item that’s both exciting and terrifying. To take the skydiving analogy further, joining a Startup Pitch Competition may be the only way for your business to land where it’s supposed to.

During such an event you get to pitch to multiple investors, gain some valuable exposure and get some equally valuable feedback. You will network, you will potentially build partnerships but, most importantly, you will get a chance to secure funding and accelerate your business. All you need to do is jump from the airplane… but which one?

To take the guesswork out of the process, we’ve compiled below a list of the best Startup Pitch Competitions you can attend this year. Do your research to decide which one (or ones) are the best fit for you and your startup idea/business. Check the qualifications for entry and prepare your best pitch deck yet — make sure to steer clear of too much text or super busy visuals/animations.

And when it’s time to stand in front of the judges, contrary to skydiving, remember that you should open your “parachute” right away. Usually you’ll have only a few minutes to wow your audience, so don’t wait: Cut straight to the chase, using language that’s simple but captivating. Show them you are your brand’s biggest fan… and they will probably become its fans too. See you on the stage!

MIT $100K 2021

Why you should go:

If you are an MIT student, or currently working with one on the next disruptive idea, the three-fold MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition (Pitch, Accelerate and Launch) will give you a chance not just to prove yourself in front of a prestigious crowd, but also to mingle and gain access to a veritable powerhouse’s network and resources.

At the competition’s first part, MIT $100K Pitch, you can give a 90-second pitch of your startup idea in front of a panel of judges and a big, live audience.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  • Date: March 11th, 2021 from 7-9pm ET.
  • Cost: Free, but only open to currently registered MIT students (or those working with them).
  • Industry focus: Technology oriented, but the spectrum is broad.
  • Amount you can win: $5,000 at the PITCH stage, $10,000 at the Accelerate stage and $100,000 at the final Launch stage.

Official Website

Startup World Cup 2021

Why you should go:

The cream of the crop of the startup world will be there. The Startup World Cup (SWC), powered by Fenox Venture Capital, comprises 40+ regional events which culminate to the Grand Finale event in Silicon Valley.

There, the finalists can compete for one million USD in investment and attendees can network with top industry players. The all-star cast of judges has in previous years included names such as Apple’s Steve Wozniak and Netflix’s Marc Randolph.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: San Francisco, California, USA
  • Date: November 12th, 2021
  • Cost: Free to apply to one of the regional events (there are currently 18 planned for 2021), for a chance to participate in the Startup World Cup Grand Finale 2021 in November. Tickets to attend range from $80-$399.
  • Industry focus: Geared towards improving lives and transforming industries — such as with healthcare, artificial intelligence, robotics, transportation, financial technologies, IoT, augmented reality and agriculture.
  • Amount you can win: $1,000,000 in investment.

Official Website

Arch Grants Competition

Why you should go:

Want to be part of a growing community of innovative entrepreneurs?

The mission of Arch Grants is to revitalize the St. Louis region through economic development and entrepreneurship.

You can apply for their annual grand, for a chance to win $50,000 as well as everything you need in order to relocate your business to the St. Louis region — from pro bono and discounted legal, accounting and banking services, to access to angel investment and educational programs.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: St. Louis, Missouri, USA
  • Date: You can apply for the 2021 Arch Grand from April 1st. The Finalist Pitch Day takes place in August.
  • Cost: Free — but you must be willing to relocate your business to St. Louis in order to be eligible for the grand.
  • Industry focus: Broad, but with a focus on supporting the economy of St. Louis.
  • Amount you can win: An equity-free cash grant of $50,000

Official Website

Collision 2021

Why you should go:

Despite the change of venue this year (bringing its 25,000 attendees to Toronto after three years in New Orleans), Collision still remains the fastest growing tech conference in the US.

Attend various startup workshops, get in-person advice from investors and join the ultimate startup battle at PITCH, the contest section of the conference where you can compete for three days with the top 70 startups, in order to be crowned winner.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Toronto, Canada
  • Date: April 20-22, 2021
  • Cost: 695 CAD (Canadian Dollars) to become a part of ALPHA, which gets you three tickets, opportunity to access Office Hours, Mentor Hours, Startup University, startup workshops and PITCH.
  • Industry focus: Broad.
  • Amount you can win: There is no money — but there is a ton of exposure, and a PITCH trophy.

Official Website

Growth Mentors

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European Social Innovation Competition

Why you should go:

If you’re an EU citizen and believe your project/business idea can impact society, then this competition was made for you.

Run across all European countries by the European Commission, the European Social Innovation Competition focuses on innovative projects, products and services with a social aspect. Now in its seventh year, the challenge prize (launched in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos) aims to empower young people.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Brussels, Belgium.
  • Date: TBD (usually takes place in November).
  • Cost: Free
  • Industry focus: Broad. The theme changes every year, but the focus is on ideas which “come up with solutions to the problems affecting our society”.
  • Amount you can win: €50,000

Official Website

U.Pitch 2021

Why you should go:

An elevator pitch competition (you’ll only get 90 seconds) geared towards college students, to attend U. Pitch you must be currently enrolled or have graduated with the past six months. Future Founders, who believe that every youth can become an entrepreneur, bring together students from different universities to showcase their ideas in front of the entrepreneurial community.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Virtual.
  • Date: TBD. Applications for this year’s U.Pitch 2021 will open in the fall of 2021
  • Cost: Free
  • Industry focus: Broad
  • Amount you can win: $10,000

Official Website

Global Startup Competition 2021

Why you should go:

You’ll literally get to battle inside a boxing ring, albeit just with your words and convincing arguments. This event, organized by the Netherlands´ Foundation ‘Get in the Ring’ is not called “the world’s coolest startup pitching competition” for nothing. And for 2021, this startup pitch competition’s gonna be 100% virtual!

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Virtual startup pitch competition.
  • Date: Live on April 14th, 2021
  • Cost: Free
  • Industry focus: Broad
  • Amount you can win: A 1-year business development support with expenses covered; an investment offer up to €500,000.

Official Website

TechCrunch Disrupt 2021

Why you should go:

With previous winners including companies such as Dropbox, you know this is an event (and a pitch competition) not to miss. The Startup Battlefield at the Disrupt SF is always the place to be, for early-stage startups who dream of taking over the world and impressing the TechCrunch judges. Probably doesn’t get more Silicon Valley than that.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: San Francisco, California, USA.
  • Date: September 14-16th.
  • Cost: TBD, but you can get a $500 discount by registering early
  • Industry focus: Ranging from Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and VR, to HealthTech and FinTech.
  • Amount you can win: A $100,000 prize.

Official Website

Web Summit PITCH 2021

Why you should go:

If you haven’t had a major change in your business model in the last three years and your overall funding still amounts to less than three million euros… well it’s time to change all that. Prepare to battle live with the world’s leading early-stage startups in front of more than 2,500 global journalists — and the CEOs and founders of some of the biggest companies in the world.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Date: November 2-5, 2021
  • Cost: €850, but by pre-registering you can get one extra ticket for free
  • Industry focus: Technology
  • Amount you can win: There is no monetary prize, but ask every previous winner and they will tell you the exposure is priceless.

Official Website

Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2021

Why you should go:

Cultivating equality and diversity in the startup ecosystem by supporting female entrepreneurs on their way to solving contemporary global challenges? That’s always a good idea. And that’s exactly what the annual international business competition, founded by Cartier, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD Business School, has been doing since 2006.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Singapore, Singapore.
  • Date: TBD. The application period for 2021 has not opened yet.
  • Cost: Free
  • Industry focus: Broad. Categories include anything from consumer goods, education & culture, hospitality & tourism to agriculture and science.
  • Amount you can win: The first seven winners (laureates) will get a $100,000 prize, along with a one-on-one business mentoring. The remaining 14 finalists will also get a $30,000.

Official Website

The Alconics Awards 2021

Why you should go:

If your focus is on AI, these iconic (pun intended) awards take place yearly in London and SF as part of the AI Summit roster of events. A great opportunity to position yourself and your startup among world-class experts.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: London, UK and San Francisco, California, USA.
  • Date: September 22-23, 2021 for the London event, November 3-4 for the SF event.
  • Cost: TBD.
  • Industry focus: AI.
  • Amount you can win: No monetary prize, but winning the award will bring top industry recognition.

Official Website

Seedstars World Competition 2021

seedstar startup pitch competition

Why you should go:

With a presence in more than 60 countries, Seedstars World supports and invests in emerging market startups at the seed-stage. Join a regional pitch competition for a chance to make your case at the finals in Switzerland, where you will have five minutes to pitch your idea in front of the audience, five minutes to answer judge’s questions, and perhaps half a million dollars in equity investment afterwards. This year, this startup competition will be completely remote.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Switzerland.
  • Date: April 2021, there are many regional events taking place throughout the year in preparation for the Seedstars Summit
  • Cost: Free — the winners of regional events get a flight ticket to attend the finals in Switzerland.
  • Industry focus: Broad.
  • Amount you can win: Up to 500,000 USD in equity investment, plus cash and in-kind prizes

Official Website

Slush 2021

slush startup pitch competition

Why you should go:

This is the cool kids table. Or tables, given that Slush events take place in Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore and Helsinki, where the festival/conference first started. Slush is all about community building and facilitating founder and investor meetings, run by successful entrepreneurs such as Nokia’s Risto Siilasmaa.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Helsinki.
  • Date: TBD.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Industry focus: Tech.
  • Amount you can win: There is no monetary prize, but you can take advantage of the Slush community; get speed mentoring and resources

Official Website

South Summit Startup Competition

Why you should go:

If you think your startup belongs among the world’s 100 most innovative, South Summit Startup competition gives you the chance and the tools to prove it. Taking place in Madrid and Mexico and wIth almost half of the projects having a Spanish origin, South Summit is a great place for all entrepreneurial voices to be heard.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Madrid, Spain and Mexico City, Mexico.
  • Date: TBD, usually taking place in October and December. Applications close on April 27th
  • Cost: Prices range from €80-€790, depending on types of ticket and areas of access.
  • Industry focus: Broad.
  • Amount you can win: $1,000,000 in funding at Silicon Valley. All 100 finalists get South Summit tickets and one-on-one meetings with investors.

Official Website

Demo Day 2021

Why you should go:

Demo Day is less of a startup competition and more of a culmination of a “slower” process. It starts with applying to Y Combinator for seed funding — they do two batches of mass funding per year, in return for small equity in the funded companies — and relocating to the Bay Area if you are selected. Demo Day takes place about 11 weeks after, so that you can present your startup to an invite-only audience and find later stage investors.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Virtual.
  • Date: March 23rd, 2021 with a second event taking place at the end of August
  • Cost: There is no cost, but the event is private and attendance is invitation-only. You just need to snag that invite!
  • Industry focus: Broad.
  • Amount you can win: No monetary prize in Demo Day, but to even be in the process means you’ve already gotten funding from Y Combinator.

Official Website

Next Founders 2021

Why you should go:

Another slower and more immersive option — this one geared to the Canada startup ecosystem. Next Founders accelerates your startup’s growth, as well as your personal growth as a founder, through mentoring and access to capital. If you get accepted, you become eligible for up to $30K in non-dilutive grant funding. You will also get your chance to present your startup during various events and attend many workshops before the big presentation on Venture Day.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Toronto, Ontario.
  • Date: TBD. There are events happening throughout the year, with Venture Day usually taking place in August
  • Cost: There is no cost to participate in the program
  • Industry focus: Broad, but your business has to be located in Southern Ontario.
  • Amount you can win: Up to $30K in non-dilutive grant funding.

Official Website

CEMEX Ventures

Why you should go:

It brings together the biggest players from across the entire construction value chain with a global presence, making it the perfect opportunity for startups to showcase their solution with leaders that can help them expand their solution to new markets, develop their projects even further, introduce them to their client network, and engage in potential strategic investment.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location:  Virtual.
  • Date: The application phase closes on June 27
  • Cost: There is no cost to participate in the program
  • Industry focus: Carbon footprint mitigation, advanced building materials, supply chain management, efficient jobsite & built environment, and new construction methods
  • Amount you can win: No cash prize is awarded for winning the competition. Winners can receive investment from any of the 7 participating companies (CEMEX Ventures, Dysruptek (Haskell), GS Futures, Ferrovial, Hilti, VINCI Group´s Leonard, and NOVA by Saint-Gobain).

Official Website

Utah Entrepreneur Challenge 2021

Why you should go:

This statewide business model competition, is an excellent opportunity for students at one of Utah’s universities to compete for a cash prize — and also get valuable feedback and coaching.

KEY INFORMATION

  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
  • Date: You have until February 8th to apply for this year’s challenge, final judging takes place March 27
  • Cost: Free — but you can only join if you are a university student in Utah
  • Industry focus: Broad
  • Amount you can win: $100,000 in cash and prizes.

Official Website

How to amp your pitch game in 2021

Now you know which startup pitch competitions are worth your time. But how do you make sure you put your best pitch forward when the clock is ticking and potential investors only have a few minutes (at best) to be wowed?

Having the right help makes all the difference. Here’s an article we recently wrote to help you with your startup pitch.

But if you need more 1:1 help, a startup funding mentor can help you make the most out of your pitches — and increase your chances of succeeding.

So how do you find that perfect sounding board who will make sure you won’t second-guess yourself on stage? Someone who will lend their expertise to you and help you save valuable time and money?

That’s where we come in:

At GrowthMentor, we can help you find your right mentor with just a few clicks.

Browse through our mentor inventory to find someone who can understand your journey so far; someone who specializes in your industry, can help with specific software issues — and talks in your language!

You don’t have to worry about being on a startup (read: tight) budget, either. At Growthmentor you decide how much you pay… some of our mentors are even willing to mentor you for free.

2021 is going to be your year!