MassChallenge: $1M Global Startup Competition With No Strings Attached

April 6, 2012

1:00 pm

We’ve covered a lot of different startup accelerators and competitions, but MassChallenge is one of the largest to tempt startups with cash awards – no strings attached.

Boston-based MassChallenge is a 3-month program offering mentorship, office space, and funding without equity or investors. But unlike in other accelerators, you’re not guaranteed the money. Instead, on demo day, the top competitors win awards of $50,000 or $100,000 based on judging.

Judging is also unique: the public can vote on startups, which makes up 10 percent of their overall score.

MassChallenge launched in 2010, attracting 111 startups who went on to raise $100 million in other funding after 1 year.

Despite these impressive numbers, some may worry that competition – the fact that you have to beat out other startups to win – may detract from the camaraderie and collaboration that are so vital to traditional accelerators. But MassChallenge lauds the effects of a little healthy competition:

“We use the power of competition to create urgency, and to identify and aggregate high-impact teams and resources.”

The program runs from July to October, and is open to anyone from anywhere. If your online application makes the cut, you’ll have to pitch at the second round in Boston to compete for a spot.

The entry fee is $199 (but you can decrease that with somewhat-gimmicky refund codes). Apply by April 11.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact

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