International Startup Competitions & Why Your Startup Should Get Involved

For any budding startup company, there are a plethora of advantages to competing in a startup competition. But after competing in a dozen local competitions, what's next? Surprisingly, there are many notable international startup competitions out there which accept participants from any country, and there are many reasons your startup should consider applying.

For one, the reputation of your startup can increase exponentially through involvement in an international competition. Investors, customers, and co-workers alike can become more invested in your company, and the overall company morale can get a big boost. It’s important to have just one person in charge of competitions, otherwise, your startup can lose focus.  Typically this person is pretty social and news-savvy, so aware of technology events.

Networking is a crucially valuable aspect as well. Competitions give budding companies the opportunity to rub noses with highly renowned judges and mentors who can lend some advice. One might be hesitant to share a newly formed business plan with others for fear of it getting stolen. However, it is vital to remember that the success of a business lies not with the idea but with the execution. The judges' insight and business prowess can prove extremely valuable as they are not apart of the daily activities of your startup. And in many cases, judges can become invested in the obstacles your company faces and continue following up with you even after the competition has ended.

Participating in questionnaires and pitch competitions can help reveal holes in your business plan as well as the strongest elements.  It’s always important to have a great product first and foremost, even before thinking about winning a competition  But, these competitions are an opportune time to practice that much-needed skill of public speaking. Being able to sell your business model verbally is an important and necessary skill and doing so in an international setting is a great way to challenge your skills.

An extra perk, depending on the competition, is that a local media company will probably be covering the event, which can be a great moment to build buzz about your startup in a new market. And if you win, you can amass even more media coverage on an international level.

Finally, there are almost always financial benefits to these competitions if you can win yourself a prize. If your goal for the competition is to raise money for your startup, these prizes can give you the jumpstart you need to get your company off the ground. Some awards even go up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

However, the focus isn’t always to win competitions; it’s to participate and make connections.  While winning a huge competition has its benefits, sometimes meeting the right people, investors, press, etc. can be even more beneficial to your company, so keep that in mind.

So we all know now why taking part in a startup competition is so advantageous but with an innumerable amount of competitions out there, which one should you choose? While there are a good many in the USA, the international startup competition scene is growing exponentially.

Here is a rundown of some, but certainly not all, of the notable international tech competitions out there.

Global Competitions

Seedstars World – Switzerland based startup competition that takes place in emerging markets such as Moscow, Dubai, Cape Town, Tokyo, Seoul, Mexico City, Lima and dozens more. Only high quality startups can receive an invitation and are chosen following a strict selection process.

Global Startup Battle – During the weekend prior to and following Global Entrepreneurship Week, hundreds of Startup Weekend events are hosted around the world and winning teams from each event move forward to compete with one another via a global video competition. Each team will work to turn promising concepts into new startups and compete against one another in a virtual Global Startup Battle.

Competitions in Europe

Intel Business Challenge Europe – This competition is exclusive to companies who are less than 3 years old. One of the prizes is an executive program experience in Silicon Valley with well known investors.

The Sirius Programme by UKTI – Located in Britain, this competition offers a prize of a landing package and any support costs for starting a business in Britain.

The Lovie Awards – This competition takes place in Europe and is exclusively for content and developments meant for the Internet.

Competitions in the Middle East

Prince Abdulaziz International Prize for Entrepreneurship – This event is located in Saudi Arabia. If you are selected, all your competition expenses are paid during the event and the prize value exceeds £120k.

Competitions in Latin America

The South Summit – For the 100 most promising startups from Spain, the Mediterranean and Latin America, this event aims to bring together the best talent from early to growth stage from a wide range of industries. The startups selected to participate have access to unique development opportunities.

BBVA Open Talent – This competition can be found in Europe, Latin America, and the United States. The prizes offered collectively add up to 180,000 euros.

StartUp Challenge – For this competition, 4-5 of the of most dynamic entrepreneurial teams are chosen to present in front of a panel of esteemed judges for prizes.

Have an international startup competition to add to the list? Share with us in the comments.

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Written by:
CEO & Co-Founder of Wideo (, a DIY animated video production platform. Follow him @mrwideo
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