Startupfest doubles main prize to $200K investment

Startupfest is doubling the value of its biggest prize for entrepreneurs to $200,000 ahead of the annual event this July.

According to the organization, a startup can convince the judging panel that they deserve the full $200,000, double the value of past years in which the prize was $100,000. Or, the $200,000 could potentially be split between two companies.

Startupfest appears to be pushing the “hustle” mantra by the way in which teams will vie for the grand prize:

“You do not need to apply for this prize, you just need to find the investor judges in the “$200k Prize” tent in the Tent Village- or track down one of the judges onsite during the event (They’ll be wearing a Judge badge),” wrote Startupfest. “You have until 5pm on Thursday, July 14th, to convince at least one of the judges the money should go to you. If you’re shortlisted- you’ll be invited to pitch at breakfast with all of the investors Friday morning.”

The cash that makes up the prize comes from the 14 judges, who each put in between $10,000 and $50,000. Startupfest founder Phil Telio said there was so much interest this year from returning and new judges that the judges agreed to raise the ante.

“Quite honestly, we might go above $200,000,” Telio told MTLinTECH. “News like today’s general inspires other people to get on board. We’re just two weeks away but the world has a funny way of sending up more gifts.”

The festival runs July 13-16.


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Telio doesn’t have a preference whether the $200,000 goes to one or two companies. “Whats for sure is if it goes to one company, they’re going to need that money,” he said. “But we’re open to both scenarios.”

Startupfest’s method of selecting the winner of the investment prize is a refreshing take. Instead of a formal call for applications and months of selection by judges via email, things will get personal at the festival. The investors will be taking sales pitches from an endless stream of startups, all day.

Telio called it “much more organic.”

“We get hundreds of people who stand in line and pitch to the judges in the tent. We have other startups that find the judges in the crowd during the kick-off party and pitch,” said Telio. “We don’t go through a formal process. We shortlist based on human interaction. It’s up to each judge to use their gut to select who they would invest in, and then we get a shortlist of 10.”

So who are the judges, you ask? Who are those sorcerers of supreme knowledge and excellent social status one must wow to advance their material wealth?

Well, here they are:

Phil Telio – founder of Startupfest

Anna Goodson – CEO of the Anna Goodson Illustration Agency

Michael Hollinger – president at H.W. Hollinger (Canada) Inc. Insurance Brokers

Nathalie Marcoux – vice-president finance at Capinabel inc

Jamie O’Hara – an investor at Grise Global

Jean-Francois Bouchard – CEO of Sid Lee

Cary Goldwax – an experienced entrepreneur and hands-on senior executive.

Gary Pudles – a “serial entrepreneur”

Jesse Kaplan – a Managing Partner with Seek Capital Management in Toronto

Mathew Rosenblatt – a Toronto-based real estate developer

Tom Williams -the Founder of BetterCompany

Neil Follet – the founder of BetterCompany

Sanjay Singhal – a Canadian Venture Partner for 500 Startups

Steve Abrams – a partner at the IT Venture Fund, BDC

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