Startupfest will award pitch prizes virtually this year

Startupfest is making an expected $1 million in prizes and investments available to startups despite having no physical event this summer.

The annual tech conference was cancelled a few weeks ago. Today Startupfest is announcing that it will hold its pitch competitions and awards online rather than in person.

Today we’re introducing Startupfest 10X—Pitch from Home (#PFH). In 2019, Startupfest attendees took home $1.6M in prizes and investments in three days onsite at the fest. This year, we’re bringing those same prizes and opportunities (and many more) directly to you, wherever you’re hustling in place.

Pitch applications will happen online, and will include basic business details, alongside a short video or written pitch.

The exact criteria and details of each competition will be announced at a later date. The organization will list an initial overview of this year’s prizes in the coming weeks. More will be announced on a rolling basis throughout the spring and summer.

“We’re working on the tech specifications,” Startupfest founder Phil Telio told MTLinTECH. “We’ll likely have a judging panel review the pitch finalists, while the actual finales will be via live video, no doubt. I don’t know how big the audience will be but it will likely be the judges meeting with the shortlisted companies online, and hopefully having some great, tangible prizes.”

READ ALSO: Startupfest cancels in-person event for 2020

Photo by EvaBlue

Telio added that companies like Ubisoft have committed to providing prizes. As have several angel investors who have done so in the past. Meanwhile, the famous Grandmother judges panel will indeed return. The ladies will judge pitches from the comfort of their own homes.

Over the years, prizes at Startupfest have included not one, but two $100,000 investment prizes. One is for startups, while the other is for a female-led business. Other prizes typically include spots in accelerator programs; the Grandmothers’ choice; Paid Proofs-of-concept;  long-term partnerships with corporations; straight cash in hand; and more.

For Telio, the COVID-19 crisis is a time when Startupfest needs to reinvent itself. He said it’s a great opportunity for the event to give people the access to the prizes without forcing them to physically come to Startupfest.

“This is not something that’s going to drive revenue for us by any stretch of the imagination, but it will continue to drive value. We know there’s a ton of content being produced right now but we didn’t just want to produce videos of all our speakers in a self-aggrandizing fashion. We saw this as an opportunity for us to return to a grassroots level, to go back to basics and help startups get money and visibility,” said Telio.

It’s also a bid to prepare for the future, he said.

Like previous pandemics, this one too shall pass. And after that happens, those same investors and corporations that come to Startupfest every year will still be on the hunt for good ideas to invest in.

“They see that there’s going to be new opportunity in the future and its Startupfest’s role to support those companies that will thrive in this new reality. We’re going to change one way or another and this period of time will have a lasting impact on many industries,” said Telio.

You can learn more about what Startupfest is doing here. If you’re a partner who wants to support this initiative by offering a prize, Startupfest wants to talk at

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