Startup Competition Guide


Top startup competitions: their most successful alumni

Companies like Pinterest, TubeMogul, and Thumbtack all got their start winning competitions

Innovation series by Steven Loeb
April 18, 2017
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Startup competitions have been an exceptional way to find successful startups that go on to generate billions in revenue and thousands of jobs. In fact, Vator was among the first to create a SaaS platform to host startup competitions.

Just like my CEO - Bambi Francisco - who started her career as a tech journalist, I get so many pitches from so many companies it's hard to know which ones are really worth covering. Vator was created, in part, to filter for great startups. Using VatorX to find and filter for the best startups, we've had some very successful and notable winners in the past that have gone on to raise big funding rounds including Thumbtack, DogVacay, Pokitdok, Grovo, Udemy and Apartment List, to name a few. 

Startup competitions are a great resource. Since our community of entrepreneurs and investors look to Vator for startup information, we've launched a weekly guide to the best startup competitions around the world. You can also take a look at VatorX. [] -- a repository of hundreds of startup competitions and challenges around the world. 

If you have a startup competition or challenge, feel free to list it on VatorX

As part of our weekly series, we'll look at top competitions with big cash prizes, as well as competitions that have teed up the most promising startups, to finding popular startup competitions you need to know about. 

Here are some startup competitions you should know, based on the startups that have gotten some serious traction after winning:

Notable winner: App Annie, which has raised $156 million

Description: "G-Startup Worldwide is a global startup competition held around the world to find the most innovative, early stage startups, invest $1,000,000 in them, support them with a global network and enable them to change the world."

Prize: $300,000 total, including $50,000 investment for Regional Winners and an additional $250,000 investment for the Grand Prize Winner. 

Also includes are one year G-Network membership and a three day mentorship bootcamp at Google’s headquarters.

Notable winnersYourMechanic, which has raised $28 million; Layer, which has raised $42.11 million; Enigma, which has raised $34.62 million; and UberConference, which has raised $35 million; Yammer, which raised $142 million before being bought by Microsoft for $1.2 billion in 2012; 

Description: "TechCrunch Disrupt is the world’s leading authority in debuting revolutionary startups, introducing game-changing technologies and discussing what’s top of mind for the tech industry’s key innovators. Disrupt gathers the best and brightest entrepreneurs, investors, hackers, and tech fans for on-stage interviews, the Startup Battlefield competition, a 24-hour Hackathon, Startup Alley, Hardware Alley, and After Parties."


Notable winnersLocalytics, which has raised $59.75 million; Affectiva, which has raised $33.72 million

Description: "Web Summit started as a simple idea in 2010: Let’s connect the technology community with all industries, both old and new. It seemed to resonate. Web Summit has grown to become the “largest technology conference in the world”"

Prize €100,000

Notable winnersThumbtack, which has raised $273.2 million; DogVacay, which has raised $47 million; Pokitdok, which has raised $48.7 million; Grovo, which has raised $62.02 million; Udemy, which has raised $173 million; and Apartment List, which has raised $53 million

Description: "Splash is one of the best startup competitions and educational events, attracting super smart thought leaders in the tech industry. It's an event that inspires. This is an event for entrepreneurs who want to learn how to innovate, raise money, and scale a company. It's also a place for new investors to learn about angel investing and established ones to sharpen their game."

Prize: $5,000 Surf Air membership, $10,000 engineering services, Bookkeeping services, $3,000-$5000 Billboard, courtesy Adsemble; At least 10 sit-down meetings with top VCs; Vator Investment Club $500k investment consideration. 

Notable winner: TubeMogul, which raised $136.06 million before going public in 2014

Description: "LAUNCH is an elite startup accelerator and competition designed to transform early stage startups into fundable companies."


Notable winner: Pinterest (then called Tote), which has raised $1.32 billion

Description: "The NYU Stern Entrepreneurs Challenge is the premier platform for identifying, nurturing and showcasing entrepreneurial talent at NYU. Lasting eight months, it provides aspiring entrepreneurs with frameworks, mentoring and financial support to stimulate new venture creation."

Prize: $300,000

(Image source:

$300K Entrepreneurs Challenge


Related companies, investors and entrepreneurs

TubeMogul, Inc.
Description: Founded in 2006 by online video buffs who met while in graduate school and won the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition, TubeMogul's obj...
Description: Thumbtack helps you accomplish the personal projects that are central to your life. Whether you need to paint your home, learn a new lang...
Description: YourMechanic, the mechanic that comes to you, is a venture-funded, award-winning auto repair technology startup that enables car owners t...
Description: Provider of a cloud-based application programming interface (API) platform designed to make healthcare transactions more efficient and ...
Description:   Udemy is a website that enables anyone to teach and learn online. Udemy tries to democratize online education by making it fast, e...
Description: is a community marketplace that addresses the $5B market for dog-boarding and pet-sitting. Instead of paying for a crow...
Apartment List
Description: Apartment List is the fastest-growing online rental marketplace, and we’re on a mission to help everyone find a home they love whil...
Description: Name of the company
Description: Grovo is the leading online platform that trains users on top Internet tools and cloud services with 60-second, personalized videos.&nb...

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