Companies like Pinterest, TubeMogul, and Thumbtack all got their start winning competitions
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. [https://vator.tv/x] -- 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 winners: YourMechanic, 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."
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”"
Notable winners: Thumbtack, 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."
(Image source: entrepreneurbrew.com)
Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs
Joined Vator on
DogVacay.com is a community marketplace that addresses the $5B market for dog-boarding and pet-sitting. Instead of paying for a crowded and overpriced kennel, our users book with experienced hosts who watch dogs in their own homes. In two months since launch the we have gained national coverage with thousands of approved hosts.
We provide multiple layers of quality control, a comprehensive insurance policy, emergency support, photo updates, and other pet services like daycare and walking.
We were founded in 2011 by a husband and wife team who boarded over 100 dogs in their home to make extra money while saving for their weddin. We are now venture capital funded by First Round Capital, Science, and several angels.
Joined Vator on
Apartment List is the fastest-growing online rental marketplace, and we’re on a mission to help everyone find a home they love while making the search process simple. By asking our renters the important questions, we offer personalized results that meet your apartment wishlist. With over four million units on the site, we’ve reached over 150 million renters in over 40 cities.
Since inception, Apartment List has raised $110 million in funding from investors including Allen & Company LLC, Canaan Partners, Industry Ventures, Matrix Partners, Passport Capital, Quantum Partners LP, a private investment fund managed by Soros Fund Management LLC, Tenaya Capital, and WTI.
Founded in 2011 by CEO John Kobs and COO Chris Erickson, Apartment List calls San Francisco home.
Learn more at www.apartmentlist.com.
Joined Vator on
Grovo is the leading online platform that trains users on top Internet tools and cloud services with 60-second, personalized videos.
Featuring 3,500+ video lessons covering 100+ Internet tools and cloud services – and 15 lessons added daily - Grovo is the fastest and easiest way to become a better Internet user. With coverage, tools and training ideal for consumers, businesses, educators, and governments, users in 150 countries are using Grovo to work smarter and sharpen their Internet skills.
For organizations and enterprises Grovo’s lightweight training dashboard, Grovo for Teams, enables employee training on the Internet tools, sites, and trends they need to stay ahead.
Founded in 2010, Grovo is a privately-held online education company headquartered in New York City.
Joined Vator on
Thumbtack helps you accomplish the personal projects that are central to your life.
Whether you need to paint your home, learn a new language, or plan your daughter's birthday party, Thumbtack is the easiest and most dependable way to hire the right professional for your projects.
Get started by answering a few questions about your specific needs. Within hours, Thumbtack will introduce you to several available and qualified professionals. Compare custom quotes, reviews, and profiles and hire when you’re ready.
By connecting customers like you to the right pros, we enable independent professionals to grow their businesses and do what they love. We’re proud that many of our pros have doubled or even tripled the size of their businesses through Thumbtack.
Thumbtack is available nationwide for more than 700 project categories.
Joined Vator on
Founded in 2006 by online video buffs who met while in graduate school and won the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition, TubeMogul's objective from the start has been to empower online video producers, advertisers and the online video industry by providing publishing tools and insightful, easy to interpret analytics.
With TubeMogul, users upload videos once and TubeMogul deploys them to as many of the top video sharing sites the producer chooses. TubeMogul's integrated analytics then provide a single source of metrics on where, when, and how often the videos are viewed. TubeMogul's free beta service has been live since November of 2006. In January 2008, TubeMogul announced the launch of its Premium Products, which include a host of new professional features.
Joined Vator on
Udemy is a website that enables anyone to teach and learn online. Udemy tries to democratize online education by making it fast, easy and free to create online courses. Udemy is an open platform, so anyone can build an online course by posting videos, presentations, writing blog posts, or hosting live virtual classroom sessions.
Udemy tries to solve a simple problem: there are millions of smart people in the world (authors, speakers, coaches, trainers, subject matter experts and teachers) who want to teach over the internet. Currently, it costs $10,000 to create a website to teach, and there are thousands of instructors doing this (we've talked to them; they hate it). We provide instructors with the ability to create their own course without any up-front costs. That way, they no longer have to deal with the technology and can focus entirely on teaching.
Udemy Live is Udemy’s live virtual conferencing and classroom tool. It is entirely web-based and built on component architecture. Each component was built separately, and there is an internal API so third party developers can build components on top of Udemy’s virtual conferencing tool. The API is not currently public.
Udemy was founded by MobileCrunch writer Gagan Biyani, Eren Bali and Oktay Caglar. Eren and Oktay worked at SpeedDate.com, an online dating site that has received over $8M in funding from Menlo Ventures.
Udemy will start by focusing on a specific niche: Poker education. We will roll out Udemy to enter the $100M business of online poker education. Udemy has deals with more than 15 extremely popular poker instructors to teach on Udemy Poker over the internet. After that niche, Udemy will begin to enter additional markets in which there is a willingness to pay by consumers and a clear set of high-quality instructors interested in teaching.
Joined Vator on
Provider of a cloud-based application programming interface (API) platform designed to make healthcare transactions more efficient and streamline the business of health. The company's platform enables third-party developers such as payers, health systems and digital health companies to process eligibility checks, claims, scheduling, payments, and other business transactions, enabling hospitals and health systems to build new patient-centered experiences. With DokChain, an evolution of PokitDok’s platform utilizing blockchain and other distributed technologies, PokitDok seeks to remove even more waste from healthcare administration while enabling new value creation by healthcare and other industry stakeholders for the consumers they serve.