Five Ways The Forbes Under 30 Summit Startup Showcase Expanded Into The Best Startup Competition Ever


Startup showcases are a key part of most entrepreneur-centric summits—a chance for founders to show off their ideas, and potential investors, partners and team members to learn about them. Given that we’ve slowly built the Forbes Under 30 Summit into the world’s top gathering for young entrepreneurs and game-changers, we’ve spent a lot of time rethinking how the showcase can be more than just booths and prospects. For this year’s event, in Detroit October 27-30, we’re expanding the showcase into a full-blown competition, a chance to blow away attendees, investors —and the entire world. Forbes will curate guaranteed one-on-ones with relevant VCs. And we’re offering a jackpot prize: a $250,000 media grant, no dilution necessary.

So how does this work? 

First, we’re capping the number of startups who can display at 500, so that each gets plenty of attention. (We expect 10,000 attendees to wander the halls.)

Second, we’ve recruited a lineup of all-star venture capitalists for the Under 30 Summit. Sequoia, Andreesen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Ludlow Ventures, Curious Capital, Harmony Partners, Harlem Capital, Battery Ventures, Outlier Ventures, Red Sea Ventures, Venrock, Liquid 2 Ventures, Blazar Capital, Inspired Capital, Chicago Ventures, OCA Ventures and more joining each day. What are we going to do with scores of great venture capitalists? Carefully pair them with each of the 500 showcase startups, based on type of business, stage, region, etc. In other words, the pairings most likely to create a match. We’re also hosting a cocktail party for these startups that will serve as a wider founder-VC mixer.

Third, besides scouting for investments, the VCs will serve as judges, reporting back on their favorites. Based on this, 50 will become semifinalists, earning valuable bragging rights and much more. The best business minds in the country will then help judge and mentor these 50. Iconic investors and founders like Steve Case, Shutterstock’s Jon Oringer (Silicon Alley’s first-ever tech billionaire) and Third Love’s Heidi Zak. We even have a Nobel Prize winner: economic legend Robert Shiller.

Fourth, from here we’ll winnow down to five finalists, who will go onstage in front of more than 1,000 investors and fellow founders to pitch for the top prize: a $250,000 media grant. The four runners-up will prove winners, too, as the world will be watching: The competition will be covered extensively by Forbes and other media outlets.

Finally, since the goal is to attract the best young founders, with at least one founder at each company under 30, the showcase opportunity comes with four individual tickets and a booth—and the price is less than the cost would be just to purchase the tickets themselves. In other words, the showcase booth and competition entry is essentially free. (Because of that, each potential entry must first apply and gain approval.)

It’s a process that’s like the Under 30 Summit itself: a guaranteed way to meet and greet investors, mentors and potential partners; a chance to change the history of your company and gain a valuable credential—and have a lot of fun doing it.

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