How to compete In the Startup Challenge

Who Is Eligible:

  • Start-ups (not yet operational) and emerging (in launch phase) businesses may apply.
  • Businesses must be located in the Monterey Bay region (Monterey, San Benito, or Santa Cruz counties).
  • The business idea must be your original work (your business, not someone else’s and not a franchise of another business).

Apply to Start Up Challenge in One of the Four Divisions:


Venture –
$30,000 Total Prize Money

Businesses intended to scale nationally or internationally and provide venture capital-level returns in 3-5 years.


Social Venture – $15,000 Total Prize Money

For-profit or not-for-profit businesses that deliver social impact as a part of their mission.

Startup Challenge Main Street icon

Main Street –
$15,000 Total Prize Money

Local and regional businesses that are not intended to scale but will be economically viable.

Startup Challenge student icon

Student –
$1,500 Total Prize Money

Open to all students in middle school through graduate school.

Key Dates for Competitors

March 9th: Deadline for Applications

April 4th: Qualifying Round Pitches

May 8th: Startup Challenge Finale

Startup Challenge Workshops

Feb 19 – March 8: Introduction and How to Apply workshops

March 10 – April 3: Pitch workshops for all participants

April 5 – May 7: Finalist workshops

See the workshops page for more details.

Workshops for Participants

Attend an Introduction to Startup Challenge session

These sessions will give you valuable information about how to enter, learn, and be successful in the Challenge.  See the Participant Workshops page for information on upcoming sessions.  If you cannot attend a live session, the informational slides are available on the Participant Workshops page.

Apply for the Challenge, and attend a Creating a Successful Pitch workshop

You need to apply in your division. The application asks for contact information and then for you to answer questions about your market, how your business will add value for customers, how it will make money, , who you will be competing with and how you will win, and other questions. You can return to editing your application until applications close on March 9th. After you enter you are eligible to attend the Creating a Successful Pitch workshops. The schedule for these workshops will be listed on the Participant Workshops page. The Pitch workshops will be held during  March, after the applications close.

Some additional information you may find useful:

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