Hiring and Growth

The Ultimate List of Startup Competitions, Hackathons & More

David Cheng Former Head of Content, Gusto 

There’s no shortage of ways to raise money for your business. If you’re worried about equity dilution to your business, startup competitions are a great way to get money in the door without giving up valuable equity.

We compiled a list of the country’s top startup competitions, hackathons, business plan contests, grants, and more. The only criteria was that the prize had to be cash or cash equivalents, no investments.

For a sample of the list, here are some competitions broken down by category.


These are competitions limited to current students and/or alumni of an academic institution. Example:

UC Berkeley LAUNCH Accelerator

  • Application Deadline: November 30, 2018
  • Prize: Up to $60,000
  • Eligibility: At least one team member must be a current student, faculty, staff or an alumnus/a of any University of California campus. For more information, see here.

See more academic competitions here.


These are competitions limited to residents of a particular city, county, state, or country. Example:

New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition

  • Application Deadline: January 31, 2019
  • Prize: Up to $15,000
  • Eligibility: You must be 18 years of age or older, live in Manhattan, The Bronx, or Staten Island as a legal resident or US citizen, and wish to start a business in Manhattan, The Bronx, or Staten Island. For more information, see here.


These are competitions limited to a particular group, typically ethnic, cultural, gender, etc. Example:

French American Entrepreneurship Award

  • Application Deadline: March 15, 2019
  • Prize: $10,000
  • Eligibility: The entrant must be a French-American founder-entrepreneur fluent in French and English, in business for three years or less. For more information, see here.


These are competitions limited to hackathons. Example:

LAUNCH Accelerator

  • Application Deadline: February 13, 2019
  • Prize: $100,000 investment prize
  • Eligibility: Entrant is pre-vetted.

Updated: January 5, 2021


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