Some competitions like MIT EF, Acumen, Harvard Arab Alumni Association's challenge, Mompreneur Rising, are events built around training and connecting the competitors in preparation for the win. Others run a competition as an extension of their brand or of a larger event. Recent examples include Arabnet Ideathon, STEP conference, and Infiniti Speed Pitching.
STEP was founded in 2012 to create the “ultimate conference experience” for people interested in tech and the startup ecosystem, while the pitching competition was first launched in 2014 because the team was “constantly thinking how [to] help startups get their voices out there. That year was proven to be highly successful [and] almost felt like a trading floor but entrepreneurs pitching,” said Bahaa Moussalli, cofounder of STEP. The ideal outcome for the winner? To secure investment because of the competition and to make it big later on.
STEP follows up personally with their winners, but many organizers wrap up the conversation at the winners announcement press release. MIT EF, for instance, does not follow up but keeps tabs on their winners. For them, there’s been a 40 percent success rate of winners stepping into the big leagues worldwide.
Instabug and Instabeat are among those successes. On looking back over MIT EF's past winners, Wamda found that some do not even have websites to confirm the company's existence
Khalil’s Green Truck was recently bought out by Enviroserve, though Khalil remains the operations lead for the company and Boxit just closed their seed round at $600,000.
Myhrvold adds that in the case of all competitions, entrepreneurs must analyze the opportunity cost against the return on time before entering.
“Your time is the most valuable thing you have,” Myhrvold said. “If you are spending a lot of time at different competitions you’re losing on your business. You need to be very specific about what you want to accomplish from these competitions... it’s very important to be selective and review what it is you are getting into."