How to get to the SXSW Pitch 2021

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10. March 2021

For the twelfth time SXSW offers startups from all over the world the opportunity to draw attention to themselves. Due to the Corona crisis, the trip to Austin, Texas to the world’s largest creative and digital festival can’t happen in 2021. But this does not have to be a disadvantage, on the contrary. We tell you how you can qualify for the virtual competition SXSW Pitch.

The SXSW Pitch is a central component of SXSW Online, the digital version of the legendary festival. The final of the competition will take place on March 17 and 18, 2021, but not, as in previous years, at the Hilton in downtown Austin, but virtually via streaming. The flair of a live event is therefore missing, but the expense of a trip to the USA is not necessary – for some perhaps even additional motivation to try their luck. Before startups get the chance to present themselves to a three-member jury, however, they have to go through an elaborate application process and meet the following criteria:

  • A start-up’s product or service must not have been on the market before March 17, 2019.
  • The publication of the product or service should not be after June 17, 2021.
  • Each startup may only submit one product or service.
  • The founders of a participating company must own at least parts of the startup.
  • Only participation in one of the SXSW competitions is allowed.
  • The startup must not have received more than $10 million in funding to date.

Eight categories to choose from

At least these hurdles should not be too difficult to overcome. Furthermore, a startup must fit into one of the following eight categories:

  • Artificial Intelligence, Robotics & Voice This calls for solutions that work with artificial intelligence, robot technology or voice control.
  • Enterprise & Smart Data Everything that improves the collection and analysis of data and thus facilitates processes in companies.
  • Entertainment, Gaming & Content What is needed here is not so much creative content as new ways of producing and distributing it. Virtual reality and related technologies also fall into this category.
  • Future of Work What will the working world of tomorrow look like? Here, too, technological solutions are in particular demand.
  • Health, Wearables & Wellbeing Health, fitness, nutrition, sports – everything that is good for human wellbeing has its place here.
  • Smart Cities, Transportation & Logistics What will the city of the future look like, how can mobility and the transport of goods be better organized? These are the big issues here.
  • Social & Culture Here the range of topics is particularly broad and includes all areas that make up human coexistence: social media, travel, environmental and climate protection, e-commerce and much more.
  • Innovative World Technologies You think that your startup doesn’t fit into any of the previous categories? No problem, here you find your place. Fintech, blockchain, space travel, nanotechnology, quantum computers and much more – anything goes.

Six teams per category will compete, making a total of 48. The application phase runs until January 8, 2021, and from November 25, the application fee will be 59 US dollars. This can be money well spent, because a final entry can bring fame and fortune. Of the 553 startups that have participated since 2009, over 80% have completed funding rounds with a total value of 7.6 billion US dollars. 18 % were taken over by companies such as Google, British Telecom or Apple. Two German startups have won in their categories so far: Tinnitracks from Hamburg 2015 in the Health category and Splash from Berlin 2017 for a VR app.

Insider tips for a successful application – and free codes!

Many startups will find themselves in several categories. Here it is important to estimate which one provides the best chances. The finalists are determined by a broadly based Advisory Board. This includes Sanja Stankovic, one of the founders of german.innovation. She has years of SXSW experience and has put together a few tips for all applicants:

  • The first and often already decisive impression is given by the short description. Be as clear, unambiguous and generally understandable as possible and emphasize the uniqueness of your product.
  • Short, concise explanatory videos help to better understand the product.
  • List all the prizes you have won and all the support programs you have participated in. This way you can prove that your startup has already received a lot of positive feedback.
  • Well-known and industry experienced mentors and supporters are also a helpful reference.
  • When naming the team members, include their educational and professional backgrounds to show that you have a wide range of skills.
  • Fill out the application form carefully and avoid a cookie-cutter approach if possible.

If you need even more tips, feel free to contact german.innovation. We will be happy to look at your application in advance and give you helpful feedback. We also have a few free codes in stock that will save you the application fee! Just write a mail to: sanja@german.innovation.org.

Featured image: the finalists of the pitch 2018

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