Miller Theater on the Columbia University Campus

 

Turning refugees into founders. Mitigating mass incarceration. Comforting the disrupted. Disrupting the comfortable. By raising the voices of Columbia founders and innovators for social justice, StartupColumbia Festival 2019 celebrates a special type of problem-solver: founders facing down the insurmountable and leaving the world better for all of us.

Friday, April 5th. Miller Theater on the Morningside Campus of Columbia University.

We’ll announce the winners of the $250,000 Columbia Venture Competition. We’ll celebrate the memory of “Coach” Bill Campbell ‘62CC ‘64TC by awarding the Coaching Columbia Award. And we’ll name the Columbia University Entrepreneurs of the Year.

Conference Speakers

 

Entrepreneurs of the Year

Sponsored by Perkins Coie, LLP

We'll Announce These Entrepreneurs at the April 5th Festival

 

Speakers

#CoachingColumbiaHonoree

Student Speakers

2019 Festival Highlights

Panels, Keynotes, and Fireside Chats

We Love Our Sponsors

Columbia Food Founders' Fare

Join us for lunch the Columbia Food Founders' Fare, a great place to eat and network during the conference. Columbia-founded food startups will cater the conference and hold an innovative pop-up bazaar. Bring your appetites. 

Click on the logos below to learn more about the teams who'll be serving lunch.

Your Chance to Win a Piece of $250,000

This year the Columbia Venture Competition (CVC) has five challenges but you may only enter one. The descriptions, rules, and eligibility guidelines are listed below. Each challenge will split $50,000 among the top three winners. Four of the challenges are open to students and recent alumni (five years or less from their most current Columbia degree) from any Columbia-affiliated school, including Barnard and Teachers College. The Undergraduate Challenge, sponsored by Columbia College, is open to all current Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, General Studies, and Barnard College undergrads. CVC judges will come from Columbia’s worldwide alumni community from Bordeaux to Beijing to Brooklyn and will represent diverse backgrounds and a wide-ranging set of expertise.

Google Cloud is providing $100,000 in Google Cloud credits to the top five winners; $20,000 to the second-place winners; $3,000 to the third-place winners.

2019 CVC Challenges

rEGISTRATION FOR 2019 Is open

Read the Challenge descriptions below, decide which is best for your venture, review the rules and eligibility, then SIGN UP TODAY!
Deadline is February 8th 11:59 PM

Startup Columbia Challenge

This challenge is all about customer development and demonstrating product-market fit. Cash grants will be awarded to those teams that best prepare and present compelling and empirical evidence of market acceptance for their value propositions. If you don’t have empirical evidence, this is not the Challenge for you. For second-round submissions and final presentations, documented proof of business model viability must be provided. This proof may come in the form of qualitative and quantitative market surveys, customer development interview summaries, or current customer, revenue, or unit shipment counts.

Eligibility: Open to all Columbia University students and recent alumni (five years or less from their most recent degree).

FIRST-ROUND SUBMISSIONS DUE FEBURARY 8th 11:59 pm

Technology Challenge, Sponsored by Columbia Engineering

Entries must include business models based on a solid foundation of applied, solution-focused, technology innovation. Submissions must focus on product development, innovative design, and “builder” technologies including data analytics, biomedical solutions, software, or hardware. Cross-disciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.

Eligibility: Open to all Columbia University students and recent alumni (five years or less from their most recent degree).

FIRST-ROUND SUBMISSIONS DUE FEBURARY 8th 11:59 pm

SIPA Dean's Public Policy Challenge Grant

THE ENTRY DEADLINE FOR THE SIPA DEAN'S CHALLENGE HAS PASSED.

The Public Policy Grant Program of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) invites students to form teams to propose student-designed projects and prototypes that use ICTs and/or data analytics to solve urban problems around the world. Solutions may be market-based, public/philanthropic supported, or a mix. The Program encourages the formation of teams that integrate students of public policy, computer science, engineering and other fields across Columbia University. All teams must include at least one SIPA student in a substantive role.

Eligibility: Rules, eligibility and deadlines for this challenge are separate from other challenges. For details, email sipa.challenge.grant@sipa.columbia.edu.

Columbia Undergraduate Challenge, Sponsored by Columbia College

Prize grants will be awarded to the top teams with the most innovative and viable business model. Winning entries must document the incorporation of customer or user feedback into the design of their business model.

Eligibility: Open only to teams comprised entirely of undergraduate students from Columbia University and Barnard College. Blended teams comprised of Columbia undergraduates and undergrads from other universities are eligible too but the roles of the founders must be provided and the length of time each founder has been working with the team must also be provided.

FIRST-ROUND SUBMISSIONS DUE FEBURARY 8th 11:59 pm

International Blockchain Innovation Challenge

Sponsored in part by The Columbia University Data Science Institute

This year the Columbia Venture Competition is adding the Columbia Blockchain Innovation Challenge (BIC). As if that weren’t enough, we’re taking it international with the Alliance Program, an alliance between Columbia and three French Universities: Sciences Po, Ecole Polytechnique, and Paris 1 – Panthéon Sorbonne. Teams of students and recent graduates from these three institutions and Columbia University are invited to submit proposals for new or existing ventures using blockchain technology to create innovative solutions in a range of areas, including (but not limited to): crypto protocols, finance, asset management, investment, insurance, supply chain, property, healthcare, online publishing, journalism, entertainment, the Internet of Things, voting and elections. For Columbia Blockchain Challenge competitors, the first, one-page executive summary submission should include: a description of the project, which highlights the critical role of blockchain technology in the project, the innovative nature of the solution proposed, key objectives, outcomes and deliverables, as well as the potential for impact (in the areas of finance, education, health, social justice, etc.). The description should also include a list of partners and a timeline.

Eligibility: Open to all Columbia University students and recent alumni (five years or less from their most recent degree) and to students and recent alumni from Sciences Po, Ecole Polytechnique, and Paris 1 – Panthéon Sorbonne .

COLUMBIA FIRST-ROUND SUBMISSIONS DUE FEBURARY 8th 11:59 pm

CVC Timeline 2019

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2019: FIRST ROUND SUBMISSION DEADLINE (11:59 PM)

The Online YouNoodle Competition Submissions Must:

  • Contain the name, school affiliation, and degree year for all team members.
  • Clearly explain the role of each founder. CVC administrators may ask for proof of when each founder joined the team.
  • Describe your venture idea and address the criteria that are unique to the track you've entered.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2019: ANNOUNCEMENT OF TEAMS ADVANCING TO THE SEMI-FINALS

FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2019: SECOND-ROUND SUBMISSION DEADLINE (11:59 PM)

Second-Round Submissions must:

  • Include both a slide deck (PDF-format preferred, Prezi not allowed) and a link to a pitch video of up to three minutes in length.
  • Contain one slide with a brief bio and role of each member of the team.
  • Clearly and in detail address the criteria unique to the track you've entered.

MARCH 4 - 14, 2019: UNDERGRADUATE SEMI FINAL INTERVIEWS

As part of the selection process, all CVC Undergraduate Challenge teams who have reached the semi-final round must schedule a 15 minute, in-person interview with a program review committee

  • Very little preparation is required.
  • At least two members of your team must be present.
  • Competitors are asked to bring the slide deck they submitted to the semi-final round.

FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 2019: FINALISTS FOR ALL TRACKS ANNOUNCED

MARCH 26 - 27, 2019: PROMOTIONAL VIDEO INTERVIEW

To help promote the Columbia Venture Competition a three-minute video will be produced for each CVC track. All finalists for each track will be asked to appear in the video. The video will be posted in the Festival Website in perpetuity and shown just prior to the award announcements at the April 5th StartupColumbia Festival. This video has no bearing on your chances of success in the Venture Competition.

THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2019: FINAL ROUND — LIVE PRESENTATIONS

Presentations must not exceed five minutes for the presentation and five minutes to answer judge questions. International teams who cannot travel to the Columbia University campus may present via teleconference.

FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2019: AWARD ANNOUNCEMENT AT the StartupColumbia Festival

Columbia Venture Competition Rules and Regulations

Updated January, 2019

  1. CVC is intended for new, independent ventures in the seed or early start-up stages.

  2. Businesses built using technologies or IP licensed from Columbia University will be accepted but ownership of the IP must be clearly stated and documented. Ownership of intellectual property and equity shares in the business must not be in dispute.

  3. Status of incorporation and any funding received must be clearly stated. Cash grants will only be awarded to teams that have established, legally-formed business registration.

  4. Teams do not have to be formally incorporated to enter – or win — however, winning teams must be legally-formed business entities to receive the grant. If a winning team is not yet an incorporated entity, Columbia Entrepreneurship administrators can assist with that process. Some prize funds may be applied to legal expenses.

  5. Teams must not have raised more than $150,000 prior to March 1st, 2019.

  6. The Columbia Venture Competition is intended for ventures founded, managed, and owned by eligible founders (students or recent alumni within 5 years of degree). Winning teams with non-Columbia-affiliated founders must document the role all founders have had in the conception and development of the venture. At least one founder must be a Columbia student or recent alumnus (recent alumni within 5 years of degree).

  7. All team members are asked to state their university and school affiliation with degree year. CVC administrators may also require proof of the length of time each founder has been engaged in their venture.

  8. Certain Challenges further restrict the eligibility requirements for teams. It is up to the team to fully review all eligibility requirements before entering a Challenge. Teams that enter a Challenge for which they are not eligible may be disqualified.

  9. Teams who have won or placed in the top three for any CVC Challenge in prior years may not enter the same challenge again but can enter another challenge. For example, a top-three team from the 2018 Undergraduate Challenge may enter the #StartupColumbia Challenge in 2019.

  10. Teams may only enter one Challenge per year.

  11. CVC finalists must present live or via teleconference on Thursday April 4th, 2019.

  12. The winners will be announced on Friday, April 5th at the #Startup Columbia Festival. Winners must agree to release rights to use their images and brief descriptions of their business models to help promote Columbia University programs. Winners will be given rights to use their images, photos and videos for their own promotional purposes.

  13. It may take Columbia up to three months after the final winners are determined to award the grants.

  14. By submitting your application, the team confirms that they have read and agree with all CVC rules, regulations, and eligibility requirements. If a team is found to be in breach of eligibility requirements at any point during or after the Competition prior to receiving funds, the team may be disqualified. The Competition administrators reserve their discretion to determine a team's disqualification or eligibility. Disqualification is final and may not be appealed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Blended Teams With Members From Other Universities

Generally speaking, entries from current Columbia students (and Barnard students for the Undergraduate Challenge) and alumni within five years of their degree will be accepted. Entries from blended teams that include non-Columbia-affiliated members will also be considered. CVC administrators reserve the right to determine if the Columbia members of a blended have played a significant role in founding and running the company and are currently engaged with the team. CVC may disqualify a blended team if they do not meet this criteria. If a blended team wins, award funds will only be granted if the Columbia-affiliated founder remains on the team at the time the funds are ready to be awarded.

Non-Disclosure Agreements

There is no formal non-disclosure agreement in place for the Columbia Venture Competition. Participants’ executive summaries and pitch decks will only be seen by the Venture Competition administrators and the judging panel. Neither of those documents will be distributed more broadly unless explicit permission is received from the team. Teams should be aware that CVC administrators will not require judges to sign non-disclosure agreements. Confidentiality has never presented a problem but we do advise that teams provide as much detail as possible without disclosing proprietary information or unprotected IP.