TechCrunch is hosting its first startup competition in Sub-Saharan Africa. We’ve wanted to bring TechCrunch to Africa for a long time, and now thanks to our sponsor Facebook, we will bring the Startup Battlefield competition, to Nairobi on October 11 this year.
We’re looking for Sub-Saharan Africa’s best innovators, makers and technical entrepreneurs to participate in TechCrunch Battlefield Africa 2017. Startups can apply to three categories: social good, productivity and utility, gaming and entertainment. TechCrunch will host the event in Nairobi in front of a live audience and top judges, and we will live stream the show on TechCrunch and Facebook so the rest of the world can tune in. The judges will choose a winner in each category and select an overall winner, “Sub-Saharan Africa’s Most Promising Startup,” whose founders will win $25,000 USD in no-equity cash plus an all-expense paid trip for two to San Francisco to compete in the Battlefield at TechCrunch’s flagship event, Disrupt SF 2018 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at this time).
The timing for Battlefield Africa 2017 could not be better. Sub-Saharan Africa just produced its first unicorn, Jumia, exits are increasingly frequent, and global venture capitalists are taking note.
Sub-Saharan African startups are helping unleash the region’s potential, from last-mile technologies that deliver edtech, agritech, and medtech to remote areas, to mobile-based fintech innovations that ease financial transactions and lending in bustling cities. Sub-Saharan Africa’s diversity in language, culture, politics, technology and living standards demands huge creativity from entrepreneurs.
Sub-Saharan African startups, for example, have proven themselves particularly skilled at innovating with low-cost mobile applications, rather than capital-intensive, high-broadband web applications. That makes sense in a region where access to a mobile phone is often more likely than access to clean water or electricity. Innovations that can scale to fingertips globally are fueling human possibility and expansion to global markets.
TechCrunch is eager to take part in covering Africa’s burgeoning tech sector more fully. We love to see startup ecosystems develop, and Battlefield is one of the best platforms in the world to spotlight the most promising ventures for investors, partners and even future employees. Our editors carefully pick the best startups to compete from hundreds of applications, and recruits world class judges to ask tough questions and pick the winners. And the Battlefield staff coaches the founders to make brilliant pitches on stage at the Battlefield event
We will stream the whole event to viewers around the world thanks to TechCrunch’s enormous global reach. At the end of the day, that’s why the 648 companies that have competed in Battlefield have raised $6.9 billion and produced 95 exits to date.
Here’s how to participate
Startups must fit into one of three categories (social good, productivity and utility, gaming and entertainment) to participate. Five startups in each category will be selected to join us on stage for the Battlefield Africa in Nairobi.
Apart from clear relevance to one of the three themes, qualifying startups should:
- Be early-stage companies in “launch” stage
- Be a resident from our eligible countries
- Have a fully working product/beta, reasonably close to or in production
- Have received limited press or publicity to date
- Have no known intellectual property conflicts
What do the winners receive?
Apart from the exposure that comes from pitching to the global TechCrunch audience as well as the live audience of distinguished technologists, entrepreneurs, and investors in Nairobi, the overall winner will receive $25,000 in no-equity cash plus an all-expense paid trip for two to San Francisco to compete in Battlefield at TechCrunch’s flagship event, Disrupt SF 2018 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at this time).
Are costs to attend the pitch-off covered?
No, but TechCrunch will try to find financial assistance for a startup in need of assistance to reach the Nairobi event.
Who picks the startups that will compete?
The TechCrunch editors who run the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield competition will choose the finalists from the application pool.
Who will judge the pitch-offs?
TechCrunch and Facebook will select four judges for each theme. They will be noted entrepreneurs, investors and technologists with experience relevant to the category. A TechCrunch editor will moderate the judging, and cast the tie-breaker ballot, if needed.
What is the pitch-off format?
Each company will have five minutes to present. The judges will have five minutes to ask questions. Live demos are strongly encouraged.
What are the judging criteria?
Productivity & Utility — The judges will pick startup with the product or service most likely to go into full commercial production and have the biggest impact on human potential and/or the largest exit.
Social Good — The judges will look for the startup with the product most likely to catalyze social and economic development through technology.
Gaming & Entertainment — The judges will pick startup with the product or service most likely to see wide consumer adoption and have either the biggest exit and/or impact on gaming and entertainment.
When is the application deadline?
July 14th, 2017 at 5pm PST.
When will you notify the finalists?
August 21st, 2017 at 5pm PST.
Will TechCrunch’s team help prepare startups for the pitch-off?
Yes, in person training and rehearsal sessions will be required, as well in-person rehearsal on October 10th.
What else do I need to know?
The pitch-off is on October 11th, 2017. There will be a reception at the end of the pitch-off, where each company will have room to exhibit and talk 1:1 with pitch-off attendees.
What countries are eligible?
Residents in the following countries may apply: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the foregoing language, the “Applicable Countries” does not include any country to or on which the United States has embargoed goods or imposed targeted sanctions (including, but not limited to, Sudan).
See you in Nairobi!
(Note: Text above regarding the prize for the winner of Battlefield Africa was modified for clarity.)