Venture Madness doubles ca$h prize for startup battle

Venture Madness, presented by Invest Southwest in partnership with Arizona Commerce Authority, is a competition where 64 startups from around the southwest will go head-to-head and compete for a cash prize. Because of all the excitement surrounding the event, the sponsors have doubled the cash prize to $50,000.
For the last 20 years, Invest Southwest, has been the premier capital conference in the region connecting investors with ventures and has had an “investment-centric focus” format, until this year. The event has gone through a serious transformation by responding to the needs of its audience and embracing the vibrancy of the startup community, starting with Venture Madness.
How Venture Madness works: Think of it as the “Battle of the Brackets” where startups duel it out bracket-style for the top slot. Thirty-two (of 64) bracket spots will be awarded to past participants from the Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC); the remaining 32 spots will be filled through open enrollment. Startups from the southwest can apply by the deadline of January 10, 2014.
Once the 64 ventures are established, there will be two online elimination rounds and 16 companies will advance to the live-demo rounds before a panel of judges on March 5-7, at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.
In addition to the cash prize increase, early bird tickets are now available for purchase at a discounted rate of $299, which are only available until January 31 and after that the full price tickets will be available for $349. Each ticket includes three days of networking and live, head-to-head company pitches from 16 Venture Madness finalists. In addition to the company pitches there will be breakout sessions and keynote speaker events.
Tickets include:

  • Opening and closing cocktail events (Wednesday and Friday)
  • Continental breakfast and lunch (Thursday and Friday)
  • A spring training baseball game at Salt River Fields (Friday)

Hey startups! Open enrollment only lasts a few more days…deadline is January 10th.  Companies interested in participation must complete the online application, as well as create and submit a 90-second elevator pitch video. Applications and more information for Venture Madness, including detailed instructions, are available online at
Venture Madness timeline:
January 10, 2014: Startup applications close
February 3 – 14, 2014: First online elimination round with a 64 company bracket
February 17 – 24, 2014: Second online elimination round with a 32 company bracket
February 24, 2014: 16 companies to pitch live announced
March 5, 2014: Venture Madness 2014 kicks off with an evening cocktail reception at Talking Stick Resort
March 6, 2014: Third elimination round, 16 companies to pitch live
March 7, 2014: Elimination rounds four – six; Venture Madness Champion announced

2 thoughts on “Venture Madness doubles ca$h prize for startup battle”

  1. Dear ACA:
    The effort required for this contest far exceeds the potential return. And if this contest is similar to the AZ Innovation Challenge, the only companies that will make it to the final round are the ones that already have funding (i.e. they don’t need the money).
    If you genuinely want to impact the local tech community, you should look to assist companies that don’t play the startup funding game. There are many recipes for success: VC money is not a requirement.

    • Randy, you may not have seen all the winners of the AZ Innovation Challenge, but they haven’t all been companies that already have funding. Also, startup companies that are not playing “the startup funding game” but worth of getting help would be hard to find, wouldn’t they? Not to mention there are tons of resources and mentors for such startups (that are not necessarily looking for funding).
      I don’t necessarily think the ACA or AZ Innovation Challenge has it all right, but I’m a big critic of random critics who criticize everyone who is actually doing something. It’s not helpful to criticize everything being done to help startups without offering any great alternative solutions.

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