Apply before January 8 to take the stage at SXSW 2021

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Do you have what it takes to pitch at SXSW? Applications are open through January 8 to pitch at SXSW 2021.  Syracuse startups can apply to one of two tracks at the event:  either the SXSW Pitch Competition or the SXSW EDU Launch Competition.  Thanks to a partnership, Syracuse University startups may have access to a waived the application for the SXSW Pitch Competition.

SXSW Pitch is a showcase for innovative and cutting-edge new technology to a panel of industry experts.  The pitch event is open to high-profile media professionals, venture capital investors, and angel investors.  This year’s SXSW Pitch will be part of the SXSW Online digital experience and will feature 40 interactive technology companies from 8 different categories who will virtually pitch and participate in a 5-minute Q&A with three judges.

Due to the pandemic, the SXSW Online 2021 offering will be a digital experience that will feature conference keynotes and sessions, screenings, showcases, networking, and exhibitions from March 16 – March 20, 2021. This year’s SXSW Online will feature top startups in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics & voice, enterprise & smart data, entertainment, gaming & content, future of work, health, wearables & wellbeing, innovative world technologies, smart cities, transportation & logistics, and social & culture.  Learn more about SXSW Online here.

To be eligible for the SXSW Pitch Competition:

  • A company’s product or service must have launched no earlier than March 17, 2019.
  • A company’s product or service must not have launched after June 17, 2021.
  • Each company may only enter one product or service to SXSW Pitch.
  • A company that enters more than one product or service will not be eligible to participate in SXSW Pitch.
  • Founders of the company applying must retain some portion of ownership in the company.
  • Each applicant is only eligible to present in one of the SXSW family of startup events (SXSW Pitch or SXSW EDU Launch). In contrast, if you have applied for SXSW EDU event and were not accepted to participate, then please feel free to apply to SXSW Pitch.
  • The Company must not have raised over ten million dollars in funding from combined funding sources.
  • The product or service must fall into one of the SXSW Pitch categories.

In addition to the SWSW Pitch Competition, earlier stage collegiate startups may apply for the SXSW EDU Launch Competition, a separate track that serves as a launchpad for fresh ideas and solutions.  This event celebrates early-stage startups, the design of physical learning environments and student entrepreneurs.  The 2021 Launch Competition will be part of the SXSW EDU Online digital experience from March 9-11.  

The SXSW EDU Launch competition is open to early-stage startup companies in the education market with a deadline of January 8, 2021.

To be eligible for the SXSW EDU Launch Competition:

  • Companies must be established with a management team and public-facing website, able to convey a sustainable business model and able to demonstrate user traction, engagement, and adoption metrics.
  • Companies who have raised over $5 million in funds from combined funding sources at the time of application are ineligible.
  • Each applicant is only eligible to present in one of the SXSW startup events (SXSW Pitch Competition or SXSW EDU Launch Competition).

To take advantage of the special offer of a possible waived application fee for the SXSW Pitch Competition, e-mail who can connect you with our university contact to consider a possible application fee waiver.  However, you may also wish to apply directly to the SXSW Pitch Competition and pay the $59 application fee.

There is a $29 fee to apply to the SXSW EDU Launch Competition.  There is no application fee waiver for this event.  Apply here for SXSW EDU Launch Competition.

Also, keep your eyes open for upcoming details about Student Startup Madness (SSM), a nationwide tournament-style competition for college student digital media startups, culminating with national finals at South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in March.  Applications for that competition will also be opening soon, and you can sign up for updates on the SSM website. Student Startup Madness was founded by Sean Branagan, Director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.