Every startup competition application is a bit different, but at the end of the day, they all boil down to wanting to know the same things.

How to craft the perfect startup application?

1. What the f**k is your company about?

You be surprised how badly companies do this. Startups should have both a short and a long version of their pitch. The short version, aka elevator pitch, should be about 140 words, a one-liner. The long version, a description of your business, should be no more than one paragraph long. I’ve seen companies take up to three pages to explain what they do. One paragraph should be enough.

And make sure that the CEO or someone high up in the company fills out the application, preferably one of the founders. Do not have your interns write your applications. Yes, we can tell the difference.

2. Can you eliminate doubts?

Take stock of the common questions you keep getting from customers or investors. Make sure you know how to answer those doubts in a split second. Or better yet, fix them.

I’m continually amazed by how many times I hear startup teams say ‘Oh yah, people always ask us about that,’ but they still don’t have an answer nor have they bothered to make a change.

3. Who is on your team?

Showcasing your team is really helpful. Many times who is on your team is more interesting than your startup itself. Don’t just plaster LinkedIn profiles. Add a brief description of each one of them. Don’t underestimate this easy opportunity to grab attention.

4. Do you have a demo video?

A one-minute—emphasis on one-minute—demo video is super helpful. Enough said.

5. How do you make money?

Keep it simple. For example, ‘We have a freemium model and are also introducing a payment model.‘

6. Who are your competitors and what makes you different from them?

Go deep with your competitors. Most of the time startups just add some names. I want to see how you think about yourself against the competitors, not just their names. For example, ‘mobile first’ is not enough. If you just tell me mobile first. You’re going to die.

7. What are your most relevant milestones?

A second-place award from three years ago is not a milestone. Talk about significant partnerships, investment rounds, patents, etc.

8. Who are your target customers?

Make a list, in order of importance. Include links, pretty please.


Before you fill out the form, try to find out what variables or KPIs the event competition organizers are using to evaluate startups ahead of time.

I invite you to apply to South Summit, until June 12th, to show how your startup should be one of the top startups from the south. The focus here is on innovation. So when applying, it’s important to show that you have something that hasn’t been seen before, or if your startup is something more straightforward, be able to show plenty of remarkable traction.

About the Author:

alex barreraAlex Barrera is a cofounder of two major startup accelerators and mentor at over 12 startup accelerators worldwide, international speaker and keynote speaker at several TEDx events, and founder Press42, a strategic communications energy, Alex Barrera is dedicated to helping startups succeed. This year, like every year, you’ll find him and his team working with the South Summit, one of the leading startup conferences in Europe, as a startup application reviewer and as a pitch coach to the 100 finalists. Just look for the only guy in the room with the wide-brim hat. Twitter | Linkedin