Friday, January 23, 2015

Calling all startups: Here's what's new with the Charlotte Venture Challenge this year

Stephen Howard, a UNC Charlotte graduate, won $5,000 last
year at the Charlotte Venture Challenge for his $3,000 MechBlocks, a
series of modular blocks and bearings for assembling devices. 
It's been tradition for the last 14 years: Founders of the Southeast's most promising startups swarm the Queen City and pitch their ideas to angel investors, venture capitalists and top executives for a chance at funding as part of the Charlotte Venture Challenge.

But 2015 throws something new into the mix.

Finalists in the competition, which in the past has attracted more than 200 early-stage companies, will make their pitches during the opening day of the Southeast Venture Conference, an assembly of top venture capitalists and private investors waiting for a chance to pour their money into hopeful tech companies.

Touting the tagline "where smart money meets smart people," the venture conference, entering its ninth year, was last in Charlotte in 2013. It was held in Atlanta last year, and has also been hosted in Tysons Corner, Va.,

More than 600 investors, tech scouts and Fortune 500 executives are expected to attend the conference, from Mar. 31 to April 2, at the Le Meridien hotel.

The opportunity to compete and pitch to hundreds of top-tier investors is big for aspiring startups. So, if you want to get in on the action, submit an application by noon Mar. 3.

The challenge is organized by Ventureprise, UNC Charlotte's nonprofit startup incubator.

Find applications for the Charlotte Venture Challenge here, and a chance to attend the Southeast Venture Conference on its website.