Fenox Venture Capital is launching a series of pitch competitions called the Startup World Cup, with a $1 million investment prize, in an effort to identify top entrepreneurial talent in 11 international markets.
General Partner and CEO, Anis Uzzaman said “As we work with entrepreneurs outside of the U.S., we keep hearing that they want to know more VC’s and entrepreneurs here in Silicon Valley, or get connections to large corporations in the U.S. But at the same time, when we work with our portfolio companies here, we find that founders want to explore new markets and find business partners overseas.”
Fenox VC has promised a USD $1 million investment prize for the winners of the culminating event, but the firm intends to back other promising companies it meets through the competition, or may even invest more than $1 million in seed money in the winning company, Uzzaman confirmed.
Pitch competitions are nothing new. The first “b-plan competition,” then called Moot Corp., was held in 1984 at the University of Texas at Austin. Now, that competition is boringly named the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition. And such events are held commonly by other colleges and universities, but also by other investment firms, foundations and corporations.
Some prominent examples include the MIT $100K and the Rice Business Plan Competition for new, high-tech ventures involving students at those universities; the Hult Prize and Mentor Capital Network Challenge for social ventures; the 1776 Challenge Cup, hosted by the D.C.-based investment firm 1776; and competitions at conferences like this publication’s TechCrunch Disrupt, WebSummit or LAUNCH Festival.
Of course, there are also pitch competitions on TV like ABC’s Shark Tank in the U.S. or CBC’s Dragons’ Den in Canada helping to popularize entrepreneurship worldwide.
The U.S. may see a glut of competitions, and launching a new one may win Fenox VC some skeptical eye-rolls, but these events haven’t spread to all the markets where entrepreneurs could use them, Uzzaman believes. “This platform is for startups and startup ecosystems of the world.”
Judges who will decide on the winning company for Fenox VC’s Startup World Cup include: Y Combinator’s Kevin Hale, TechStars’ David Cohen and Eric Feng from Kleiner Perkins. Fenox is still looking to add judges, Uzzaman said.
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