New Early-Stage Education Startup Contest Puts $250,000 Up for Grabs at ASU GSV

ASU GSV is calling early-stage education and workforce technology entrepreneurs to apply for a new startup competition in which $250,000 is up for grabs.

The new GSV Cup is seeking entries from all over the world through Dec. 1. Judges will choose 200 companies to present at the 2020 ASU GSV Summit, March 30 through April 1 in San Diego. From that group three finalists will be chosen to compete for financial awards.

The competition will focus on companies with solutions in the education field, as well as in the human resources or talent management area, said Deborah Quazzo, the managing partner for San Francisco-based early-stage venture fund GSV AcceleraTE and the co-founder of the ASU GSV Summit.

“We want to increase the earliest stage participation,” Quazzo said. “In a perfect world, we would catch the university student working out of a dorm room.”

The contest is being co-sponsored by market research firm Holon IQ. Patrick Brothers, the co-founder and managing director of Holon IQ, said the contest will cast a more global net for entrepreneurs. Nominations are already rolling in from Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America, he said.

“We’re seeking to showcase the amazing innovation happening globally, and give those teams the opportunity to come to the summit and share with leaders from all around the world,” he said.

Judges, including venture capital firms, will use Holon IQ data technology to evaluate each startup company on five dimensions: the product, the people behind the product, the potential of the business, the purpose/mission and potential impact, and predictability around milestones.

Before the end of this year, judges will announce the “Elite 200” of the seed and pre-seed stage entrants. Those companies will be invited to ASU GSV in March 2020 in San Diego. Out of that group, 25 companies will compete on-site, and three winners will present on the main stage, Quazzo said.

One of the benefits of this new competition is that, with a longer lead time, there is a more in-depth analysis of the entrants. Instead of just being rated on a seven-minute pitch, judges will have time to dig in, according to Quazzo. “This allows us to get much deeper,” she said.

In addition, it was important to organizers that the contest include “talent-tech” startups and entrepreneurs, Brothers said, to put a focus on the whole workforce pipeline. “A lot of new startups are solving problems…in that area around the transition from education to employment,” he said. “The lines are really blurring between education and workforce and talent.”

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