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Every year, chúng tôi holds the Startup of the Year competition, a pitch contest that pits a huge number of startups against each other in pursuit of capital, business resources, and bragging rights in the startup community. The competition takes place at our annual conference, Innovate Celebrate, in Boston in October. And to say that startups leave happy would be more than an understatement.

We reached out to a number of former Startup of the Year contestants in hopes of spurring a discussion about the value of the competition. We were so overwhelmed by the support and praise from these startup founders and entrepreneurs that we felt it necessary to share their insights with our readers. If you’re thinking about applying, now is the time to do it!

Notable Inclusivity

The Startup of the Year competition isn’t about rewarding the companies you’ve seen a thousand times in pitch competitions. chúng tôi is committed to inclusivity across all facets of startup life, and our contestants feel that commitment at our events.

“The organizing team and staff were accommodating for Grok and the other companies, making sure everyone had their needs met during the event,” said Tarun Gangwani, Head of Product at Grok. “Our team was given many chances to network with experienced entrepreneurs and executives across multiple industries. chúng tôi ensured the event would be worth while, even if we didn’t end up going on to win the competition itself.”

This competition isn’t meant to be an intimidating experience. The Startup of the Year competition is designed to make entrepreneurs, founders, and innovators feel welcomed by a community of peers that are all trying to do the same thing: make the world a better place.

“The chúng tôi staff made us feel extremely welcomed,” said Courtney Caldwell, cofounder of ShearShare. They cared less about a team’s technical expertise or background and were much more focused on whether or not a company’s mission and model introduces new and innovative ideas that are outside of the standard prescription and ShearShare certainly fit that bill.”

The goal of any startup competition should be to inspire the attendees, support the startups, and facilitate networking in as many ways as possible. Fortunately, given the size of our event, we think we accomplish that in spades.

“There is a ton of work that goes into putting these events on and the team at chúng tôi always makes it seem like its easy going for all involved,” said James Ross, Cofounder of Hedgechatter. “They keep the group size to a manageable level, which is important because it only takes attending one of those super massive 1000+ exhibitor events to feel like your startup is just another speck of sand on the beach. The Startup of the Year competition on the other hand was sized right which allowed startups, entrepreneurs, investors, and attendees to really learn about products/services and have quality meetings with potential investors and customers.”

Undeniable Benefits

Of course, the goal of a competition is to win. However, winning isn’t the only thing, as chúng tôi provides a wide range of benefits for contestants, from networking opportunities and business resources to exposure and media attention.

“The opportunity to network with founders from Silicon Valley is really unparalleled,” said Garrett Moon, CEO and cofounder of CoSchedule. “There was tons of energy and excitement during the entire event and working with other founders spurred a wealth of ideation and momentum beyond.”

In addition to all the benefits of the event, taking part in the Startup of the Year competition provides unique opportunities outside of chúng tôi which can lead to success in a number of different ways.

“The accolades and recognition were wonderful and very uplifting to the team, but the very best thing was the booth we received at CES in January,” said Paul Droege, founder and CEO of SunPort. “The fact it was free was nice but it had an amazing, high-traffic location which was awesome. We leveraged the location into great visibility, made some great connections and learned a great deal by interacting with people during CES, all of which came from our win.”

Breeds Success

Winning any startup competition is going to do wonders for your progress. Just ask Stephanie Lampkin, the founder and CEO of Blendoor, whose company won the competition in 2023.

“Winning startup of the year provided a lot of validation that what we’re building is valuable which helped us get into a top 5 accelerator,” said Stephanie Lampkin, founder and CEO of Blendoor. “It also connected us with big tech companies who are now on our beta.”

On the other hand, winning the Startup of the Year competition is not the only way to enjoy success. For example, 2023 finalist TurboAppeal was just acquired by Paradigm Tax Group in a move that can only be deemed successful.

“It helped give us confidence in the validation behind our product as well as understand the reaction from the VC community as well as potential customers,” said Badal Shah, CEO of TurboAppeal. “We are grateful for the opportunity with .”

Startup of the Year

If you think you have what it takes to be the Startup of the Year, you need to apply today. Remember, the 100 startups that are chosen will be invited to join us in Boston, MA from Oct 15-17 for Innovate Celebrate, and will be on their way to startup success in no time!

You're reading Former Startup Of The Year Contestants On Why You Need To Apply Today International Startup Of The Year Competition

It’s almost here: Celebrate 2023 is the time of year when we celebrate all things startup, which includes mentor sessions, inspiring keynotes, and workshops. Though, perhaps everybody’s favorite part of the conference is our Startup of the Year Competition.

Over the course of the entire year we’ve been hosting events in awesome tech ecosystems from Philadelphia to Miami and Chicago to Little Rock. We’ve been honored and excited to meet with the local community members, investors, and innovators who keep the wheels turning in each of their own cities. With all of these events comes a list of Celebrate 2023 semifinalists that won’t stop growing until they all journey to the Las Vegas desert from October 4-6.

All of the semifinalists who compete in our Startup of the Year Competition will be exposed to dozens of investors and hundreds of other startup enthusiasts and founders. Not to mention, all of the startups will be eligible for prizes and awards from some of the best in the biz: Tech Wildcatters, 500Startups, CEA, Crowdfunder, Techstars, and American Airlines, to name a few.

Today we wanted to bring you the best and brightest of the international circuit. These companies from all over the globe are a constant reminder that innovation, expertise, and talent knows no borders. However, in order to discover who’s the best of the best, we wanted to invite you all – our online readers – to vote for your favorite by selecting among the startups in our regional online polls.

Choose wisely, my friends:

Place Your Vote Online Now for the International Startup of the Year

Please note: Only your last vote will count, and results will not be displayed immediately as the voting period will remain open through August 31 at 12 Midnight EST  and we will announce all of the winners on Tuesday, September 1! 


Brakers Early Warning Systems INC.: Short for Broadcasting to Radios Ahead Keeps Emergency Responders Safe, they are in the business of saving lives. Specifically, they attempt to prevent incidents involving motorists and any traffic anomaly via their app.

Reforges: A magnetic power adapter that accelerates the plug-in process for all devices. Essentially Reforges turns any phone charger into a high speed capable charger.

Sitata: They aim to keep travelers safe with real-time health and safety info by connecting users to a local doctor in an emergency.

Suncayr: The team is making sun safety simple with a color changing marker that alerts you when your sunscreen is no longer protecting you.


YoTeLlevo Cuba: If you need a driver with a car in Cuba, you can use this platform to contact independent drivers who live on the island and can arrange transportation for your transfer or tour.


Exhibia: An online bidding platform that was built to support only Google or Facebook verified users on deals. It was built to verify that every bid comes from a real person and not a robot.


SparkLRS: A platform to record all of your learning experiences, create your own personal space, and interact with other users’ experiences. Everything was built on the three principles of sharing, discovery, and personal knowledge.

Trackidon: A live tracking mobile solution designed to ensure the safety of students while also enriching communication between parents and education management.


Houndr: Houndr helps you discover products and brands that you need, or that match your interests, in stores near you.


SafeBeyond: A unique technology and service that has managed to “re-design” the perception of death!


SLI-CK: An electricity meter that measures and transmits the amount of energy you use you use to the SLICK app.


allekpay: A payment method that seeks to eliminate card cloning and card thefts.

m-Digital: An app that allows diners to reduce waiting times within a restaurant, enabling wait staff to focus on service and customer experience.


Hamwells: Their platform offers e-showers with circulation mode for a sustainable wellness experience.

Multisense: A multi-biometric authentication app that combines face and voice recognition with fingerprint signature, GPS, and NFC to enhance security and ease of use for our customers.


1Plify: Nigeria’s First Central University Admissions Portal, it connects Nigerian students directly to institutions of their choice around the world, allowing them apply directly to any our partner institutions.


OORT: We help manufacturers change any device into a connected one, so they can cross-sell, up-sell, and gather data about clients.

Puerto Rico

iGenApps: They disrupt the need for computers and programming skills, by empowering people and businesses to create content-driven apps using mobile devices.


Savelist:is a unified wishlist that works in any online store and lets users know when the price drops.


iStaging: They build augmented reality and virtual reality apps for both furniture and real estate.


UMRE: Or,Universal Medical Robotized Exoskeleton, the team has built a comprehensive exo-system that diagnoses, stores, and plays back data around patients who have had heart attacks or suffer from diseases like cerebral palsy.

United Kingdom

CityFALCON: They’re democratizing access to financial news and creating a level-playing field for all investors and traders with their platform.

Dhi: An Artificial Intelligence platform that learns to develop Mobile applications from you, by simply interacting via speech or text: it’s like SIRI for building mobile apps.

Elliot For Water: The team built out a search engine that allows you to save lives simply by using the engine. Every time you use it, fresh water is donated to people around the world who need it.

GamePlan Learning: Their platform maps a personalized path to different careers via online learning.

Image Credit: Wikipedia 


6 Things You Need To Know Before Starting Your Startup

Many people dream of owning a business. To maximize your chances of success, you need to know a few things before you start your startup.

Here are 6 things you need to know before your startup is launched. This article will help you understand some of the issues you may face along your journey, and offer solutions.

1. You Need A Good Team

You must have a great team before you consider opening a business. Even if your brain is the best in the world you still have weaknesses. These weaknesses can help you identify what to look out for when looking for partners or employees.

However, technical skills and knowledge are not the only things that make a team great. A strong leader is essential to keep a team together. You don’t need to be a great leader if you aren’t strong at it.

2. Cybersecurity is Very Important

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are starting, you can be sure that your online presence will be there. You should also consider all the cyber threats that exist, particularly with the recent increase in cyberattacks on large corporations and individuals.

Good cyber hygiene is essential in the initial stages of your startup. This includes:

Using strong passwords

Encrypting sensitive data

Using a data security tool, like VPN

Also read:

9 Best Cybersecurity Companies in the World

3. Most Startups Fail

It may be a hard pill to swallow, but the fact is that 90% fail start-ups. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to start a business. This is a reminder to be realistic and keep your options open.

Inspirational stories about people who risked everything and still managed to make it work are plentiful. There are millions more stories like these that fail and lose everything.

4. It will be Emotionally Draining

It is not easy to start and run a business. Even the most resilient leader will face challenges.

Many founders experience emotional drainage due to:

Family-work imbalance,

Work-related stress,

Managing people etc.

Small business owners are often required to take on multiple roles within their company due to a lack of resources. This can lead to confusion in the roles and impact the owner’s ability to make decisions as well as their mental health.

Although emotional drain is difficult to avoid, there are ways to reduce its impact. Meditation is a practice many successful entrepreneurs recommend.

Meditation can be used to help you clear your mind and solve problems faster. You can try guided meditation on YouTube, or even a special app if you are new to meditation.

Also read:

Top 5 Automation Tools to Streamline Workflows for Busy IT Teams

5. Find A Mentor

There are others who have been on the same road as you and still remember the experience. Learn as much as you can from these people.

If you are lucky enough, you might be able to build a strong relationship with someone who will eventually become your mentor. Reach out to someone you admire and would love to meet. It’s amazing how many people are willing to share their knowledge.

6. Writing A Business Plan can Help

It is not mandatory to write a business proposal. A well-written business plan is a great way to get your startup noticed by investors.

These are the main components of a business strategy plan:

Executive Summary

Products or services description,

Marketing strategy,

Analyze competitors, and

Budgeting and financial planning.

Investors look at a business plan when making investment decisions. It provides an objective overview of the business, which is even more important.


It is a huge step to launch a startup. There will be many obstacles along the way. It is important to be prepared for the unexpected and to find solutions to any problems.

A good team will increase your chances of success. A startup’s success or failure can be determined by its leadership and team cohesiveness. Keep in mind, however, that most startups fail. Be prepared with some exit strategies in case you need them.

Why You Need To Use A Struggle Timer

How long would you puzzle over a problem, and would setting a time limit make a difference to your productivity?

Getty Images

Many productivity experts believe that our ability to focus is like a muscle that needs training. The more deep, focused work we do, the stronger our muscles will become and the easier we will find it to engage in deep work. But Scott Young, critically acclaimed author of Ultralearning, sees things differently. He believes that our ability to focus is about managing one’s emotions.

Making progress on big, important projects is often frustrating, and involves getting negative feedback and, at times, questioning your abilities (which, for me, brings back memories I had tried to repress of writing an 80,000-word PhD thesis). These challenges can create an instinctual aversion to getting started and maintaining focus.

Young has tried several strategies to improve his capacity to stay focused. One such method is called the Struggle Timer. The idea for the Struggle Timer emerged when he was contemplating his approach to studying and learning new material. One of his many accomplishments is that he learned the entire MIT computer science curriculum – normally taking four years – in less than twelve months. And he did this without taking any classes.

When working on solving a problem during the course, he often wondered: How quickly should he look at the answer when he couldn’t identify the right one? ‘The approach I took during the MIT challenge is that you should get the right answer immediately. So as soon as you get stuck, you should look at the right answer because immediate feedback is important.’

Secondly, Young believes there’s a benefit to struggling for a little longer because it allows you to appreciate the correct answer better. ‘Because of that negative emotional state, the feeling of frustration when you do encounter the answer will be much more memorable because it will have solved a problem that you were like, “Ah, that’s how you solve it!” as opposed to, “Oh yeah, I guess that makes sense.”’

Young took these insights, and now, when he feels himself struggling with a problem or a task, he sets the Struggle Timer for five or 10 minutes. And often, these additional five or 10 minutes can make the difference between solving a problem or getting back into flow – and giving up or procrastinating on another task.

Put it into action:

When you feel like you have hit a stuck point on a task, set a timer for five to ten minutes. Often, that is all it takes to push through the negative emotions you are feeling and get over the obstacle you are experiencing. (You might even wish to purchase a five- or ten-minute hourglass timer and label it Struggle Timer, as labelling emotions can lessen their intensity.)

If you are still struggling after ten minutes, give yourself permission to take a break. But chances are, you’ll be back in the flow and the negative emotions will have passed. And if you use the Struggle Timer in the context of solving a problem, the extra few minutes may well have been enough time to get to the answer.

Dr Amantha Imber is the author of Time Wise (of which this article is an edited extract) the founder of behavioural science consultancy Inventium and the host of How I Work, a podcast about the habits and rituals of the world’s most successful people.

Look back on the week that was with hand-picked articles from Australia and around the world. Sign up to the Forbes Australia newsletter here.

Today At Apple Worldwide: The First Year In Review

Twelve short months ago, Today at Apple sessions rolled out to Apple stores worldwide. Since then, thousands of free programs spanning a range of creative topics, from learning how to use Swift Playgrounds to taking a sketch walk in the community have been held daily. The sessions have become a key part of Apple’s recent retail philosophy which aims to reimagine Apple stores as modern-day town squares. With a full year in the books, it’s a fitting time to review the growth of Today at Apple, how well it has remained true to its goals, and what may be in store for year two.

Today at Apple’s public origins extend back to at least September 2023, when Apple opened a next-generation store in Brussels, Belgium. It was the first full store in the world to receive a Video Wall, Forum seating, and a Genius Grove, foreshadowing the design language that would eventually make its way to all new Apple stores.

In May 2023, on the 15th anniversary of the company’s first retail store, Apple previewed their new flagship location in San Francisco’s Union Square and announced the Today at Apple strategy. Apple explained that the initiative “brings to the community the world’s most talented artists, photographers, musicians, gamers, developers and entrepreneurs to inspire and educate our customers to go further with the things they are passionate about.”

Prior to Today at Apple, stores held a similar sounding series of sessions branded as “Workshops.” Unlike the new programs, Workshops placed more emphasis on technical training rather than community engagement and experiences. Today at Apple unified both Workshops and Youth Programs with consistent branding and introduced culturally rich special events and performances to the mix. To make the new format possible, Apple created a role called the “Creative Pro,” filled by experts deeply familiar with creative workflows and tools. The role was called the “liberal arts equivalent to the technical Genius.”

While select new stores began piloting the Today at Apple sessions shortly after the announcement, it wasn’t until April 2023 that Apple announced the program would be rolling out worldwide in May. At the time, Apple had a total of 495 retail locations, many of which needed a retrofit with new monitors called “Forum Displays” and a reconfigured seating area. An overnight refresh of older stores was done in preparation. In conjunction with the global announcement, Apple Dubai Mall opened on April 27th and began offering Today at Apple events immediately.

— Ty Booyzen (@TyBooyzen) April 23, 2023

On May 21, 2023, Apple celebrated the start of sessions around the world with a photo gallery of special events. Several high-profile musicians and illustrators were lined up to host live performances. A new website was launched to help locate and register for sessions at nearby stores. The initial set of programs spanned a range of 60 sessions, with each store offering a slightly different mix of signature programs depending on its size and market. Standard programs included:

Photo or Sketch Walks

Kids Hour offering sessions like creating movies and music

Swift coding sessions

Photo or Music Labs

Pro Series for a deep dive into Apple’s professional Mac software

Live Performances

Beginning in June, Apple expanded their Kids Hour offerings with new sessions involving filmmaking, illustration, and most notably iOS-controlled robots. Visit a store at any time of the day and you’re likely to see the Sphero robots cruising around on the floor.

— Jenean Morrison (@jeneanmorrison) September 30, 2023

Over the summer and into fall, Apple arranged an increasing number of special programs and collaborations in larger stores. Not only have these events been community favorites, they’ve been beneficial to artists hosting the sessions, too.

In June, K-Pop group NCT 127 performed at Apple Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York to a screaming audience. Their song “Cherry Bomb” was later used in a Twitter ad for the Apple Watch. Artist Jenean Morrison hosted a live art session at the same store in September. I was later introduced to Jenean’s work when she was invited to discuss her creative process at an Apple event held in collaboration with Adobe at last fall’s MAX conference.

Other collaborations have included Star Wars themed events for “Force Friday II,” Sketch Walks with members of the Urban Sketchers community, and even a Music Lab with Wu-Tang Clan frontman RZA.

As Today at Apple grows, more and more new stores go further than simply accommodating a video wall, featuring layouts designed from the ground up around the Forum area. Since the program’s introduction, Apple has opened their first stores in Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, and Austria. Both Japan and Australia have also received stores with the new design.

Perhaps one of the best examples of Today-at-Apple-first architecture can be seen at the new Apple Michigan Avenue along the Chicago River. The store has become a premiere destination for some of the best exclusive sessions.

A month-long series of programs called “The Chicago Series” were among the first to be held following its opening in October. Apple has also teamed up with architects Iker Gil and Perkins+Will to host special sketch walks through the city. Following Apple’s “Field Trip” education Keynote this past March, a unique Teacher Tuesday session was held at the store and attended by company executives.

Today at Apple sessions have tackled social and environmental issues too. So far in 2023, several events have been held for International Women’s Day, Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and Earth Day. A similar Earth Day discussion occurred in 2023, also hosted at Apple Union Square by Environment VP Lisa Jackson.

The Year Ahead

What lies ahead for year two of Today at Apple? With over 500 million visitors globally per year, Apple calls retail their “largest product.” Such a distinguished title indicates that much energy will be spent to continue its evolution.

One of the most effective ways Apple can expand Today at Apple’s reach is by making it available to more customers. In the retail space, that means opening and expanding more stores. At least four significant locations are expected to open throughout the remainder of 2023, every one designed to be a community gathering space.

Apple Piazza Liberty in Milan will greet visitors with a large, outdoor amphitheater. In Paris, the largest Forum in any store is being constructed on the historic Champs-Elysées. In the U.S., the famous 5th Avenue glass cube in New York City will reopen with a more welcoming plaza. Finally, Mount Vernon Square’s Carnegie Library is in the midst of being restored. When complete, Apple will share the building with the Historical Society of Washington D.C.

— Daniel Perez (@Danielpformigo) September 24, 2023

Existing older stores will continue to be updated as well. While Apple’s portable Forum displays suffice for small sessions, they’re no substitute for the immersive experience of large Video Walls and open gathering areas in modern stores. The size of many older spaces, especially those in enclosed shopping malls, makes large events like concerts altogether impractical. Even with Apple’s relatively aggressive remodeling rollout, the process of converting every classic store will likely take several more years.

Beyond physical spaces, expect also to see upgrades to Today at Apple programs coinciding with new hardware and software releases. Yearly improvements to the iPhone’s camera continuously enable new and novel photography techniques. Apps and features like Swift Playgrounds and ARKit are opportunities to teach new skills. Last fall’s Hour Of Code sessions were a great example. Apple Pencil support on the new 9.7-inch iPad may also spike interest in more live art and illustration sessions. It’s likely that we’ll see more programs like the Dubai Typography Series, which are as culturally rich as they are informative.

Above all, awareness is key to Today at Apple’s continued expansion. While Apple does a great job promoting its sessions on displays and the Video Wall inside stores, for customers who don’t visit stores often, the programs might be Apple’s best kept secret. The recently redesigned Apple Store app takes the first step in bringing more visibility to local events with a dedicated sessions tab.

On Facebook and Twitter, artists who hosts sessions will often promote their events ahead of time. Still, some customers who would benefit from Today at Apple sessions most are those that are new to Apple products and least likely to see the announcements. Increased local promotion and even personalized notifications could help spread the word.

After twelve months of sessions around the world, it’s clear that Today at Apple has been as much of a learning experience for Apple as it has been for customers. When laying out the program’s vision, Angela Ahrendts said “I’ll know we’ve done a really great job if the next generation says ‘meet me at Apple.’” Heading into the second half of 2023, Apple has a long trail ahead in pursuit of their ultimate goal, but the journey has begun on solid ground.

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Why You Don’t Need A Mobile Wallet

It may shock you to learn that Kenya is far ahead of the United States in the use of mobile wallet technology.

Kenya uses a system called M-Pesa, run by a company called Safaricom. Nearly every consumer purchase in this country, from utility bills to groceries, is paid for with a cell phone.

How did an economic and technological superpower like the United States of America get pwned in this category of technology by an East African nation with a small population and limited technological development?

I’ve been visiting Kenya for two months. As I walk around Nairobi, Kenya, I’m constantly stunned to see everybody paying for stuff with phones.

M-Pesa is a mobile wallet service provided by the Kenya-based companies Safaricom and its minority partner Vodacom. The system enables any subscriber with a mobile phone to deposit, withdraw and pay for things with that phone.

The key attribute of the M-Pesa system is simplicity. Money is stored in an M-Pesa account, rather than deposited in a bank. And it’s transferred via SMS. So users give their cash to an authorized M-Pesa location, and that money appears in their online account. Then, when they want to buy food, pay back loans, send money to family members or pay their bills, they just sent the money by texting it.

The supporting infrastructure of the M-Pesa system is made up of tiny stores that enable people to make deposits into their M-Pesa accounts with cash.

The system is so useful and popular that it’s spreading to Tanzania, Afghanistan, South Africa, India and Egypt.

It’s estimated that about half the world’s mobile wallet transactions take place through M-Pesa. Kenya is the world’s number-one mobile wallet powerhouse, and it’s exporting that service abroad.

So why is one of our first-world problems that we’re still stuck in the credit card era?

The mobile phone is an obvious place to put your digital money. The reason is that it’s a computer. It’s connected to the Internet. And everybody’s got one.

So where’s my mobile wallet?

After looking at this problem in detail, I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason we in the US aren’t using our phones to pay for everything is that it’s unnecessary. Some people want the technology, sort of. But why?

Well, we just like the idea of it. We’d like to carry fewer credit cards. Beyond that, we really don’t have good reasons to switch from credit cards to mobile phone payments.

To understand how unnecessary mobile wallet technology is to American consumers, it helps to understand how necessary it is to Kenyans.

In a nutshell, mobile wallets replace cash in Kenya for most consumers, whereas in our own country it would replace credit cards, mostly.

Some 85% of the world’s transactions are still done in cash, according to MasterCard CFO Martina Hund-Mejean. And that can be a problem. Cash can’t be transferred over distances remotely. And it can be easily stolen.

M-Pesa relies on a huge number of local retail stores that convert cash to M-Pesa account deposits. And Safaricom must make sure these small outlets make profits on the deposits, otherwise they wouldn’t have an incentive to offer that service.

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