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Join us at our inaugural tech startup competition and meet entrepreneurs that are revolutionizing the data center! Companies selected to participate have been developing and/or selling a technology solution that directly impacts the data center or data center professionals, and will be judged by a panel of experts based on several business model and go-to-market criteria (outlined below). Winners will be chosen by the panel based on their presentations on stage, and presentations will be judged on a clear technology solution, a concise pitch, and the value of technology to the data center industry. 

Here are the finalists: 

    • Checkhub
    • Foliophotonics
    • Hydromx
    • Layer9 Datacenters
    • Metify
    • Technocard


Up to six companies will be chosen from the field of applicants to present on stage at Data Center World. Each company will have 10 minutes to provide their “elevator pitch” and answer questions from the judges. Time will be judiciously kept. At the end of the competition, judges will convene to discuss their opinions in private and present the winners on stage later in the day. All contestants will receive up to two standard-access passes to Data Center World (valued at up to $1,295), and winners of each category will be presented with a recognition plaque and have the opportunity to network with prospective customers and investors throughout the conference and expo.

Qualifications of a Startup for the Program

  • Revenue: $5 million or less
  • Number of Employees: 50 or fewer
  • Funding Status: Series A or before
  • Age of Company: 5 years or less

Judging Categories

  • Most Disruptive Technology – The award for the technology that the judges determine to have the best opportunity to create short-term positive market, sales, or customer service disruption among existing data center technologies in its vertical
  • Best Chance for Market Success – The award for the technology that judges determine will be the most successful at creating revenue upside and profit for the startup company
  • Best Ability to Gain Additional Capital – The award for the startup company that judges determine is sufficiently structured, has the most attractive data center technology, and has the most connected and well-run management team to be able to raise additional capital to grow the company
  • Most Influential Founding Team – The startup company that judges determine has assembled the most experienced founding backers, founding management team, and strongest investment profile

Judging Criteria

The following criteria will be used by our panel of judges (experts from the market research, editorial, and investment communities). Contestants should be prepared to address each of the five main criteria (we’ve included some examples with each category) with a concise and informative presentation that will be judiciously timed to 10 minutes per company.

Business Model

  • How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they done due diligence on competition
  • Is the business model scalable, either globally or regionally?
  • How will the company acquire customers
  • What is the company’s revenue model?

Customer Validation

  • Is the company building something that people actually want?
  • How well does the company understand their customer and their customer’s needs?
  • Did the company get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?
  • What is the company’s capacity to recognize and describe the problem to be solved?
  • Does the company know the cost of acquiring a customer and their lifetime value?

Go to Market

  • What’s the plan for building sales team and a sales ecosystem?
  • Is there a plan to open source the product?
  • How do you plan to use partners/analysts/PR?

Execution & Design

  • Does the technology or service deliver a compelling and valuable user experience?
  • How much capacity to disrupt the market?
  • Is there a sustainable competitive advantage, or can it be copied?
  • What’s the lead on the competition?
  • If applicable, are they able to demo a product, and if so, was it functional?

The Team

  • Is the founding team multidisciplinary and complementary with the capacity to implement their stated goals?
  • Are the team’s goals ambitious enough? Or too ambitious?
  • Is the team capable of selling the “vision”?

How to Apply

The application process for the Data Center World Startup Challenge is now closed. If you are selected, you may send one or two company representatives to participate in the competition. Each person will receive a complementary standard-access pass to Data Center World and have access to the expo floor. All of the contestants will be featured in the Data Center World online program guide and on signage on the expo floor. Presentations will be made from the Data Center Live! stage on the expo show floor.

Recommendations to Startup Competition Prospects

If you feel it will enhance your chances, prepare a brief PowerPoint presentation. It’s not required, but visuals can certainly help.

You will be providing us with the basic information via the submission process, so focus your on-site presentation on the “sizzle” of your product and opportunity. We want to know primarily about the problem you are looking to solve, the business model, the market opportunity, and of course details about the technology itself.

These do not have to be part of the prepared presentation, but certainly be able to answer the following questions:

  1. What's the problem and why are you addressing it?
  2. What's your solution?
  3. Who is your competition?
  4. How large is the market currently and what’s the potential?
  5. Who’s included on your team?
  6. What's your business model?
  7. What’s your sales model?
  8. What makes you unique?
  9. How are you, or will you, attract financing?
  10. What is your end goal?