Student Startup

The Student Startup competition brings together high school students during SXSW EDU to pitch their business ideas.

Photo by Tico Mendoza.

Photo by Tico Mendoza.

About the Student Startup Competition


The fifth annual Student Startup competition will take place at SXSW EDU, March 2019. The competition welcomes all high schools students to submit an application for the chance to pitch the team’s latest business idea to a panel of judges and a live audience.

All ideas are welcome – from creative ways to address poverty, to the development of a tool every student would want, to the launch of their own startup. Students are encouraged to think big, and come up with ideas that may exceed their existing skills, network, and resources!

Entry Process Overview

In order to apply, students must fill out the online Student Startup Competition application.

Important Dates

Monday, October 15, 2018:
Application Opens

EXTENDED to Friday, January 18, 2019:
Application Closes

Eligibility Requirements

All high schools students in the U.S. and beyond that are 13 years of age and older., are eligible to apply for the competition.

Selection Considerations

This competition celebrates students who have the passion, drive, and courage to be the next generation of entrepreneurs. Applications will be reviewed and scored using a standard rubric and through judge deliberation. Some of the items on the rubric include:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Product and Service Clarity
  • Market Potential
  • Competitive Landscape
  • Operational Sustainability

Student Startup Competition FAQ

For frequently asked questions and answers about the competition, please review the Student Startup Competition FAQ.



Koby Wheeler

Koby Wheeler

Founder, KW Branding & Design

Koby Wheeler is a student, graphic designer, entrepreneur, and social media strategist. This year, Koby founded KW Branding + Design, helping companies to create brands that stand out, specifically with a focus on modern and simplistic design-centered branding and a strong online presence. Koby is a strong advocate for teen entrepreneurs, as he is one himself, and truly believes that the future of problem-solving in entrepreneurship, and the world, falls in the hands of teens.

Sarah Hernholm

Sarah Hernholm

Founder & President, Whatever It Takes

Sarah Hernholm is the Founder and President of Whatever It Takes (WIT) and Smart City Saturday (SCS). WIT provides the only 6 unit college-credit social entrepreneur and leadership course in the country for high school teens. SCS hosts teen-only hackathons around the country. Sarah is an advocate for youth, a three time TEDx speaker, a champion of great ideas, and in everything she does she leads with the “11 Tips for Doing WIT”.





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Discover More

Student Startup Competition History

Learn more about the history of the Student Startup competition by browsing a full list of past startup finalists and winners.

Learn More

More Competitions

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