Student Startup

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


Photo by Steve Rogers.

Photo by Steve Rogers.

2019 Student Startup Finalist - Vincent Dinh and Nicholas Podolak

I believe that participating at SXSW EDU gave us the experience to go out and try different things, to be bold in what we do, and this could be seen by showcasing our app to five different LISD schools as well as getting into contact with the board of directors of LISD.

Vincent Dinh and Nicholas Podolak
2019 Student Startup Finalist / Screenwise

2018 Launch Winner - Aarushi Machavarapu

Winning the Student Startup Competition in March 2018 lifted me up and empowered me to continue working and dreaming big.

Aarushi Machavarapu
2018 Student Startup Competition Winner / Threading Twine

2019 Student Startup Finalist - Koko Yee (Clutch)

SXSW EDU provides students with an incredible opportunity to bring their voices to the table. This is necessary for both teens and older attendees, especially since the work teachers do is for students.

Koko Yee
2019 Student Startup Finalist / Clutch

About the Student Startup Competition


The Student Startup competition supports youth entrepreneurs, serving as a platform for high school students to showcase their business ideas. The competition provides students with a remarkable opportunity to showcase their talents, validate their business ideas, and gain experience.

Selected finalists will present their startup product to a panel of judges and a live audience at SXSW EDU, March 9-12, 2020.

Additionally, finalists and attendees will have ample opportunities to connect through various social events during SXSW EDU.

The application has now closed. For more information on the Student Startup Competition please reach out to

Application Process

Student startup applications can be submitted by an individual or team. Fill out the online Student Startup application to be considered as a finalist for the 2020 competition.

Monday, July 1 – Application Opens
Friday, November 8 – Application Closes

Eligibility Requirements

  • You must be a currently enrolled high school student and 13 years or older in order to be considered.
  • Both national and international applicants are eligible.
  • Solo entrepreneurs and team applicants qualify.
  • The competition is not limited to specific business categories and all types of startups are welcome. To learn more about our past finalists, visit our Competition History page.

Complete an Application

Infographic for application steps.

  • Preview the online application and begin preparing materials.
  • Fill out the short online application. Please note that your contact information will not be shared publicly.
  • Take some time to review your application, no changes can be made once it has been submitted.
  • Submit and stay tuned for word back regarding the status of your application.

Frequently Asked Questions

For frequently asked questions and answers, check out the Student Startup FAQ.

Emcees, Judges, & Coaches

Liz Dozier, Founder & CEO of Chicago Beyond

Liz Dozier

Founder & CEO

Chicago Beyond

Sanil Chawla, Executive Director at Hack+

Sanil Chawla

Executive Director


Sarah Hernholm, Founder & President of WIT - Whatever It Takes

Sarah Hernholm

Founder & President

WIT - Whatever It Takes

Sean Duffy, VP of Partnerships at Capital Factory

Sean Duffy

Vice President of Partnerships

Capital Factory

Aaron Clay

Partner and the Head of Coaching

Amy's EDU

Nathan Ryan


Blue Sky Partners

Nina Ho

Assistant Director

Blackstone LaunchPad at UT



Academies of Loudoun
(Aldie, VA)
AmityConnect connects family members with the health of their elders by aggregating real-time health data from smart medical devices onto a single, mobile platform accessible by family members at any given time; thus providing them with a constant peace of mind. AmityConnect acts as an epicenter for numerous consumer-based smart medical devices that offer open application programming interfaces (e.g. FitBit, Apple, Hexoskin, iHealth, etc) to third-parties/developers.

David Crockett High School
(Austin, TX)
We are pitching a biodegradable tire to help fight against tire waste which affects the global environment and developing countries.

The Nueva School
(San Mateo, CA)
MODAP is a cost-efficient, purpose-driven, automated drone system that streamlines the search and rescue and post-fire relief process. Due to the unpredictability in time and location of disasters, it is challenging to have a ground team or helicopter constantly at the ready to perform a manual rescue mission. MODAP intends to create positive change in the disaster-technology space in two key ways: providing autonomous search and rescue operations and facilitating payload delivery.

Seeing for the Blind
Seeing for the Blind
Lexington High School
(Lexington, MA)
Seeing for the Blind is a patent-pending product that gives the blind greater spatial awareness. It uses echolocation and machine learning to tell users where and what objects are around them, and help them navigate with ease. This product is currently being piloted in India and will start to be mass-produced on the Indian market in the coming year.

Solis UVC Purification
Solis UVC Purification
Lake Forest High School
(Lake Forest, IL)
3.6 million people die every year because of dirty water; we would like to change that. Solis is a portable water purification bottle that utilizes high powered ultraviolet light and a micron filter to kill 99.9999% of all bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms and removes all sediments from your water. Solis is as simple as pouring in water from any source, pressing the button on the top of the bottle, and waiting 60 seconds for clean water without question.

Get Involved

Join Us for SXSW EDU 2020

Register to attend the 2020 SXSW EDU Conference & Festival for four days of learning, inspiration, and discovery!


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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