African Start-Ups can benefit from Washington DC 1776 Challenge Cup 2015

  Washington, D.C ‘s 1776, the global incubator and investment fund, recently announced Challenge Cup 2015, an annual world-wide competition that spans 16 cities in 11 countries to identify the …


Washington DC 1776 Challenge Cup


Washington, D.C ‘s 1776, the global incubator and investment fund, recently announced Challenge Cup 2015, an annual world-wide competition that spans 16 cities in 11 countries to identify the most promising startups with the best ideas to solve the world’s biggest challenges.  The competition kicks off in two U.S. cities — Washington, D.C., on October 21 and Chicago, Ill. on October 28.


“Good ideas can happen anywhere, and the Challenge Cup has proven that,” said 1776 co-founder Donna Harris.  “This competition not only helps the world’s most promising startups succeed, but it’s also quickly building a global movement of innovators interested in solving big problems.”


Challenge Cup 2015 will take place at 16 regional sites, including Washington D.C., Chicago, Sydney, New York City, Tel Aviv, Amman, Santiago, Nairobi, Mumbai, Austin, Toronto, Boston, Berlin, Dublin, San Francisco, and China. Each city will produce four regional winners in four categories—education, energy, health, and cities. The 64 regional winners will further compete at 1776’s Challenge Festival in May, a week long event in Washington, D.C. that gives these startups an opportunity to pitch investors, connect to new mentors, meet with policymakers, and compete for prizes and funding.


Additional dates and judges for the Challenge Cup Competition will be announced in the coming weeks. To power Challenge Cup 2015, and ensure the best startups and venture partners have a seat at the table, 1776 has forged partnerships with  NEA, the world’s largest venture capital firm, Revolution, the Case Foundation, Capital Factory, Rocketspace, Oasis 500, NDRC, 1871 and many more to be announced in the coming weeks.


Candidates for the Challenge Cup competition are startups that are compelling, world changing, and highly scalable, and that aim to make tangible differences in peoples’ lives, not just build the hottest new app. Through Challenge Cup, entrepreneurs are not only connected to the investors and mentors they need to succeed, but corporations and policymakers in some of the world’s most entrenched industries and government entities are introduced to these innovators’ fresh ideas that have the potential to solve big, difficult challenges.


The winner of Challenge Cup 2014  was HandUpa for-profit company that built a groundbreaking online platform that matches specific online donors to homeless people in need to ensure that users’ direct donations go to their intended purpose, such as rent assistance and medical care.


“1776 and the Challenge Cup was an incredible opportunity to make global connections with investors and policy makers that can make or break a startup,” said Rose Broome, co-founder of HandUp. “Because of the Challenge Cup and 1776, HandUp  raised additional funding, increased exposure, and gained valuable insight into how a startup like ours can work with local governments and existing infrastructure to deliver new services to homeless Americans.”

Last year’s inaugural Challenge Cup was enormously successful.  Out of 5,000 applications, 480 startups competed in 16 cities in nine countries throughout the world.  At Challenge Festival, out of the 64 startups that competed, eight startups were selected to receive funding from 1776 directly, several others received significant investment from other funds or partners, and 1776 set up more than 70 individual meetings between the startups and potential investors, corporate partners and policymakers .

This year, 1776 is taking the Challenge Cup to the next level by announcing ChallengeX, a feeder competition in which startup incubators around the world have the opportunity to host their own competitions, with the winners automatically entered as finalists into the nearest Challenge Cup regional competition. This means more cities, more startups, and more great ideas.Participating ChallengeX cities include Detroit, New Orleans, and Buenos Aires, with more locations to be announced at a later date.


“The Challenge Cup is the best platform out there for sharing innovative, world-changing ideas with the investors and mentors you need to be successful,” said 1776 cofounder Evan Burfield. “This year, the launch of ChallengeX, a new feeder competition, allows us to cast our net even wider, and give more startups the opportunity to present their ideas in front of mentors, judges and investors around the world.”


In addition to HandUp, winners from last year’s Challenge Cup are already enjoying remarkable success disrupting and innovating the world’s most entrenched industries, including: 

  • PlugSurfing, a Berlin-based mobile app that allows drivers of electric vehicles to quickly locate charging stations and process payments on their mobile devices—with the dual benefit of making energy-efficient vehicles more practical for German drivers while reducing fossil fuel consumption.
  • RideScout, a mobile app that pulls together a host of transportation sources and allows users to quickly plan trips. RideScout was recently acquired by Daimler after 1776 fueled its early growth into a startup capable of innovating ride-share technology within Germany’s highly-regulated transportation sector.
  • eduCanon, an online learning environment that creates and shares interactive video lessons to help teachers, especially those who are new to the profession, increase student engagement and improve their ability to plan the next day’s lesson. By helping teachers succeed early on, eduCanon is enabling a better experience for students and teachers. 


In this article

Join the Conversation