Bexar County is teaming up with Tech Bloc, a San Antonio technology industry advocacy nonprofit on TechFuel, a non-dilutive, three-tiered $100,000 cash-prize pitch competition open to early-stage tech startups located across the state of Texas, Tech Bloc announced Thursday.
The competition is designed to help emerging tech entrepreneurs launch innovative companies and is funded by Bexar County’s Innovation Fund. To apply, eligible companies must have a product or service that is live and on the market, have received less than $1 million in outside funding, produce less than $1.5 million in revenue, and intend to grow their companies primarily in Bexar County.
Early-stage companies with an innovative technology-based business, including biotechnology, finance, and clean energy startups, are eligible to apply. Founders interested in participating can submit their applications online by midnight Sept. 23.
Tech Bloc will oversee the pitch competition which culminates Oct. 22 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Following the open call for applications, the top 25 five applicants will move on to the semifinal judging round. A panel of judges will choose five finalists who will each receive a $2,500 cash prize and a spot to compete in the public startup pitch event at the Tobin Center.
The company winning first place will receive a $50,000 cash prize. Second place will garner $20,000, third place will receive $10,000, and $7,500 will be awarded as an ‘honorable mention’ to fourth place. The winning companies must maintain a presence in Bexar county for at least six months after the competition, said Dax Moreno, chief talent and recruitment officer at Tech Bloc.
Event sponsors include Port San Antonio, Scaleworks, Launch SA, Codeup, Geekdom, and the 80/20 Foundation. The TechFuel competition will be held during San Antonio Startup Week Oct. 21 through Oct. 25, a program-filled week of events and networking opportunities held across San Antonio’s startup ecosystem.
“Opening this to all tech startups across Texas and scheduling this during Startup Week is our deliberate effort to add ‘stickiness’ to the competition,” Moreno said. “We want to help founders spend significant time in San Antonio and motivate them to join our community.”
Originally launched in 2016 as a $50,000 competition, Bexar County’s Innovation Fund is again funding TechFuel with double the prize money. Each fiscal year, the County allocates $1 million in economic incentive funds to foster local job recruitment, talent development competitions, business expansion and technical workforce training for targeted technology-based industries.
“We’ve been looking at different ways to improve on this competition and feel that an increase in the funding level will allow us to have a greater impact with this program, draw statewide attention to our startup community, and increase local and regional participation in our startup ecosystem,” stated Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.
After a two-year break, the pitch competition returns to boost San Antonio’s growing startup ecosystem.
“While we took a couple of years off, the new edition is set up to make a bigger impact,” said Lew Moorman, Tech Bloc founding member and co-founder and general partner of Scaleworks, a venture equity firm based in San Antonio. “We need to create lots of mechanisms for company creation—and TechFuel will be a great addition to the many other efforts in the ecosystem.”
Featured image is from Tech Bloc, which in conjunction with Bexar County announced the $100,000 pitch competition called TechFuel. Courtesy image.