Startup Battlefield returns to Sub-Saharan Africa this December

TechCrunch is headed to Lagos to host our second Startup Battlefield Africa competition on December 11! Last year, we held our first Startup Battlefield Africa in Nairobi, where startups from across the continent highlighted how technology is optimizing supply chains, increasing access to education, strengthening farmers’ revenues and so much more.

Since the last Startup Battlefield Africa, the continent’s tech scene has continued to develop at a rapid pace. VC investment in African startups doubled between 2015-2017. Overall, there’s been an uptick in committed VC for Africa’s startups and accelerators, including $2.1 billion across at least four funds. There are more than 300 tech hubs across the continent (and counting) that are building, supporting and bringing together African startups, mentors and innovators.

We’re looking for Sub-Saharan Africa’s best innovators, makers and technical entrepreneurs to participate in TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa 2018. We’re looking for startups most likely to produce an exit or IPO; startups of any kind may apply. TechCrunch will host the event in Lagos in front of a live audience and top judges, and the show will be covered on TechCrunch. The judges will choose a winner, “Sub-Saharan Africa’s Most Promising Startup,” whose founders will win US$25,000 in no-equity cash plus a trip for two to compete in the Battlefield at TechCrunch’s flagship event, Disrupt 2019 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at the time). Applications are open now and you can submit your startup here.

TechCrunch is eager to take part in covering Africa’s burgeoning tech sector more fully. We love to see startup ecosystems develop, and Startup Battlefield is one of the best platforms in the world to spotlight the most promising ventures for investors, partners and even future employees. Our editors carefully pick the best startups to compete from tons of applications, and recruit world-class judges to ask tough questions and pick the winners. And the Startup Battlefield editors coach the founders to make brilliant pitches onstage at the Startup Battlefield event.

At the end of the day, that’s why the more than 765 companies that have competed in Startup Battlefield have raised over $8 billion and produced over 105 exits to date.

Here’s how to participate:

Fifteen startups will be selected to join us onstage for the Battlefield Africa in Lagos.

Qualifying startups should:

  • Be early-stage companies in “launch” stage
  • Be a resident from our eligible countries
  • Have a fully working product/beta, reasonably close to or in production
  • Have received limited press or publicity to date
  • Have no known intellectual property conflicts

What do the winners receive?

Apart from the exposure that comes from pitching to the global TechCrunch audience as well as the live audience of distinguished technologists, entrepreneurs and investors in Lagos, the overall winner will receive US$25,000 in no-equity cash plus an all-expense paid trip for two to compete in Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch’s flagship event, Disrupt 2019 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at the time).

Are costs to attend the pitch-off covered?

No, but TechCrunch will try to find financial assistance for a startup in need of assistance to reach the Lagos event.

Who picks the startups that will compete?

The TechCrunch editors who run the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield competition will choose the finalists from the application pool.

Who will judge the pitch-offs?

TechCrunch will select four judges for each theme. They will be noted entrepreneurs, investors and technologists with experience relevant to the category. A TechCrunch editor will moderate the judging, and cast the tie-breaker ballot, if needed.

What is the pitch-off format?

Each company will have six minutes to present. The judges will have six minutes to ask questions.

What are the judging criteria?

The judges will pick the startup with the product or service most likely to go into full commercial production and have the biggest impact on human potential and/or the largest exit.

When is the application deadline?

September 3, 2018 at 5pm PST.

When will you notify the finalists?

October 19, 2018 at 5pm PST.

Will TechCrunch’s team help prepare startups for the pitch-off?

Yes, in-person training and rehearsal sessions will be required, as well in-person rehearsal on December 10.

Which countries are eligible?

Residents in the following countries may apply: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the foregoing language, the “Applicable Countries” does not include any country to or on which the United States has embargoed goods or imposed targeted sanctions (including, but not limited to, Sudan).

If you would like to apply — please click here.

Want to refer innovators you admire or have any questions? Get in touch at [email protected]

See you in Lagos!

Bag Week 2018: P.MAI’s women’s leather laptop bag is luxury packed with utility

Welcome to Bag Week 2018. Every year your faithful friends at TechCrunch spend an entire week looking at bags. Why? Because bags — often ignored but full of our important electronics — are the outward representations of our techie styles, and we put far too little thought into where we keep our most prized possessions.

I’ve always preferred carrying a backpack to work instead of a purse. Like many women, I’ve accepted that it means sacrificing style for comfort and utility. There are tons of women’s backpacks on the market with all sorts of colors, designs, materials and overall aesthetics.

But the minute you look for a quality, women’s leather laptop backpack the options are sparse and divided into two camps. They seem to either be casual in aesthetic and centered around a utilitarian design, or straight off the runway and built more for show than function.

P.MAI surprised me in its ability to find an uncompromising middle ground between a luxury aesthetic and practical utility.

Phuong Mai founded P.MAI after years of working in the world of management consulting. It is a world where consultants are expected to always be slightly better dressed than their clients, and they are constantly on the road traveling between client projects.

Mai’s purse caused back pain, and her doctor recommended switching to a backpack. She couldn’t find a backpack that checked all the boxes — feminine yet durable, comfortable yet sleek, utilitarian and still beautiful. So she bootstrapped P.MAI to create it.

She started by focusing on sourcing from suppliers with premium fabrics and leathers to blend beauty with durability. The backpack is constructed from full grain calf leather, two-tone nylon body fabric and poly lining. The fabrics are coated with PU to ensure water-resistance.

The design is sleek with no external protruding pockets. Instead there is one zip pocket large enough for a passport on the front, and compartments designed for the modern, professional woman inside. The padded laptop compartment fits up to a 15-inch laptop. There also are three internal slip pockets and one internal zip pocket to store and organize all of your belongings. These are complemented by an elastic lined water (or wine) bottle holder, and an internal key ring snaphook for your matching P.MAI wristlet.

The external details make the bag durable and travel friendly. There are four gold metal feet to prevent scratches on the bottom of the bag. There also is a built-in trolley strap, so it can easily be attached to the top of a roller suitcase. The top handle makes it easy to pick up like a handbag and slide the backpack on or off of a roller bag. While the external gold hardware is sleek and beautiful, I wish it included small holes suitable for a travel lock.

Mai incorporated her doctor’s advice into the design’s comfort factor. The shoulder straps are adjustable to properly distribute weight. They also have hidden airmesh padding to cushion your shoulders.

While it’s hard to find me wearing any color other than black, if black leather on black nylon isn’t your thing there are three other color combinations from which to choose; black leather and gray nylon, navy blue leather and navy blue nylon or cognac leather and navy blue nylon.

By designing a bag for women that blends a luxury aesthetic with comfortable utility, the P.MAI bag quickly rose to the the “Most Wished for” laptop backpack on Amazon last holiday season. Premium materials and quality design don’t come cheap. Still, the $450 price-tag may keep this one on the wish-list for now.

P.MAI is a refreshing laptop bag designed for the practical and health needs of professional women, while making them feel and look stylish.

bag week 2018

One week left: Apply for Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF

One week, seven days or 10,080 minutes. No matter how you slice it, time is running short if you want to compete in Startup Battlefield — the premier startup-pitch competition taking place at Disrupt San Francisco 2018 on September 5-7. Applications close in just one week, so get yourself together and apply right now.

Why wouldn’t you? It won’t cost you anything to apply or to participate. No fees, that’s our motto. And because this is our biggest Disrupt event ever, we celebrated by supersizing the grand prize to a very hefty $100,000 (that’s equity-free cash, folks).

Still need not sure the benefits of competing outweigh the effort of applying? Startup Battlefield is the best platform for launching your company to the world. And that’s not just our opinion. Cathy Han is the CEO of 42 Technologies, an online retail analytics platform. Here’s what she says about her company’s Startup Battlefield experience.

“Launching on Battlefield helped us rise above the noise, and it put us on the radar of customers, investors and talent early on. We also met a community of amazing founders and the family at TechCrunch, who have helped us grow ever since. If you’re launching a new company or product, this is the stage you want to be on.”

If you’re selected by our team of highly discriminating editors, you’ll receive expert pitch coaching to get you primed and ready to do battle. Teams get six minutes to make their pitch to an expert panel of judges — and then answer any questions the judges may have for them.

The Battlefield stage has a live audience packed with literally thousands of entrepreneurs, tech founders, investors and media. We also live-stream it to the world on TechCrunch.com, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. And it’ll be available later, on demand. It’s the kind of exposure startup founders dream of experiencing.

And if you do compete, your company becomes part of a very exclusive club: The Startup Battlefield alumni community. This group of more than 800 companies has collectively raised more than $8 billion in funding and produced more than 100 exits. You may recognize a few of them: Mint, Dropbox, Yammer, Fitbit, Getaround and Cloudflare. That’s some rarified company.

Disrupt San Francisco 2018 takes place on September 5-7 at Moscone Center West. You have just one week left to apply. Why not take your shot? Apply to Startup Battlefield today.

Meet TechCrunch in Africa Next Week

Last October, TechCrunch launched Startup Battlefield Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, where Lori Systems, SynCommerce & AgroCenta, were among the judges top picks. This week, TechCrunch is headed back to Africa to checkout the amazing startups taking root for our global Startup Battlefield competitions. Startup Battlefield at Disrupt in San Francisco September 5-7th is now open, and founders can apply here.

Startup Battlefield Director, Samantha Stein will be in Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana to meet with founders, investors, angels, and established entrepreneurs across the ecosystem. Startups and investors can learn more about TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield program at one of the upcoming meet and greets listed below.
Founders will learn how to apply for Battlefield with a solid application, and investors will learn how to refer companies in their portfolio.

Meet and greats are already filling up, so make sure to RSVP ASAP.

Startup Battlefield is TechCrunch’s renowned startup launch competition. The Startup Battlefield alumni community comprises almost 750 companies that have raised over $8 billion USD, and produced over 105 successful exits and IPOs.

2018 TechCrunch Africa Meet and Greets

Lagos, Nigeria

April 17th, Tuesday
Host: CC Hub
Time: 1:30pm – 3:00pm
RSVP

April 18th, Wednesday
Host: MEST
Time: 3:30pm
**This is an invite only event

Accra, Ghana

April 20th, Friday
Host: MEST
Time: 3:00pm – 5:30pm
RSVP

April 20th, Friday
Host: Impact Hub
Time: 6:00pm – 7:30pm
RSVP
*For questions, please email [email protected]

 

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