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

See you in Lagos!

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