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Free Publicity for your Company

As a startup, the ability to create publicity for your business at minimal to no cost can be invaluable. We’ve listed below some of the more creative ways that we’ve seen our portfolio companies and others attract the media.


Conferences are a great venue for educating influencers about your business, plus they’re fun! For a useful guide on how to gain PR from high-profile startup conferences, check out

Conference Tips For Startups: Where To Go And What To Do Once You Get There , and 15 Tips from Keith Ferrazzi: Conference Commando. For a full list of major tech conferences, see . For a database of major startup competitions or large events that help startups promote their business, see this very helpful database from SocialCompare.

hackNY is not really a conference, but definitely will help boost your profile. (We’re a sponsor.) Selected startups show a demo of their API at the beginning of the hackny hackathons and – just as importantly – are encouraged to stick around to help the hackers integrate your code into their projects. This is a chance to impress NYC’s next generation of code powerhouses, many of whom will be looking for summer internships.


NYC Venture Fellows: Selective, international program to help successful entrepreneurs take their ventures to the next level. Each year, 20-30 “rising star” entrepreneurs from New York City and around the world are selected through a competitive nomination process. Established by NYCEDC in conjunction with Fordham University, the program is designed to:

Get invites to exclusive events, jobs, and research.

– Assist successful entrepreneurs in scaling ventures that have the potential to create jobs in NYC

– Encourage international and non-NYC entrepreneurs to open offices in NYC

– Build connections among entrepreneurs, established NYC companies, and international businesses

I list many other elite programs for “young leaders” in a talk I gave at NYU on squeezing maximum value out of school. See the section on “Selective Programs” (slide 35 and there after). I’ll be blogging more on this topic soon.


For an exhaustive list of business plan competitions, check out MIT Global Startup Workshop’s list. Of course, keep in mind that business plans are a very poor predictor of a successful business.

Some of the most noteable contests:

TechStars Startup Madness: March Madness-style tournament bracket of 64 startups meeting the following requirements

– Haven’t raised funding of $250,000 or more and haven’t generated revenue of more than $250,000 in a single year.

– Have a live, usable public site or an accessible demo on their home page

– Have not already been in the TechStars program – this is not for TechStars companies or alumni companies

– Must be an internet, software, or hi-tech company

Global AWS Start-Up Challenge: a way for promising start-ups to get noticed and compete for an opportunity to win up to $100,000 in cash and AWS credits. Eligible start-ups that are using the AWS cloud computing platform can submit an entry into the contest which describes their business plan and use of AWS paid services

The Buckminster Fuller Competition: The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is an annual international design challenge awarding $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems. It attracts bold, visionary, tangible initiatives focused on a well-defined need of critical importance. Winning solutions are regionally specific yet globally applicable and present a truly comprehensive, anticipatory, integrated approach to solving the world’s complex problems.

William James Foundation Socially Responsible Business Plan Competition: The William James Foundation (WJF) seeks to identify, promote, and support entrepreneurs who have financially viable ways of integrating social and/or environmental sustainability into a for-profit business model. There is a processing fee of $50 to enter the competition. Competitions have three rounds: Executive Summary, Full Plan, and Public Presentation.

Participants: Entrants can be of any age or from anywhere in the world. The business must either not have started yet, or be in start-up phase.

Award: The cash and in-kind prizes as a whole are worth more than $100,000


If all else fails, you can always take your clothes off.

(Photo from laverrue)

Get invites to exclusive events and research.