Venture Madness, presented by Invest Southwest in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority, is Arizona’s longest running Capital Conference and early-stage pitch competition. Finalists compete head to head, and get exclusive access to the region’s most active accredited investors, all in one place, who have funded Presenting Companies with more than $1BILLION since 1992.

Check Out Our Past Winner Success Stories

Venture Madness Conference 2021

October 6+7, 2021
Location TBA

How it Works

The competition starts with selected presenting companies grouped into distinct categories based on industry focus. The companies are chosen by an expert selection panel, then the finalist companies advance to the live-demo portion of the contest held October 6-7, 2021 (hybrid event with live stream + in-person pitches – location TBA).

Leading up to the event, finalist companies will get expert mentorship from seasoned investors, business leaders and other successful entrepreneurs in preparation for the competition. At the live event, they’ll compete in head-to-head pitches in each category for a chance to win cash, and most importantly, get exposure for their company while building an invaluable network of the Southwest’s most active investors who attend Venture Madness specifically to grow their investment portfolios with the next heroes!

Please Note: If your company is selected to present at our 2021 event, the CEO will be required to attend our Presenting Company Orientation and Mentor Sessions held in August and September, just prior to the October event.

How to Apply

Apply for Venture Madness 2021
April 8 – June 3, 2021 (3:00pm AZ time)

Steps to Apply:

  1. Download and review our Terms & Conditions and Rules & Guidelines
  2. Create a login and applicant profile on our online application platform, StartupWind
  3. Look for the confirmation email that comes from Arizona Commerce Authority via email, which will contain your temporary password
  4. Log back into StartupWind to complete your online application in its entirety
  5. Submit your application once complete


  • 2021 applications cannot be amended once you hit SUBMIT
  • You can save your in progress application and access it again to complete it at any time during the application window
  • NO APPLICATIONS will be accepted after the deadline… NO EXCEPTIONS

Completed applications will receive a confirmation email of their successful submission, which will also come from the Arizona Commerce Authority via email “” Please watch for that email, and if received, you do not need to do anything further.

If you do not receive the confirmation email, please check your spam/junk folders first, and if still not, then contact Invest Southwest for support. If any additional information is required, an Invest Southwest representative will contact you.

Then simply hang tight for notification from Invest Southwest by phone call and/or email on the status of your application and if you have been selected to compete live at Venture Madness 2021.

Please note that all companies that apply will receive notification of their status regardless of their 2021 participation status.

Venture Madness 2021 Tentative Agenda

  • OCT 6

    VIP Reception


  • OCT 7


    Tentative: 9:00 AM – 6:30 PM

    OCT 7





    Download WHOVA on your smart device, set up a free account and we’ll send you the 2021 event link as soon as it’s ready.


Key Dates

  • November 2020 – June 2021 → Partnership opportunities for VMC 2021
  • April 8 – June 3, 2021 →  VMC21 Application Window
  • April 30, 2021 – FREE PARTICIPANT / PITCH TRAINING → Get Ready Seminars (free for anyone interested in learning about applying, the process and tips for pitching investors to raise capital)
  • Aug 2021  →  General Registration & Early Bird Opens
  • Aug 2021 → Presenting Company Kickoff Reception & Orientation (mandatory for all finalists)
  • Aug – September 2021 → Mentor Team Meetings for all Finalists
  • OCTOBER 6, 2021  →  Venture Madness Conference Kickoff Reception
  • OCTOBER 7, 2021  →  Venture Madness Conference, hybrid live and live streaming online event (location TBA)

1-Day Event Format

For 2021 we’ll continue our condensed event format with the hybrid (live stream + in-person) pitch event, keynote, networking luncheon and more all on the same day, kicked off with a welcome event the evening before. Industry categories and tracks will be assigned when finalist companies are announced in late summer of 2021.

startup contest venture madness

Where to Stay

Coming from out of town?
Keep an eye out for our 2021 in-person location and recommended hotels nearby.

Connections & Prize Money

Competing companies in the 2021 event will vie for their share of cash prizes, with winners in each category receiving a cash prize, and most importantly, getting exclusive time with the Southwest’s most active angel and VC investors. All finalists receive publicity in the location and regional media, and may be interviewed by the press before and/or following the event. Finalist companies also receive expert mentorship from seasoned executives and serial entrepreneurs to help guide their pitch and presentation strategy.

No matter where you land in the competition, participants build an invaluable network of accredited investors who are specifically looking to grow their investment portfolios with leading companies. Many past applicants and participants report meeting future Board members, advisors and investors that help guide and grow their firm for years to come, fueling their way to the top step by step.


The Venture Madness Conference, presented by Invest Southwest, in partnership with Arizona Commerce Authority (formerly Invest Southwest Capital Conference), connects investors with early stage and growth companies in the U.S. This year’s hybrid conference is scheduled from October 6-7, 2021. With an audience of nearly 300 investors, entrepreneurs and service professionals from the globe, 24-36 presenting companies present their business plans in various industry tracks to compete for a cash prize.

It is FREE to apply for the Venture Madness Conference. If your company is selected to present at the conference, you will be responsible for your travel and accommodations to participate in the live event.

Go to our online application platform, StartupWind, provided by our premier partner, Arizona Commerce Authority. Note that after you create your application profile, you will receive a confirmation email that comes from Arizona Commerce Authority from email “”  That email will have your temporary password so you can log into the system to complete your application. Then just follow the instructions. GOOD LUCK!

Companies that present at the conference will not only meet other founders and seasoned entrepreneurs who’ve walked in your shoes (which is invaluable in a startup’s journey), you’ll meet mentors and industry influencers who can help mentor your team and accelerate your growth. You’ll also have the opportunity to network and spend quality time connecting with some of our region’s most active angel and venture capital investors, get mentorship from successful entrepreneurs and past contestants, and connect with the other competing companies.

You’ll also network with and learn from a 30+ member selection panel that includes expert investors, investment bankers and seasoned service professionals, in addition to the other entrepreneurial minds and guest speakers who attend the event. Your startup will get national and international exposure through the Venture Madness website leading up to, and throughout the competition, as we promote the event and competing companies online through search and social media, as well as PR exposure through the local and national media.  All participating companies will be mentioned in the conference notebook and the press releases that are distributed to local press and nationally throughout the competition, on Invest Southwest’s, ACA’s and some partner social media channels, as well as to more than 300 attendees at the live event. You’ll also receive ongoing promotions and PR following the event via the website, social media and PR.

Invest Southwest will review initial applications, and based on weighted scores, the top finalists will be invited to participate in Venture Madness. Read the How It Works section for more information.

Applications are reviewed and evaluated by an expert selection panel and evaluation criteria is based on your solution uniqueness, competitive differentiation, market traction, potential market opportunity, business model, team strength and presentation quality. Please check back for the competition Terms and Conditions for more details on evaluation timelines.

Note for 2021! As with our 2020 event, no pitch videos will be required for applicants, only your online application via our application portal. It is important that you include all requested information as well as your pro forma financials and initial pitch presentation (in PowerPoint .PPTX format). Watch for key dates and deadlines in Spring of 2021. Please note that late submissions will not be accepted for the competition.

We’ll provide a direct link to the online application portal. And be sure to sign up for news and event updates to stay informed as more information becomes available.

Once you have successfully submitted your application, you should receive a confirmation email from the application platform, specifically from our Premier Partner, Arizona Commerce Authority via email from Please add this email to your address book along with to ensure receipt of future communications regarding your application and participation status. Please note that you cannot amend your application once submitted, however, you can save your partial application and revise it *before it is submitted* at any time up to the June 3 deadline.

An Invest Southwest representative will be in touch with you approximately two months prior to the conference if your company is selected to present. At that point you’ll receive all necessary instructions on your participation and preparation for the event. Then the rest is up to you!

An Invest Southwest representative will contact each company to notify them if they have been selected. The companies selected to present at the conference are required to attend the following sessions (times and locations TBA):

  1. Presenting Company Orientation (August 5, 2021)
  2. Mentor Team Sessions (August 27, 2021 and September 10, 2021)
  3. Venture Madness Conference (October 6-7, 2021)

If you have a technical difficulty submitting your application through our new application platform, called StartupWind, please submit a help request through the platform HELP link. If your response is not resolved through StartupWind support, please contact Karen Katzorke, Executive Director of Invest Southwest, as soon as possible. Due to tight timelines, we ask that you follow up quickly with any issues or questions.

Please note that Invest Southwest receives a high volume of calls and emails in the (3) weeks prior to the application deadline, and we’ll do our best to respond to your request in the order it was received. Due to this volume, we strongly suggest you start and submit your application process as early as possible during the application window.

Yes, our 2021 event will be hybrid, with an in-person event venue, and also live-streaming for online attendees. Registration is open to the public. The event registration typically opens in 2 months prior to the event dates each year, and early bird registration rates are typically offered.