2014 SXSW Accelerator Frequently Asked Questions

SXSW Accelerator has put together a listing of the top FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) to help you better understand the application process.

What does it cost to apply to SXSW Accelerator?
A non-refundable $200 entry fee is required for participation in the event. All SXSW Accelerator entrants will be given the chance to register to attend SXSW Interactive at the lowest early bird rate, if they are not chosen as an SXSW Accelerator finalist.

We are bootstrapping our company. Can we apply to have this application fee reduced?
Please email Chris Valentine to discuss further. You must contact Chris Valentine prior to applying since we are unable to provide refunds after application has been submitted.

May I get a refund?
No refund will be given to any application that has been submitted. If you have any concerns regarding our fees and/or the application process please contact Chris Valentine prior to submitting an application. If you wish to register before being notified by SXSW on your status as an applicant to the SXSW Accelerator event you will not be eligible for a refund.

What type of payment is accepted for participation?
When you apply for Accelerator via the online entry form, fees are accepted by credit card To request payment by check or money order, contact Chris Valentine.

What if I am not selected as an SXSW Accelerator finalist, but I would still like to attend the SXSW Interactive Festival?
If your SXSW Accelerator event entry is NOT accepted, you will receive a special coupon allowing you to register to attend SXSW Interactive at the early-bird rate. Also, if securing a hotel room in the immediate vicinity of the Austin Convention Center is an absolute priority (and you definitely plan on attending the event), then you might consider registering now. Do NOT register if you are not sure that you will be attending the event as SXSW does NOT grant refunds.

How many products / services can I submit to SXSW Accelerator?
Each company will be allowed to submit only one product / services at this year’s event. Companies who submit more than one product / services will not be eligible to participate in the SXSW Accelerator event. Any company that has participated in SXSW Accelerator in previous years will not be considered for the 2014 SXSW Accelerator event. Also, each startup is only eligible to present in one of the SXSW family of pitch events (SXSW Accelerator, SXSW V2Venure, SXSW Eco Startup Showcase, SXSW Launchedu). By contrast, if you have applied for other SXSW-produced events (SXSW V2Venture, SXSW Eco Startup Showcase, SXSW Launchedu) and were not accepted to participate, then please feel free to apply to SXSW Accelerator.

Will I receive a registration to the SXSW Interactive Conference if I am selected?
Yes, participating companies will receive two (2) complimentary registrations for the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival. Please note that this will not include entry into SXSW Music and/or Film programming. These complimentary registrations must be assigned to specific individuals presenting at the conference.

When is the application deadline?
The application deadline was Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 11:59pm (CT). So, at this point, the application process is closed.

How are the products / services screened?
A committee of technology experts will screen each application to make sure that they meet all requirements, and review each entry to decide which products or services are the most innovative.

How will I know if I have been selected to participate?
All applicants will receive an e-mail notification from SXSW upon the selection of your application.

When will I receive this notification?
Finalists will be notified no later than Friday, January 17, 2014.

How long will my presentation be at SXSW Accelerator?
If accepted, each product or service will receive up to two minutes for round one and five minutes for round two (if you are asked to move on to this round), to present their idea to a jury panel of venture capitalist or technology industry experts. Each company will have a microphone and may use a slide presentation (with no additional A/V).

Can I talk about fundraising in my presentation?
Participating companies should not mention anything about their fundraising activities and plans in their presentations and presentation materials. Please reserve all conversations about fundraising to private one-on-one meetings with known accredited investors. SXSW strongly encourages you to become familiar with the new rules under the JOBS Act and to consult experienced legal counsel about applicable securities regulations. By participating in the SXSW Accelerator event, you agree that SXSW does not give investment legal advice and that you are responsible for ensuring your compliance with applicable securities laws.

During the presentation to the judges, how many people can be onstage presenting?
Each participating organization will have only one company representative presenting to the judges and one additional person can be off stage controlling the slide presentation. SXSW will not provide staff to support you with your stage presentation, so each company must have a second company representative to assist with the presentation.

Who are the SXSW Accelerator Interactive judges?
Each judge is an industry expert in venture capitalism or technology market space and will not be the same individual who is involved in the screening process. There will be a minimum of three panelists judging each showcase.

Will I be able to meet the Judges and Emcees prior to the event?
All SXSW Accelerator Finalists will be invited to the SXSW Interactive Accelerator Award Ceremony for the SXSW Accelerator Attendees, Judges, Emcees, Sponsors, Coaches, Qualifying and Advisory Board Members.The event will take place during the evening on Sunday, March 9 at the Austin Downtown Hilton.

How much time will the participant be judged at SXSW Accelerator?
After the participating organizations presentation, each product / service will be evaluated by the judges for 10 minutes. During this time, the judges may ask the participant questions to help them better understand your product / service and address any additional thoughts they may have.

What are the key judging criteria when reviewing companies in the pre-event online application process?
Each company's application will be graded on many factors, but the four most important criteria are as follows:

A) Creativity: Originality and uniqueness of Idea.
B) Potential: Longevity, actualization and profitability of idea.
C) Goodness: How this product impacts / improves the world.
D) Functionality: Usability of interface for idea.
E) Team / People: Who is your team and how will they make your company a success.

Should my company create a video about our product or service for the online application process?
We strongly encourage you to include a direct link to a video that could further illuminate your product or service for the judges.

How many winners will there be?
There will be one winner for each of the six categories. Each winner for the SXSW Interactive Accelerator categories will be presented their award during the 2014 SXSW Interactive Accelerator Awards.

What will the winners receive?
The winning companies will receive premium prize packages containing valuable tech-related goodies. They will also be given photo and interview opportunities with the attending technology and venture press, placing them in the spotlight as leaders in the future of technology. The winning prizes include two (2) Interactive badges for the 2015 SXSW Interactive event, various SXSW Accelerator sponsor gifts and, most importantly, the opportunity to receive exposure to the SXSW audience looking out for the latest in cutting-edge technology. Additional prizes will be announced as the event date approaches.

What is the difference between the SXSW Interactive Awards and SXSW Accelerator?
The SXSW Interactive Awards focus on new creations from the digital community, including websites, applications, kiosks/installations, social media campaigns and tons over other pieces of digital content. The Interactive Awards is not a pitch competition, it's just a contest to highlight the greatest projects the Interactive community has to offer. Whereas, the SXSW Accelerator pitch event is a platform for early stage startup companies to pitch their product and/or services to a panel of industry experts, early adopters, and representatives from the Venture Capitalist / Angel community.

Who can attend the SXSW Accelerator finalist demo sessions?
On Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9, the SXSW Accelerator pitch event is open to Interactive, Gold, and Platinum badgeholders. SXSW Film badgeholders are allowed entry to Rounds One and Two of the SXSW Accelerator Entertainment and Content Technologies sessions, as well as the SXSW Accelerator Awards Ceremony. To purchase your SXSW badge, click here.

2014 Category Description for SXSW Interactive Accelerator:
For the SXSW Accelerator Conference, companies must fall within one of the six categories:

Enterprise and Big Data Technologies
The Enterprise and Big Data Technologies category encompasses applications and technologies that facilitate comprehension and application of information. These startups seek to improve productivity and management of data, analytics, text, documents, and engagement for business and individual use. On-site judging for the Enterprise and Big Data Technologies category occurs on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9. Winners announced at the new SXSW Accelerator Awards on the evening of Sunday, March 9.

Entertainment and Content Technologies
The Entertainment and Content Technologies category highlights applications and technologies for news and publishing, gaming, music, film, television, video, streaming and digital storytelling, as well as new and hybrid forms of entertainment and news media. These are reinventing the ways in which we learn, relax and enjoy our time. This category also contains technologies that focus on other cultural sectors such as sports, travel, mapping, publishing and food as they pertain to entertainment. On-site judging for the Entertainment and Content Technologies category occurs on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9. Winners announced at the SXSW Accelerator Awards on the new evening event evening of Sunday, March 9.

Health Technologies
The Health Technologies category involves patient-centric health applications and technologies that connect patients, families, physicians, pharmacists, care providers (hospitals, clinics) and benefit providers. These services enable people to share timely, relevant health data and drive better outcomes at affordable and sustainable cost levels. On-site judging for the Health Technologies category occurs on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9. Winners announced at the SXSW Accelerator Awards on the evening of Sunday, March 9.

Social Technologies
The Social Technologies category includes applications and technologies that enable personal connections. With this category we’re looking for new and interesting uses, cases, products and services that push the boundaries of how we find, follow and share our lives with others. If your business or service has a strong social component but is primarily focused on Entertainment, Health or Wearable Technologies, then you should enter that category instead. On-site judging for the Social Technologies category occurs on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9. Winners announced at the SXSW Accelerator Awards on the evening of Sunday, March 9.

Wearable Technologies
The Wearable Technologies category focuses on technology worn on, in, or around the body. As this major technology cycle advances we are seeking all types of wearable products that advance human performance and wellness, as well as those involved in apparel, accessories, fashion and lifestyle. On-site judging for the Wearable Technologies category occurs on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9. Winners announced at the SXSW Accelerator Awards on the evening of Sunday, March 9.

Innovative World Technologies
Any creative and innovative technology that does not fit in another category is encouraged to apply here. We are currently seeing lots of innovation in real-time search, augmented reality, the World Wide Web, sensor, security, space, robotics, artificial intelligence, the Semantic Web, recommendations technologies and personalization technologies. If your business / service / application applies to one of these fields (or something not on this list that is even more ground-breaking), then this is your category. On-site judging for the Innovative World Technologies category occurs on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9. Winners announced at the SXSW Accelerator Awards on the evening of Sunday, March 9.

PLEASE NOTE: SXSW reserves the right to place company applicants in the most relevant category at SXSW's sole discretion. This includes changing an applicant's category based on response to the event and/or the applicant organization choosing a non-relevant category.

What are the eligibility requirements for companies applying?
-- A company’s product / service must have launched no earlier than March, 15, 2013. -- A company’s product / service must not be launched after June 15, 2014. -- Companies will be allowed to submit only one product / services to the SXSW Accelerator event. -- Companies who submit more than one product / services will not be eligible to participate in the SXSW Accelerator event. -- Founders of the applying startup must retain some portion of ownership in the company to be eligible to participate. -- Must not have raised over five million in funds from combined funding sources. -- Product or service must fall within one of the SXSW Accelerator event categories.

What about my intellectual property?
SXSW wants you to know that there are always certain concerns about intellectual property rights involved in competitions of this nature. Because SXSW is not in a position to protect or advise you on your intellectual property rights, SXSW cannot and does not take any responsibility for doing so. Please be aware that SXSW does not require non-disclosure agreements or other confidentiality obligations from anyone involved in the SXSW Accelerator process. You, the applicant, are solely responsible for protecting your intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, copyright, trade secrets, etc.) in your idea.

Where can I access the online application for SXSW Accelerator pitch event?
To access the online application for SXSW Accelerator, please click here