Oftentimes, the biggest challenge that great innovators face is not building a disruptive product or getting it ready for market; it’s acquiring customers. B2B innovators experience this most of all. Whether it’s due to the uphill battle of breaking into a crowded space or the exorbitant costs of marketing and advertising, the pain of acquiring B2B customers is real, especially for early-stage innovators are working with limited resources.
The startup companies taking part in Ingram Micro’s second annual Comet Competition are hoping that by May 2020, customer acquisition costs are one less thing they’ll have to worry about. Last year’s overall winner, Arun Buduri, co-founder and president of Pixm, certainly found this to be the case.
Describing the Comet Competition as ‘nuclear fuel’ for his company’s anti-phishing software business, Buduri says participating Ingram Micro Cloud’s contest — considered by organizers to be the ‘largest startup competition in the world’ — has brought Pixm’s “customer acquisition cost down to nearly zero.” Pixm now counts Wells Fargo, PayPal, and Google among its customers using its computer vision software.
The Comet Competition awards nearly $5,000,000 in funding to the world’s top B2B software startups with no requirement of repayment or exchange of equity. Along with Ingram Micro Cloud, a leading global cloud software company, the event is hosted Microsoft for Startups, Microsoft’s immersive global accelerator network that provides promising startups with Microsoft’s scale-up products including Azure.
During the first phase of Comet Competition, startups from around the world compete in 16 of the biggest tech markets. Winners in each country will receive $100,000, while two runners-up in each region each get $50,000.
Each winner will then be eligible to compete in Ingram Micro’s Cloud Summit in Miami, May 12 – 14, 2020. At that point, the overall winner of the competition will be awarded $1,000,000.
“Our goal at Ingram Micro Cloud is to help identify and bring to market the best technology in the industry,” said Michael Kenney, head of strategy and business development for Ingram Micro Cloud. “It’s especially exciting to advise global startups at the beginning of their journeys and watch them achieve significant business milestones faster and more broadly than they ever anticipated.”
The 16 host countries for the Comet Competition are spread out across five continents, which gives promising tech innovators in unlikely places an unparalleled opportunity to bring their revolutionary B2B innovations to the world much faster than they might have been able to otherwise. Any startup that has made less than $10 million in annual revenue over the past year is able to compete, especially those innovating in cybersecurity, infrastructure management, IoT, fintech, and other leading B2B technologies.
For Ingram Micro Cloud, the Comet Competition opens a path for the most innovative technologies in the world to reach key markets around the world exponentially faster than they otherwise would have.
“Finding new routes to market for amazing, never-before-seen technologies benefits the entire channel ecosystem,” said Nimesh Davé, executive vice president at Ingram Micro Cloud. Davé acknowledges how adding a partner like Microsoft has raised not only the profile of event, but also the stakes for competitors.
“Teaming with Microsoft affords us amazing scale and resources. In turn, we are extending these benefits to our Comet Competition applicants, giving these startups the opportunity to share their ideas with a global audience.”
Registration for Comet Competition runs until October 31, 2019.