The Startup Studio’s mission is to bring real and sustainable change to how people learn. We must disrupt education so that it creates new outcomes that enable people to change the world into a planet where real problems are solved. To do that, we must build people capable of Empowerment, Performance, and Wellness, who understand what it means to create solutions that experience the outcomes of Sustainability, Profitability, and Efficiency – the three test metrics of Learn to Start.

It also means that we must provide a competitive platform where all of our Learn to Start participants, from all of our programs throughout the globe, have the opportunity to illustrate their power through the startups they create and the stories they tell – a place where the light shines brightly on them and their solution.

At The Startup Studio we call this place Spotlight™.

A Global Competition in

Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Spotlight is a new venture competition powered by The Startup Studio that celebrates the entrepreneurial efforts of Learn to Start participants across the global community of exclusive partner schools, universities, and organizations we serve. The competition introduces the winning teams to community leaders and provides key resources to help launch their ventures. The top ventures chosen each year will earn up to $50,000.00 in cash and essential business services, consultancy, and mentorship provided by our exclusive community of Global Agents and experts.

Spotlight is open to all Learn to Start students regardless of age and accepts all types of venture proposals. This competition brings together big prizes, ideas, and leaders to create one of the most exciting entrepreneurial events in the world.

Application Deadline

Applications to participate in
Spotlight - A Global Competition in Entrepreneurship & Innovation
are due no later than

August 1, 2021




Applications to participate in the Spotlight - A Global Competition in Entrepreneurship and Innovation are due no later than August 1, 2021.


Application Fee: $150 per team


The Semi-Final event will be held on Thursday, September 9, 2021, on our virtual platform. Time TBA.


Finals will be held on Thursday, September 30, 2021, on our virtual platform. Time TBA



Spotlight – A Global Competition in Entrepreneurship and Innovation rewards participants for proposing innovations that address important problems and for developing scalable business models that create value for customers as well as wealth for the community they serve. 

The judging criteria we employ reflects these values.

Proposed Product/Service
& Market Opportunity

  • Is the value proposition sound?
  • Is the product/service original, innovative, and thoughtful?
  • Is the value proposition articulated clearly?
  • Do they clearly identify their target market(s)?
  • Are their target markets large enough to support the growth of this venture?
  • Do they have a competitive advantage over existing solutions?
  • Do they have intellectual property?

Financial/Revenue Model
& Financial Projections

  • Is the revenue model logical and comprehensive?
  • Are the financial projections comprehensive and realistic?
  • Do the financial projections reflect an understanding of the economics and potential growth opportunities and/or downside risks for the business?


  • Does this venture have the ability to make a large impact on society?
  • Will this venture help create jobs and promote regional economic development?

Team & Execution Plan

  • Is the business operationally feasible?
  • Do they outline measurable and achievable milestones?
  • Do the founding team members have the expertise to launch and/or grow the business? Do they have plans to address gaps in their expertise/experience?
  • Do they properly address risks and provide contingency plans?

Frequently Asked


All participants planning to enter the competition should work directly with their instructors, mentors and network within the school, university or organization they attend so as to help contestants review their business models, financial models, presentation strategies, and pitch decks. All applications must be submitted by your instructor or mentor from a partner school, university, or organization to ensure we are receiving qualified candidates only.

There is a $150 application fee per team.

Cash Awards:

The anticipated cash awards are shared among our finalists as follows:

1st Place – $7,000

2nd Place – $2,500

3rd Place – $1,000

Virtual Incubation:

At The Startup Studio we do not believe that funding should be the priority of young startups. Instead, we believe building a needed value proposition that is housed inside a well crafted business model is where a founder’s focus should be. Far too many startups focus too heavily on funding and as a result never get to market successfully.

With this underlying principle in mind, the 1st place team will be given a six month term inside of The Startup Studio’s unique Virtual Incubator. Our incubator is unlike the traditional accelerator models currently offered in the market today and instead focuses on all aspects of the Learn to Start model to ensure we bring our Spotlight winner access to the real meaning of entrepreneurship that will ensure their ability to reach the critical next level in their journey. 

This is where our winner will gain monthly access to our entire community of powerful resources. That includes direct access to our Global Ambassadors, Koha, and Seed, all of which will provide the critical in-kind contributions of business services, consultancy, and mentorship to this 1st place venture. These in-kind contributions have been valued at over $40,000.

To enter the Spotlight competition you must be  a registered student or professional inside of a Learn to Start School, University or Online Program.

Teams that advance to the Semi-Finals and Finals are encouraged to participate in advising sessions and workshops leading up to the Spotlight virtual finals by working directly with mentors in their direct network of mentors and advisors.

Contestants will have 12 minutes to present their pitch deck, with additional minutes allocated to Q&A from the judging panel.

Ventures submitted for Spotlight are not kept confidential, so teams should not include detailed descriptions of intellectual property in their submission. Participants retain ownership over their ventures, concepts, and ideas.

All contestants are expected to compete with integrity and shall not knowingly deceive judges or members of the selection committee. All presented materials shall be offered as an accurate representation of your knowledge and expectations, and shall not contain false or misleading statements. Contestants who violate this expectation of integrity are subject to disqualification and revocation of awards.

Spotlight participants authorize The Startup Studio and its affiliates to use a summary of the content of their submission and any video and image submissions for publicity purposes related to Spotlight.

The organizers of Spotlight reserve the right to disqualify any entry that, in their judgement, violates the spirit of the competition guidelines.

For assistance with developing your Learn to Start BDM, you can download the PDF here.

For an excellent, video-style description of the Business Model Canvas click here.

For assistance with creating a financial model, check out SCORE’s website.

Sample pitch deck to help organize your presentation in a simple, easy-to-follow format.

Most importantly, all entrants should lean on the Learn to Start Model and display that they have embraced and apply their entire LTS curriculum into their thinking.