IBM has announced the launch of its 2015 SmartCamp in 30 cities worldwide – including four in Africa – offering startups the chance to attend a three-month Silicon Valley accelerator and earn US$25,000 in funding from angel investor Jason Calacanis.
IBM is touting SmartCamp as “one part mentoring bootcamp, one part networking extravaganza, and one part epic pitch competition”, with the event this year powered by Silicon Valley-based incubator LAUNCH.
Between four and six applicants will be selected to compete at each local IBM SmartCamp event, with African legs taking place in Cairo, Casablanca, Johannesburg and Nairobi. Startups will benefit from working with mentors from the local business, startup and VC communities.
After this, ten local SmartCamp winners will be chosen to attend the LAUNCH Scale event in San Francisco in October, giving them the opportunity to exhibit at IBM’s SmartCamp pavilion. Startups will also be eligible to receive up to US$120,000 in IBM Cloud credit, and will meet Jason Calacanis, and local VCs, enterprise executives and business leaders.
The 10 semi-finalists will then be invited back to San Francisco in March next year to exhibit in the IBM SmartCamp Pavilion at LAUNCH Festival, the largest startup event in the world with over 20,000 attendees. Here they will pitch live for the title of IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year, which brings with it a place in the LAUNCH incubator and US$25,000 investment.
Startups thinking of applying must have a minimum viable product (MVP), and be early-stage with less than US$1 million in revenue. Founders must be available for all of the LAUNCH events and be able to pay their own airfare, lodging and food.