NYU $200K Entrepreneurs Challenge by the Numbers

Cynthia Franklin is director of entrepreneurship at the NYU Stern W. R. Berkley Innovation Lab and an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship, teaching Getting to Launch:The Startup Lab at the school.

The NYU $200K Entrepreneurs Challenge provides members of the NYU community an opportunity to discover what it really takes to launch a startup. In addition to the opportunity to receive startup cash. participants get training assistance and individualized coaching from experienced entrepreneurs, investors & executives.



This year 265 teams entered the Challenge, the campuswide venture competitions run by our team at the W. R. Berkley Innovation Lab. That figure marks a whopping 51% jump in entrants since 2011, when there were just 175.

The $200K Entrepreneurs Challenge has long been recognized as one of the largest intra-collegiate competitions of its kind (in terms of entries received, training provided and cash awarded).

However, as much as we like to tout our numbers, the number of future innovators who enter is just one of the many metrics that matter to us at the Innovation Lab. It’s also extremely important to us that the competitions reflect the diversity across campus. That’s why we cast a wide net when we begin marketing the Challenge in late summer. We cast and then anxiously wait to see who answers the call, all the while asking ourselves questions like:

  • Will  there be strong participation from all schools?

  • Will graduate and undergraduate students be well-represented?

  • How about alumni?

  • What industry sectors are trending?

  • Will there be an uptick in the number of women founders?

  • Will traditionally under-represented groups be better represented?

  • How will submissions to the Social and Tech Venture Competitions, which are newer programs, compare to those in the New Venture?

Of the 265 teams that entered in October, 52 (less than 20%) competed in the Challenge’s quarter-final round on Friday, December 11. Happily, we find ourselves working once again with a rich mix of teams from various backgrounds, with different approaches and fresh ideas, all developing compelling concepts that range from aerospace to fintech, from agriculture to education. More than 16 different schools across campus are represented.

As a former business editor, I always required my reporters to look at the numbers behind their stories. So in that spirit, here are a few numbers behind the participants who are making this year’s $200K Entrepreneurs Challenge another thrilling competition cycle.

Let us know if any of these figures surprise you. Please feel free to suggest ideas you have for keeping the $200K Entrepreneurs Challenge at the leading edge of venture competitions and for helping us to continue to expand our reach and impact.

2015-2016 EC Infographic


Quarter ­Finalists Team Composition


  • Male: 61%
  • Female: 39%


Current NYU Students: 48%

  • Undergrad: 30% of current NYU students
  • Grad: 70% of current NYU students

Alumnus: 17%
Faculty: 5%
Non­ NYU*: 29%
* NYU student, alumni, faculty founders are often leading teams with members not affiliated with the university.

Top 5 Schools Represented (All)

  • Stern: 35%
  • Steinhardt: 5.6%
  • College of Arts and Sciences: 5%
  • Wagner: 4.4%
  • Tandon: 3.8%