$300K Entrepreneurs Challenge: What's New This Year?

Phoebe Punzalan is the associate director of entrepreneurship at NYU Stern's W. R. Berkley Innovation Lab, where she oversees operations for the $300K Entrepreneurs Challenge. Phoebe's previous experience includes higher education administration and healthcare management. She is an alumna of both the College of Arts & Science and the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Phoebe shares the latest on the entrepreneurs challenge. 

$300K Entrepreneurs Challenge: What's New This Year?

The $300K Entrepreneurs Challenge is one of the largest and most innovative accelerator programs in the world. Participants from the NYU community, from undergraduates to alumni, faculty to staff, spend 8 months engaging in hands-on workshops, immersive boot camps and individualized coaching sessions while competing for a combined $300,000 in cash prizes and startup services.

186 teams comprised of 501 innovators from across NYU entered the Challenge.

This year 186 teams comprised of 501 innovators from across NYU entered the Challenge, which drew competitors from 11 of NYU’s schools, from the College of Arts and Science to the Tisch School of the Arts to the School of Medicine. Between current students and alumni, entrants listed more than 100 different majors and programs of study, from a 1986 Stern alumnus to enterprising members of the Tandon undergraduate class of 2020.

But what is most impressive about this year’s pool of competitors is their genuine desire to learn and to continue building upon their skillsets. In a recent survey asking about motivations for entering the Challenge, the response most chosen was participation in workshops and other educational programming (61% of respondents). Coming in at a close second was the opportunity to receive assistance in launching new ventures (58% of respondents). For these teams, receiving funding would be a welcome bonus, but the true value of the $300K Entrepreneurs Challenge is discovering what it really takes to launch a startup.

Come to think of it, the educational and skill-building component of the Challenge is only one of many non-monetary benefits of participating in the competition. In meeting fellow competitors and coaches, teams are expanding their networks and forming a community of like-minded peers. They are also building confidence by pitching their businesses to judges who are seasoned professionals and industry experts. Perhaps most importantly, the Challenge teams are exercising their ability to think disruptively by being in an environment that encourages experimentation and the testing of new ideas. These are the takeaways that make the Challenge a truly worthwhile endeavor.

This Friday, Dec 9, the 56 teams that have advanced to Round 2 will pitch their venture ideas at the Quarter-finals. We are excited to see the cumulative Challenge experience reflected in all of the presentations and wish all teams the best of luck!

For a snapshot of our Quarter-finalist teams, take a look at the additional data points below. And if you are interested in taking advantage of all the offerings provided by the Berkley Innovation Lab, send us a message at!

Quarter-finalists: Group Profile ⬇️


  • Male: 71%
  • Female: 29%
  • Neither/Other: <1%

Level/Affiliation Type

  • Undergraduate: 22%
  • Graduate: 27%
  • Alumnus: 18%
  • Faculty/Staff: 6%
  • Non-NYU*: 27%

Top Schools Represented

  • Stern School of Business: 31%
  • College of Arts and Science: 11%
  • Tandon School of Engineering: 10%
  • Tisch School of the Arts: 5%

*Teams are generally led by NYU students, alumni, faculty and staff but may include members with external affiliations.

Quarter Finalists