Sack Race

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Startups looking for some capital or business support leading into 2016 should probably take a look through the following boot camps, accelerators and startup contests with cash on the line. 

Below are seven programs recruiting or based locally with opportunities for promising young companies, listed in order of application deadline:

Challenge Cup

As Washington D.C.'s largest startup campus 1776 grows its annual startup competition to include cities around the world, it's making a stop at American Underground in Durham on November 11 to pick three local winners to compete in a regional competition. From there, five winners from each of the nine regions will come to Washington next June to compete for $1 million in prizes.

Your startup must be working in one of 1776's core industries: transportation, cities, education, security, food, energy, health or money. It must be a scalable product or service that is already in the market and it must have raised less than $2.5 million and have revenues below that amount.

The deadline to apply for the Durham competition is October 21, so apply today.

A year-old Boulder accelerator is recruiting female founders to join its 2016 program, which runs February through April and includes a $20,000 investment in return for 6% equity. Companies aren't required to move to Boulder—they just spend time at the beginning and end of the program in the city. Highlights of the program are its virtual mentors which include venture capitalists from the Foundry Group, Grotech Ventures, Better Ventures and Boulder Ventures and the founder's of Justin's, Pure Barre, BlogHer, Noodles & Company, The Grommet and former CEO of Makerbot. 

Co-founder Sue Heilbronner is holding a workshop at The Frontier October 29, sponsored by a new women's initiative created by the colleges of textiles and management at NC State University. Details of both programs will be shared. Here's the link to RSVP.

InnovateHER

Cognitect is spearheading a local application process for the national SBA competition for businesses and products that fill a need in the world and can be commercialized while also empowering women and families. 10 finalists from around the U.S. will head to Washington D.C. in March to pitch their businesses and compete for three prizes totaling $70,000. But first, a local company must be chosen for a semifinal round. Cognitect was chosen to host that competition after submitting a request to the SBA.

The inaugural InnovateHER competition happened earlier this year. Here are the winners.

To apply, be prepared to write about your team, the problem your business is solving, how you're solving it and the uniqueness of the solution. The application deadline is October 30. A committee will select the top applicants and invite them to submit a full proposal. From there, top applicants will give presentations on November 20 and a local winner will be named November 27.


Greensboro Capital Connects

This is the signature event for the Greensboro Partnership Entrepreneur Connection initiative, giving 10 companies (from both the Triad and the Triangle) the chance to pitch in front of 150 or more local angel investors, venture capitalists and corporate executives. Three prizes total $8,000, and organizers boast that past finalists have raised a collective $9.5 million after their Capital Connects appearance.

After a November 1 application deadline, 25 finalists will be chosen to pitch for a committee. The best 10 will pitch at the November 19 event. Anyone can apply, from a university-born venture to a company scaling up.

Carolina Challenge

This opportunity is only for UNC students, faculty and graduates, but it's a big one for those affiliated with the university. The Carolina Challenge is the campus-wide business plan competition which kicks off during Global Entrepreneurship Week with an annual Pitch Party, November 19.

Get some early feedback on your business before the final event next April. Apply before November 5 to pitch at the party.

The Startup Factory Bootcamp

Greensboro is next up on The Startup Factory's bootcamp tour. Over three days in early December, a group of entrepreneurs will get a crash course in startup strategy, customer validation, pitching, marketing and fundraising at the new HQ Greensboro. Here's our overview of the program that kicked off in August in Winston-Salem.

Anyone around the state of North Carolina can apply to the free boot camp. Applications are due November 9.

Launch Chapel Hill

The Chapel Hill startup accelerator is recruiting its fifth cohort of companies for a 22-week program that kicks off in January. So far, 49 companies have graduated from the program, raising more than $3.7 million and creating 94 jobs. (Here's our update story on Launch's progress)  Participants in the program get office space as well as business help from lawyers, marketers, accountants and consultants as well as mentors from throughout the UNC, Chapel Hill and greater Triangle startup community. They range in industry, from healthcare to consumer products to software to apps to services.

There's no investment made by Launch and no equity stake taken. Instead, the companies pay $1,495 to take part in the offerings. Some scholarships are available.