ELEVATE 2016: A Global Faith-Based Student Business Plan Competition



Our vision is to elevate and mobilize a generation of bright entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders to work for the good of others Genesis 2:15, use God-given gifts Romans 12:6-8, and multiply God’s resources Luke 19:11-27 for His purpose and Kingdom.


Student teams working on for-profit startup ventures can apply to compete against teams across the globe. The first five regional competitions: East, Midwest, South, West and International will take place online with readers evaluating the applications and then passing their results to a selection team that will extend the final invitations.


The winning team from each region plus one single wild card entry chosen from among the runner-ups of each region will be invited (with travel expenses reimbursed) to the Global Finals in Silicon Valley, CA to compete for a $50,000 Grand Prize investment.


It is FREE to apply to ELEVATE. Applications are due by February 15th, 2016 at ELEVATE2016.startupcompete.co .

Please review the Requirements and Guidelines for ELEVATE 2016 attached below.

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Advisory Council


Caroline Bivens

VP of Finance and USA Operations
Remedy Flies – 2015 ELEVATE South Region Winner


Derek Halvorson

Covenant College

Eugene Noh

Eugene Noh

New Ventures Program Manager
UC Berkeley


Amanda North

Founder and CEO
Artisan Connect

Marlon Evans

Marlon Evans



Mark Washington

National Director of MBA Ministry
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

Vip Patel

Vip Patel

Created to Love

Joe's Bio Shot

Joseph Handley

Asian Access

Michael Martin

Michael Martin

Co-Founder and CEO
RapidSOS – ELEVATE 2015 East Region Winner

Matt Bennet copy

Matt Bennett

Founder and CEO
Christian Union

Charlena Ortiz

Charlena Ortiz

Grit & Virtue

Daryl Heald

Daryl Heald

Generosity Path


Adam Metcalf

Cofounder and Chief Product Officer

Annie Y. Tsai

Annie Y. Tsai

Vice President and Professor
Azusa Pacific University

Andrew Clark

Andrew Clark

Cedarworks, Inc.

Ben Patterson

Ben Patterson

Founder and VP of Creative
The Story Locker


Nancy Ortberg

Transforming the Bay with Christ

Henry Kaestner

Henry Kaestner

Managing Principal
Sovereign’s Capital

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Jimmy Lee

Goodcity Chicago


Steve Saccone

Executive Pastor
Awakening Church


The Global Finals of ELEVATE will be hosted once again in Silicon Valley, CA.  The event will feature presentations from the six invited teams to a panel of five distinguished judges along with keynote addresses from nationally recognized speakers. 

While this year’s event is still in the works, the two speakers from ELEVATE 2015 were Connie Chan, Partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and Steve Saccone, Executive Pastor of Awakenings Church and author of Protégé.  And among the judges were Ronnie Lott, angel investor and NFL Hall of Famer and Holly Liu, Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer at Kabam.

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Timeline for ELEVATE 2016

  • December 1st, 2015 Application Open
  • February 15th, 2016 Application Deadline
  • February 16th- 29th, 2016 Online Judging and Selection Review
  • March 1st, 2016 Invitations to Global Finals
  • April 1st, 2016 Global Finals in Silicon Valley
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Frequently Asked Questions

How did ELEVATE Start?
ELEVATE was founded as a collaborative effort among Christian colleges and universities and Telos Ventures (a global Gospel-centered community-based venture accelerator and fund) in partnership with various ministries and Christian-lead businesses endorsed by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities.  The inaugural winner was Reliefwatch from the University of Chicago.
What are the primary criteria for applying?
First and foremost ELEVATE is a faith-based competition so we are seeking startups with founders who lead by following Jesus.  Secondly, this competition is designed to elevate entrepreneurial excellence among this next generation of leaders in faith and work, so it’s for students.  And finally, we are looking for scalable for-profit startups who want to serve the world.
How can I partner with ELEVATE?
ELEVATE is a 100% donor supported and volunteer lead and run initiative so there are many ways to work with us.  Primarily we covet your prayers. You can also help review business plans, judge presentations, as well as work with us on or attend the event.  Also, we are always seeking donors to support us and organizational partners to help us get the word out.  Please contact us if interested.

Where will this year’s Global finals take place?

The Global Finals of ELEVATE 2016 will once again be hosted in Silicon Valley, CA.  The six winning teams from each region will be invited to feature their presentations to a panel of five distinguished judges. There will also be keynote addresses from nationally recognized speakers and opportunities to network with leaders in ministry, community and work.

Sponsors and Partners

ELEVATE is a nonprofit initiative and we count on our generous donors and partners to make this event happen.  We invite support at any level but are specifically seeking at least five Cornerstone donors to commit for the next five years at the $5000 (for individuals) or $10,000 (for organizations) level or more per year to be the financial foundation on which ELEVATE will continue to be built. Please contact us for more information on how to give towards God’s work in faith and entrepreneurship.

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