Then let's make you even more powerful.
Win over $100k in prizes.
Gain VC access.
until the Fall application period opens.
Creative storytelling is perhaps your most powerful and cost-effective tool. We're here to make it even better. If you are presenting, showcasing, framing, or telling the story of your startup in a fresh and dynamic way, we want to shower you with prizes that help you win even bigger.
one for early-stage and one for later-stage companies.
in story planning services from Shareability
in PR services from Headstand
in branding services from Blue Egg
in finance services from Sprchrger
in legal services from Gunderson Dettmer
in communication services from Core Communications
Why should I apply?
Our goal is to help you be a successful entrepreneur. That is why it costs absolutely nothing to apply, and you win prizes that are designed to help you succeed faster. And we help spread the word about your startup so that more people hear about your business, faster. This is not an award for industry insiders to congratulate each other. This is a streamlined system designed to help you win.
What prizes can I win?
You win over $100k in prizes from some of the industry's most prestigious companies. Check out the full prize list.
I'm a small company. How can I compete against better-funded startups?
Each category has 2 winners: an early-stage company and a later-stage company. In the context of the Otto Awards, an early-stage company is one that has raised anywhere from zero to a few million dollars (in some industries, a few million dollars is a lot; in others, it's barely enough to do the basic research). A later-stage company is from a few million dollars to $20m. For all of our prizes, we consider the impact of your storytelling relative to the resources your company has and the resources you applied to creating and telling your story. If you have more money, we'll expect a bigger impact. Some of the most powerful stories are told by very early-stage founders.
Is it really free to apply?
Yes! Unlike virtually all other awards out there, there is absolutely no cost to apply for the Otto Awards. We are 100% sponsor-funded. Those sponsors, by the way, are amazing. Research them. Contact them. Hire them. Back to costs: yes, everything is free.
Does the quality of the company matter, or just the communications?
It's hard to separate the quality of the substance of a company story from just the quality of the story. Some companies are simply more compelling than others. But we will absolutely look at the quality of the communications, and judge accordingly.
What should I submit?
Any communication form is eligible, including videos, social media posts, speeches, presentations, events, websites, or pitch decks. You are encouraged to submit multiple types of communications if they are related as part of a larger communications plan.
What's the narrative I'm asked to submit?
We want to hear about the what, the how, the why, and the impact. What was the communications challenge you were presented, how did you come up with the communications plan, why did you select that over other options, and what impact did it have? Impact will be measured relative to the cost or effort used to produce the communications. In other words, if you hired an expensive agency to produce a slick video that you then promoted with a lot of advertising dollars, the impact would need to be much bigger than if you produced something by yourself and used guerilla growth-hack techniques to promote it.
What if the communications were produced by an outside agency?
We are biased towards founders who produce their own stories and use creative ways to get them heard. That said, nothing is produced in a vacuum, and in particularly larger companies will likely have paid internal or external help. That is fine—just be honest about who produced what using how much money. The impact of your initiative should be outsized relative to whatever cost it took to produce & distribute it.
Got more Questions?
Reach out to us today at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up for our newsletter at email@example.com
What startups are eligible?
anywhere from zero to $20m (combination debt & equity)
primary target market is the United States or Canada are eligible. That includes companies headquartered in other countries that sell into North America, but excludes companies headquartered in North America selling exclusively elsewhere. For companies with international operations, the marketing & messaging campaigns that will be considered are those that target North America
For now, only English-language communications will be considered. We will expand to other cultural and geographic contexts in coming years.
What if there is confidential information in my pitch deck?
We understand issues facing startups, so we take great care to keep every submission confidential. If you prefer, you can redact or blur out any information you would like to keep private. If your pitch deck (or for that matter any document with confidential information) wins, we will work with you to create a version that can be shown to the public.
I don't have great storytelling—yet. What should I do?
Join the club! Telling the story of your startup well to external audiences is one of the most powerful tools you have available. Read the stories on this website, sign up for our newsletter, and research the sponsors. We are experts in communication and are here to inspire—and turn you into tomorrow's winner!
Got a great story? Apply for free
Know a great startup? Nominate