FAQ & Advice
The following frequently asked questions have been compiled to assist individuals preparing their application for the competition. For a full list of rules and eligibility requirements, please see the competition’s program announcement.
If you have a question and you cannot find it listed here, please feel free to email [email protected] and we will be happy to assist and offer advice. We may even add your question to the library for others to learn from as well.
The GIST Tech-I Team will also be host a series of webinars to assist you in the application process. The times and dates of those webinars are listed below. Also, after each webinar, we will post the recording here so that you will be able to watch the webinar at your own convenience.
Is GIST Tech-I for Me? Watch the webinar here: https://youtu.be/UoCnCvZCNSM
How to Make a Promotional Video. Watch the webinar here: https://youtu.be/vulE-LRRvgA
Final Tips and Advice for Completing your GIST Tech-I Application. Wath the webinar here: https://youtu.be/J109wJhsoL4
Video Tutorial: How to Apply to GIST Tech-I
- GIST Tech-I Basics
- Competition Eligibility
- Idea Stage vs. Startup Stage
- Focus of the Application
- Types of Ideas and Startups Considered
- Judging Criteria
- GIST Tech-I Finals
WHAT IS GIST TECH-I?
GIST Tech-I is an annual competition for science and technology entrepreneurs from emerging economies around the world. Aspiring innovators pitch their Ideas or Startups online finalists receive an all-expense paid trip to GIST Tech-I Finals to showcase their ventures and receive intensive training. GIST Tech-I winners can win capital seed prizes.
HOW DOES THE GIST TECH-I COMPETITION WORK?
- Eligible entrepreneurs submit an online application, which includes a 90-second pitch video, for their Idea or Startup.
- A review is conducted of the applications and a select number of applicants are chosen as semi-finalists.
- Semifinalists put their networking and marketing skills to the test in an online public voting round.
- Voting results help determine which semi-finalists will go on to the finals.
- Finalists travel all-expenses paid to the GIST Tech-I Finals where they receive in-person training and mentorship, network with entrepreneurs and investors, and pitch their Idea or Startup for the chance to bring home seed capital prizes.
IS GIST TECH-I FOR ME?
If you are aged between 18-40 years old on the application deadline, are from a GIST-eligible emerging economy, and have a great science or technology Idea or Startup, then the answer is YES!
If you have an Idea or Startup but are looking for funding or mentoring assistance to take your project to the next stage, then the answer is YES!
If you enjoy participating in exciting competitions and networking with peers, then the answer is YES!
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PAST GIST TECH-I COMPETITIONS?
Visit our News and Past Winners page for information on GIST Tech-I alumni.
WHEN IS THE APPLICATION DEADLINE?
The application deadline for the 2019 competition is November 23, 2018.
WHAT DO I NEED TO COMPLETE TO APPLY?
Each GIST Tech-I application, consists of a Short Summary, several business and scientific questions, and a promotional video (lasting no longer than 90 seconds) of the product or service.
CAN I CHANGE MY APPLICATION BEFORE THE DEADLINE?
You can! Even if you have submitted your application! At any stage of your application you can change all of the content prior to November 23.
The 2019 competition’s full eligibility criteria can be found in the Program Announcement.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?
Individuals have to meet ALL of the following eligibility:
- Individuals have to meet ALL of the following eligibility:
- The applicant must be aged 18-40 years old at on the day of the application deadline.
- The applicant must be a citizen of at least one of the 132 GIST Tech-I-eligible emerging economies (full list here).
- The applicant must not hold dual-citizenship or permanent resident status in a non-GIST economy.
- The applicant must not submit more than one application per GIST Tech-I competition year.
- The applicant must not be a previous GIST Tech-I finalist who traveled to and competed in the GIST Tech-I Finals.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY IDEA OR STARTUP IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE COMPETITION?
In addition to meeting the applicant age and citizenship requirements above, Ideas and Startups that met ALL of the following eligibility requirements:
- The application must be the original work of the Idea or Startup applicant.
- The Idea or Startup must be for-profit. Applications from non-profit ventures or NGOs will not be reviewed.
- The Idea or Startup must be developing an innovative science or technology solution with market potential in a GIST-eligible economy.
- The Startup must be less than three years old.
- The Idea or Startup must be, at least in part based, in a GIST-eligible economy.
- The Idea or Startup must be developing or selling products and services that use its own innovations in science and technology. Applications from organizations that buy and resell technologies and other goods will not be reviewed.
- The Idea or Startup must not submit more than one application per GIST Tech-I competition year.
I CURRENTLY LIVE IN AN ELIGIBLE EMERGING ECONOMY, BUT I AM A CITIZEN OF AN ECONOMY WHICH IS NOT ON THE GIST LIST. CAN I APPLY?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. GIST Tech-I is only open to all those who are citizens of a GIST-eligible emerging economy. If your startup team includes someone who does meet the eligibility requirements, he or she could submit the application and act as the team’s representative instead.
I CURRENTLY LIVE OR STUDY IN AN INELIGIBLE ECONOMY (E.G., U.S.A.), BUT I AM A CITIZEN OF AN EMERGING ECONOMY ON THE GIST LIST. CAN I APPLY?
As long as you are not also a dual-citizen or permanent resident of a non-GIST eligible economy, yes. If you are a citizen of eligible emerging economy AND your business will be focused or based in a GIST-eligibly economy, you are eligible to apply to the GIST Tech-I Competition.
I AM A STUDENT WITH A BACHELOR'S DEGREE. CAN I PARTICIPATE?
There are no minimum education criteria for qualifications to compete in GIST Tech-I. GIST Tech-I encourages eligible applicants of all educational backgrounds to apply.
CAN THE TEAM BE COMPRISED OF ONLY ONE MEMBER?
Definitely! Some of the greatest innovators and entrepreneurs in the world have achieved their success on their own.
HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN BE ON ONE PROJECT TEAM?
There is no limit to the number of people on a project team. However, all teams must appoint one person to represent the team throughout the entire competition. This person is required to meet all of the eligibility requirements and is the person under whose name your application should be submitted. Your team representative will also be the only person to travel to and pitch your project at the GIST Tech-I finals, should your application advance. If you have any specific questions as to who you should choose to represent your team do not hesitate to email [email protected] for advice.
I HAVE MULTIPLE PROJECTS THAT NEED FUNDING. CAN I SUBMIT MORE THAN ONE BUSINESS PLAN APPLICATION FOR THIS COMPETITION?
No. Each individual/startup is only permitted to submit one application to GIST Tech-I.
IF I WAS A FINALIST WHO TRAVELED TO AND PARTICIPATED IN THE FINALS IN ONE OF THE PREVIOUS GIST TECH-I COMPETITION, CAN I PARTICIPATE IN THE COMPETITION AGAIN IF I HAVE CHANGED MY PROJECT AND MY TEAM SINCE THE LAST TIME?
Congratulations on the new venture, however you are unfortunately unable to apply for GIST Tech-I 2019 as you are classified as a finalist who traveled and participated in the finals from a previous GIST Tech-I or a prize winner from an I-Dare competition
IF I PARTICIPATED IN ANOTHER GIST TECH-I COMPETITION, BUT I DID NOT ADVANCE TO THE FINALS OR WAS A FINALISTS BUT WAS UNABLE TO TRAVEL TO AND PARTICIPATE IN THE FINALS, CAN I PARTICIPATE IN THE GIST TECH-I COMPETITION?
If you entered but did but did not advance to the finals or were a finalist but were unable to travel to and participate in the finals, then you are eligible to apply this year.
IF I AM ONE OF THE WINNERS OF THE FIRST GIST TECH-I OR THE I DARE COMPETITIONS, CAN I APPLY TO THIS COMPETITION?
Unfortunately, applications from previous GIST Tech-I and I-Dare final award winners will not be accepted.
HOW CAN I ESTABLISH WHETHER MY PROJECT IS IN “IDEA STAGE” OR “STARTUP STAGE”?
A startup venture is a company that is hunting for a business model or has a business model and is taking it to other markets. An Idea is usually something you have been thinking about seriously. At an idea stage you have to prove that you have been doing some research about the market and your customers. The complete definitions with respect to this competition can be found in the Program Announcement. If you still have questions, please feel free to get in touch and we will be happy to work with you on an individual basis to ensure that you complete your application.
IS IT APPROPRIATE FOR ME TO ENTER THE COMPETITION IF I HAVE NOT YET STARTED A COMPANY?
Yes, you qualify under the IDEA stage.
WHAT MATERIALS WILL I NEED TO SUBMIT?
The GIST Tech-I application has consisted of a 90-second pitch video, a short summary of the Idea/Startup, and a series of questions that address all of the criteria outlined in the Program Announcement.
All written application materials must be in English, and the pitch video must be in English or with English subtitles provided.
DO I NEED TO DEMONSTRATE THAT MY IDEA WORKS AND THAT IT IS PRACTICAL?
It is not necessary to have a finalized, market-ready product to apply to GIST Tech-I. However, you should be able to demonstrate that your idea is technically feasible and practical, to explain the work and team needed to develop a viable product, and to demonstrate that you have identified and understand your target market.
HOW DO I IDENTIFY MY TARGET MARKET?
Innovation is exciting, but in order to do well in this competition, you need to also show that there is a need for your product and that customers would be willing to buy it. Start by identifying the problem your technology solves and who that problem affects. Why would those people buy your product over alternatives? For whom would your product be affordable? Check out the GIST Tech Connect session on Product Market Fit for tips.
WHAT ASPECTS SHOULD I FOCUS ON IN MY RESPONSES TO THE BUSINESS AND SCIENTIFIC QUESTIONS?
Your application will be assessed in three main areas: Significance, Scientific and Technical Merit, and Commercial potential. If you have any questions regarding these three areas or what you will be assessed on, please refer to the Program Announcement.
IF I DON’T HAVE A CUSTOMER ANALYSIS, WILL I BE GRADED POORLY?
As part of the assessment criteria we require that you describe your market segment/function and your customers both current and potential. While a complete customer analysis does not have to be a formal survey of hundreds of people, we would like to see that you have performed some level of research to ensuring that you are aware of but we need to know that you have spoken to some potential customers. This will show that you have done the research that is so important for the success of your business: ensuring that someone would want to buy your product/service.
WHAT IF MY IDEA IS SO NEW THAT IT DOES NOT HAVE AN EXISTING MARKET YET?
For startup stage, we are interested in products/services that are ready to be launched. New inventions might not do well if you need to prove that there is a demand for your product. Perhaps there is not a need for this product/service where you live, but is there another location where such a product/service would be very useful? In order to do well in this competition, you need to show that there is a need for your product and that customers would be willing to buy it. We recommend that you read some of Brad Cooper’s material on Customer Development. New products and services are great, but they need to answer to some need in the market.
IF MY IDEA TARGETS PEOPLE IN A HIGH ECONOMIC CLASS VS. THE MIDDLE CLASS OR THE POOR, WOULD THAT AFFECT HOW THE JUDGES VIEW IT?
It is good that you started your product segmentation. We care more about your identifying potential customers than worrying about which segment of the population you target. What we want to know is how you know that a particular customer segment has a problem that you can solve. Show us what you know about the market that you want to enter.
IF I CANNOT PROVIDE ACCURATE INFORMATION ON THE AMOUNT OF BUSINESS A COMPETITOR IS DOING IN MY TARGET MARKET, WILL THIS AFFECT MY CHANCES OF WINNING THE COMPETITION?
The importance of this question increases if you are entering as a startup stage. You should show us that you have done research on your competitors. Of course there is data that is not always easy to get. The goal is to show that you have enough to evaluate the risks and opportunities that you are facing in moving forward with your product/service.
IF I AM AT THE IDEA STAGE, WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO ME TO EMPHASIZE?
You need to emphasize that you have done your research and that your idea has the potential to enter a new markets. The most important thing at any stage is that you prove that you understand your market.
I DON’T HAVE A VIDEO. CAN I APPLY?
Unfortunately, it is the criteria of the competition that we require both an executive summary and a 90 second video. However, the video does not have to be professionally produced or use high-tech equipment. If you have access to a cell/mobile phone with a camera or a laptop with a webcam then use these to create your video. Also don’t be afraid to use online animation software to create your 90 second video. For example, PowToon allows you to create a video at www.powtoon.com. Experts will be assessing your content and creativity and not the quality of the video itself so do not be afraid to use the resources around you. If you have any questions related to the video please feel free to email [email protected] and we will be happy to offer personalized advice.
IS THE VIDEO SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE A TV ADVERTISEMENT ABOUT OUR PRODUCT?
Yes. You should target your potential customers and give them a reason to buy your product or service while informing them of the benefits from it. You can also add images or music to your video. Take a look at previous year's startup and idea stage winners to get some great ideas.
HOW MANY PEOPLE SHOULD APPEAR IN THE VIDEO?
Less is more. There is no restriction in the number of people that appear in the video, but we find that the pitch is better if only one person does it, especially given the time restriction unless others in the video are acting out something being said by the person narrating. Please think outside the box, you can have some written words or images that support your argument.
WILL YOU EVALUATE THE VIDEO QUALITY AND CREATIVITY, OR ONLY THE CONTENT OF THE VIDEO?
Your video will be evaluated on both the content and the creativity. The complete breakdown of what the expert panel will be looking at and assessing is available in the Program Announcement.
WHAT IS THE ACCEPTED DRESS CODE FOR THE VIDEO CLIP?
While there is no set dress code we do recommend that you dress as professionally as you are attempting to sell your product, concept, or service. Imagine it as a job interview with the global voting public as your interviewer. Think about how you would like to appear? Is it suitable and fitting for what you are trying to demonstrate and sell? Any videos deemed inappropriate, in accordance with the Terms and Conditions in the Program Announcement will be removed from the competition and the applicant will be informed.
CAN I SEE EXAMPLE VIDEOS?
Definitely, take a look at last year's startup and idea stage winners to get some great ideas. Take a look at the past winners page for more information.
TO WHAT SECTORS/INDUSTRIES IS GIST TECH-I OPEN?
GIST Tech-I is open to Ideas and Startups across science and technology sectors. The important thing is that your business/idea be built around your own scientific or technological innovation. Past applicants have had projects in Agriculture, Energy, Education, Environment, Health, and Information and Communication Technology sectors. If you do not feel your project fits in one of these broad sectors, please contact [email protected] for advice, or use the “other” option provided on the application.
CAN PURELY RESEARCH PROJECTS APPLY?
You may apply with a research project provided that the project has a demonstrable commercial potential, your intention is to convert the project into a for-profit company, and you have started to form your business plan. If you are very early on in your research and your product is still very far from being commercialized, unfortunately you are not eligible to apply to the competition.
DO I HAVE TO PROVIDE A NEW IDEA THAT HAS NEVER BEEN INTRODUCED TO THE MARKET?
You do not need to provide a completely new idea, but you need to show is the way you are approaching the problem in an innovative way. How can you solve this problem better than your competitors who might have a similar product?
CAN THE IDEA WE SUBMIT BE REPLICATED IN ANY PART OF THE WORLD OR DOES IT HAVE TO BE LOCAL?
It can be replicated to every part of the world. The importance is to see that you have an actual plan on how to get there. A lot of the times the product or service that is sold in one country is not sold the same way in another because of difference is culture or buying power of the customers, so you need to adapt your plan to each new market. Think of your customers.
CAN I SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR A PRODUCT OR SYSTEM THAT EXISTS IN OTHER COUNTRIES BUT DOES NOT YET EXIST IN MY COUNTRY?
CAN I SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR AN ICT EDUCATION PROJECT?
Yes. E-aid, the winner of the I-Dare Best Female entrepreneur award has an online tutoring service.
WHAT IS A SUBJECT AREA AND WHY DO I NEED TO INDICATE WHICH ONE MY IDEA OR STARTUP IS IN?
In order to make sure reviewers have the background needed to review a particular application, we try to group applications into different subject areas. If you have a question as to which subject area your application fits into, please feel free to contact [email protected]. You can also select “Other” should your application not fit into one of the listed subject areas. If you do select “Other” you will be asked to specify what subject area you believe your idea or startup fits.
CAN I SUBMIT AN IDEA FOR A MODEL THAT GENERATES NEW STARTUPS?
If you can create a business that can create other successful businesses or industries around them then we will definitely consider it. We have seen that businesses that create surrounding industries are most successful. Your service or product needs to be based on a technology or on science.
CAN I SUBMIT AN IDEA THAT IS FOR TRAININGS?
Yes as long as it is based on a technology like training software. What you would need to show is how it actually meets the need of your market in an innovative or more effective way. For examples there were sales trainings that were done as videos or power point presentations that are now done as simulations. You need to think of what makes your product more relevant.
MY PROJECT IS MORE RELATED TO SOCIAL WELFARE THAN IT IS TO BUSINESS. IS IT ACCEPTABLE TO SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR A PROJECT THAT REDUCES POVERTY, UNEMPLOYMENT, ETC.?
It is acceptable if your project is based on science or a particular technology. For example, a previous applicant submitted a project that proposed a way for farmers to receive farming advice by SMS in rural Africa and thereby increase their yields.
CAN WE SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR A SERVICE OR DOES IT HAVE TO BE FOR A PRODUCT?
Services are often great innovations. Provided that your service relies on a scientific or technical innovation you developed, we are happy to review your proposal.
DO I HAVE TO PROVIDE A NEW IDEA THAT HAS NEVER BEEN INTRODUCED TO THE MARKET?
You do not need to provide a completely new idea, but you need to show that you are approaching the problem in an innovative way. How can you solve this problem better than your competitors who might have a similar product? What technical or scientific innovation are you bringing to the idea?
DOES MY IDEA/STARTUP NEED TO BE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL MARKET, OR CAN I HAVE A PRODUCT OR SERVICE FOCUSED ON MY LOCAL MARKET?
Products and services for the local market are more than encouraged to apply. If you are at the Idea stage, we advise you to focus on developing within your local (“pilot”) market. If you are at a more advanced Startup stage, we would like to see that you have aspirations and a strategy to eventually enter other markets. These do not have to be geographical markets; they can also be new demographic new markets or niches (for example, if your Idea/Startup serves children, maybe you want to eventually expand to serving adults or the elderly). It is important to describe both your current market and potential markets.
HOW WILL YOU CHOOSE THE WINNERS OF THE COMPETITION?
Each complete application will be reviewed by one of the convened expert panels compromised of regional experts, scientific and technological experts, and innovation and entrepreneurship experts. The initial review will assess: the eligibility of the applicant(s); feasibility of the idea/start-up; and the potential societal impact and target market of the idea/startup including a consideration as to what problems the idea solves, what the benefits of such an idea are, and how this product compares to others. The application will be reviewed using the criteria laid out in the Program Announcement. Up to 100 GIST Tech-I semi-finalists will be selected to include a balance of Idea and Startup stage applications. Once selected, the semi-finalists’ videos and Short Summaries will be posted online for public voting to help determine the GIST Tech-I finalists. Up to 24 GIST Tech-I finalists (totaling half Idea and half Startup stage applications) will be selected total number of online votes.
DO THE JUDGES HAVE A PREFERENCE FOR PROJECTS THAT ARE IN THE IDEA STAGE OR PROJECTS THAT ARE ALREADY GROWING?
GIST Tech-I is actually broken down into 2 distinct areas of IDEA and STARTUP with equal numbers of participants being eligible to make it all the way to the Finals at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress.
WHAT IS THE GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP CONGRESS?
The Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GES) is a gathering of thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions from more than 170 countries to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures around the world. At the weeklong GEC, delegates make connections, gain insights, learn about new research, and leave ready to renew their programs, policy ideas or firm founder skills. To learn more about GEC, go to https://genglobal.org/gec.
WHERE IS THE GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP CONGRESS BEING HELD?
The Global Entrepreneurship Congress will be held in Bahrain.
I CAN’T AFFORD TO GET TO GES; DOES THIS MEAN I CAN’T BE A FINALIST?
GIST Tech-I will help provide visas, plane tickets, & accommodations for anyone who is chosen as a finalist. All of your costs at while you are at GEC will be covered. All you will need is spending money to buy souvenirs for friends and family at home.
I HAVE NEVER PRESENTED IN FRONT OF A CROWD BEFORE. WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM TOO NERVOUS TO COMPETE?
Everyone gets nervous presenting, so do not be concerned. In order to ease your nerves, especially if you have never presented in English before, prior to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress starting all GIST Tech-I finalists will receive 2 days of intense training with experts, mentors, and judges. You will have your opportunity to practice you presentation and receive great advice prior to the Final pitching event. Our aim is to ensure that by the time of the final pitching event that everyone feels as comfortable and prepared as possible and our 2 days of training aim to achieve this.] and [HOW LONG IS THE TRAINING IN THE BEFORE GEC? The training will last for 2 days. The exact agenda will be available closer to the date of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress