The Accelerator – FAQs

What is X Challenge?

X Challenge gives every AUT student the unique opportunity to unlock their entrepreneurial potential by developing an idea for a business, cause or project and participate in an entrepreneurial experience.

Who can enter X Challenge?

X Challenge is open to all current AUT students across all schools and campuses. Teams can include non-students, however one team member must be a current AUT student.

Can I enter as an individual or a team?

You may enter as an individual or in a team of any size, where at least one team member is a current AUT student. You will need to nominate at least one person for the pitch night event to present the final pitch.

How does X Challenge work?

X Challenge is an annual competition in two stages plus lots of workshops, clinics and support.

Stage 1, The Idea, which has now closed and Stage 2, The Accelerator, which opened on 15 August. The Accelerator involves submitting a business document using the provided template outlining your business idea. Note: You do not have to have entered Stage 1 to enter Stage 2. Alternatively, if you have entered stage 1, you may enter stage 2 with the same idea.

12 finalists will be selected across four categories: Product, Digital, Service and Social Enterprise. Finalists will be coached and mentored between October-November to help them prepare for the final pitch night event.

What is the closing date of Stage 2, The Accelerator?

All entries must use the PDF entry form provided and submit via email to by 12 midnight Wednesday 19th September, 2018. Entries must keep to specified word counts and with all required questions answered.

Do I have to be a NZ citizen or permanent resident?

No, any current AUT student from any campus can enter.

Do I have to be an AUT Student to enter?

No, anybody can enter as long as they have a current AUT Student on their team, and this person will be the main contact on the entry form.

Can I submit more than one idea?

Yes, however we strongly suggest that you concentrate on one idea due to the level of commitment and time required once you reach the finals.

How will AUT help me prepare for The Accelerator ?

AUT will be holding various workshops to help you to prepare each section of the business plan you need to submit. Please Join our Facebook group X Challenge Community for more information or visit AUT Events on Facebook to view upcoming workshops.

How much can I win?

There is a total cash prize pool of $40,000 as well as a selection of in-kind prizes tailored to getting your idea off the ground.

12 finalists will prepare and pitch for the following cash prizes:

Category Winners ($5,000 each)

  • Product
  • Digital
  • Service
  • Social Enterprise

Overall runner-up $5,000

Overall winner $15,000

NOTE: The overall winner will be selected from the category winners, however, the overall runner-up could be selected from the wider pool of 12 finalists.

What are the four categories?

The four categories are:

This could be any physical product that makes up the main portion of your idea, e.g Electronic, Fashion Tech, Furniture etc.

This could be any digital product such as a website, application or any other online medium.

This could be any idea for providing a service, like accountancy, dog walking, etc.

This could be any physical product, digital or service idea where the main focus of the business model is towards social impact.

Entries may fit into two or even three categories (e.g. a digital service social enterprise idea). However they will only be entered once - we will allocate entries to the most appropriate category.

Will AUT own a part of my idea?

No, X Challenge and AUT will not have a benefit share or shareholding in your idea/business.

What happens to my IP (Intellectual Property)?

The information you disclose in your entry and the inherent Intellectual Property (IP) should belong to you or your team and should be the product of your own work. Ensure you have the rights to disclose the Intellectual Property or confidential information of another party before you disclose it. You will be disclosing and demonstrating your entry to the public at the final pitch night which may impact on your ability to formally protect your Intellectual Property Rights if they have not already been protected. You must ensure that you are comfortable sharing any information and ideas in this way.

How can I use my prize money?

For Stage 2 It’s up to you how you choose to spend your prize money but it must be used to further your winning business idea eg marketing, prototyping, research. Part of the judging criteria will be based on your go to market plan and how you would use the prize money if you were to win.

Do I need to present my idea in front of judges?

If you are selected as one of the 12 finalists, you, or at least one person from your team is required to present on the final pitch night.

When is the final pitch night?

The final pitch event will be held on the Thursday 22nd of November.

Do I need to have entered stage 1 to enter stage 2 of the competition?

No, the two stages are independent of each other. Last year’s stage 2 winner did not enter stage 1.

Who is on the judging panel?

The judging panel for Stage 2 will be comprised of entrepreneurs, industry experts and investors representing the four different categories. Judges will be announced ahead of the final.

What are the judging criteria?

  • Entrants must demonstrate understanding of the problem they are trying to solve and how their solution addresses this problem. (20%)
  • Entrants must demonstrate the capability of themselves and their team to deliver on the idea, including specialist skills and the entrepreneurial drive to commercialise the concept/idea. (20%)
  • Entrants must demonstrate understanding of the customer and their needs. (20%)
  • Entrants must demonstrate knowledge of the industry and the market potential of their concept. (15%) The applicant should have begun to assess any likely risks and barriers to market entry. This could include aspects such as lack of financial resource and time, significant regulatory hurdles, or inability to access core capability required to deliver the end-product. Particular consideration should have been given to whether there is an opportunity to acquire competitive advantage.
  • Entrants must demonstrate traction gained up to this point and a clear go to market plan. (15%)
  • Entrants must present their idea clearly, concisely and effectively on the final pitch night (10%)

When do finalists get announced and what happens then?

Finalists of The Accelerator will be announced on 9th October 2018. Each finalist will be paired with a mentor and will be required to attend one to two workshops per week in the lead up to the final pitch event on 22nd November.

Can I be disqualified from the competition?

Yes, the X Challenge organising committee reserve the right to disqualify any entry that, in its collective judgement, violates the letter or the spirit of the competition rules and guidelines.

Full terms & conditions.