Is there a big problem in the world that you’re dying to solve? Have you always dreamed of being your own boss? Are you bursting with new ideas? Are you just curious about #startuplife? Looking for a good resume-builder? Then the Zahn Center’s Startup Incubator Competition might be for you…

Learn more about what the competition is all about and how to apply below. The Early Decision deadline is Sunday, November 1st at 11:59PM. The final deadline is Sunday, November 15th at 11:59PM.

What is it?

The Zahn Innovation Center is a startup incubator at The City College of New York that offers programming to encourage entrepreneurial thinking & growth. We believe everyone at CCNY has the potential to be a changemaker, and we want to help you innovate! The startup incubator competition will provide the foundation for the creation of CCNY startup ventures while supporting and strengthening the skillsets of our entrepreneurs to enable success. You apply now, but the program takes place during the Spring 2021 Semester, leading up to a pitch at the end of the semester where you will compete for prizes. Right now, all of the programming will happen online until further notice.

How do I enter the competition?

You’ll need to apply via the application found at the bottom of this page to be considered for an interview. Once interviewed, we’ll let you know if you are selected. We select 24 startups each year.

What should I expect from the competition?

The competition is a program, so by participating, you’ll gain experience and mentorship. During the spring 2021 semester, you’ll attend weekly virtual workshops about a variety of business topics. You’ll be required to meet with Zahn staff & other industry mentors to track your progress. We’ll give you the education you need to get your idea off the ground, and you’ll work towards building a pitch deck, conducting market research, and creating a basic prototype of your idea. 

Types of ideas that we accept:

  • Physical products
  • Service-based businesses
  • Apps/websites
  • Nonprofits & social enterprises
  • Tech-driven innovations
  • This year, we’ll be taking a special look at applications that solve for inequity!

Types of ideas we don’t support:

  • Purely brick and mortar businesses (store fronts, restaurants/cafes/food trucks, boutiques)
  • Multi-Level marketing businesses

Who can apply to the competition?

Our program is for CCNY students, so each team has to have at least one CCNY student on the team. (If you are graduating CCNY in December 2020, you still count as a student). 

Note that while you can apply as an individual, you’ll need to build out your team by the start of the Spring 2021 semester. Teams have a minimum of two individuals and a maximum of five.

What is the deadline to apply? 

Below is the application to the 2021 Zahn Center Incubator Competition. In order to be considered, you’ll need to fill out this application in whole by one of the two deadlines below.

1. Sunday, November 1st, 2020 at 11:59PM is our “Early Decision Deadline.” Those who apply by this date will be considered early with a smaller pool of applicants, meaning you may have a better chance of acceptance. You may be asked to interview during the first weeks of November, and may be selected before the final deadline. This is a plus because you’ll have more time to build out your team. AND, if we’re not 100% sure about asking you to interview at this stage, we will contact you with feedback to make your application better to update it & finish by the final deadline. 

2. Sunday, November 15th, 2020 at 11:59PM is our finale deadline. Everyone must apply by this time to be considered for the 2021 Incubator. Interviews will be held after Thanksgiving.

Other things to note before starting this application:

  1. You can submit your application & have the ability to edit it any time before the deadline. We encourage you to submit as soon as possible.
  2. You’ll receive an email from Google Forms with a copy of your application. That email will give you access to edit it, so don’t delete the email!
  3. The application is 10 pages, but most of the pages are asking you about your team members (it’s fast!).


Questions: Email us at .