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Who Was Crowned the Champ?

On Wednesday, March 30, 2022, Data Center World hosted its 2nd Annual Data Center Startup Challenge and awarded winners for the following categories: 

Most Disruptive Technology 
GRAID Technology, the world's first NVMe RAID to eliminate the traditional RAID bottleneck and unlock the full potential of enterprise SSD performance.

Best Chance for Market Success 
Alcatraz AI, provides an autonomous access control experience by leveraging the unique power of the human face.

Best Ability to Gain Additional Capital 
GRAID Technology, the world's first NVMe RAID to eliminate the traditional RAID bottleneck and unlock the full potential of enterprise SSD performance.

Most Influential Founding Team 
Cumulus Digital Systems, Inc.,digitalizing mission-critical manual work in maintenance and construction. 

We thank all Startup Challenge participants for their great presentations and effort. Additional finalists included:

  • Round World Business Group, supports HotSite®, an array of specialized aluminum gantry cranes and beams that can protect IT equipment. 
  • IQS, supports Quick Rack, a patented device that assists with installing hardware within a server/network rack. 

The finalists presented a ten minute “elevator pitch” on the Data Center Live Stage and answered questions from the judges.

The Data Center Startup Challenge is judged by a panel of industry thought leaders from the market research, editorial, and investment communities. The 2022 judges included:

  • Andrea Munoz, Senior Vice President, Operations & Customer Success, CyrusOne
  • Moises Levy, PhD, Principal Analyst, Data Center Physical Infrastructure, Omdia
  • Michael Maniscalco, EVP of Technology, Applied Blockchain Inc.


Data Center World's Startup Challenge is the #1 opportunity for data center startups to pitch to the data center community. The competition offers unmatched exposure and access to valuable networking and mentorship that will helps startups gain publicity and scale their business.

Companies selected to participate have been developing or selling a technology solution that directly impacts the data center or data center professionals, and are judged by a panel of experts based on several business model and go-to-market criteria (outlined below). Winners are chosen by the panel based on their presentations on stage, and presentations will be judged on a clear technology solution, a concise pitch, and the value of technology to the data center industry.

Subscribe to the Data Center World newsletter to get notified when the 2023 Data Center Startup Challenge opens for submissions. 

Qualifications of a Startup for the Program

  • Revenue: $5 million or less
  • Number of Employees: 50 or fewer
  • Funding Status: Series A or before
  • Age of Company: 5 years or less

Judging Categories

  • Most Disruptive Technology – The award for the technology that the judges determine to have the best opportunity to create short-term positive market, sales, or customer service disruption among existing data center technologies in its vertical
  • Best Chance for Market Success – The award for the technology that judges determine will be the most successful at creating revenue upside and profit for the startup company
  • Best Ability to Gain Additional Capital – The award for the startup company that judges determine is sufficiently structured, has the most attractive data center technology, and has the most connected and well-run management team to be able to raise additional capital to grow the company
  • Most Influential Founding Team – The startup company that judges determine has assembled the most experienced founding backers, founding management team, and strongest investment profile

Judging Criteria

The following criteria will be used by our panel of judges (experts from the market research, editorial, and investment communities). Contestants should be prepared to address each of the five main criteria (we’ve included some examples with each category) with a concise and informative presentation that will be judiciously timed to 10 minutes per company.

Business Model

  • How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they done due diligence on competition
  • Is the business model scalable, either globally or regionally?
  • How will the company acquire customers
  • What is the company’s revenue model?

Customer Validation

  • Is the company building something that people actually want?
  • How well does the company understand their customer and their customer’s needs?
  • Did the company get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?
  • What is the company’s capacity to recognize and describe the problem to be solved?
  • Does the company know the cost of acquiring a customer and their lifetime value?

Go to Market

  • What’s the plan for building sales team and a sales ecosystem?
  • Is there a plan to open source the product?
  • How do you plan to use partners/analysts/PR?

Execution & Design

  • Does the technology or service deliver a compelling and valuable user experience?
  • How much capacity to disrupt the market?
  • Is there a sustainable competitive advantage, or can it be copied?
  • What’s the lead on the competition?
  • If applicable, are they able to demo a product, and if so, was it functional?

The Team

  • Is the founding team multidisciplinary and complementary with the capacity to implement their stated goals?
  • Are the team’s goals ambitious enough? Or too ambitious?
  • Is the team capable of selling the “vision”?