For startups, South by Southwest is both an opportunity to break out, and a challenge to get above the noise.
More than 600 applicants from the world applied for a spot on stage, and 50 finalists were chosen from countries including Germany, the U.K., France, China, Norway, Canada, Kenya, Netherlands, Finland and the Congo.
During the two-day event, founders took the stage to pitch their startups before an audience and panel of judges, which included successful entrepreneurs, investor and industry experts.
The competition was broken into 10 categories, with a winner chosen from each.
GrubTubs came out on top of the Hyper-Connected Communities category.
Founded by Robert Olivier, the company provides grubs to farmers at a lower cost than organic soy feed - and does so by plugging into Austin's growing demand for composting businesses.
Grub Tubs breeds the black soldier flies, and the resulting grubs gorge themselves on food waste provided by Garaj Mahal and Le Politique, two Austin restaurants participating in the GrubTubs pilot program.
Like a conventional composting service, the restaurants pay to have GrubTubs pick up their food waste. GrubTubs provides sealable tubs to restaurants, and picks them up at regular intervals.
Olivier said he hopes to expand service to 1,000 restaurants within the next year.
Meanwhile, ICON 3D took first place in its Social and Culture category.
The company is using 3D printing to create housing, and on Sunday it unveiled its plan to print a 650-square-foot house. According to The Verge, which earlier reported on ICON’s concept, the 3D-printed house would be made of cement and take up to one day to be printed by large 3D robots. The houses cost $10,000 to make, and the goal is to eventually bring the cost down to $4,000.
ICON 3D will launch in El Salvador, where it plans to build 100 of its houses sometime in 2019. The company hopes to bring its housing to more countries in the future.
Each winner received $4,000, two badges for next year’s SXSW Interactive conference, various sponsor gifts, and, most importantly, exposure to potential investors and customers.
Organizers said trends that emerged this year included digital solutions designed to increase advocacy and impact, artificial intelligence , and blockchain technology.
The competition also drew in an increased number of global companies, with nearly one-third representing countries outside the United States.
“The 10th anniversary of our Pitch Event was celebrated with the best of the best in technology innovations, as showcased by our winners this year," said SXSW Accelerator event producer Chris Valentine. "Congratulations to each of them and to the companies that are going above and beyond to reshape the world in which we live.”