Engadget’s Insert Coin: New Challengers competition is aimed at helping to make inventors’ dreams a reality. Find everything you need to know about the competition below, then get down to casting your vote for this year’s crop of semi-finalists below!

Your vote here (one person, please!) helps select 10 semi-finalists who will make the journey to Expand NY this November 7th and 8th. Each project will receive exhibition space on the show floor, a chance to demo live on stage to more than 10,000 attendees and to an online audience of millions, along with a $1,000 travel stipend to cover the cost of traveling to the event.

The 10 semi-finalists will compete at Expand for both the Judge’s Choice award of $10,000 and the Reader’s Choice award of $15,000, along with a product review of Engadget. We will announce the slate of 10 semi-finalists on October 17th, 2014, so be sure to check back to find out if your favorite candidate will be heading to New York this Fall.

Be sure to cast your vote by 11:59 p.m. PDT October 15th, 2014!

Prize Details

  • 10 semi-finalists will receive tickets to Expand NY, exhibition space on the show floor, a chance to demo your projects live on stage and to an online audience of millions and a $1,000 travel stipend to cover costs while appearing at the event.
  • 1 Judge’s Choice winner will receive $10,000 and a product review on Engadget.
  • 1 Reader’s Choice winner will receive $15,000 and a product review on Engadget.


Please note that we have changed the rules for the competition this time around to accommodate a wider range of applicants. Whereas previous competitions required your project to be in a pre-crowdfunding stage, for Insert Coin 2014, your project can be in any of the following stages of development:

  • Pre-crowdfunded
  • Post-crowdfunded (successful or unsuccessful)
  • Currently running a crowdfunding campaign

Your project cannot be in the following stages of funding and development:

  • Angel-funded
  • VC-funded
  • Otherwise traditionally seed- or series-funded, actively seeking such funding or otherwise closing any such round of funding before November 8th, 2013.

Your product must have been announced after the submission for the last Insert Coin competition closed (11:59 PM EDT on September 27th, 2013), and must not yet have shipped any products to customers. Please keep in mind that existing products or updates to existing products will not be eligible. Products must fall within Engadget’s coverage scope, must have a hardware component and must have a working prototype that can be shown off on stage (i.e., renderings alone are not sufficient).

The Process

Phase 1: Submissions

Submissions accepted: 1:00 PM EDT on April 17th, 2014, until 11:59 PM EDT on September 26th, 2014.

Submit all of the details about your project and your contact information to apply for Insert Coin via this form. Engadget editors will review all submissions and select 20 contenders. We will be judging according to the level of completion of the product, the problem that it solves, how well it would do in the consumer market, feasibility of bringing the product to market and, of course, general awesome factor. After submissions close, we will begin contacting the 20 prospective contenders the following week to confirm eligibility requirements. Please be sure to provide current and accurate contact information so we can get in touch with you by October 4!

Phase 2: Online voting

Readers choose 10 semi-finalists: October 8th, 2014, to October 15th, 2014.

After the 20 contenders are selected, Engadget will open online voting from October 8th, 2014, to October 15th, 2014, to let the audience choose 10 semi-finalists to appear at Expand NY and receive a $1,000 travel stipend. We will announce the slate of 10 semi-finalists on October 17th, 2014.

Phase 3: On-stage demos at Expand

Semi-finalists will exhibit on stage and demonstrate their projects: November 7th, 2014, to November 8th, 2014.

On Day 1 of Expand NY: All 10 semi-finalists will take the stage to give a short 5-minute demo and presentation of their projects on stage. Judges will select the top five finalists by their collective votes, and Reader’s Choice online audience voting will kick off.

On Day 2 of Expand NY: The five finalists will take the stage again to have the judges ask a number of questions before they cast their votes for the Judge’s Choice award.

Phase 4: Awards ceremony

Judge’s and Reader’s Choice winners will be crowned on November 8th, 2014.

We will crown two winners on Day 2 according to the following criteria:

Judge’s Choice: Selected by the judges based on presentations and a list of criteria. Winner will be awarded $10,000 to help fund the project, as well as receive a review on Engadget.

Reader’s Choice: The project with the greatest number of votes from the total pool of online voting will be awarded $15,000 to help fund the product, as well as receive a review on Engadget.

Rules Recap

    • Existing products/updates to existing products will not be accepted.
    • Products must fall within Engadget’s coverage scope, as determined by Sponsor.

Products must have a hardware component and not be purely software or web services in origin.

  • Inventors who are selected as Semi-finalists will need a working prototype or other presentation for a team of Engadget editors ahead of the event.
  • Simulations or product renderings will not suffice to enter Insert Coin; what you have to show to us must be functional.
  • No products from major manufacturers will be accepted.
  • Company can be pre-crowdfunded, post-crowdfunded (successful or unsuccessful) or currently running a crowdfunding campaign.
  • Company cannot be angel-, VC- or otherwise traditionally seed/series-funded; actively seeking such funding; or otherwise closing any such round of funding before November 8th, 2013.
  • Company must have announced its product after the submission for the last Insert Coin competition closed (11:59 PM EDT on September 27th, 2013).
  • Company must not have shipped any products to customers.

Full Official Rules

For the full legalese, please be sure to read the Official Rules.

Most notably, in addition to the above, you must be 13 years of age or older and be a legal resident in the US or Canada (excluding Quebec).

If you have questions about the contest, its rules or whether your project meets the submission criteria, please contact expand[at]engadget[dot]com.

Good luck, and may the best project(s) win!

Here are our 2014 Insert Coin Competition judges:


Cyril Ebersweiler, Founder, HAXLR8R

Cyril is a venture partner at SOSventures and the founder of LEAP Axlr8r in San Francisco, hardware startup accelerator HAXLR8R in Shenzhen and San Francisco and the first mentorship-driven seed-funding program China Axlr8r in Shanghai.

He is a mentor at Techstars and 500 Startups, an advisor to the Global Accelerator Network and a board member/advisor to startups including Leap Motion, OrderWithMe, Nextly and gTar.

Places where Cyril has given lectures, went on panel or organized startup competitions include the Pioneers Conference, the New Context Conference, AdTech, MIT Global Startup Workshop, MIT China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum, Global Mobile Internet Conference, China Early-Stage Investor Forum, Samurai Incubate, Rails Rumble, Node Knockout and IBM SmartCamp.


Ben Einstein, Managing Director, Bolt

Ben Einstein is an experienced product designer and investor and currently the managing director of Bolt, an early-stage seed fund focused exclusively on hardware startups. In addition to seed capital, Bolt invests full-time staff, shop equipment and extensive expertise with manufacturing and commercialization. Prior to starting Bolt, Ben ran Brainstream Design, a product design and development consultancy in Massachusetts.

Ben has been directly responsible for bringing a long list of products to market covering diverse sectors including consumer electronics, high-performance audio, sporting goods and green energy.


Devindra Hardawar, Senior Editor, Mobile & Reviews Lead, VentureBeat

Devindra is a lifelong technology fanatic who’s spent the last few years covering gadgets and the New York City tech scene for VentureBeat. When he’s not testing the latest smartphones, you can probably find him at the cinema doing research for Slashfilm.com’s movie podcast.


Rahul Sood, General Manager & Partner, Microsoft Ventures

Rahul Sood is general manager of Microsoft Ventures and its startup accelerators and outreach around the world. Sood joined Microsoft in 2011 and created Bing Fund in February 2012. In 2013, Microsoft consolidated its global startup activities under Sood’s leadership. He launched Microsoft Ventures in June of 2013.

A serial entrepreneur, Sood spent 18 years in multiple startups, including luxury and gaming computer manufacturer VoodooPC which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2006. He is a cofounder of Brightsquid Medical and Brightsquid Dental, creator or retail investment platform BullsOnWallStreet and an angel investor in a number of small Canadian-based energy companies.

He is active in the entrepreneurial community and often speaks of creating balanced teams by bringing design, technology and business together to create beautiful products.


Check out some of the action from our past Insert Coin competitions: