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June 1st & 2nd, 2017
Hofburg Imperial Palace | Vienna

Ingenious startups
get 2 free tickets

The Pioneers500 program invites the 500 most promising early-stage tech startups to join Pioneers Festival for free and meet the world’s top investors, executives and journalists.


How it works


All early-stage tech startups, less than three years old and with less than 3M Euro can apply for Pioneers500.

*Applications period is officially over. You can join the waitlist.


The top 500 startup applicants will be selected to receive two free Pioneers Festival tickets.


50 startups of the Pioneers500 will be selected to pitch on stage in front of investors, executives and journalists,
on June 1st & 2nd.


100 startups will be selected to showcase their innovation, free of charge, on one of the festival days.


Filling out your application will take you ~ 15 minutes.

Applications period is officially over. You can still join the waitlist.


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Pioneers was really a game changer for us.

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They give us valuable access to the corporate network of Pioneers. This has already led to exciting new clients and valuable cooperation partners.

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A great tech festival and a wonderful opportunity for high level networking!

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Pioneers pushed us to the limits.

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Why attend?


The 500 startups selected for the Pioneers500 receive two free tickets each to join Pioneers Festival, have meetings with top investors and executives, and have access to every event and venue.
Everything is covered by us, except flights and accommodation.


The Pioneers Match & Meet tool will suggest people you need to meet at Pioneers Festival, according to your pre-set preferences. The tool will also select the timing and location of the meeting based on availability. It’s as easy as click, click, done.


Four stages will be hives of innovation, inspiration and information. Over 100 speakers will share the practical lessons they’ve learned.


Reveal your brand to media poised to share your story, as well as a specialist audience hungry for tech innovation and eager to invest.


30+ evening side events will give you the chance to network with attendees focusing on a specific industry or technology, whilst enjoying beautiful Vienna by night.


Serendipity meets Science

Find the right startups with Pioneers Meet & Match tool

How it works
Pioneers 500 Partner

Pioneers500 FAQ

Want to get to know more details about Pioneers500 & Pioneers Challenge?

  • What is Pioneers500?

    Pioneers500 is our annual selection of the 500 most promising early-stage startups from around the globe. Eligible companies have to be less than 3 years old and raised not more than $3M.

  • What is Pioneers Challenge?

    Pioneers Challenge is the annual pitch competition of Pioneers Festival. Jury nominates 50 out of the 500 invited startups who pitch on main stage and compete for the “Pioneers of the Year” award.

  • When and where will Pioneers Festival be held?

    Pioneers Festival 2017 will be held on 1-2 June 2017 in the Hofburg Imperial Palace, Vienna, Austria. Pioneers Challenge finalists and selected investors will also be invited to join Mentors Day on May 31.

  • How can I participate?

    Simply apply until April 1, 2017. The earlier you apply, the higher the likelihood you get selected. We have an ongoing selection until mid of April 2017. Application consist of standard questions about your product and team and it should take you around 15 minutes to complete.

  • Why should I participate?

    Be part of one of the most founders-friendly events out there. We will make sure to match you with the right partners, investors, media and bring world-class speakers to inspire you. All that for free.

  • How are startups selected?

    Selection is made in cooperation with key partners from the startup and investment community listed above. The program relies heavily on recommendations. A good word from other founders or investors can help you rank better.

  • What do I get if selected for Pioneers500?

    You will get 2 free tickets for Pioneers Festival 2017 on June 1-2 2017, access to personalized matchmaking and pre-arranged meetings with top investors, executives and speakers.

  • What do I additionally get if selected for Pioneers Challenge?

    You will be one of the 50 teams pitching on main stage at Pioneers Festival. The 50 finalists also get access to Mentors Day on May 31 and a 3 weeks online mentoring program provided by more than 80 founders, investors and industry experts from our network. If you make it to the final 8 teams, you will pitch again on stage right before the event closing in front of 2500 people and tens of thousands on the live stream.

  • What is the prize of winning Pioneers Challenge?

    The winning prize will be announced closer to the event. In 2016 the award was €500.000 equity investment, flights to LA and one week bootcamp at Red Bull’s High Performance Center in Santa Monica, California. Previous finalists have also received significant exposure to media and investors.

  • Who decides on the finalists and the winner of Pioneers Challenge?

    A list of renowned investors and industry experts makes the selection.The final jury in previous years included: Sequoia, DFJ, Accel Partners, Index Ventures, Ycombinator, 500startups.

  • What are the costs?

    Pioneers will fully cover the event fees of two team members to access Pioneers Festival 2017. Team members may include founders and employees, but not investors or advisors. We will not cover your travel and accommodation costs, however we offer some attractive travel deals from our partners.

  • Do I have to apply for Pioneers500 and Pioneers Challenge separately?

    No, by applying for Pioneers500 you automatically will be considered for Pioneers Challenge.

  • When do I find out if I got selected for any of the programs?

    We will get in touch with you per email as soon as possible. Latest you should know about results for Pioneers500 until 15th of April 2017. Pioneers Challenge results will be announced latest by end of April 2017.

  • What if my startup is older than 3 years or have raised significant funding rounds?

    Great to hear that your business is thriving! If you as a founder would like to bring your experience back to the community, we might have available workshop speaking slots. Pioneers500 free tickets are for early-stage startups only, but we offer discounted passes for more advanced teams. Please contact us for more details at hi at

  • How can I pitch?

    If you get selected as one of the 50 teams part of Pioneers Challenge you will pitch to 400 investors on the first day of the Festival. If you make it to the final 8, you will pitch on main stage right before the closing of the event. We also host other pitching sessions part of the main program and side events. We will contact you if a slot suitable for your company is available. In any case all pitching startups need to be part of Pioneers500 first.

  • How can I exhibit?

    We offer 100x 1-Day booths for selected Pioneers500 free of charge. Booths consist of 2x2 m space, table, power supply, tall decoration card with your logo and guaranteed WiFi. Just apply for Pioneers500 and If you get selected for a booth, we will get in touch. In case you need larger exhibition space you can get in touch with our partnerships team at partner at

  • Can I get more than 2 free tickets if selected for Pioneers500?

    In the past all our events were sold out and we can grant Pioneers500 startups with 2 free tickets only.

  • Are Pioneers500 tickets transferable?

    Yes, you can transfer tickets, but to other team members only. Simply contact us at hi at if you wish to do so.

  • How can I meet investors and corporate executives?

    As a selected startup your profile will be listed in the our Match & Meet system. Closer to the event you will be able to review attending investors and corporates and schedule meetings with them. There will be 3 large dedicated meeting areas in the Hofburg Palace.

  • Are there any other pitch opportunities apart from Pioneers Challenge?

    Yes, we host more pitching sessions part of the main program and side events. We will contact you if a slot suitable for your company is available. In any case all pitching startups need to be part of Pioneers500 first.

  • I redeemed my tickets, but I cannot attend the event.

    If you hold tickets but cannot attend you are blocking the slot for another startup. Please inform us by May 15 latest. In case you don’t inform us accordingly and you don’t have a reasonable excuse not to attend, we reserve the right to charge you a cancellation fee.

  • One important rule.

    If your startup was selected for Pioneers500 and you went through the registration process of Pioneers Festival (incl. ticket registration via Eventbrite), but none of your team showed up at the event without informing Pioneers at least two weeks before the event about it, your startup will be charged a fine of € 600 excl. VAT.