How To Create a Successful Entry Video for a Competition

Published by Olga Vazhnichaia on 23/08/2016

Are you applying for a program that asks for video about your team, company or product? 

Application videos are usually the first time judges will see you and your team’s face. It’s your chance to make a strong first impression on them—something that can make or break the success of your application.

In this post, we’ve put together a bunch of tips from some of the top accelerators for creating the best application videos, whether you’re applying for a research grant, business accelerator program, or awards program.

Keep it short

Many applications specify a time limit of 3minutes, but David Tisch of TechStars notes that it can be too long in most cases, “Two minutes is ideal. Three minutes means you're insecure. If you can nail what you're doing in a minute, I think that's super powerful." Telling stories in 60 seconds is something we’re quite familiar with at Clipatize—as not only is it powerful, but it fits within ideal range of natural human attention span for short videos.


Don’t add bells and whistles

YCombinator is one of the most well known business accelerators in the world, fostering the early stages of companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe, Twitch, Heroku and Reddit. In their Application Video Tips they recommend “No Effects, No Scripts, No Music.” David Tisch of Techstars also advises against music, “Do not add any background music to your video. We regularly give up 10 seconds into a video because we can’t stand the random background music.”


Rehearse - retake - rewatch - repeat

An application video shouldn’t be heavy on graphics, edits, digital work or scripting. This means its important to get the shot right in one take. Without help from digital editing, a wellrehearsed single continuous take can be more powerful than a bunch of poorly pieced together scenes. Not only does this process improve your video presence, but in our experience, multiple rehearsals can even result in new creative ideas that greatly improve the video.


More personality is better than less

In How to Make a Winning TechStars Video , David Cohen, the founder and CEO of TechStars and David Tisch note that a little bravado won’t hurt the judges. "Better to be cocky and arrogant than to be meek and humble. I'm a little OK with arrogance. You need a swagger as a startup founder. You'll need to hold your confidence. I don't dislike arrogance.” Don’t shy away from a big performance. Be memorable. Be confident. Display passion and energy.


Use team pronouns

If your application video is about your team, company, or organization, make sure your language represents that group. If you have too many words like ‘I, me, my” in your speech, chances are you are underrepresenting the team aspect. One of the highest selection criteria for accepting businesses into an accelerator program is Team—a comprehensive group of individuals that can accomplish company goals. Don’t make your video entirely about one person, the CEO or founder, but highlight your team skills and use pronouns like ‘We’ and ‘Our’ to convey team spirit.


That’s it! Do you have any experience with application videos?

We’d love to hear your opinions on the video application process at!

 (Photo credits: Mike Wilson via



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