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World's biggest startup incubator launches Shark Tank-style Snapchat contest

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Snapchat is being used by “the world’s most powerful startup incubator” to find — and fund — its next big venture.

Y Combinator is working with investor and live-streaming trailblazer Justin Kan on an exclusive Snapchat contest for budding entrepreneurs looking to get their big ideas off the ground.

According to Kan, he often receives pitches from the app’s mostly millennial user base, and now he wants to solicit even more through the competition, which kicks off later this month.

Y Combinator knows a thing or two about helping burgeoning companies itself, having successfully funded the likes of Dropbox, Reddit, and Airbnb in the past. With Kan’s help, and his Snapchat profile, the company will reward $20,000 to the winning applicant.

Here’s how it works: Prospective entrants can currently apply online by filling out a (traditional) form before the fun video-recording part kicks off. On May 19, Y Combinator will begin whittling down the entries to a shortlist of finalists, which will then take over Kan’s Snapchat channel in order to pitch ideas to the firm. Each finalist will get a total of one hour on Snapchat to tell the entire team of investors why they should invest in its idea. Think of it as a digital Shark Tank for the selfie crowd. Even if you decide not to participate, you can follow all the action on Kan’s Snapchat channel.

Kan is best known for co-founding live-streaming startup Justin.TV in 2007 with funding from Y Combinator. The site was eventually overshadowed by its video game-streaming arm, Twitch, which was acquired by Amazon for $1 billion in 2014.

He is now using his passion for startups by offering entrepreneurial advice on Snapchat. In fact, Kan is so taken by the app that he’s changed his current title on his LinkedIn profile to “Professional Snapchat Q&A Answer Giver.”

“The audience we want to find is on Snapchat, and not Facebook or Twitter,” Kan told USA Today about the contest. “It’s what the kids are using.” He added that ideally he’d like the funding to go to high school students.

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