By Rieva Lesonsky

So many entrepreneurs dream about being the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. To get started making that dream a reality you have to perfect your pitch and expose your ideas to people who matter.

You’d be hard pressed to find more relevant people to pitch your idea to than at the 7th annual SXSW Accelerator startup competition, which takes place on March 14 and 15 in 2015.

The competition, which will be held at the SXSW Startup Village, is part of the hugely popular South by Southwest Interactive Conference. There are six categories: Enterprise and Smart Data Technologies, Entertainment and Content Technologies, Digital Health and Life Science Technologies, Innovative World Technologies, Social Technologies, and Wearable Technologies.

Of all the companies entering the competition, 48 get chosen to compete in the first round before a live audience and a panel of judges and emcees who are among the luminaries of the worlds of entrepreneurs, angles and venture capitalists. (Tim Draper, John Sculley and Guy Kawasaki have all been judges in the past.)

Chris Valentine, the creator of the Accelerator competition, says businesses chosen to compete get a lot of feedback, coaching and advice before they actually go onstage to pitch. Valentine says they’re looking for pitches with “sustainable ideas that would have a global impact.”

One of the factors the judges tend to look at closely is the founding team. Valentine say investors today “bet on the team” and not necessarily just the founder. “With the right team in place, you can figure if out.” And he adds, “Even if your idea is not the best your next company might be game-changing.” Some mega-brands (like Twitter) pivoted early on in order to achieve acceptance and success.

Valentine says sometimes he just “knows” a team is a winner based on its creativity, uniqueness or that it’s “solving a problem I have.”

Over the years the competition has expanded. Valentine now looks at it as the “globalization of the startup ecosystem.” The numbers are extraordinary. Of the companies participating in the competition many have gotten funded, to the collective tune of $1.78 billion. And 12 percent of competing teams have been acquired by the likes of Google, Apple, Constant Contact and Facebook.

If all that isn’t enticing enough, just being at the greater SXSW Conference is a treat. You get to soak up all the energy and information at the greater SXSW Conference, where more than 30,000 people gather.

You have to act fast however. Applications must be submitted by Friday, November 7th. You can also register for the conference now.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+   and