How Pitch Competitions can Kickstart your Startup

Get Ahead with Pitch Competitions

UVU (Utah Valley University) Entrepreneurship Institute is a non-academic program that provides resources to students so they can succeed. UVU partnered with BoomStartup to support the WeLIFT participants on business growth affairs.

On August 17, 2021, Tara Spalding, Managing Director of BoomStartup presented how Pitch Competitions can Kickstart a Startup. The video is below and the talking points are further down.

What are Pitch Competitions?

A contest where the winner is recognized and rewarded.
Criteria established to narrow entry and to select winners.
Competitions sponsored by entities that leverage startups to their advantage.
Competitions usually have 6 steps:

Who Hosts Pitch Competitions?

Knowing who hosts the competition will provide insight on how the competition will run and what is the strategy and undercurrent for the competition. It will also tell you about the maturity and ambitions of the other entries that you will be competing against. Spend time researching who it is, and typically their motives are tied to their classification.

Why Are Pitch Competitions Helpful?

There are several reasons why pitch competitions are helpful. To simplify the benefits they can be grouped into two categories – directly benefitting the person who is participating in the competitions and also for the startup or innovation itself.

Personal Benefits

Pitch competitions help you sharpen your communications, especially by being persuasive. Verbal and physical queues are really important to judges, especially when you exude excitement and confidence.

Pitch competitions often ask for a pitch deck, and these are great opportunities to hone your presentation and messaging in a visually appealing manner. There’s a knack to memorable presentations, and you’ll be creating or customizing slides in your sleep after doing a few of these.

Pitch competitions are a great way to get feedback from the judges on your idea. Remember these judges have their own perspectives and allow them to explain how they interpreted what you presented and listen to their suggestions or responses.

Pitch competitions also help out by growing your personal network. You should connect with everyone you meet, at the least through LinkedIn, and keep conversations going.

Pitch competitions is like a positive mantra and will rekindle your excitement and passion for your vision. Tap into the compelling reason and the reward potential that you began this startup path. Now, channel it into your entry.

Startup Advantages

Pitch competitions are a great way to test market appeal, ideally to a group of influencers or experts that you aspire to create alliances with. You’ll quickly figure out if your innovation is something that they’ve heard before, or if they think who you are trying to approach is too small in size.

Gain exposure and branding through pitch competitions. These organizers will promote you, your business, and your purpose to their audience and community. It’s cheaper than Ads.

Your startup can Make an Ask to the Public or to the Judges that are both hard (in dollars, funding) or soft (in favors, introductions, feedback). This is a great way to put the next thing into the universe that your startup needs.

If you win competitions, you can use these data points as traction. It is certainly not as weighty as paying customers but it certainly is eyebrow raising when you claim that you’ve beaten out 100 other companies to take the competition prize.

Of course, you get cash and services if you win, so what do you have to lose?

When should you enter competitions?

The number one thing that people underestimate is the amount of time to put together a deck and demo that makes your entry a contender. Enter competitions when you have TIME to dedicate to produce materials, rehearse, and deliver an impactful presentation.

Alternatively, if you have an exciting innovation and you can’t get customer traction, pitch competitions, especially those hosted by industry leaders can open those doors.

If you can’t get a loan and no one will invest, pitch competitions can be a great source of financial support.

Let’s recap the types of earnings you can get from pitch competitions.

For pre-revenue startups who have no income, and no true growth indicators, Pitch Competitions can be a viable access to capital. 

One word of advice, this needs to be done early in the startup’s lifecycle, and should be approached like a grant. 

  • Choose which ones you want to go after, wisely
  • Spend your time preparing 

This quadrant shows the common sources of capital (funding) according to company’s growth and profitability rate.

What to Expect When you Enter into a Competition?

There are several unspoken advantages that all help you hone and develop your entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

  • You will get directions and expectations on what your entry should include, cover, and strive to achieve.
  • The organizer will provide support or answer questions or inquiries (if given a fair amount of time) so you can provide the best submission possible.
  • Every time you submit material or participate, the organizer should confirm receipt or participation.
  • If you are selected as a finalist, you’ll often be provided with mentoring and rehearsal opportunities.
  • After the event is over, the organizer should give you follow-up and feedback on your entry
  • You’ll extend your exposure and connections within the organizer’s community.

How to Enter Competitions?

  • Create a calendar of pitch competitions, URL, Dates, Submission expectations, payout
  • Immediately check to see if you are qualified to enter
  • First step is entering (form) and make sure you know what you submitted
  • Attend open office hours or support meetings if available
  • Watch videos of past events or tips and tricks
  • Research judges or organizer entity to learn more about the program
  • Pay attention to emails from source
  • Some competitions have fees, but most do not

Pitch Competition Submission Tips

How do you get an edge where your entry will take best in show? Follow these nine tips.

BoomStartup Accelerator is a proud pitch competition organizer, PitchUp, which is open, free, and available to any startup who has made under $250,000 USD in the past 12-months. We offer cash and services to each of the category winners.

For more information, go to