When you’re growing your startup, a shot at a sizable chunk of money is a pretty tempting reason to enter a pitch competition. (Here at VentureClash, our investment awards total $5 million—and the top prize is a cool one-point-five.) But with all the applying, preparing, practicing, and travel involved, are pitch competitions worth your time and effort? Our obvious answer is yes, so we turned to other brilliant folks for their unbiased input.
“I’ve done about a dozen pitches. Some I did great at, some absolutely bombed! But the benefits are exposure to investors and meeting other entrepreneurs.”
—Jonathan Broder, founder and CEO, Privsee
“Apart from the obvious temptation of winning a cash prize (or potential investment), and getting some practice and building confidence, there are some other great benefits to pitch competitions:
• Every time a team pitches in front of a judge, whether feedback is provided or not, the business idea and the pitch get refined over time.
• [Competing] provides social proof and an opportunity to have face time with judges and network with potential investors.
• Pitch competition format and the expectations may be different, which leads to the all-around development of the entire pitch. A startup founder can now present his ideas in five minutes, three minutes, or even 30 seconds.”
—Debjeet Gupta, venture capitalist, startup mentor/advisor, investment banking associate, Solganick & Co.
“Pitch competitions are often underrated among entrepreneurs, probably because there are only a limited number of prizes available. However, there are several benefits of pitch competitions that should motivate more participation. Having a strong network in the industry is the key to startup success, particularly in such competitive times. Pitch competitions help entrepreneurs expand their network and gain exposure among investors and industry experts. Pitch competitions are also a great way to refine your idea, get some relevant feedback, and build your confidence.”
—Yasir Haseeb, senior marketing executive, TekRevol
“As a serial entrepreneur, mentor to startup founders, volunteer mentor at accelerator programs, and co-host of a popular monthly pitch event in Boston, I encourage all founders to enter pitch competitions. It is the best exercise to prepare a founder to speak in front of a crowd about his or her business model and value proposition. Benefits:
• Creating a pitch deck not only helps the founder(s) share their startup’s investment value, but also deepens their core understanding and knowledge of their business model, target market, revenue model, go-to-market strategy, customer acquisition costs, funding needs, and exit strategy.
• [Pitch competitions also] prepare the founder(s) to succinctly present their business model in 3-5 minutes.
• [You’ll receive] free advice and expert feedback from seasoned entrepreneurs and investors—outside insights about your business help you become a better founder.
• Money and/or complimentary services are a much-needed lift for the bootstrapped entrepreneur!
• Networking with the crowd and judges can create introductions that open the door for the founder(s), including new hires, attorneys, seed funding, etc.
• [Competitions] can help you increase brand awareness.”
—Ande Lyons, serial entrepreneur and mentor, Startup Life with Ande Lyons
Our expert weighs in:
“The competition should fit the needs of the company and help propel it forward to a significant milestone. VentureClash is a great opportunity for companies looking to accelerate into the U.S. markets from overseas, but are those companies ready for that jump? That’s the question investors will be asking.”
—Daniel Wagner, senior managing director, Investments, Connecticut Innovations
There you have it, folks. The many benefits of the pitch competition. Ready to give ours a try? Apply today.