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Back in the day, developing a business plan was typically part of an academic exercise.  Student teams came up with product ideas and then pitched their plans to classroom rivals or a panel of instructors from the Business and Engineering Departments.   But, in the past few years – maybe because of Shark Tank, there has been a growing interest in “pitch competitions” by the private sector and economic development professionals.

Is a pitch competition for you? Crafting a successful pitch is time consuming.  Then, you’ll find yourself in front of a panel of judges trying to convince them that your idea for a new product or service will actually fly.  Folks who serve as judges in these competitions are usually other entrepreneurs, local business professionals, or maybe angel investors.  Note to reader – pitching to a likely investor is not the same as selling your product or service.  The judges will want to hear about how you plan to make money at this venture, and how they will make even more if they invest in you— not how the product works or an exhaustive list of its features and benefits.

OK — so why should you enter a Pitch Contest?  Because you want to win!  The monetary prizes are a great way to infuse your startup business with some much needed cash.  But, getting feedback from a panel of experts is even better.  The experience you gain and the contacts you make will be worth every bit as much as the prize money.

Whether you win or not, Pitch Contests are typically a good way to get your feet wet in the startup world, find out in a relatively non-threatening venue if your idea has merit, and begin to understand what it will take to get folks to open their check books to fund your idea.   Visit