Winning Startup Pitch Competitions

Several years ago I was at a startup pitch event where over a dozen startups presented. Some were OK and some were good. At the end, when it was time to announce the winner, everyone knew exactly which one was going to win. Great idea? Check. Awesome pitch? Check. Believable team? Check. After winning the pitch competition, the startup shutdown a couple weeks later.

Here are a few thoughts on winning startup pitch competitions:

  • Public praise from a random group of judges doesn’t equal success
  • Pitch competitions are great for networking, but winning one shouldn’t be construed as progress
  • Pay attention to startup theatre and ensure it’s a good use of time
  • Parlay the win into meetings, especially as another reason to get together (dear potential investor, we just won award x and would love to get back together to provide an update on the business)

Too often, startup pitch competition winners think that an award is validation for their business. Validation comes from customers and growth. Awards are good for social proof, but shouldn’t be a substitute for real progress.

What else? What are some other thoughts on winning startup pitch competitions?

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