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What is a pitch competition?

A pitch competition provides an opportunity for the startup founders and entrepreneurs to present their ideas to investors & industry experts and potentially secure funding and connections. Pitch contests are a great way to network, build partnerships, get in-person advice from investors, and receive some valuable feedback.

How to win a pitch competition: tips for a successful presentationPitch competitions started as a way to practice pitching ideas before the actual thing, but they have evolved into larger-scale events that often award investment or non-dilutive funding to the winner(s). If you are a young entrepreneur with a million-dollar idea, participating in a pitch competition is a fantastic first step to realizing your dream startup. Here are some strategies that will give you the best chance of winning a pitch competition.

1. Know your audience & rules

The rules and guidelines for each pitch competition are different and it’s important that you do your research before joining any competition. Usually, everything you need to know is available on the website, so you can you get a sense of what the audience is expecting and care about. The most important details to look into before applying are usually the eligibility rules and awards (founders should always check the investment terms of any funding awards). If you know who you’re talking to, you can personalize your message to connect better with your audience, anticipate their questions, and foster “aha” moments.

2. Present a professional-grade pitch deck

In simple words, a pitch deck is a collection of presentations to convey your idea. A winning pitch deck should include captivating and professional visuals with a cohesive story. The team at VIP Graphics crafted this beautiful Pitch Competition Deck Template that you can use to pitch your ideas and win funding from pitch contests, accelerators, incubators, and/or competitions. All the elements are fully-editable in PowerPoint or Keynote — no special skills or software required. The benefit of using a high-quality template is that you can focus on the content instead of the design, and still make a stunning visual impression.

3. Tell a compelling story

You can increase the chance of making an unforgettable impression on your audience if your business idea is baked into a passionate story. The skill of telling a memorable story will come in handy in a pitch competition as well as when giving a presentation. One winning tip to achieve this is to start or end the pitch with a joke, anecdote, or some sort of gesture that will separate you from the competition. The best kinds of stories are relatable to everyone: for instance, investors in Uber could immediately relate to the struggle and expense of hailing a taxi.

4. Practice, practice, practice

It might sound obvious but practice your pitch as often as possible. Although investors are going to make their decision based on your idea & the market, but the way you deliver your pitch is just as important for establishing your credibility. To perfect your delivery and to continue growing and improving, you need to embrace the discomfort of being a beginner. There’s no better practice than actually doing it, so founders should capitalize on every opportunity to perfect their pitch with the right audiences.

Searching for more: Pitch competitions are exciting events for startups, as they can be stepping-stones for the upcoming success in your journey. That said, this is just the beginning: receiving funding from a pitch competition, angel investor, or startup accelerator/incubator is the very first step in the long and arduous journey from an early-stage startup to an established company.

During this journey, you will need the right connections & strategies to successfully grow your business. As such, founders should look past the prize and understand the value of getting in front of people, discussing their ideas, and networking at pitch competitions. If you aren’t nervous about losing, you will get more value (and have a lot more fun) while exchanging your ideas with people — and if you win, that’s even better. 

To get started on your next pitch, check out some of the decks at that have helped award-winning startups and Fortune 500 companies raise millions of dollars in funding. If you’re planning to apply to pitch competition, startup accelerator, or angel investor network, the Accelerator Pitch Deck Template can jumpstart the process & boost your chances of success.

Accelerator Pitch Deck: Powerful slides designed to win pitch contests & accelerators | VIP Graphics

Alternatively, you can take inspiration decks that some of the most successful startups used, such as the pitch deck that closed $11M from Sequoia & Tiger or the all-time classic Airbnb Pitch Deck, which set the basis for Sequoia Capital’s pitch deck formula