The application for the Innovation Festival Start-Up Pitch Competition has closed. Please click the button above to receive updates about future pitch events.







Erika Brice

Investment Officer- Social Investment Practice | Kresge Foundation

Graham Klemme

Program Manager, Idea Accelerator | Builders + Backers

Jenny Barba

Co-Founder, Managing Partner | Features Capital

Neal Mody

Managing Director | Zoiic Capital

Shelia Collins

Managing Partner | The Capital Curator

Moe Rinkunas

Investor | Flying Pig Ventures

Scott Ford

Cofounder & Partner | Zigzag Ventures

Taylor Williams

Investor | Cleveland Avenue

Jamie Gloshay

Co-Director | Native Women Lead


Is there a fee to apply to the Innovation Festival Startup Pitch Competition?

There is no fee to apply.

What are the eligibility requirements for applicants?

  • Companies may only enter one product or service for the Innovation Festival Startup Pitch Competition
  • The submitted product or service must fall under one of the competition tracks
  • Companies may only compete in one of the competition tracks
  • The submitted product or service must have been conceived no earlier than January, 2020
  • Companies must not have raised more than $10 million in funding from combined funding sources

How will the on-stage pitch process work?

Each Finalist will be given 2 minutes to pitch, followed by 5 minutes of Q&A with a panel of judges who have investment experience in the Finalist’s industry.

Will there be an option to pitch virtually if I am selected as a Finalist but am unable to attend the Innovation Festival in person?

No. The Innovation Festival Startup Pitch Competition is an in-person event only.

What are the Innovation Festival Judging Criteria?

Innovation Festival  Judges will focus on these five critical elements:

Creativity – the originality and uniqueness of the idea
Opportunity – the longevity, actualization, and profitability of the idea
Goodness – how does the product or service impact/improve the world?
Traction – sales, users, marketing exposure, etc.
Team / People – how will the team (leadership, advisors, employees) help the startup succeed?

What is included in the prize package for winners?

The Grand Prize Winners of each pitch track will receive:

Will I receive complimentary registration to the Innovation Festival?

Yes! Competition Finalists will receive one (1) complimentary Conference & Beats Badge for Innovation Festival, good for access to all keynotes, panels, and other activities. Finalists will also have the option to register one (1) additional member of their team at a reduced rate.


In addition, each presenting company will receive free demo space at Innovation Festival, to demo their product/service and network with attendees.

What if I am not selected as an Innovation Festival Finalist?

All applicants who are not selected to pitch will have the option to purchase one (1) registration for the event at a reduced rate and will be provided access to the exclusive Entrepreneur Luncheon.

How are Innovation Festival Finalists selected?

Innovation Festival’s team will screen applicants to ensure they meet all eligibility requirements, and a committee of experts in each pitch track will review all applications to decide which products and services are the most innovative.

Should my company include our pitch deck or demo video in our online application?

We strongly encourage all applicants to submit a brief video pitching the company. This pitch video should be two (2) minutes or less and should feature the applicant speaking to the camera—we want to see how you pitch, not what your video editing software can do.

We also strongly encourage you to upload a current pitch deck (no longer than 10 slides), along with a marketing video demonstrating your product or service or a video of you pitching at a prior event. These materials carry a great deal of weight with our application committee.

How will I know if I have been selected to participate?

Applicants invited to participate will receive an email notification from Innovation Festival’s team. Participating companies will be notified in late June of 2023. Please refrain from contacting Innovation Festival staff and our respective partner organizations regarding the status of your application. We receive a high volume of submissions and will update all applicants regarding their status as soon as possible.

Still have additional questions?

Please contact Innovation Festival Startup Pitch Competition Manager Philip Cogley: