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Pitch competitions - are they worth the time and energy?

My cofounder and I are split on this question. I feel that pitch competitions give us good exposure to potential investors and free advice from judges. While my cofounder agrees, he also feels that the cost/benefit may not be there as the energy and time it takes to adequately prepare for these competitions could be better spent in product development and direct face time with investors. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the cost/benefit of pitch competitions.

5 Replies

Kerry Davis
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Kerry Davis Entrepreneur
CEO / Founder at AirBridgeLabs
In general I would agree with your cofounder that the cost/benefit of pitch competition is riskier. But I have always been more prone to try to develop my way ahead of the curve. But it really depends on your business model I suppose. Exposure has sometimes hyped a company into a front runner position which pays off if they can then follow thru and deliver on a primed market with key backing.

I think direct F2F time with interested and synergistic investors that bring more than money to the table will serve you best.
Florian Pestoni
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Florian Pestoni Entrepreneur
CEO at Axzo Digital
I think a lot of the value is precisely in "the energy and time it takes to adequately prepare". Just getting your story distilled to its most essential and compelling, then getting immediate feedback will likely be useful for other presentations, even if there is no direct benefit (in the form of investment, etc.) from the actual pitch competition. It's probably worth going to a couple. On the other hand, you could probably spend a big slice of your time going from one pitch competition to the next, at which point you'll quickly see diminishing returns.
Monica Borrell
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Monica Borrell Entrepreneur
CEO and Founder at Cardsmith
I agree with Florian, that the value is in the preparation and thinking that goes into the application process and pitch development vs. the outcome of wining a competition.
Parag Arora
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Parag Arora Entrepreneur
Engineering Manager at One97 & Paytm after selling Plustxt to Paytm
I would say nothing much wrong in participating. Focus your efforts in doing product development only, but consider these competitions in figuring out if you are on right track and can talk about your product. We had participated in lots of competitions while we were working on Plustxt and it always gave us lot of PR as well as confidence regardless of final prize. We never put lot of time in preparation for competitions but if your product is good, people will respect that.
Caleb Garling
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Caleb Garling Entrepreneur
Writer
Just be really certain the judging/listening investors are 1) someone who would understand your business/the problem you're trying to solve, and 2) are someone you'd want investing in your business. Otherwise do all the preparation work -- really really important, as mentioned -- but deliver the pitch to business savvy friends and save the cash (unless it's super cheap...which is harder and harder to find).
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