Meetings Memo: Winning Pitch

How to design a successful conference pitch fest.

More associations are bringing startups and investors together at their annual events for Shark Tank-style competitions, but the International Society for Technology in Education was ahead of the curve: It launched its own Pitch Fest six years ago.

Here’s some advice from ISTE to those considering a pitch competition for their own event:

1. Build in development time. In the beginning, there’s a long list of decisions to be made, Senior Manager of Corporate Relations Angela Price said to PCMA, including deciding how startups can apply, determining eligibility requirements, setting the rules, and coming up with a plan for promoting the event.

2. Figure out your selection process. The most time-consuming task is selecting finalists. For that, Price has outside help: The Pitch Fest’s sponsor supplies volunteers from the startup community who go through applications and choose finalists.

3. Dig deeper. Once finalists are chosen, Price said you have to do your due diligence,  and research whether the applicants have accurately represented themselves.

4. Plan onsite logistics. Price said you need an emcee and someone to run the time to make sure that those pitching don’t go over their allotted time. ISTE’s Pitch Fest allows five-minute pitches with two minutes for judges’ questions.

5. Know your voting method. You want a voting method that is accurate and user-friendly—and one that has gone through extensive testing ahead of time. At ISTE, the audience texts votes, which are combined with the judges’ votes.

6. Offer a worthy prize. ISTE traditionally awards the winners a booth in the following year’s expo hall and a corporate association membership. But the real draw for participants is the exposure that startups get for their companies to ISTE’s audience of 18,000 attendees.

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Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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