The Pitch is an independent pitching competition that gives startups the support to grow and the platform to raise investment.
The Pitch supports startups across the UK, whether you’ve just launched or you’re getting ready to grow. It’s designed to boost your skills, network and confidence.
By taking part, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a pitching coach and pitch to industry investors. The top 10 startups go on to compete on the national stage, pitch to a panel that includes active investors, and win a brilliant prize package.
Frequently Asked Questions
Applying for The Pitch
- What is a pitch competition?
- How can I prepare for pitching competitions?
- Why are pitching competitions important for startup founders?
- Why should I apply to The Pitch?
- Who should apply?
- How does The Pitch work?
- When do applications close? And what are the other important dates?
- What stage does my business need to be at?
Pitching at an event
- How long do I have to pitch?
- How do you score startups at the semi-finals and final?
- I’m nervous about pitching – is there coaching available?
- Can I use slides with my pitch?
- Can I bring my product on stage?
- Can I bring notes or prompt cards on stage?
- How do the judges’ questions work?
- Can my co-founder or team come to the event?
- Can my co-founder join me on stage for judges’ questions?
- When do the winners get announced?
- How does the People’s Choice work?
General questions about The Pitch
- Will my idea and IP be protected?
- Can I enter both The Pitch and Tide competitions? What are the differences?
- What’s the history of The Pitch?
- I’m a previous Pitch finalist, who do I talk to about PR?
- What can I do to support The Pitch?
- What are the T&Cs for the referral competition?
What is a pitch competition?
A pitch competition is where startup founders pitch their business idea to a panel of investors and successful entrepreneurs, with the winner securing funding or other support for their business.
It’s also a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to practise, so that they can hone their pitch in preparation for meeting investors.
How can I prepare for pitching competitions?
For your best shot at success in The Pitch competition, we recommend clearly covering the categories that judges will be marking you on: the idea, proof of traction and the team.
Judges will also mark you on the quality of your pitch. To get pitch perfect, we recommend practising regularly and in front of different people.
For more information on preparing for The Pitch, check out our article on preparing a pitch for angel investors.
Why are pitching competitions important for startup founders?
The perks of pitching competitions isn’t just getting cash for your business – they also provide valuable networking opportunities, getting insightful advice from successful entrepreneurs and gaining exposure and meeting other founders.
At The Pitch, we also supply educational content throughout the entire programme, including articles, videos, webinars and coaching sessions.
Why should I apply to The Pitch?
The Pitch programme is designed to give you the skills and connections you need to succeed. You’ll have the chance to:
- Work with a pitching coach to improve your pitch, confidence and delivery
- Meet other startups working in the same industry as you
- Pitch to seed investors
- Compete to win a £5,000 grant and money-can’t-buy mentoring package
Who should apply?
The competition is open to UK-based businesses that have been trading for less than three years.
To get the most from The Pitch and support on offer, please make sure it’s the founder or co-founder who attends the event. That said, we don’t mind who fills in the application form.
How does The Pitch work?
The Pitch strives to help startup founders perfect their pitch and secure investment for their business. We do this by providing a full programme of support, consisting of four different stages.
- The first stage is an online application form that helps our judges assess the potential for the business and what you’ve achieved so far. We then choose the top 100 applications to progress to the semi-final stage.
- You’ll attend an online pitching workshop with one of our pitching coaches to get feedback on your pitch.
- Founders then compete in a live regional event, giving a 90-second pitch to investors and industry experts. After the session, we’ll share the judges’ feedback with you. The scores will be added to our leaderboard, which will be seen by thousands of people.
- We select the top 10 businesses to pitch at The Pitch Final, where our judges will select the champion.
When do applications close? And what are the other important dates?
Applications for The Pitch 2023 have closed. We’ll reopen applications in spring 2024.
What stage does my business need to be at?
The Pitch is open to companies across all sectors and funding stages. The majority of Pitch entrants have started making sales, but pre-revenue businesses can also enter. If you haven’t launched your startup yet, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate traction or proof that there’s market demand.
How long do I have to pitch?
You have 90 seconds to give your pitch and, in the interests of fairness, we time each pitch. While it’s okay to go a couple of seconds over, we’ll cut you off after that to ensure everyone gets the same amount of time.
How do you score startups at the semi-finals and final?
Judges mark each of the finalists out of five (one is poor, five is excellent) in four categories:
- The idea: Is the business solving a problem consumers care about? What potential is there for the product or service?
- Proof of traction: How much demonstrable market interest is there? This could be in the form of research, customer reviews, users, revenue etc.
- The team: Is the founding team right for the challenge? Does their support network have the expertise necessary? Their network includes employees, mentors and advisers.
- The pitch: How strong is their pitch? Good pitches are engaging, memorable and effectively communicate the problem they’re trying to solve.
Startups will be judged based on the progress they’ve made for the stage they’re at, including company age and funding.
I’m nervous about pitching – is there coaching available?
Yes! We offer free coaching sessions to work on your pitch. These take place online a week or two before the event and usually last about an hour. We’ll email you once they’re announced.
You’ll attend the coaching session alongside the other founders who are pitching at the events. We’ll run through some general advice at the start, then you’ll have the chance to practice your pitch and get feedback from the pitch coach and other founders.
Like all our events, we aim for these sessions to be friendly and fairly relaxed, to make it less daunting to test your pitch. It’s also a great opportunity to see how other founders have structured their pitch in advance of the event.
Coaching sessions are optional, but we recommend that you attend if you can.
Can I use slides with my pitch?
No slides are permitted for your pitch. However, we’ll have a slide with your business name, logo and main social account displayed behind you.
Can I bring my product on stage?
Yes, you can bring your product on stage. However, it should be something that’s easily portable that doesn’t take a long time to set up.
Can I bring notes or prompt cards on stage?
Yes, it’s absolutely fine to bring notes on stage with you. We recommend limiting these notes to bullet points rather than writing out your entire pitch, so you can stay focused on addressing the judges (rather than the floor!).
How do the judges’ questions work?
After you’ve given your pitch, our judging panel will have five minutes to ask you follow-up questions about your business. This is a great opportunity to talk more in depth about anything you couldn’t fit into your 90-second pitch.
If you want to know what questions the judges are likely to ask, you’re in luck. You can read the most common judges’ questions in this post.
Can my co-founder or team come to the event?
Yes! Everyone pitching will have a number of free family and friends tickets allocated, so your co-founder or team are welcome to come along.
Please make sure they book a ticket in advance, as events do sell out and we may not be able to guarantee an extra space on the night.
Can my co-founder join me on stage for judges’ questions?
Yes, they can. We know that co-founders have different specialisms and roles in a business, so we don’t expect you to answer everything yourself. If you’d like your co-founder to join you on stage for the questions, please ask them to come up to the stage right after your pitch.
When do the winners get announced?
We announce the winners of each event on the night. It’s usually about half an hour after the pitching finishes, which gives you plenty of time to network and enjoy some food and drinks.
How does the People’s Choice work?
We’ll upload all the pitches from each event to YouTube, Instagram Reels and TikTok, and ask people to vote on their favourite. The pitch with the most likes will win the People’s Choice award and pitch at The Pitch Final as a wildcard.
To be in with the best chance of winning, we recommend sharing your pitching video across your social channels and encouraging your network to like the video. Human likes only please – anyone using bots will be automatically disqualified.
Will my idea and IP be protected?
Your application will be viewed by The Pitch team and panel of expert judges. If you make it through to the regional semi-finals, you will have to pitch in front of the other attendees and so need to be happy with your idea being made public.
However, you are welcome to leave out particular elements to keep your IP secure. To our knowledge, we’ve not had any issues with ideas being copied from events in the many years that we’ve been running them.
If you have any concerns or questions, please send an email to email@example.com and we’ll do our best to guide you through what to disclose.
Can I enter both The Pitch and Tide competitions? What are the differences?
Yes you can! Entering The Pitch gives you the opportunity to pitch in front of investors and journalists and meet other founders at our events, whereas our competition in collaboration with Tide will give the winner a £5k grant and a mentoring package.
You can enter both competitions and the entries will be judged separately. Entries for The Pitch close on Friday 28th July, and entries for the Tide competition close in August.
What’s the history of The Pitch?
The Pitch was launched in Bristol in 2008 and has since grown into one of the UK’s biggest startup events.
Over the years, The Pitch has helped thousands of small businesses succeed (see some of our alumni here) and in that time we’ve done a fair bit of growing ourselves. Since starting as a traditional pitching competition, we’ve evolved into a complete programme of support.
The Pitch is produced by Inkwell, a Bristol-based agency. Inkwell helps companies create conversations with business owners.
I’m a previous Pitch finalist, who do I talk to about PR?
We love to hear from founders who’ve taken part in the past. If you’d like to give us an update or have news that you want to share, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch.
What can I do to support The Pitch?
We couldn’t run The Pitch without the support of our sponsors and all the people in our network that provide advice and content. It’s always amazing to see the level of support everyone’s willing to put into the event and we are incredibly grateful.
What are the T&Cs for the referral competition?
- The competition is open to legal residents of the United Kingdom who are 18 years of age or older.
- The winner will be selected based on the number of qualifying entries completed using referral links.
- Entries must be made by the founders, be unique and meet the qualification criteria for taking part in The Pitch (based in the UK and trading less than four years).
- The winner will be announced in August 2023. The £1,000 will be transferred to the winner’s account within 15 working days.
- No purchase is required when entering this competition.
- By participating in this competition, participants agree to abide by these terms and conditions and the decisions of the competition administrators, which are final and binding in all respects.