With the established food industry increasingly turning to entrepreneurial startups as a source of innovation inspiration, pitch events that offer prizes and opportunities for mentoring and networking have proliferated in recent years.
Pitch competitions offer start-ups numerous benefits, both in their preparation and the event itself. It’s important to choose your competition wisely, though. With many options available, start-ups need to seriously consider which competitions will benefit their business the most, and in what way. According to Juan Guzman, president and CEO of Capro-X, finding events that provide opportunities to tell your story and solution to audiences that can understand and value the impact you want to make in the world is critical.
We recently connected with three entrepreneurs and successful pitch competition participants—Guzman, Daphne Mazarakis, a strategic advisor to LocalCoho, and Hector Saldivar, founder of Tia Lupita—to get their perspectives on how participating in a well-organized event can be beneficial, even if you don’t win.
Here are a few of the insights they shared:
Finetune your message. An immense amount of time goes into preparing for a pitch event. This time provides start-ups a valuable opportunity to take a closer look at their product, idea, or innovation, confirm its positioning and attributes fulfill a market need and are on trend, and create a compelling story that positions it for success.
Gain visibility. From the judges to the audience members, the right pitch competition will enable start-ups to gain high-impact awareness for their product, idea, or innovation among influential industry leaders, investors, potential business partners, relevant media outlets, and even prospective customers.
Build strategic connections. Pitch competitions provide opportunities to network with other participants, connect with mentors and investors, and learn about new resources available for entrepreneurs. Through this process, start-ups inevitably receive feedback that can help them strengthen their business model, value proposition, or message, and can potentially lead them to funding.
Special Opportunity—IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge Competition for Startups
Start-ups that are ready to reap these benefits and take their unique innovation or disruptive solution to the next level are invited to apply for IFT’s IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge™. Open to food science and technology entrepreneurs, as well as companies representing other technologies related to food, such as internet, mobile, clean tech, web-based applications, cloud, ERP, SaaS, and more, this exciting pitch competition is designed to help emerging and investment-ready companies gain visibility and make strategic connections among an audience eager to discover and invest in the next big food innovation. A $25,000 grand prize and a $5,000 people’s choice award will be presented to the winners. Round one applications are being accepted now through January 9, 2020.
Learn more on the IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge web page.
Each year, IFT provides student members a wealth of opportunities to expand their knowledge, explore potential career paths, network with peers, volunteer their time, and socialize at its Annual Event and Food Expo. Among those opportunities is the chance to showcase their creative thinking, scientific prowess, and teamwork through a number of competitions.
Over the years, I have volunteered with IFT because I wanted to give back to an organization that played such a vital role in my career.
IFT volunteers are at the core of what our organization does. Without the dedicated work of volunteers, our mission of advancing the science of food would not be possible.