Entrepreneurs and startups from across the Kootenays will go head to head in the first-ever Kootenay Pitch Competition at the Nelson Innovation Centre this fall.
The competition is made up of three pitch events and a grand finale. The first event will take place on November 5 with applications due on September 24, according to a news release from the centre.
The competitions will be hosted by KAST (Kootenay Association for Science and Technology) and sponsored by the Nelson and District Credit Union.
Each pitch event will see four entrepreneurs pitching their businesses in front of a panel of judges that includes investors, technology experts, funding agencies and experienced entrepreneurs who have global connections to both markets and investment capital.
The events (November, January and March) will take place in person, with a limited capacity due to COVID-19, at Nelson Innovation Centre. They will also be live-streamed. The winners of each event will face off in the grand finale pitch event in April, the news release states.
Entrepreneurs will compete for cash and an array of prizes as well as opportunities for mentorship, networking, support and business exposure.
“Holding the Kootenay region’s premiere pitch competition is the first step in providing important support and investor readiness training to our local entrepreneurs and startups,” said Kailyn Skuban, KAST’s interim executive director.
“The Kootenays are experiencing a tech-sector boom, but critical missing ingredients are the availability of capital and investor readiness,” she said. “This competition will provide investment readiness training for local entrepreneurs, with a broader goal to develop future programming that will strengthen the investment ecosystem locally, diversify our economy, and create inclusive, modern, high paying sustainable jobs across our region.”
Winners of this competition will be fast-tracked into the Venture Acceleration Program which provides further customized one-on-one business coaching with an experienced mentor to help tech start-ups scale and grow.
Adopting new technology and supporting the local tech sector is seen as more important than ever due to the global pandemic.
“Pitching a business idea is so important,” said Steve Fisher, KAST executive-in-residence and co-organizer of the competition.
“You cannot raise capital or sell your products without delivering a great pitch,” he said. “The only way to get good at it is to do it in front of a live audience, and that’s what the Kootenay Pitch Competition is all about. Although the pressure is on and you have to perform, you’ll be doing so in a supportive and stunning environment. To have the newly opened Nelson Innovation Centre as our state-of-the-art venue, the timing is perfect.”
Entrepreneurs and startups can apply at www.kast.com/kootenaypitchcompetition by Sept. 24.