Washburn Pitch Competition

The Washburn Pitch Competition encourages students to explore and express their business ideas in a friendly and encouraging environment in three minutes or less. The competition is open to all Washburn University undergraduate and graduate students and Washburn Institute of Technology students.  You can compete alone or in teams of up to three people. $25,000 in cash prizes has been made available from Go Topeka to help students start a new business venture.

This competition requires advance registration, to register, complete this form: PITCH COMPETITION REGISTRATION FORM
You will need to download it, complete the form, save it to your computer/device and then email it as an attachment.

How It Works

Knockout Round: Wednesday, October 18, 2023 from 1:00-3:00 p.m., Memorial Union
The first stage is called the Knockout Round; students have a maximum time limit of three minutes to verbally pitch their business idea to a panel of outside judges (no technology use is allowed).  There will be four rooms of competitors presenting simultaneously, each with their own judging panel.  The 3 top teams/individuals as decided by the judges in each room will qualify for the Semi-Finals Round (for a total of 12 semi-finalist qualifiers).

Semi-Finals Round: Wednesday, October 18, 2023 from 3:00-4:00 p.m., Memorial Union

The second stage of the competition is the Semi-Finals Round, held immediately following the Knockout Round.  During this round, the top 12 entries will again have a maximum of three minutes to verbally pitch their idea to a panel of judges (again, no technology use is allowed).  The top 5 teams/individuals as decided by the judges will qualify for the Finals Round.

Finals Round: Wednesday, November 1, 2023 from 6:30-9:00 p.m., Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center 

Entries that qualify for this phase of the competition will be required to expand on their ideas and include more details on their proposed venture in a maximum of 7 minutes.  Technology is allowed and a Powerpoint presentation is expected.  There will be up to 5 minutes for Q&A with the judges following the presentation.  

Questions or want to join a team?
Contact Dr. David Price

Pitch Preparation Seminar - Thursday, October 12, 2022, 1:00-2:00 p.m., Henderson 107

The Washburn School of Business and the Small Business Development Center are providing a free seminar to help develop your idea and prepare your pitch.

Registration Deadline - Thursday, October 12, 2023 by 11:59 p.m.

All current Washburn University and Washburn Institute of Technology students are eligible to participate, but you must pre-register to compete.  You need to complete your registration form and email it to hailey.handy@washburn.edu by October 12, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.  You may also bring your printed and completed form to the School of Business office in Henderson 114 (if you wish to drop off your printed form, you must do so before 5:00 p.m.)

1st Place: $8,000

2nd Place: $6,000

3rd Place: $4,000

4th Place: $2,000

5th Place: $1,000

Semi-Finalists: $100 each (to each of the losing seven semi-finalists)

Top Freshman Entry (outside of finals): $1,000
(A Freshman is defined as 30 hours or less completed of college credit.)

Top Washburn Institute of Technology Entry (outside of finals): $2,500

The Freshman and WIT awards will be notified within a few days via email after all judge scores have been carefully tallied.

Students should develop and deliver an effective, professional presentation that includes a concise summary of a new business for a product, service or social venture in three minutes or less.

No technology is allowed (hand-outs, props, etc. are okay).

Each student/team is judged on the same criteria by the judges in order to provide a clear understanding of how winners are decided.  The criteria listed below will be used in both the Knockout Round and Semi-Final Round.  The pitches are evaluated by each judge using the following criteria and scored evenly (25 points in each category) for a total out of 100 points:

  • Innovation – Is this a new idea or how is it different?
  • Business Model – How will the business operate and knowledge of the industry/market?
  • Feasibility – Is it realistic to implement?
  • Presentation – Was the delivery polished and impressive?

The first competition stage is called the Knockout Round, which will be held on October 18, 2023 in the Memorial Union on Washburn's campus from 1-3pm.  Students must present their new business idea to three judges from the business community in three (3) minutes or less.  The top 12 pitches will enter into the Semi-Final Round immediately following the Knockout Round, held from 3-4pm.

During the Semi-Final Round, students will repeat their pitch to a new panel of judges and the final five finalists will be selected for the Finals Round.  The last pitch in the Finals Round will be held two weeks later on November 1 and students will have longer to present and be allowed to use visuals.

Knockout Round Rules

  • Pitches are no more than three (3) minutes long. Judges will only ask questions for clarification purposes and these must be brief.  Timekeepers will keep your time and hold up a warning sign at the 2:30 mark.
  • Pitch presentations will run concurrently in four (4) different rooms. No microphones or audio equipment is available.  Participants must be ready when their name is called to pitch.  If not present when called, the moderator will ask for the next student/team to come forward.
  • Visual aids are permitted, such as poster boards, handouts, prototypes, etc. Presenters will NOT be allowed to use PowerPoint, computer, phones or any technology for their pitch during the Knockout (and Semi-Final) Rounds.
  • There will be a panel of three (3) judges for each pitch presentation in each room.
  • All students/teams must arrive and check-in between Noon and 12:45pm. A listing of teams and the order of presentations will be available at check-in. We will have a briefing outlining the event beginning at 12:50pm in the Washburn B room.
  • After all pitches are completed, the results are calculated and the top three winners from each room are announced based on total scores from the judging panel, at approximately 3pm. Ties are settled by the judges.
  • The top three (3) from each room in the Knockout Round will qualify for the Semi-Finals Round (total of 12).
  • Free food and drinks are provided. Other students and guests are welcome.
  • At approximately 3pm, the 12 semi-finalists will be announced. Each of the students/teams will be listed in random order to present to a new panel of judges to qualify for the Finals Round.
  • Students/teams MUST present the same pitch idea in the Semi-Final Round. However, the pitch presentation itself may change.
  • The same rules apply in the Semi-Final Round as the Knockout Round. This includes a three (3) minute time limit, no technology allowed, etc.
  • All pitch presentations during the Semi-Final Round will occur in one room with the same panel of four (4) judges hearing each pitch from 3-4pm. The announcement of the top five winners will occur immediately after the judges have confirmed their scores.
  • The top five (5) will qualify for the Finals Round on November 1.
  • Details and requirements for the Finals Round will be sent out separately to finalists.
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