PITCH: How to make your startup shine at Web Summit

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Web Summit’s PITCH, in partnership with Siemens, gives founders the chance to pitch to – and learn from – investors and leaders. Here’s how to get involved.

Every new startup needs to make noise. Some founders excel at selling their company story to customers and investors, while others struggle to find their voice. Whichever group a startup falls under, one thing remains true: at some point in its journey, the startup team will need to pitch.

A business pitch is often the dividing line between funding and failure. Selling what your company does and why it’s critical for society is a key skill – one our alums have perfected at our events.

More than 2,200 startups will gather in Lisbon this November, each hoping to follow in these alums’ footsteps. How can startup founders prove they can stand out from the crowd?

What is PITCH?

PITCH is our startup contest at Web Summit, pitting innovative companies head-to-head in live pitching battles.

Web Summit team members choose participants by reviewing applications from thousands of businesses across our global startup network and selecting the best entrants from each industry.

The top 105 startups selected then progress to the PITCH group stages, during which they pitch their businesses to a panel of judges and attendees.

Following the group stages, eight startups will advance to the semi-final on Centre Stage. Here, the companies will pitch against four other startups that have been fast-tracked because of stellar applications – and several other factors including funding history – in a bid for a spot in the PITCH finals.

The three finalists will battle it out on Centre Stage for a chance to be named PITCH winner.

“The funny thing is, last year, we didn’t get into the PITCH competition at all. I was watching as an attendee, and I said: ‘One day, I want to be there on the stage’. I didn’t expect that I would get to the semi-finals this year, but it happened, and then the finals. It feels surreal.”

– Ana Robakidze, Theneo founder and CEO, PITCH winner, Web Summit 2022

How PITCH works

Group stages

On Tuesday, November 14, selected startups will battle it out in the group rounds of the competition across our three PITCH stages. Competing startups will have three minutes to pitch business ideas, followed by a three-minute Q&A with our judging panel.

Startups are divided into groups of seven, with five judges controlling each panel.

At the end of Day 1, the judging panel will announce the eight highest scorers across the group rounds, with these eight startups progressing to the semi-final.

Semi-finals

On the afternoon of Wednesday, November 15, four specially selected startups will join the group stage winners on Centre Stage.

Semi-finalists will have three minutes to pitch to the Centre Stage audience and a panel of 10 esteemed judges. Our judges will then deliberate and choose three finalists to battle it out in the PITCH final.

Finals

The PITCH final will take place on Centre Stage on the afternoon of Thursday, November 16. Our finalists will deliver a three-minute pitch followed by a three-minute Q&A with four judges.

But there’s a twist. In the PITCH final, our audience becomes the fifth judge. Following the finalists’ presentations, the audience will have a chance to vote for their favourite startup through the Web Summit mobile app. The audience vote makes up 20 percent of each startup’s final score, giving them as much influence as any of our judges.

“It’s amazing to have this recognition, especially for the team who have been working so hard over the past two years.”

– António Rocha, Smartex co-founder and CTO, PITCH winner, Web Summit 2021

The finalist with the highest combined score will be crowned Web Summit’s PITCH winner.

PITCH is open to all ALPHA and BETA startups that have received less than €5 million in funding to date and have not discernibly changed their business model in the last three years.

Want to make your mark? Register for the Web Summit startup programme for your chance to join PITCH. Who knows – it may be your first step towards success…

Main image: Web Summit

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