Registration opens for Business Pitch Competition

Published 6:34 pm Saturday, January 28, 2023

Many business owners and entrepreneurs have new ideas they’d love to see come to fruition. Now, they have a chance to make those dreams a reality.

RISE Collaborative is now open for registration for the March 2023 Business Pitch Competition. This competition is designed to encourage entrepreneurs to act on their business ideas and aspirations. This will be the first region-wide business pitch competition hosted in Southern Virginia.

The competition will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. on March 28, at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s Innovation Center in South Boston. During the competition, 10 selected business owners will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for the chance to win prizes totaling $15,000, including a $5,000 prize to the winner of the business growth category and a $1,000 prize to the winner of the business startup category. There will also be food and networking opportunities with local entrepreneurs and local economic development experts.

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“Pitch competitions are a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zone,” said Lauren Mathena, director of economic development and community engagement at Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation, managing the RISE Collaborative program for the SOVA Innovation Hub. “If you’re serious about your business, this competition is a chance to get up in front of a crowd and a panel of judges and sell them on it. It’s a bit like ‘Shark Tank,’ but it will be happening here with members of the community to cheer you on.”

RISE Collaborative is a regional initiative to create a network across the GO Virginia Region 3 of entrepreneurs and business owners. The initiative is run as a joint project by the Longwood Small Business Development Center and SOVA Innovation Hub. This collaboration provides guidance and programs and plans to partner with the new SEED Innovation Hub in future years once it is finished.

Who can apply and how?

The competition is free to enter and is open to anyone who has completed the RISE Collaborative Business Bootcamp or a similar entrepreneurship training program in the GO Virginia Region 3, which includes Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg and Prince Edward counties. Businesses must have a founder or employee to meet these guidelines and all types of businesses are encouraged to apply. 

“It’s been such a privilege to collaborate with the entrepreneurs represented in our region,” said Brandon Hennessey, director of innovation, research and entrepreneurship at the Longwood Small Business Development Center. “With that, capital access has been one of the universal needs observed throughout the journey. Our pitch competition provides an amazing opportunity to move the needle for those looking to start or expand their ventures.”

The application includes a 90-second video pitch, a five-page maximum business plan and a financial projections worksheet, which is due by March 7. RISE will call or email those selected to move forward and they will be able to pitch the idea or business by March 17. Then, 10 applicants will be selected to participate in the competition on March 28 for the chance for monetary reward and the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs.

Those who qualify can register at