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Female-led tech start-ups urged to enter PITCH competition

Thursday, 10 November 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
Female-led tech start-ups are being encouraged to enter PITCH, a start-up competition run by global network Women 2.0, with the event expected to attract up to 500 attendants.

 

Women 2.0, founded by Shaherose Charania and Angie Chang, is a US-based global network and social platform for aspiring and current female founders of technology ventures.

 

The Women 2.0 PITCH Start-up Competition, held annually since 2007, is a global competition open to early-stage ventures operating in the tech scene.

 

To be eligible, companies must have a female in the founding team and a technologist, which could be an engineer, scientist, mathematician or biologist.

 

The venture must be in beta, which means a prototype is in existence or the product is already on the market, and cannot have raised or received more than $1 million in funding.

 

PITCH co-organiser Rebecca Lipon says while the prizes for this year’s competition have yet to be announced, the competition will be run in largely the same way as in previous years.

 

Applications are reviewed by online judges before finalists compete live at a conference.

 

“But the pitch conference will be a much larger affair [this year], with 500 expected attendees, keynote speakers, panels, case studies, etc in addition to the final pitches,” Lipon says.

 

Interestingly, the application process requires entrants to submit their business idea on a paper napkin – “no larger than 7x7 inches” – along with a two-minute video pitch.

 

Lipon says there is always an abundance of web and internet service companies among the applicants, although she is seeing a rise in the number of healthcare service start-ups.

 

“Efficient/social shopping and coupon systems are definitely represented as well as crowd-sourcing solutions for travel, education, volunteering, etc,” Lipon says.

 

“Since we are looking for early stage technology companies, most of them are web-based, but we also have a few device companies in the mix.”

 

According to Lipon, about 5-10% of the companies that enter the competition are based outside of the United States, although she isn’t aware of any Australian start-ups that have entered.

 

For start-ups that are looking to enter this year, Lipon’s advice is to be clear on your vision and concise in your pitch, including identifying the founding members and how they work as a team.

 

“Explain the problem you are trying to solve clearly and build the case study for why it is a real pain point,” she says.

 

“Have a working prototype to demonstrate. The most common complaint I hear from judges is that applications are too verbose or that they aren’t convinced that the company is solving a real problem.”