How Pitches Work

It is your responsibility to facilitate both the 60-second pitches on Friday night and the final presentations on Sunday night. 

We find that most participants, especially those whose first time it is participating in a Startup Weekend, usually find the experience quite daunting. It’s up to you to help ease their trepidation. 

We find that icebreakers and participant involvement early in the evening helps to alleviate nervousness. We recommend doing the icebreaker, “Half-Baked,” before the 60-second pitches start. We also include a pitches workshop in the workshop deck that can help prepare participants for final pitches. 

60-second pitches

When the time comes for 60-second pitches, go through the elements of a good pitch from your deck:

  • State who you are and what your background is.

  • Explain the problem that you’re going to solve.

  • Explain the idea or product and how it solves the problem.

  • Indicate what skill sets you need on the team like a developer, marketer, or designer.

  • Provide a name for your startup.

No existing business ideas should be pitched at the event. The local organizers have the right to disqualify any existing ideas pitched during the event at any time.

We recommend giving a sample pitch to demonstrate the elements of a good pitch, and how not to do it (the latter is usually an opportunity to get participants to have a good laugh). Please encourage all to pitch, no matter how they feel about their idea being picked. Participants never regret pitching, but they might regret not using the opportunity to practice pitching. Having half of your participants pitching is a good baseline.

Begin the pitch process by reminding everyone of good crowd etiquette. Everyone should be respectful and quiet during each other’s pitches. People sometimes get excited and forget this, so do halt the pitches to reestablish order in the room if need be before continuing pitches. While the pitches are taking place, help the organizing team manage the pitch queues and enforce time limits. 

Final presentation pitches

This is the most exciting part of Startup Weekend! Dig deep and bring your energy and enthusiasm to deliver a memorable experience to all in attendance. This is also your chance to shine and showcase your skills as a public speaker, facilitator, and crowd manager. 

During your pitches kickoff presentation, using your facilitator deck:

  • Welcome all guests who came to watch the pitches.

  • Acknowledge the global and local sponsors, organizing team, volunteers, mentors, and everyone else who deserves a shoutout.

  • Introduce the judges.

  • Explain the pitch process and judging criteria (remember that there will be guests, so even though this might feel repetitive, don’t scrimp on the details).

  • Remind participating teams and judges that each pitch can be up to 5 minutes.

  • Mention any prizes.

  • Share information for the post-event celebration or dinner.

Supporting Teams 

When the pitch presentations begin, facilitators can be helpful by ensuring a smooth transition between teams and troubleshooting any issues that might come up. In some cases, it’s possible that a presenter might freeze. Help alleviate their stress by inviting everyone to give them a round of applause for being the lead presenter and ‘standing up on stage in front of all these strangers’. This usually helps the presenter with a bit of extra time to remember their talking points and feeling more clear-headed.  Guide for Judges 

After the final judges Q&A, invite guests and participants to network for a short while and escort the judges to a reserved space for voting. Once the judges make a decision on the winners, update your presentation.