$15,000 in prizes available for competition winners


SOUTH BOSTON, Va. (January 23, 2022) – Cash prizes, feedback from business consultants and networking opportunities with fellow entrepreneurs await participants in the RISE Collaborative 2023 Business Pitch Competition.

The free-to-enter competition will take place on March 28, 2023 at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) in South Boston, Va. It is the first-ever region-wide business pitch competition hosted in Southern Virginia. The competition will feature 10 businesses and entrepreneurs selected from the pool of applicants.

Applications are open to any and all residents of GO Virginia Region 3 counties and cities who have completed either the RISE Collaborative Business Bootcamp or a similar entrepreneurship training program. Businesses, including startups, with at least one founder or employee who meets the above criteria are also eligible to participate. All types of businesses are encouraged to apply.

RISE Collaborative will award prizes totaling $15,000 at the competition, 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. Prizes are funded by sponsors of RISE Collaborative, including American National Bank & Trust Company, Benchmark Community Bank, First Citizens Bank, Letterpress Communications, and Southside Electric Cooperative. Additional support for planning and promoting the competition is provided by the SOVA Innovation Hub and the Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Interested sponsors and mentors are invited to get involved by contacting Brandon Hennessey , Director of Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship at the Longwood SBDC, at hennesseydb@longwood.edu.

Registration and participation in the RISE Collaborative Business Pitch Competition is free of charge, and applications are due by March 7, 2023. Applications must include a video pitch (90 seconds maximum), a business plan (5 pages maximum) and a financial projections worksheet. RISE will notify participants of their selection in the competition by March 17 via phone or email.

Participants selected to take part in the March 2023 Business Pitch Competition will make their pitch in person to a panel of judges at the SVHEC’s Innovation Center in South Boston. The event will run from 4-8 p.m. on March 28 and will include food and networking opportunities with local entrepreneurs and local economic development experts.

To register or for more information, visit the RISE Collaborative Business Pitch Competition homepage.

“Pitch competitions are a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zone,” said Lauren Mathena, Director of Economic Development & Community Engagement at Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation, where she manages 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.”

“It’s been such a privilege to collaborate with the entrepreneurs represented in our region,” said Hennessey. “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 RISE Collaborative Business Pitch Competition is designed to encourage aspiring and existing entrepreneurs to act on their business ideas and scale-up aspirations. Registration is open to individuals who have completed an approved entrepreneurship course and whose businesses are early in the start-up phase, already in operation, or anywhere in between.

About RISE Collaborative

RISE Collaborative is a regional initiative to create a network of entrepreneurs and business service providers across Southern Virginia (GO Virginia Region 3). The initiative is composed of and managed by two primary entities: Longwood Small Business Development Center (Farmville, Va.) and SOVA Innovation Hub (South Boston, Va.). RISE provides guidance to entrepreneurs and business owners through a number of ongoing programs every year, including an 8-Week Business Bootcamp, student entrepreneurship programs the regional Business Pitch Competition, and more. For more information, visit SOVARISE.com.