RISE Business Pitch Competition

Pitch for a chance to win money to start or grow your business

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The RISE Business Pitch Competition is a regional business pitch competition that gives Southern Virginia entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch for a chance to win funding to start or grow their businesses.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners pitch their business plans in these categories 

Grow Category

The Grow category included existing businesses that demonstrated a concept that would scale their business. Each of the businesses that pitched in this category is already established with customer relationships, suppliers, and marketing strategies.

Startup Category

The Startup category featured pitches from businesses that are very early in their process of becoming established and launching.

Additional Awards

SOVA Female Founders Fund

The SOVA Female Founders Fund for Women-Owned Businesses is intended to provide additional support and encouragement to female entrepreneurs demonstrating perseverance in pursuing their vision.  The minimum award amount is $1,000. To qualify, businesses must be at least 51% owned by a woman, as self-reported. Priority will be given to qualified entrepreneurs who demonstrate grit defined as the “perseverance and passion for long-term goals” and the ability to overcome obstacles. Businesses may win this award, whether or not they also win a Startup or Grow award.

Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award was created to encourage and empower young people to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams and showcase their innovative ideas.

RISE Collaborative awarded $18,500 in prize funds through the inaugural 2023 RISE Business Pitch Competition.

Read our blog to see which businesses received funding at the 2023 RISE Business Pitch Competition and how they are planning to use it to start or grow their businesses in Southern Virginia.

The date for the next Business Pitch Competition is to be determined.

Below is a snapshot of the 2023 RISE Business Pitch Competition.

Competition Timeline

Applications Due – Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Submit your application, which includes a video pitch (90 seconds maximum), business plan (5 pages maximum), and Financial Projections Worksheet.

Notification to Pitch – Friday, March 17, 2023

If selected to advance, you will be notified that you will be moving forward to pitch your idea or business by March 17.

Pitch Competition – Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Pitch your business to an audience of judges, potential investors, and community members. Each competitor will have 5 minutes to pitch and 5 minutes to receive questions from the judges. Slides are encouraged.

Where:  Southern Virginia Higher Education Center

When:  March 28, 2023, 4-8pm

Awards Announcement – Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Award winners will be announced at a virtual event.

Application Criteria

Individuals or at least one representative of an Organization must have completed the CO.STARTERS Business Bootcamp powered by RISE Collaborative – OR – must demonstrate completion of a similar entrepreneurship training program. All completers of the RISE Collaborative CO.STARTERS Business Bootcamp program, beginning with the Spring 2021 cohort through the Winter 2023 cohort, are eligible to apply for this competition. Examples of similar entrepreneurship training programs include the SBA Ascent Learning PlatformStartup Virginia Entrepreneurship CertificateRiver District Association Dream Launch Bootcamp, and Startup/Grow Martinsville-Henry County.

Individuals who are at least the age of eighteen (18) and whose current legal residence is in one of the following Virginia localities: Counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Halifax, Henry, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, and Cities of Danville and Martinsville.  Individuals under the age of 18 may qualify, but a follow-up conversation with a RISE representative will be required and a parent or guardian must be present for all correspondence, interactions, and events.

Organizations (including corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and other legal entities) that exist and have been organized or incorporated at the time of entry in the Commonwealth of Virginia with a presence in one of the following Virginia localities: Counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Halifax, Henry, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, and Cities of Danville and Martinsville, and employ no more than 50 people

    • Provide breakdown of your employees (full-time, part-time, contract workers, etc.), if applicable 

Submission of your video pitch (90 seconds maximum), a business plan (5 pages maximum), and a Financial Projections Worksheet

Availability to participate in-person at the Pitch Competition on March 28, 2023

A desire to partner with RISE Collaborative by communicating regularly about your business progress through March 2024. Pitch Competition winners are required to meet either in person or virtually once a quarter with a RISE Collaborative representative. 

Completion of a media release (willingness to share a picture of yourself for use on social media to promote the Southern Virginia Business Plan Pitch Competition and for media at the competition) if selected to present at the pitch competition. Download media release form

Important to Note


There are grant funds available for ideation/product development ($1,000 each) and scale up grant funds available ($5,000 each)

All proposals and supporting materials will be confidential to the proposal review team and judges for the Southern Virginia Business Plan Pitch Competition.

Any issue not addressed in the guidelines will be decided by the pitch competition committee. The pitch competition committees decision is final. 

Winners agree to complete an economic development impact survey within a year of competition.

Resources for Applicants

The Entrepreneur’s Business Planning Guide from Longwood Small Business Development Center

SOVA Business Pitch Competition
Scoring Rubric

SOVA Business Pitch Competition
Financial Projections Worksheet