The 14th Annual Idea Pitch Competition
Eligibility & Guidelines Packet

Open to all GVSU Undergraduate & Graduate Students
Registration Deadline: 11:59 p.m. on Friday October 5th
Competition Date: 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday October 10th, 2018


The GVSU Idea Pitch Competition presents students with a great opportunity to pitch their business idea to a panel of judges and a chance to win cash prizes. Idea pitch is a frequently used term, which literally means “tell me about your business within the time that it would take to ride up an elevator.” Presenting yourself effectively is an essential tool in the business arena. A well-planned idea pitch can open the doors to success in your future endeavors. Please note that ideas may be at any stage of development from creation of concepts or ideas to an established business. 

Who should participate in the GVSU Idea Pitch Competition?  

  • Students with an idea to start a business

  • Students who have started a company

  • Students interested in enhancing their presentation skills

  • Students who want to explore the idea of starting a company

  • Students who want to demonstrate their ability to clearly communicate an idea to a group

How to Participate: 

  1. Submit the form located here no later than 11:59 p.m. Friday October 5th.

Competition Process: 

  1. Register online before 11:59 p.m. on Friday October 5th.

    • Each application will be vetted to ensure compliance with the rules & eligibility.

  2. Attend the Pitch Competition on October 10th.

    • Participants will have 90 seconds to pitch their idea WITHOUT any props, powerpoints, or visual aids of any kind. A timekeeper will signal to contestants at the 60 and 30 second mark. Competitors will be cut-off at 90 seconds.

    • Each 90 second pitch will be followed by a 2 minute Q&A session. Only judges will be allowed to ask questions during this time. A timekeeper will call for the last question when 30 seconds remain on the clock.

    • After each contestant has presented their idea, the judges will deliberate for no more than 20 minutes. To assist in the evaluation, judges will be provided a standardized form, which can be found here. During this deliberation, contestants may choose to do last minute fine-tuning in anticipation of the final round, computers will be available for research. Light refreshments will be provided.

    • The top 6 competitors will be announced and judges will be given an opportunity to provide each finalist concise feedback. These competitors will then re-pitch their idea in 90 seconds. No time shall be allotted for Q&A during the final round.

    • After each finalist has presented their idea, the judges will deliberate for not more than 20 minutes. The judges will, again, be given the same evaluation sheet during the final round. During this deliberation there will be a short keynote speech along with light refreshments.

    • The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners will be announced. A networking event will follow the awards ceremony.

If necessary, contestants will be split into smaller groups in the preliminary round. If this is the case, the top contestants from each room will continue on to the finals.


Judges & Scoring: 

  • The panel of judges will include entrepreneurs, consultants, venture capitalists, GVSU alumni, angel investors and other business professionals from the Grand Rapids community.

  • Judges will use a scoring sheet provided by CEO, which can be seen here.

  • Copies of the judges' feedback and score sheets will be made available to all contestants after the conclusion of the event.


  1. Contestants should be aware that neither administrators of the competition nor judges of the idea pitch competition will be required, nor should they be asked, to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA). GVSU instead, will ask all who view the competition to abide by the University's Honor Code.

  2. Contestants are encouraged to be selective about what they disclose, to label plans and contents with the words CONFIDENTIAL AND PROPRIETARY, and to seek legal counsel if they have any further questions regarding the legal protection of their ideas.

  3. All public sessions of the competition, including by not limited to oral presentations and question/answer sessions, are open to the public at large. Any and all of these public sessions may be broadcast to interested persons through media which may include radio, television, and the internet. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by entrants should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm, and contestants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or present in these sessions.

  4. Grand Valley State University may make photocopies, photographs, videotapes and/or audiotapes of the presentations including the written business plan and other documents, charts or material prepared for use in presentation at the Business Plan Competition. Contestants retain all proprietary rights.

How to Win: 

Practice makes perfect! You only have 90 seconds to get your idea across--clarity is key! CEO Club will give members interested in pitching a time to practice and provide feedback. There will also be optional sessions to improve your pitch in the library during the weeks before the competition. The judges will choose as the winning pitch, an idea that understands its market, provides detailed evidence of potential success, and has an experienced, motivated, and dedicated management.  For samples of successful pitches, as well as tips and tricks, visit our Pitching Basics page! Here's some basic advice: 

  1. Be sure to introduce yourself and your idea

  2. Clearly explain the problem being faced or the reason for your invention (don't forget to include who the problem effects!)

  3. Briefly describe your product and how it it solves said problem

  4. Know your competition! (everyone has competition)

  5. Describe concisely how you will make money (where will you sell it, how much will it cost, who will manufacture it, etc.)

What Else?

We highly encourage all undergraduate participants to register for the 2018 National Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization Elevator Pitch also. For more information on the National Conference, click here