The 2020 PitchFork Challenge: Money and Momentum

What is The PitchFork Challenge?

The Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship (HGC) created the PitchFork program in 2016 to coach business entrepreneurs to pitch their business investment opportunity on a quarterly basis to a room full of investors with a purpose to boost the startup rates in the Monadnock region. For the inaugural Radically Rural Summit in 2018, the Hannah Grimes Center leveraged the success of the PitchFork program into The PitchFork Challenge, where there was prize money for the best pitch to a rural startup business entrepreneur. This year’s final, live pitch will be held on Thursday, September 24, 2020 as part of the Radically Rural Summit.

The PitchFork Challenge provides money and momentum for local rural entrepreneurs to apply to be part of a business pitch competition. Over the summer local entrepreneurs are coached to create a compelling pitch describing their business opportunity in pursuit of a cash award. There will be two tracks entrepreneurs can apply to, one for a rural small business and one for a business idea.  Ultimately, one business winner will be chosen to receive a prize of $10,000 in cash for the rural small business track and one prize of $1,000 for the idea track that will advance a business idea forward. New for 2020 we are opening the application to businesses that are not startups to apply for this competition!

Intake form

If you’re unsure if you should apply – come talk to us! Or if you’ve never pitched before and are nervous about talking about your business- don’t worry! Our program director and coaches will help you develop your presentation and practice with you. Don’t think “Shark Tank”. This is a very supportive and friendly pitch competition. The PitchFork Challenge is a great opportunity to get your business name out to a wider audience, meet new people who are building a business just like you and others who like to support small businesses, and build a skill of talking about your business in a clear and succinct way.

If you are not able to answer or supply the required documents for the application, please let us know ( as we can help develop the materials with you.

When does The Pitchfork Challenge happen?

The PitchFork Challenge will run from July to September, with a series of events narrowing down the finalists. The application link is below.

Who’s eligible?

The PitchFork Challenge is open to any resident and business that is located in the counties below with a population of 30,000 or less:

  • NH: Cheshire, Sullivan, and Hillsborough
  • VT: Windham, Bennington, and Windsor
  • MA: Franklin

Rural Small Business Track:

  • Business must be for-profit and is currently earning revenue
  • May not have won the PitchFork Challenge Rural Small Business Track in previous years
  • May not have raised more than $250,000 in funding
  • May not have earned more than $250,000 in past year revenue

Idea Track:

  • Business idea is for-profit
  • Business idea has not earned any revenue

What will I win?

  • For the rural small business track:  $10,000
  • For the rural idea track: $1,000
  • Print and digital media coverage in The Keene Sentinel

Winner Requirements:

  • Complete a business form for three years after the award is received
  • Document the first year with photos if applicable the use of the award and the impact of the award
  • Be available for social media, blog, and website marketing and promotion

Want to learn more about PitchFork Challenge?

Register to attend one of the information sessions:

  • Tuesday, July 7, 2020, 3:30pm -4:30pm – Register
  • Thursday, July 9, 2020, 12:00pm -1:00pm –Register
  • Wednesday, July 15, 2020, 8:30am -9:30am –Register
  • Monday, July 20, 2020, 12:00pm – 1:00pm –Register

How do I enter and what is required?

Round 1: Application is due end of business day on Monday, July 27, 2020

  • Those who are accepted into the PitchFork Challenge will need to attend the pitch clinic on Thursday, August 6, 2020

Round 2: Required live pitch coaching event on Wednesday, August 19, 2020

  • Up to two people from each track may be eliminated
  • Semi-finalists will be notified of their status before the semi-finalist live PitchFork Challenge Event

Round 3: The small business track semi-finalists will prepare and present a 5-minute live pitch at the event on Thursday, September 3, 2020

  • The idea track semi-finalists will prepare a 2-minute live pitch at the event without a pitch deck.
  • Up to two people from each track may be eliminated.
  • Thursday, September 10, 2020 – Finalists for the rural small business track will meet with judges for Q&A and to develop their final pitch at 8:30am-11:30am by appointment

Round 4: The PitchFork Challenge final event on Thursday, September 24, 2020 during the Radically Rural Summit

  • Live pitch to the judging panel.
  • Finalists for the small business track will prepare and present a 5 minute live pitch at the Final Event with pitch deck.
  • Finalists for the idea track will prepare and present a 2 minute live pitch at the Final Event without a pitch deck.

How will I be judged?

You will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Traction
  • Team
  • Product
  • Market
  • Community benefit
  • Pitch – pitch performance

Important Dates For PitchFork Challenge Presenters:

  • Monday, July 27, 2020: Application is due by end of business day. See the list of questions here.
  • Thursday, August 6, 2020, 9:00am-10:30am: Pitch Clinic: Learn the key components of a good pitch (online)
  • Wednesday, August 19, 2020, 8:15am – 12:00pm: Round 1: Closed event with live pitch to the panel of judges (in-person)
  • Tuesday, September 1, 2020, 8am – 6pm (in person by appointment): Tech check and dress rehearsal of pitch
  • Thursday, September 3, 2020, 5:30pm – 7:30pm: PitchFork Challenge semi-final live stream event
  • Thursday, September 10, 2020, 8:30am – 11:30am: Small Business Track finalists meet with the judges for Q&A
  • Monday, September 21, 2020, 8:30am –  6:00pm (by appointment): Tech check and dress rehearsal of pitch
  • Thursday, September 24, 2020, 11:00am – 12:45pm: Live stream final pitch during session two of Radically Rural
  • Thursday, September 24, 2020, 5:00pm – 7:00pm: Live announcement of PitchFork Challenge winners at the closing keynote address at Radically Rural
Apply Today!