The 2021 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 opportunities on a quarterly basis to a room full of investors with the 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 Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 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. Ultimately, one business winner will be chosen to receive a prize of $10,000 in cash for the rural small business track.

Please fill out the Correct Hannah Grimes Intake form based on the county you live in :

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 a team of SBDC 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 August 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 an NH town with a population of 30,000 or less:

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

What will I win?

  • $10,000
  • 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

How do I enter and what is required?

Round 1: Application is due by the end of business day on Monday, July 19th, 2021

  • Those who are accepted into the PitchFork Challenge will be required to attend a Pitching overview with SBDC on Wednesday, July 28th, 2021 12 pm – 1 pm (Via ZOOM)
  • August 9th, 9 am- 3 pm & August 10th, 9 am – 3 pm: Each participant is required to book an appointment on one of the two days for 90 minutes of pitch training and coaching. (viz ZOOM)

Round 2: Required live Closed Round pitch event on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, 5 pm – 8:00 pm at the Hannah Grimes Center- participants will present their 5-minute pitch to a panel of judges

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

Round 3: Required Semi-Finals event on Wednesday, September 1, 2021 – semi-finalists will prepare and present their 6-minute pitch to the judges and audience.

  • Up to two people may be eliminated.
  • Wednesday, September 7, 2021 – Finalists for the rural small business track will meet with judges for Q&A and further develop their final pitch at 5:00 PM -7:00 PM by appointment

Round 4: Required: The PitchFork Challenge final event on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, during the Radically Rural Summit

  • Live pitch to the judging panel and live audience

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 (REQUIRED for Participation):

  1. Monday, July 26th, 2021: The application is due by end of the business day. See the list of questions here.
  2. Wednesday, July 28th, 2021 12 pm – 1 pm (Via ZOOM): Pitch Overview
  3. Monday, August 9th – Tuesday, August 10th, 2021, 9:00 am-3 pm: Pitch Clinic with NHSBDC- each participant will be scheduled one 90-minute timeslot to work on their pitch with a team of advisors (Via ZOOM)
  4.  August 11th- August 18th: Follow-Up at least once with your SBDC advisor for 1:1 pitch support (Via ZOOM)
  5. Wednesday, August 18, 2021, 5 pm – 7 pm: Round 1: Closed event with a live pitch to the panel of judges (in-person)
  6. Monday, August 30, 2021, 9 am – 5 pm (in person by appointment): Tech check and dress rehearsal of pitch
  7. Wednesday, September 1, 2021, 5:00pm – 7:00 pm: PitchFork Challenge semi-final event (in-person)
  8. Tuesday, September 7, 2021, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm (Zoom by appointment): Small Business Track finalists meet with the judges for Q&A
  9. Monday, September 20, 2021, 9 am – 5:00 pm (in person by appointment): Tech check and dress rehearsal of pitch
  10. Wednesday, September 22nd, 2:15 pm-4 pm: The PitchFork Challenge, the final live event will be held during the Radically Rural Summit (In Person)
  11. Wednesday, September 22nd,  5:30 pm-7:30 pm: Announcement Ceremony of the winners will be during the CONNECT event. Finalists will need to register for the CONNECT event. (In Person)