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 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 as part of the Radically Rural Summit.

Applicants can submit their rural startup business or business ideas to be reviewed by a panel of judges. There will be two tracks entrepreneurs can apply to, one for a rural startup 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 startup business track and one prize of $1,000 for the idea track that will advance a business idea forward.

Read our updated how to” guide and lessons learned putting together our pitch competition.

Stay tuned for the 2020 PitchFork Challenge application announcement by signing up for our newsletter or email our program director to learn more about this opportunity.

Intake form

If you are not able to answer or supply the required documents, please let us know ( Don’t be discouraged to apply, we can help develop the materials.

When does The Pitchfork Challenge happen?

The PitchFork Challenge will run from March to September, with a series of events narrowing down the finalists.  HGC will announce details through this website, social media channels and our newsletter. Stay tuned for new information regarding the below events.

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 Startup Business Track:

  • Businesses must be for-profit and is currently earning revenue
  • May not be more than three years old by September 1, 2020
  • 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 startup business track:  $10,000
  • For the rural idea track: $1,000
  • Print and digital media coverage in The Keene Sentinel

Want to learn more about PitchFork Challenge?

Register to attend one of the information sessions:

How do I enter and what is required?

Round 1: Application is due by 8am July 27, 2020

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

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

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

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

  • 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 will be eliminated.
  • September 10, 2020 – Finalists meeting with judges to develop final pitch at 8:30am-11:30am

Round 3: The PitchFork Challenge final event on September 23, 2020 during the Radically Rural Summit

  • Live pitch to the judging panel.
  • Finalists for the 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 8am
  • Thursday, August 6, 2020, 9:00am-10:30am: Pitch Clinic: Learn the key components of a good pitch
  • Wednesday, August 19, 2020, 8:15am – 12:00pm: Round 1: Closed event with live pitch to the panel of judges
  • Tuesday, September 1, 2020, 8am – 6pm (by appointment): Tech check and dress rehearsal of pitch
  • Thursday, September 3, 2020, 5:30pm – 7:30pm: PitchFork Challenge semi-final live event (open to the public to attend, register at the link)
  • Thursday, September 10, 2020, 8:30am – 11:00am: Startup 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
  • Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 1:00pm – 4:00pm: Live final pitch during session two of Radically Rural
  • Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 5:00pm – 7:00pm: Live announcement of PitchFork Challenge winners at the evening CONNECT event. Finalists will need to purchase a ticket to CONNECT.