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How to Host a Pitch Competition with Boards and OnePager

Adam Hardej

OnePager Co-Founder

October 5th, 2021

Market the event, receive pitches, share with judges, and help founders get the exposure they need - all with one tool.

Pitch competitions are a great way to spark activity in any entrepreneurship community. They bring founders, investors, and supporters together around a common event that benefits everyone through increased exposure.

Too bad pitch competitions are a total pain to put together.

Between marketing the event, collecting information from founders, reviewing applications, sharing pitches with judges, logging votes, actually running the event, and announcing the results afterwards - it’s a lot of work. For many community leaders, this is simply too much to do. For others, pitch competitions take a considerable amount of bandwidth from small teams that are already busy.

We know this because we have helped run more than our fair share:

Yale x Harvard Pitch Competition

Ladder Student Pitch Competition

Underestimate Founder Pitch Competition

Further Faster Pitch Competition

Boards and OnePager will cut down the amount of time it takes to put together a pitch competition to a fraction of what it would be without it.

“I’m actually not sure if we would have been able to put together the Yale x Harvard competition without Boards and OnePager. It saved me at least 40 hours of work and it made everyone look much better.”

- Brihu Sundararaman, Yale Entrepreneurial Society Co-President

In this post I will walk through how to:

  • Create a Board to help market the your competition
  • Receive, review, give feedback, and accept submissions
  • Share submissions with judges
  • Create a finalist list and market the pitch event itself
  • Help everyone involved get the exposure they’re looking for

Before we get started - we wrote a basic walkthrough of Boards as well as a case study that you can check out below.

How to use Boards to organize OnePagers and your startup community
GSV x OnePager Boards: A Success Story

Boards is currently free and granting access upon request. Reach out to adam@onepager.vc to sign up today!

How to create a Board and use it to market your competition

Once you’ve logged into OnePager and navigated to the Boards tab in the top right corner of your Dashboard you’ll see a big “New Board” button. This is the start of bringing together the Board, but don’t fret over what you include here - you can always adjust it later.

Now that you’ve created your Board you’ll be able to enter the editor (or “Builder”) and see all of your options. This is where you will bring together OnePagers as well as “Curators” (judges or panelists in this use case).

Once you’ve filled out basic information about your competition and added the judges or panelists as curators you will be well on your way to having a marketable page for your competition. A couple of important things to note:

  • You will need to have at least one OnePager included in your Board before you’re able to publish it. This is a great opportunity for you to create an example of what you would like a OnePager submission to look like for the competition. Does it require a pitch deck? Do founders need to answer certain FAQ questions? You can communicate all of this simply by creating an example like this and you can read more about OnePager best practices here.
  • Once you press the “Publish” button in the top right corner for the first time you will be prompted to choose your custom referral link. Choose wisely! This is the one part of your Board that you can’t adjust later. One tip: The shorter the better. Easier to share that way.

Once you’ve published your page you will be able to easily share your custom link (https://onepager.vc/boards/pitch-comp-example for example) and direct people to information about the competition itself, the panelists, and what you need to put together to apply!

Anyone who comes to your page will be able to read the description, check out the example, and even take a look at the panelists by clicking on the "Curated by" button:

How to use Boards to receive, review, give feedback, and accept submissions to your pitch competition

Now that you’ve gathered the basics and published your Board you’re ready to start sharing and gathering applications. This is historically one of the hardest parts of running a pitch competition.

It’s one thing to get the word out - you’re likely a part of an entrepreneurial community already, which is why you’re trying to put together a pitch competition in the first place -  but getting all the information you need in one place is a challenge.

In the past you would have to build a form, send that form out to your community to request submissions, look through submissions as line items in a spreadsheet, copy their email, send feedback or request a missing piece, and at the end of all of that - all you have is an ugly spreadsheet.

With Boards and OnePager you can gather submissions,

See submissions in one place,

Review them as presentations - not data entries,

Send feedback directly from OnePager,

And accept or reject submissions.

Once accepted - they will be automatically added to your Board!

Now that you’ve reviewed and accepted your submissions, you’re ready to send them along to the judging panel to see which ones are their favorites.

How to share submissions with judges and gather votes

If you were doing this without Boards and OnePager this would be a very long section, but since you are - we can keep it short!

Once you have accepted all the submissions they will automatically be added to your Board and be published to your custom link as soon as you press the “Publish” button in the top right corner. From there, all you have to do is send that shareable link along to your judges for them to review the submissions within the Board itself.

Judges will have the ability to not only view the submissions, but also ask clarifying questions directly from the tool if it’s of interest to them.

This example is based off of how we typically run remote pitch competitions and may differ from the way your team wants to handle things. If you are running a remote competition though, here is how we typically handle it:

  • Send Board to judges with all submissions.
  • Request a ranked list of the judges favorite OnePagers.
  • Tally votes in a spreadsheet.
  • Invite top vote getters to pitch live via video chat.

Now that you’ve collected submissions, presented them to judges, and tallied votes - you can start showing off your Board again to market for the live pitch!

How to create a finalist list and use it to market the pitch event itself

We’re approaching the final phases of the pitch competition. You have your finalists and you’re ready to host the live pitch, but you want people to show up!

Boards is a great way to market the live event because it shows attendees who they will be hearing from. You can also create a “featured tag” to highlight the OnePagers that will be presenting.

In the Board Builder, you can create a custom tag (as seen above) and add OnePagers to the list. You can add as many as you would like and they will all show up with that tag on the published OnePager so that viewers can easily sort the whole group.

This page is easily shared via email, slack, or across social channels like Twitter and LinkedIn to market the companies that will be pitching live!

How to help everyone involved get the exposure they’re looking for

In the past, pitch competitions have mostly been a waste of time for founders simply because not everyone can be a finalist.

You take the time to apply. You don’t make the final cut. You don’t get any exposure.

With Boards and OnePager it becomes easy to not only announce the finalists and winners, but to also help everyone who applied get some exposure. In our experience, this makes it easier to gather submissions as there is a minimum value founders are guaranteed to get rather than there being a chance of receiving nothing for their efforts. This is possible because you already have all of their information in an easily presentable format thanks to OnePager and it’s already shareable thanks to Boards.

With everything in one place it already - it takes no extra effort to include OnePagers from teams that didn’t make the cut and we’ve seen some great teams get some great exposure because of it!

Interested in using Boards for your pitch competition or demo day?

Boards is currently free and being released upon request. Just shoot us an email at adam@onepager.vc and we can get you all set up from there!

If you’re looking for more information about OnePager and Boards you can also check out the rest of our blog here for similar content.

Next: Case Study: How Investor Day Helped HiHome Raise a Pre-Seed Round
Prev: Use OnePager to Stand Out when Recruiting

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