All applicants were notified of their application status on Tuesday, August 16. If you applied and did not receive an email, please contact us at innoventures(at)venturesnonprofit.org.

What is InnoVentures?

InnoVentures is Ventures’ annual business competition focused on innovation. InnoVentures 2022 puts your business in the spotlight to develop and present on a new product/service, process, or strategy that would strengthen your business. Through training and support from pitch coaches, InnoVentures gives you the opportunity to create a professional five-minute pitch for your business. You will gain confidence and public speaking skills as a business owner while competing for prizes. All participants receive a prize with first place winning $6,000.

To watch finalist pitches from previous InnoVentures, click here!

Who can participate?

All graduates of Ventures’ 8-week Business Basics Course or Business Development Training are invited to apply. See below for eligibility criteria.

How it works & Competition Timeline

InnoVentures is a tier-style competition that challenges you to pitch your business or business idea to a panel of judges. In your pitch, you have five minutes to address the 2022 pitch prompt: What new product/service, process, or strategy would strengthen your business? Judges score your pitch in five categories: Customer Need & Market Demand, Innovation, Vision, Feasibility, and Presentation. 
InnoVentures has support and training built in to help you prepare your business pitch, including “how-to” workshops and practice sessions with personalized feedback. Your InnoVentures journey starts in August as you craft your pitch to compete in preliminary competitions in September and early October. You’ll work with pitch coaches to develop and refine your pitch through practice pitch sessions and preliminary competitions with the goal of advancing to InnoVentures Finals on October 27 at Washington Hall. To get started, submit your InnoVentures application today. Applications open Tuesday, July 12 and close Sunday, August 11th at 11:59 pmFor more timeline specifics, continue reading to the next section!

Important Dates

Application opens Tuesday, July 12
“Before You Apply: InnoVentures Information Session.”

Hear from past InnoVentures winners on their experience competing in InnoVentures including their best tips & tricks to be successful in the competition. Plus, learn about the 2022 application and get your questions answered before you apply.

Register here!

Wednesday, 7/27
Application deadline Sunday, 8/11 11:59pm
Applicants notified Monday, 8/15
Applicants notified Monday, 8/15
InnoVentures Bootcamp

Learn everything you need to know about InnoVentures before you compete. Live via Zoom and will be recorded.

Wednesday, 8/17 6:30-8:00 pm
Pitch Practice Session #1
Live session via Zoom for you to practice your 5-minute pitch and receive feedback from your peers and our pitch coaches. Optional but highly encouraged to attend at least one practice session.
Tuesday, 8/23 6:00-8:00 pm
Pitch Practice Session #2 Thursday, 8/25 10:00 am-12:00 pm
Quarterfinals will be virtual via Zoom. Pitches will be recorded and the recording sent to judges for scoring. The top 15 scores will advance to Semifinals. Wednesday, 9/7

Semifinals will be an in-person pitch competition with Semifinalists pitching to a live judge panel. Semifinalists will have more support from pitch coaches and to practice sessions to prepare for pitching in-person. The top 5 scores will advance to Finals.

Semifinalists notified (top 15 scores advance to compete) Tuesday, 9/13
Semifinalists begin work with pitch coach Monday, 9/19
Pitch Practice Session for Semifinalists Thursday, 9/22

The InnoVentures Final Competition will be held in-person at Washington Hall on Thursday, October 27. It will be a ticketed event that is also a fundraiser for Ventures. Finalists will give their pitches to a live judge panel who will score on the spot to determine the InnoVentures 2022 winner.

Finalists notified Wednesday, 10/5
Pitch Practice Session for Finalists Thursday, 10/20
Dress Rehearsal Tuesday, 10/25 (TBD)
Final Event Thursday, 10/27

Rules & Regulations

InnoVentures is our premier event that elevates Ventures’ businesses and grows our community of entrepreneurship advocates. Our mission is three-fold:

  1. To prepare Ventures graduates for their next level of business ownership and growth,
  2. To provide opportunities for skill-building, networking, and resources to strengthen Ventures businesses, and
  3. To showcase the Ventures mission in action by promoting Ventures’ businesses to our community. The InnoVentures Final Event is both a pitch competition for Ventures graduates and a community fundraiser to support the Ventures mission.

InnoVentures is a hybrid pitch competition that has three tiers of competition: Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Finals. All who are eligible who apply will be accepted to the Quarterfinals. Quarterfinals will be held virtually via Zoom, where live pitches will be recorded and sent to the judges for scoring. Judge scores will determine the top 15 contestants who will advance to Semifinals. Semifinals and Finals will be in-person events with a live judge panel scoring the pitches. The 5 top scores at Semifinals will compete at InnoVentures Finals on Thursday, October 27, which will be a ticketed event open to the public at Washington Hall in Seattle.

InnoVentures is exclusively for graduates of the Ventures business course. Both start-up/pre-businesses (not making sales) and active businesses (making sales) are eligible to apply. To be eligible, you must:

  • Be a graduate of Ventures’ eight-week business course (Business Development Training or Business Basics Course)
  • Have (or plan to open) an independent, for-profit business 
  • Have a current, valid Washington State Business License and be able to provide the UBI number
  • If currently in business, your total annual sales in 2021 must be under $100,000/year, OR the monthly equivalent in 2022 if you weren’t in business in 2021.
  • If currently in business, you must have all additional licenses and permits required for current business operations, OR have a plan to obtain licensing needed.
  • If not currently in business, you must have a completed written business plan (Ventures Feasibility Plan or other written business plan) for your business idea.
  • Be able to attend the Semifinal and Final Competitions in-person, if you qualify.

Judges score pitches from 1-5 points in five categories: Customer Need & Market Demand, Innovation, Vision, Feasibility, and Presentation. Full judging rubric.

Cash prizes are bigger than ever this year with a total of $15,000 being awarded to the finalists alone. The first place winner will receive $6,000 and the four runners-up will receive at least $1,000.

New this year – Quarterfinalists and Semifinalists will also be eligible to receive cash prizes!! 

Pitches must address the 2022 pitch prompt: What new product/service, process, or strategy would strengthen your business?

Judges will use the InnoVentures 2022 Judging Rubric to score pitches, which will determine advancement in the competition. The maximum score is 25 points, 5 points in each judge category. Final scores are calculated by adding the average of all judge scores for each category. 

Tie policy:

  • Quarterfinals (15 qualify for Semifinals): In the event of a tie for 1st-14th place, only the top 15 contestants will be accepted (no 15th place). If there is a tie for 15th place, 16 contestants will be accepted to Semifinals.
  • Semifinals (5 qualify for Finals): If there is a tie for 1st-4th place, only the top 5 contestants will be accepted (no 5th place). If there is a tie for 5th place, judges will vote to break the tie. Only 5 will advance to finals.
  • Finals (1 wins): If there are any ties, judges will convene to break the tie(s).
  • 5 minutes. That is the time limit. Participants pitching in Spanish will have a 10-minute time limit to allow for interpretation. We will not cut you off mid-sentence, but you should finish your sentence/thought and end. Going over the time limit will be taken into account in the judging process. We will hold signs up at the following markers to let you know how much time is left: o   1 minute o  30 seconds o   STOP
  • One presenter. All pitches will be given live by one (1) presenter. No tag-teaming, etc.
  • Digital slide deck is required. Presentations can be in PowerPoint or Google Slides format. No PDFs, Prezi, etc.
  • Props. Minor props (singular items able to fit on a table) are allowed. If you wish to use a prop, let us know ahead of time.
  • No Q&A with judges. This is why it’s so important to hone in on what’s most essential to communicate in the 5-minute time limit.
  • No music or videos are allowed in presentations. Our events are at multiple venues with various types of equipment and past experience has taught us that allowing extraneous media always leads to technological failures. Note that slide animations are allowed, though over-use is not recommended.
  • Deadlines will be strictly enforced. If pitching in-person, we will ask you to submit your presentation by a deadline. We ask that you adhere to these deadlines and are in communication with us immediately if you have a problem. Otherwise, materials submitted after the deadline may not be accepted. This may seem harsh, but we have to compile all the presentations onto a single computer to be ready the next day. Please respect that we cannot wait up until midnight for you. Plan to send your presentation early and let us know immediately if you have problems.
  • Advancing slides:
    • For virtual pitching, you will screen share with the presentation open on your laptop screen and manually advance slides in the presentation. If you don’t have a laptop to screen share, please contact Ventures staff about borrowing one during the competition.
    • For in-person pitching, you must advance your own slides – manually. Presenters must advance their own slides using a clicker. A clicker will always be provided and you will be shown how to use it. This means that you cannot use timed presentations.

Previous Finalist Pitches