InnoVentures 2023

Advanced public speaking course + business pitch competition

What is InnoVentures?

InnoVentures is an advanced public speaking course culminating in a competitive pitch event for graduates of the Ventures Business Basics Course or Business Development Training who are currently in business and are ready to scale. “Scaling” means promoting a new product, introducing an innovation to your field, or growing your customer base. The 4-week public speaking course equips you to deliver a refined business pitch to a judge panel for feedback (and cash prizes!) at the final event, which will feature pitches from all participants and a business showcase. The final pitch event will take place during the day on Saturday, November 4, 2023. The course will run four consecutive weeks starting on Thursday, October 5, with one optional class before the November 4 pitch event.

Course participants will be divided into cohorts based on industry (service, product and food) with the goal of creating a high-quality 3-minute business pitch that will be helpful for business beyond InnoVentures. For example, content developed in InnoVentures pitches can be used for loan committee presentations, investor meetings, commercial or wholesale client customer pitches, speaking with government officials, advertising, and more! All Ventures entrepreneurs who complete the program will receive a cash award, feedback from judges, and the chance to win a bonus award for earning first place in their cohort.


Who can participate?

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

How it works & Competition Timeline

See full timeline and program dates below.

In the past, InnoVentures has been a tier-style competition where contestants were eliminated in each round. This year, Innoventures will take place as a five week advanced training course with up to 30 eligible applicants participating from beginning to end. The intention is to give as many of our clients access to coaching and strategy needed to refine a pitch as well as feedback from high-level judges that are experts in their fields of service, product or food. In your pitch, you have three minutes to address four categories in the Judging Rubric: Customer Need & Market Demand, Feasibility, Presentation, and Tabling/Outreach.

The training and support built in to help you prepare your business pitch will take place over (5) weeks in a hybrid format. The first session (Thursday, 10/5) and last session (Thursday, 10/26) will be in-person at the Ventures office in South Seattle, and the second and third sessions (Thursdays, 10/12 and 10/19) will be virtual via Zoom. The final pitch event will take place on Saturday, 11/4 from 9 AM-3 PM. You’ll work with coaches to develop and refine your pitch throughout the five weeks leading up to competition day.  See full timeline and program dates below.

Please note: Applications are now closed for 2023. 

black and silver microphone on stand

2023 InnoVentures Program Key Dates







Format & Location

Registration open Online application Monday 11-Sep 12:00 PM (noon)
Registration closed Online application Monday 25-Sep 11:59 PM
Applicants informed 10 participants selected at random from qualified applications for each cohort for a total of 30 participants Friday 29-Sep 5:00 PM
Session One Introduce structure of course, coaches, and Judging Rubric // Meet in individual cohorts Thursday 5-Oct 6 pm- 8:30 pm Ventures Seattle Office (2100 24th Ave S, Seattle, 98144)
Session Two Feasibility and Numbers workshop // Pitch Outline // Cohort Breakout session Thursday 12-Oct 6 pm-8:30 pm Virtual Online Meeting via ZOOM
Session Three Display Table and One sheet for judges // Complete pitch content // Peer review of pitch content Thursday 19-Oct 6 pm- 8:30 pm Virtual Online Meeting via ZOOM
Session Four Present to other cohorts // Receive judging rubric feedback // Pitch refinement with coaches Thursday 26-Oct 6 pm-8:30 pm Ventures Seattle Office
Final (optional) Rehearsal Optional but recommended: Thursday evening for those who wish// Special Guest coaches to come and hear pitches // Final feedback Thursday 2-Nov 6 pm-8:30 pm Ventures Seattle Office
InnoVentures Final Presentations begin at 10:00 am with 15 minute breaks in between cohort groups. Arrive at 9 am to set up displays. Saturday 4-Nov 9 am-3 pm Ventures Seattle Office

Rules & Regulations

Mission & Competition Overview
  • InnoVentures is an advanced public speaking course and business pitch 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 event that welcomes the public to get to know the work of Ventures and Ventures businesses.
  • Up to 30 eligible applicants will be accepted to the five- week course culminating in the final pitch competition at the Ventures Office (2100 24th Ave S, Seattle 98144) on Saturday, 11/4 from 9:00 am-3:00 pm.
  • InnoVentures is exclusively for graduates of the Ventures Business Basics Course or Business Development Training who have made sales in the last 90 days.
  • In addition, to be eligible you must:
    • Have an independent, for-profit business; 
    • Have a current, valid Washington State Business License and be able to provide the UBI number;
    • Have all additional licenses and permits required for current business operations;
    • Have a business checking account to receive prize funds; and
    • Be able to attend all four trainings (two virtual, two in-person) and the in-person final event. See calendar for details.
  • Please note: Priority for participation in InnoVentures this year will go to eligible applicants who have not participated in past years. If you have participated in InnoVentures in the past, you will be put on a waitlist and we will contact you by the notification deadline (September 29th) if space is available.
Important Dates & Commitments

Please review the above table and input all dates into your calendar.

Judging Rubric

Judges score pitches from 1-5 points in four categories: Customer Need & Market Demand, Feasibility, Presentation, and Tabling/Outreach.

  • The first place winner in each cohort will receive $2750. All other contestants will receive $500 for participating in all four training classes and the final pitch event. Participation in the final pitch event requires both giving a 3-minute business pitch and tabling.
  • In addition, each contestant will receive up to a $250 stipend to prepare a table display representing their business.
  • Checks for prize funds will be written out to the business (business must have a business checking account).
Competition Rules
  • Judges will use the InnoVentures 2023 Judging Rubric to score pitches. The maximum score is 20 points, 5 points in each judge category. Final scores are calculated by adding the average of all judge scores for each category. 
  • There will be one first place winner from each category of business (Service, Product, and Food-Based) for a total of 3 first place winners.
  • Tie policy:
    • If there are any ties, judges will convene to break the tie(s).
Pitch Rules
  • 3 minutes. That is the time limit. 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. 
  • One presenter. All pitches will be given live by one (1) presenter. No tag-teaming, etc.
  • Attendance will be strictly enforced. You must attend all 4 training sessions and participate in the final pitch event to qualify for a cash prize.


Who is Innoventures a good fit for?
  • Business owners who are looking to grow their business by growing their customer base.
    • An example might be as simple as using this three-minute pitch as paid advertising on Instagram or other social media platforms to boost sales. This pitch could live on your website landing page.
    • If you are a service business, your pitch is really baked into how you set yourself apart from other businesses in your field.
    • If you are product business, this is good practice for pitching to new potential wholesale clients.
    • Business onwers who are pitching to investors or government contracts, or who are attending networking events.
      • If you have a business plan that requires investment, having a refined, clear pitch is imperative.
      • While you may not use all three minutes of your pitch at a networking event, having clear talking points will work to your benefit when engaging at networking events.
        I participated in InnoVentures last year or in a previous year. Can I still apply?

        Priority for participation in InnoVentures this year will go to eligible applicants who have not participated in past years. If you have participated in InnoVentures in the past, you are welcome to apply, but will be placed on a waitlist and we will contact you by the notification deadline (September 29th) if space is available.

        Can I meet with a coach if I need support?
        • Yes, and this is highly encouraged! If you are already working with a Ventures coach, please contact them directly for support. If you need support finding a coach, contact Miri at
        I am not a fluent English speaker, can I still participate?

        Innoventures is a completely new format this year and we are launching in English. You will not be judged on language skills and we encourage to pitch in English if you can. If you speak Spanish and would prefer to present in Spanish, we may be able to accommodate this. Please get in touch with Miri at (Si hablas español, y prefieres presentar en español, es posible que podamos adaptarnos a eso. Por favor comuníquese con Miri en Ventures is excited to present  a new format for InnoVentures this year, and we will apply our learnings from this year to expand offerings for speakers of other languages in the future.

        Are the trainings in person and/or virtual?

        Because the final event is in-person, it is important that participants become comfortable with presenting in front of a group in person. However, we recognize that virtual trainings may allow more of our busy entrepreneurs to participate. Therefore, two trainings will be in-person, and two will be virtual. Please see the above calendar for the in person and virtual dates.

        When and how will I receive my cash prize for participating?
        • You will receive one check for up to $250.00 at the end of the fourth training session to pay for any supplies you may want to purchase or prepare for your display table.
        • If you win first place in your cohort, you will win $2750.00. All other participants who complete the course and present on November 4th will win $500.00. These checks will be issued in the week after the InnoVentures event.
        When will I receive the table display stipend?

        You will receive one check for up to $250 at the end of the fourth training session to pay for any supplies you may want to purchase or prepare for your display table. Checks will be made out to your business.

        Can I still participate in InnoVentures if I miss a class session? If I have to miss a class session, how can I receive the training materials?

        You must participate in all four trainings in order to present on November 4th and to qualify for cash prizes.

        If you miss a class, you may make it up by attending the optional class on November 2nd. If you miss more than one class, you are welcome to continue to participate in the course, however you will not be eligible to present or receive cash prizes.

        Can I invite my friends and family to the final event on November 4th?

        Absolutely! The event on November 4th will be a free community event! All are welcome!

        Who do I contact with questions?

        Please contact Miri Plowman, Business Scaling Specialist, at

        See Past InnoVentures Finalist Pitches!

        Before reviewing the pitches below, please note: The requirements for your pitch is different this year. Please read the updated pitch rules below.

        You may consider these pitches for inspiration. These finalists demonstrate a balance of style and tone and speak concretely of financial feasibility. You don’t necessarily need to consider format and content.

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