A fun and engaging way to teach entrepreneurship to youth is to host a pitch competition for young entrepreneurs.

Organizing and holding a pitch competition for young entrepreneurs is a great way for kids to get the word out about their potential business ideas and gain valuable presentation experience at the same time. A pitch competition can be held as an individual event or as part of a bigger event such as a youth entrepreneur summer camp or after-school program. Talking about your business idea is hard not only for young entrepreneurs but also any entrepreneur. A pitch competition for young entrepreneurs is a great way to help them become more comfortable communicating about it.

Here are 5 steps to help you get started hosting a pitch competition for young entrepreneurs:

1. Select a date for your Pitch competition for young entrepreneurs

Once you have decided that you want to host a pitch competition for young entrepreneurs you will need
to decide on a date. It may be a single event or part of a larger event such as a youth entrepreneur camp or class.  There are many ways you can run such an event based on your needs and what you want to achieve.

When you are running a pitch competition for young entrepreneurs as a stand alone event, it could be done in just one session or a couple sessions. If you run it in just one session it could be a single day or evening event. If you want to do a more in-depth
session you could split it into two or three sessions. Session 1 would be teach them about what is a pitch is and what to include. Session 2 would be for practice and Session 3 would be the actual pitch competition.

If you are planning on adding a pitch competition for young entrepreneurs to an already planned entrepreneurial camp or class it would make a great ending to that class. You would want to have a session earlier to teach about elevator pitches and give time for them to practice. Pitch competitions are often really looked forward to and will help keep attendance high
throughout the event if held at the end of the event.

2. Find Judges for the Pitch Competition for young entrepreneurs

Pitch competitions require judges to help decide winners of the competition. It is always best to find an
odd number of judges for the competition (so there aren’t ties). Typically, 3-5 judges are enough for a pitch competition for
young entrepreneurs.

Who should judge your pitch competition for young entrepreneurs? If you are looking to run a pitch
competition you probably have a background as an entrepreneur or like to encourage entrepreneurial
ideas. Use your connections as an entrepreneur to find your judges. Local business leaders, bankers
and other lenders, other startup owners or entrepreneurs can make great judges for pitch competitions for young entrepreneurs. They often like to see future entrepreneurs in action and it can be a very rewarding experience for them.

3. How to Judge a Pitch Competition for Young Entrepreneurs

Make it easy on your judges by creating a rubric or judging sheet to help them come up with a winner. By
creating a way to judge the competitors you can compare the pitches with similar guidelines. This will
also help the young entrepreneurs giving the pitches because they will have some criteria to form their
pitches around (it should be shared with them when they are creating their pitches).

Here are some suggestions for setting up your rubric to judge the pitch competition for young entrepreneurs. Include market opportunity,
the problem they are solving and how they are solving it, an explanation of the product or service, their background and team, presentation skills and what is the expected sales or return on investment. Using the rubric as a guideline will help the young entrepreneurs give more successful and in depth pitches and helps them to get the most of the experience.

4. Find Donations for Prizes or Sponsors

The best way to increase interest and participation for your pitch competition for young entrepreneurs is to have prizes and awards. Getting people and/or organizations to sponsor a pitch competition for young entrepreneurs might be easier than you think. Sometimes it is as simple as talking to some of the judges as their companies might want to sponsor your event.

Cash prizes are typically best for pitch events, but other opportunities can be really useful as well. Maybe
you have a mastermind group that requires a membership and giving the winner access to the group or
mentorship program.

If you are looking to raise money it is often similar to how you look for judges. Ask local businesses if they
are willing to donate to your pitch competition for young entrepreneurs. You can sell sponsorship spots (with offered signage and advertising) to local businesses to help you raise money for prizes.

5. Get the Word Out about your pitch competition for young entrepreneurs

You can start getting the word out by communicating with people in your network. If you already run youth entrepreneurship programs, you can have students help by inviting their friends and family members and asking them to help spread the word.  Work with other surrounding communities and let them know about your pitch competition for young entrepreneurs. Make sure the judges and sponsors are also helping promote the event. You can also add it to your LinkedIn network and other social media as well.

Other options would be to contact your local media – they may find this as a great special interest story.  If your community has a local newspaper, you might have one of the young entrepreneurs write a story for it.  You can also post fliers around the community and if you are part of a school or church that has a newsletter these can be great places also.

Holding a pitch competition for young entrepreneurs not only gives the kids an opportunity to learn and grow. It teaches them lifelong skills such as communication and presentation and can build their confidence from a young age.

If you would like to learn more about the value of teaching young entrepreneurs email juliewood@eseedling.com or visit the eseedling website. You can also watch Julie’s TedX talk on the value of youth entrepreneurship.