The Elevator Pitch Competition is held at the annual banquet. One student representative from each of the participating colleges has the opportunity to sell his/her idea to community bankers who serve as judges via a ninety second "Elevator Pitch".
Three winners are chosen that evening: First ($1,000 prize), Second ($750 prize), and Third ($500 prize).
The HGCF Entrepreneurship Initiative Elevator Pitch competition has been supported by the following banks:
- Berkshire Bank
- Country Bank for Savings
- First Niagara Bank
- United Bank
- Westfield Bank
Each college or university has a system in place to choose the candidate that will compete on its behalf. Some colleges run an elevator competition on campus with an independent panel of judges who choose the best candidate to move to the live elevator pitch. Others vote through their students organizations. For information about a specific institution's protocol, contact the Faculty Advisor at the institution of interest.
Judges evaluate pitches based 50 percent on feasibility (demonstration there is a need or market) and 50 percent on the quality of the presentation.
The main competition at the annual entrepreneurship banquet is considered Round 2. It takes place at the Annual HGCF EI Awards Ceremony and Banquet in late April at The Log Cabin in Holyoke, Massachusetts. At the live competition, students are called in random order to give their elevator pitches. Again, each student has only ninety seconds.
In Round 2, the judges are area commercial bankers who are accustomed to making decisions regarding financing new business ventures. Judges chose winners based solely on the caliber of the ninety second pitches. This means participants are allowed to use one 3x5 note card, but not allowed to use any technology, handouts, or props.
The finalist and a guest received free admission to the banquet. Students who participate in Round 1 are encouraged to attend the banquet to support their institutions' representative and hear some excellent pitches. The cost per ticket is only $12 per student and $30 for non-students. Those interested in attending the banquet should contact their college's faculty advisor from their institution.
To be eligible, participants must be:
- Undergraduate or graduate students enrolled at one of the participating institutions during the current academic year.
- Individuals or teams of two students.
Students chosen to represent their college in the live Elevator Pitch Competition are available to deliver their pitches in person at the April Banquet. See the 2016 winners.