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West Virginia Hive, WVU Tech Launch Lab seeking entries for 2024 Pitch Southern West Virginia Business Idea Competition

Deadline for entrepreneurs to submit proposals is March 23

BECKLEY, W.Va. – The West Virginia Hive, in partnership with the West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech) Launch Lab, will host their next Pitch Southern West Virginia Business Idea Competition on April 23, 2024, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the WVU Tech campus in Beckley, W.Va. The deadline for entrepreneurs to apply is March 23.

Diana Woods, director of the WVU Tech Launch Lab who is serving as coordinator of the event, said, “The Pitch Southern West Virginia competition will look a little different this spring. The format has been restructured from ‘community’ and ‘student’ divisions to ‘incubation’ and ‘ideation’ divisions.” She said the incubation division is for entrepreneurs who have already registered their business and have made their first sales. The ideation division is for those who have not yet registered their business or who have registered but have not made their first sales.

“We felt these changes were needed in order to group competitors in their respective stages of start-up, so they compete with others at the same level, as well as, to encourage new innovators to participate in the competition,” said Woods. “The ideation division is ideal for students and individuals who want to get early feedback on their ideas and to gain valuable pitch experience but are not yet ready to launch their business.”

Woods said a panel of judges will select the winners and award $5,000 in prizes. The funding for the awards is from private contributors. Woods said the upcoming pitch competition is open to residents and businesses located in Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas, Summers, Webster, Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Monroe, Mercer, Wyoming, McDowell, Logan and Mingo Counties and WVU Tech students, faculty and staff. Entries to the business idea competition are limited to entrepreneurs of new start-ups and businesses in operation for less than three years.

Woods said the deadline to submit an application is 11:59 p.m., Saturday, March 23, 2024. Apply online at https://wvhive.com/business-idea-competition/

Judy Moore, executive director of the WV Hive and deputy director of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, said a panel of judges will evaluate the entries to the Pitch Southern West Virginia Business Idea Competition and select finalists to present in-person on April 23. She said all finalists will be provided additional details and afforded opportunities for coaching on how to create a winning pitch presentation.

During the in-person competition, each entrepreneur will have five minutes to present their business idea to a panel of judges and explain why it is innovative and how it will make a difference to residents of southern West Virginia. Each presentation will be followed by a brief question and answer period with the judges. Prizes awarded include:

Incubation Division: First place: $2,000; Second place: $1,000; Third place: $750

Ideation Division: One prize: $1,000

Audience Favorite: $250

Prize money must be used to further the business idea. WVU Tech students also have the option of using it toward their education.

Woods said a popular element of the competition is the “audience favorite” award. Everyone in attendance will have an opportunity to vote and the entrepreneur who receives the most votes will win $250. Those interested in sponsoring should contact Beth Epperson at [email protected] or 304-460-4483. All sponsorship funds are provided to the contestants as winnings.

“The Hive and Launch Lab have been amazed by entrants in past competitions,” said Moore. “We have seen the winners go on to do remarkable things and the winnings helped them grow and refine their business plans. We are honored to offer these opportunities for entrepreneurial growth throughout southern West Virginia.”

The WV Hive is the entrepreneurship program of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority. Its 13-county service area includes Raleigh, Fayette, Summers, Nicholas, Braxton, Webster, Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Monroe, Mercer, McDowell, and Wyoming counties. More information about the WV Hive can be found at wvhive.com.

WVU Tech has been training leaders for more than 125 years. Ranked in the top 15% of earning potential in the country by PayScale and #1 in West Virginia for return on investment, WVU Tech has a reputation for producing career-ready leaders in the engineering, humanities, business and health care industries. More information is available at wvutech.edu.

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