pitch: A competition for Black founders is back for year 2!

North Carolina Central University and Duke University invite early-stage founders, including students and recent alumni, to showcase your business, compete for cash and in-kind prizes, and build relationships with investors and other entrepreneurs.

April 8, 2022 at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Why apply?

Are you building a company and looking for connections to the right investors? Do you seek community with Black entrepreneurs? Beyond the possibility of prize money, pitch is focused on delivering a robust experience for the participating entrepreneurs. Expert feedback from knowledgeable investors in your industry. A right-sized cohort of entrepreneurs so you can be seen and mentored during and after the competition.

How it works

During pitch, student-founders and recent alumni founders from across the US will have the opportunity to showcase their business to investors who have committed to investing in Black-founded and Black-led growth businesses.

  • Open submission: Investors & experts will score and rank the submissions to select up to 16 semi-finalists.
  • Coaching and Peer mentoring: In advance of the event, semi-finalists will be paired with coaches – experienced entrepreneurs and investors – who will help refine each semi-finalist’s presentation. Semi-finalists will also receive a “success packet,” complete with templates, terms, and other readings to help prepare for the live pitches with investors.
  • Semi-finals (April 8, 2022): Groups of semi-finalists will pitch for a spot in the finals.
  • Finals (April 8, 2022): The winners of each track and a wildcard will advance to the finals for live pitches with investors.

Brought to you by The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the North Carolina Central University School of Business, in partnership with the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative and Resilient Ventures.


Teams and companies must meet all of the following requirements to be eligible to compete.


One founder, co-founder, or C-level executive who is a current student within one year of graduation or a recent alumnus (from the classes of 2017 – 2021) from a college or university in the US

US-based high-growth company

US-based team or company with the ability to grow outside of its current geographical region.


Pre-seed or seed stage companies that have raised less than $500,000 from external sources to-date. Founder investments do not count towards this total.

The objective of pitch is to help early-stage Black founders, including students, create access to funding for their businesses. This access may take the form of business coaching and competition prize money for the earliest idea-stage teams, and prize money and angel or VC investments for founders with more traction.

Acknowledging this reality, pitch founders will compete in two tracks, distinguished by the investment-readiness of the teams/companies:

  • Idea Track. Pre-MVP/pre-revenue teams that are have done the work to validate an idea with potential customers, and are looking for coaching and advice on a business model. Evaluations of these teams will center on the quality of the problem validation and suitability of the solution to address the problem.
  • Traction Track. Ventures that have an MVP and/or revenue that proves their business model has product-market fit. Teams will be looking for coaching and advice on how to scale. Evaluations of these teams will center on the ability to scale and the feasibility of the solutions presented.