Apply for U.Pitch

The 4th Annual U.Pitch National Elevator Pitch Competition and Showcase will take place on November 16, 2017 in Chicago. Applications closed on October 18, 2017 at 5:00pm CST. However, you may now register to attend this premier elevator pitch competition and showcase below. Get your tickets quickly – this event will sell out!



Application Requirements

Future Founders uses a general application for individuals wishing to apply for both the U.Pitch competition and the annual Fellowship Cohort. You will be prompted to select whether you wish to apply for just U.Pitch, just the Fellowship, or both at the same time at the beginning of the application. Learn more about the Fellowship here.

Before you begin the application, please ensure to complete the following:

  • Verify your eligibility to compete (see FAQ below).
  • Prepare a brief description of your business (140 characters or less)
  • Prepare a video with your 90-second pitch (Vimeo or YouTube. No slides permitted. See pitch examples in Frequently Asked Questions below.)

2017/18 Video Requirements

  • Video must be no longer than 90 seconds
  • Video must be uploaded to Vimeo or YouTube
  • If privately listed, must include access for Future Founders to review it.
  • Video must be of one person pitching – no slides or promotional videos permitted. 
  • Video editing does not factor into acceptance. Judging is on pitch content only.


Competition Timeline

  • August 9, 2017: Applications open on August 9, 2017.
  • October 18, 2017: Submit your application and 90-second elevator pitch video before 5:00pm CST.
  • October 25, 2017: An application review committee will review applications and announce Semifinalists.
  • November 1-3, 2017: Semifinalists will each attend one virtual information session in preparation for the November 16 Competition and Showcase.
  • November 16, 2017: Semifinalists will need to arrive at 1871 in Chicago by 1:45pm CST. They then will pitch before a private panel of judges to determine which 6 semifinalists will advance to the live finals round, beginning at 6:00pm CST. Winners will be announced at the conclusion of the event at 8:30pm.



Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to compete?

U.Pitch applicants must:

  • Be currently enrolled as a college student, have graduated from an undergraduate or graduate program within the past six months, or be in transition between school opportunities
  • Have started a company OR simply have an idea to start a company (must be a for-profit venture and headquartered in the United States)

*Note: Current or former members of the Future Founders Fellowship (or companies represented by current or former members) are not eligible to compete in U.Pitch. Other finalists from previous years’ competitions may compete, but only with a different business or idea than used previously.

Can I use slides in my pitch?

Because U.Pitch is an elevator pitch competition, participants are not permitted to use any audio/visual equipment in their pitches (product demos are acceptable, but should be used sparingly during the 90 seconds). Pitch videos should be of the applicant delivering their pitch in person.

Can I exit the application and return later?

Unfortunately, no. You must complete the application in one session. If you have your 90-second video ready to go, this should not take longer than 20-30 minutes.

Does Future Founders cover travel expenses to get to U.Pitch?

Future Founders does not cover any travel/lodging expenses you may incur as a part of participating in U.Pitch. We recommend services like SpotHero to find affordable parking and AirBnb for lodging alternatives.

Will video editing help me get selected as a semifinalist?

No, editing does not play a role in acceptance into the competition. The application review committee will judge each pitch strictly based on content and delivery.

What criteria will the judges be looking for in pitches?

The judges will use three main criteria to judge each pitch:

  • Innovation–Does this solution provide a unique solution to fill a genuine market need?
  • Investability–Does the idea/business present potential for future growth and scale?
  • Traction–What progress has been made on the business so far?

What if not everyone on my team is a student?

Individuals are still eligible to compete even if not all team members are students. However, the individual who submits the pitch video (and, if selected, competes in the Semifinal/Final Round) must be eligible as a student or recent graduate.

What does a good pitch look like?

Watch these former U.Pitch applications to see what an ideal U.Pitch submission video looks like.


Have additional questions? Please contact