Will the next innovative business emerge through social media? MIT $100K launches YouTube pitch contest

In the world of entrepreneurship, 60 seconds can make or break a new venture. It’s long enough for an “elevator pitch” and therefore long enough for an investor to decide whether it’s worth spending the time to learn more. While the business plan remains an important element of fundraising, the ability to capture a VC’s imagination in a short and persuasive pitch is increasingly critical.

To inspire innovative ideas from students around the world – and encourage them to focus their business concepts into powerful 60-second pitches – the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition is trying something new this year. In addition to the traditional competition in which MIT students compete for the best business plans, we’re introducing our first ever video pitch contest called “YouPitch” that is open to any student with a business idea, webcam and an Internet connection.

Participants in the YouPitch contest must submit a 60-second video clip of their pitch and upload it onto YouTube. We’re encouraging them to use their social networks to promote their pitches and try to get as many “likes” and “re-tweets” as possible. The three video pitches voted most popular as of May 1 will then go to a final round of judging. The winner will receive a $2,000 cash prize as well as a free trip to MIT to attend our $100K Business Plan finale show on May 11.

The beauty of using social media channels is that it allows us to open up this competition to the world. Some really cool and innovative ideas have been pitched in past MIT $100K contests with the winners gaining traction for their ideas with potential investors and advisors.

A good example is the winner of our Twitch Contest last year, which required contestants to pitch their business idea in 140 characters or less on Twitter. Not only did the winning team take home the $500 prize, it also received an unexpected donation of $19,000 from former Reebok CEO Paul Fireman, who was the keynote speaker at the event.

And if you look at the results of the 100K business plan competition since its launch in 1989, they’re pretty impressive. The contest has led to the creation of over 150 companies that are cumulatively worth over $16 billion. They have generated 4,600 jobs and received $1.3 billion in VC funding. Successes include Akamai, net.Genesis, Hubspot, Zipcar, and Harmonix.

So if you’re in the area on May 11, please join us at the finale show to hear the finalists’ business plans and meet the winner of the YouPitch Competition. If you can’t make it, then be sure to check out the pitch videos on our Facebook page.

Kourosh Kaghazian, MIT Sloan MBA ’12, is the managing director of the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition 

Submit your innovative business plan: http://www.mit100k.org/contests/youpitch/

Attend the  $100K Entrepreneurship Competition:  http://www.mit100k.org/

Follow the YouPitch entries on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/mit100k

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