IdeaFunding pitch competition returns with over $70,000 in prizes

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Calling all startups and entrepreneurs! Southern Arizona’s largest pitch competition is back and applications for the 2023 IdeaFunding competition are now live.

It’s the largest and longest entrepreneurial conference and pitch competition in southern Arizona. It's co-led by Startup Tucson and the University of Arizona Center for Innovation.

“So ultimately, IdeaFunding is like a Shark Tank style pitch competition, where the main stage presenters get an opportunity to win over $70,000 in prizes," said Eric Smith, Executive Director for University of Arizona Center for Innovation.

The stage is set for startups to showcase innovation and entrepreneurship.

"The goal is to highlight Arizona's companies. So they have the opportunity to learn how to page to display their companies and to get support from our communities," said Smith.

Jeremy Wolf pitched his company MindReady during last year's competition where he gained valuable insight that took him a long way.

“It was validation that we were on the right path, that we had a really good idea, that we had a really good way to communicate what it is that we want to do," said Wolf. "We're not selling a product or even a service. We'd like to say that we're selling team culture, winning environments, and that's harder to sell them a water bottle.”

MindReady is sport psychology coaching and education for athletes and their families. Giving athletes a voice of reason through solution based programs is what his startup is all about— and it started on that stage.

“They would come up to me after and go, that's a really good presentation. I really liked how you said this. I didn't like how you said this, that immediate feedback is really valuable," said Wolf. "I just want to make sure that every time I speak I come back to the foundations that I learned from IdeaFunding.”

120 applicants went through the competition last tear. Smith hopes to match or exceed that number again this year.

"Southern Arizona or Arizona in general, truly is becoming a central hub for innovation, for new technology, for startup activity and we have the communities to support them," said Smith.

Applications are open to early-stage Arizona companies. The companies have to have fewer than 10 full-time employees and less than $500,000 from a loan or grant to qualify.

The application deadline is Aug. 28 and the competition will take place on Nov. 9 during the TENWEST Impact Festival. For more information, visit their website.