Round 1 – Pitch Competition

Modified from previous years, the Elevator Pitch Competition will be open only to Semi-Finalists who are accepted into the Accelerator Business Launch Competition. The short, 90-second elevator pitch gives competitors a great opportunity to boil down their pitches into what is most important. Competitors will also be able to use this as a chance to practice a pitch in front of a crowd with relatively low stakes! The elevator pitch competition Semi-Finalist will automatically qualify to be a Finalist in the SMU Cox Startup Launch competition and win pre-seed funding. The competition winners will be placed in two different tiers. Tier 1 Semi-Finalist judges select the top three teams or companies to be awarded non-dilutive pre-seed funding. The remaining teams will be placed in Tier 2 Semi-Finalist round.

Pitch Competition Rules

  • Pitches must be no longer than 90 seconds. Pitches will be hard stopped at the 90-second mark. Time begins when the presenter begins speaking.
  • No visual aids, index cards, slides, or props of any kind, including wearables and logos, may be used during the pitch.
  • There will be a question and answer period following the pitches.
  • The presenter must be physically present and give the elevator pitch live, in person. The winners must also be present to claim their prizes.
  • Presenters will be scheduled to present in random order.

Round 2 – Business Plan Submission and Judging

For Round 2, all Semi-Finalists will submit their full 10-page business plan through The business plan is evaluated and Finalists determined.

Format: Adobe PDF files only. 12pt font, 1” margin, double spaced

Length: 10 pages Max in the plan, following the outline found on the website. Additional 5-page max appendix allowed for diagrams or other illustrations only. These pages are for illustration only and will not be factored into the judging rubric.

Prerequisite(s): Graduate or Undergraduate students and recently graduated SMU alumni Semi-Finalists

Judging: Various leaders from the Dallas business community with relevant subject matter expertise and CGEC Leadership team.

Output: Finalists

Finalist Round – SMU Business Launch Competition

Format: Teams will present their new venture in a slideshow format live in front of a live audience and a panel of expert judges in Crum Auditorium.

Length: 10-minute presentation per team followed by 5 minutes of Judges Q&A

Prerequisite(s): Finalists must send FINAL Presentation decks by March 24, 2022, at 5:00 pm. Due to technology restraints, presentations cannot be changed after this deadline.

Judging: Various leaders from the Dallas business community with relevant subject matter expertise. Judges typically come from successful start-ups, VC/PE firms, business accelerators/incubators, entrepreneurial law and marketing firms, SMU MBA faculty, etc.

Other Info: Finalists will be provided a study room as a “green room” on the day of the event. Finalists will not be allowed to see other presentations until AFTER they have presented. Finalist orders will be drawn at random, and concessions will not be made for schedule conflicts.

Winners Announcement: The winner will be announced at the SMU Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club Investors Dinner.