Innovation Pitch Competition – Online Event

Innovation Pitch Competition Apply by March 31, 2024, woman standing and presenting in a conference in front of group of people sitting at conference table

All SF State undergraduate or graduate students with an innovative business idea or startup are invited to compete in the annual Innovation Pitch Competition. This year, the top three pitches share $10,000 in cash prizes!

2024 Competition has passed. Click here to access a recording and results. 

Check back in academic year 2024/2025 for information on the 2025 Innovation Pitch Competition. 

Whether your entrepreneurial idea is in the ideation phase or ready for angels and seed, this is a great opportunity to get feedback from seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and business faculty. Put your idea to paper and see if it’s got wings to take off! (A little prize money doesn’t hurt either!)

☆  $10,000 in Pitch Prize Awards  ☆

First Place Second Place Third Place
$5000 $3000 $2000


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  • Applications Open: March 4, 2024
  • Applications Close: March 31, 2024
  • Acceptance Notification:  April 9, 2024
  • Innovation Pitch Competition Day: April 12, 2024, 1:00p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (via Zoom)


How It Works

The founder or co-founder must be a currently enrolled SF State student. The pitch competition is open to business and entrepreneurial ideas and startups from all industries and at any stage in the startup cycle.

Submit an application and pitch deck by March 31, 2024.

  • All entries will be reviewed, and finalists will be notified via text and email, on April 9, 2024.
  • Selected entries will be invited to present live, in front of a panel of judges on April 12, 2024.
  • Winners will be announced on the same day as the competition.
  • Review the full list of Terms & Conditions.

The preliminary round of judging focuses on finding a compelling and convincing innovation or entrepreneurial story, based on what is presented on a 10-15 side pitch deck (PDF and PPT files accepted only).

The most successful entries have typically demonstrated:

  • A clear value proposition for a clearly defined target market
    Who is the prototypical consumer of your innovation, and why would they pay for your solution? What problem of theirs does your innovation solve? What need(s) does your innovation fulfill?
  • A clear explanation of how you are able to solve the consumer’s problem
    How or why does your solution work? What enables your solution to fulfill customer needs better than anything/anyone else out there?
  • Technical proof of concept 
    Has a prototype or MVP been created, tested, and iterated with users? Does the technology or innovation work? How realistic and achievable is the underlying solution given the work that has already been done, the technical expertise of the founders, and the existing research and development that has already taken place? 
  • Traction in the marketplace
    Is there demonstrated product-market fit? Do you have evidence that your idea or prototype is desirable to, adopted by, or sought after by a market?
  • A well-articulated revenue model
    How does this innovation generate revenue? What recurring revenues streams are created? Who’s paying, and how are they paying for your offering?
  • A founding team that is set up for success
    Does the founding team have the right technical expertise to execute on the innovation? Is this something that the founders will continue to pursue after graduation?



Nancy Hayes

Nancy Hayes has been an active angel investor since 2014 and has a portfolio of more than 30 companies and 6 funds.  She serves as a mentor to entrepreneurs, with a particular focus on women entrepreneurs and founders of color, by providing feedback on strategy, advising them on presenting to investors and providing introductions where appropriate.  Nancy is a frequent guest speaker, panelist, and judge at pitch events.  She also provides training for those who are considering becoming angel/venture investors.

Nancy was a senior executive of the IBM Corporation for almost 20 years and then served as CEO of two social services nonprofit organizations, the STARBRIGHT Foundation and WISE Senior Services.  She became the Dean of the College of Business at San Francisco State University in 2005 and then was Vice President of Finance/CFO and Chief Administrative Officer of San Francisco State from 2011 to 2013. Nancy was cofounder in 2013 of a rewards-based crowdfunding site for women with small businesses called MoolaHoop and then transitioned to angel investing.  Nancy served as a Managing Director of the Golden Seeds angel group Silicon Valley chapter for 3 years.

Nancy has an MBA from the University of Chicago and lives in San Francisco.


Adrian Lai

Adrian is COO at Stochastic, which helps Fortune 500 companies to build their own in-house AI for automating customer support and decision workflows. Previously, he was Head of Operations at Wonderschool (a leading childcare marketplace), and also worked at Facebook, Oculus, McKinsey, Houzz and Spin Scooters.


Nelly Liu

Nelly Liu is a serial entrepreneur with an impressive track record in building and scaling businesses. As the Founder and CEO of Weavive, she leads an end-to-end textile waste recycling service provider and upcycled natural fiber materials and products manufacturer. Prior to Weavive, Nelly founded and served as the CEO of ZCycle, where she spearheaded the establishment of a 10,000 ton battery recycling facility. Under her leadership, ZCycle's team expanded to 45 members, revenue surged to USD $7M, and the company's valuation reached USD $71M. Notably, Nelly played a pivotal role in obtaining prestigious certifications from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), distinguishing ZCycle as the sole recipient among over 500 applicants in 2022.

With over 14 years of experience, Nelly excels in accelerating growth at startups, leveraging her expertise in sales, marketing, product launch, and devising new market strategies. Her remarkable abilities have facilitated successful acquisitions for three startups, further solidifying her reputation as a dynamic and results-driven entrepreneur.


Arjang Parsa

Arjang is the Chief Product & Technology Officer of Siteimprove. An executive technical leader with deep expertise in enterprise customer strategy, he has spent the last decade developing and executing such plans at HPE, Microsoft, and most recently AWS. During his time at AWS, he led the customer solutions architects and go-to-market plans for 35+ services, driving a revenue increase from $0.3B to $1.5B within 36 months. As Siteimprove’s CPTO, Arjang is building a unified vision for how our product and technology departments approach product development, ensuring technological feasibility aligns with market needs and business goals. Prior to entering the enterprise tech space, he was a software engineer before earning his MBA in Manchester, and then founder of a tech consultancy in Canada that served clients including American Express, Microsoft Canada, CBIC (Canada Imperial Bank of Commerce).

Past Results