About The Competition

Below is information about the competition including criteria and judging information.

Pismo Ventures National Venture Plan Competition


The objective of the competition is to provide a platform for entrepreneurs and startups to learn, compete, win prizes, and most of all to give them the opportunity to be heard by investors, angels and VCs. We strongly believe that innovation is the life of our society. It is Pismo Ventures’ goal to foster the startup ecosystem and for every entrepreneur to be provided with the support and direction needed to launch, grow and expand their business.

Venture Plan Categories

  • Business Products or Services (B2B)
  • Consumer Products or Services (B2C)
  • Life Sciences, Med Tech, Healthcare
  • Social Enterprise
  • Clean Technologies (Cleantech)
  • Financial Technologies (FinTech)
  • Hardware or Software Technology
  • AI, Blockchain, Robotics
  • Digital Solutions (Media, Web, App, E-Sports, etc…)
  • Other (Government, Military, Education, Sports, Opportunity Zone, etc…)

Submission Materials

Submitted materials will be evaluated based on the following rubric.

The Rounds

Round 1

  • Businesses compete for the top 100 winners
  • No pitch and no Q&A
  • Scoring will be based on submitted information
  • 100 winners will emerge

Round 2 – Live

  • Top 100 businesses compete for category winners
  • 5-minute pitch
  • 5-minute Q&A
  • 10 winners will emerge – 1 winner for each category

Round 3 – Live

  • Top 10 businesses compete for the grand overall competition winner
  • 12-minute pitch
  • 12-minute Q&A
  • 1 finalist overall winner will emerge

The Judging


The National Venture Plan Competition judges are experts in their fields, ranging from serial entrepreneurs that have started and exited businesses to seasoned investors with years of experience investing in startups or the combination of both. Our lineup of judges include Super Angels, VCs and Family Offices all here to find and/or help nurture the next unicorn.


The judging rubric shall consider at a minimum the following: Problem, Solution, Value Proposition, Addressable Target Market, Competition, Business Model, Product-Market-Fit, Product Development, Go-To-Market Strategy, Sustainable Competitive Advantage, Intellectual Property, Distribution Channels, Financial Projections, Sales Cycle, Scalability, Funding, Team, Coachability, Presentation, and Q&A.


Each of the criterion will be scored on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is the lowest score and 10 being the highest possible score.  The scores will be added to produce an overall total per application.  The applicants with the highest scores will move from one round to the next.


In-Kind Prizes

For the most part, all competition applicants will receive in-kind prizes ranging from software subscriptions to AWS credits to professional services. Information below.

All Applicants - In-Kind Prizes
  1. Amazon AWS – $1,000 in AWS credit!
  2. KPMG – 1 month free Sparks software subscription – a $600 value!
Top 10 Competitors - In-Kind Prizes - EACH OF THE TOP 10 WINNER - A VALUE OF MORE THAN $25000 EACH!
  1. Stripe – Get $15,000 Stripe payment processing credits!
  2. AWS – Get $5,000 in AWS credit for 2 years!
  3. KPMG – 3 months free Sparks software subscription with no on-boarding fee – a $1000 value!
  4. Bamboo HR – 35% off setup fee for BambooHR!
  5. BREX – Get $100 and pay 0 fees for life with Brex!
  6. Hotjar – 3 months of Hotjar FREE!
  7. Hubspot – Get 90% off Hubspot!
  8. Pipedrive – Get 50% off Pipedrive, plus 1 month!
  9. Quickbooks – 50% off QuickBooks for six months!
  10. Unbounce – 25% off Unbounce!
  11. Zendesk – 6 Months of Zendesk FREE!
  12. 1Password – Get 1 year free of 1Password for teams up to 50!
  13. BAMBEE – Get a personal HR manager for $99/m!
Finalist - In-Kind Prizes - IN ADDITION TO THE ABOVE PRIZES!

In addition to the above in-kind prizes available to the top 10 winners, the finalist will receive the following:

  1. Keiretsu Forum Southern California – Screening – Worth $5,500!
  2. Interlaced.io – Outsourced Information Technology Services – Worth $2,500!

Cash Prizes

The winner of each of the 10 categories will receive a cash prize of $1,000.  The finalist and overall pitch competition winner will receive a total cash prize of $5,000.

Grand Prizes

The winner of each of the 10 categories (including the finalist) will be provided with the opportunity to present their business to a series of angel groups, VCs or family offices, across the US, by being fast-tracked (with some variations, conditions and specific terms for each of the organizations) directly through screening (or equivalent process) without having to go through the normal vetting process. These organizations are spread out geographically across the US and have their own respective criteria, terms and conditions that the winners are obligated to abide by them.

Rules and Requirements

  • Applicant must be 18+ years of age
  • Applicant must be a US citizen or legal alien resident
  • Business must be a legal US-Based privately held business
  • Business must be active and may be either pre or post revenue but may not be just an idea that has not been launched
  • Applicant must select only one category per business application
  • Applicants are allowed only one submission per business
  • Applicant must have access to internet connection and device to connect online
  • Applicant is responsible for all taxes on winnings and prizes
  • Each applicant and business (each application) accept all the rules, requirements, terms and conditions for the competition as such terms may change from time to time without prior notification
  • Applicants who emerge past round 1 must participate in all live judging meetings
  • Applicants may update submission materials as specified in the timeline after the completion of rounds 1 and 2
  • All participants release the rights to Pismo Ventures to use any audio, video, or media for training and promotional purposes
  • No Refunds – No Exceptions – All Transactions Are Final
Pismo Ventures National Venture Plan Competition