The best way to create more opportunity — and equity — is to push forward, said Karen Fenaroli.
Competition applications are open for the first major in-person startup event announced since COVID-19 shut down many Kansas City workplaces and brought traditional networking to a standstill. The invite-only Pure Pitch Rally is set for Oct. 12 in the Neptune Ballroom at the new downtown Loews hotel.
“The safety of our land sharks, pitchers, sponsors and guests is paramount. This year, our invitation list will be capped at just over 100 to fill the room primarily with funders,” said Fenaroli, founder of Pure Pitch Rally and CEO of Fenaroli & Associates. “The Loews Hotel Kansas City will debut this first-ever social distancing, in-person pitch in a ballroom meant for 1,000 to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place while we accelerate the future of our founders.”
Click here for the latest updates on Kansas City, Missouri’s COVID-19 regulations and precautions.
The fifth annual Pure Pitch Rally event — offering more than $1 million in non-dilutive spot-cash funding and resource packages — is expected to showcase a curated group of tech startups pitching to a pre-selected panel of executives called “land sharks” who judge then each directly fund and donate $1,000 to the start-up pitcher of his or her choice. Attendees also vote to award an additional funding prize to a People’s Choice winner.
Click here to apply to pitch at the 2020 Pure Pitch Rally. Applications close Aug. 21.
Organizers, like the rest of Kansas City, are working to emerge from “the multiple crises of 2020 — COVID-19, a recession, social resettling and the complete defunding of the startup community” — Fenaroli said.
“Rather than stalling and waiting, we chose to journey onward and push forward with our collective resources at hand,” she said.
Contingency plans are set to go virtual if necessitated by health concerns, Fenaroli acknowledged, but she emphasized the critical nature of the Pure Pitch Rally’s traditional networking component.
“Every startup thinks that money and funding is the cure and launch of their cap table. It isn’t! The best and most unique feature of the Pure Pitch Rally is the networks that startup founders create,” she said. “New networks create funding. Funding creates opportunity. Opportunity creates equity.”
Click here for photos and funding results from the 2019 Pure Pitch Rally.
The one-of-a-kind Kansas City event prides itself on inviting at least 50 percent diverse pitchers and 50 percent diverse funders, Fenaroli added.
“We recruit them to expand opportunity throughout Kansas City,” she said.
Among the event’s success stories, Fenaroli noted:
- PayIt (2016 cohort) — received an investment of more than $100 million in 2019
- TicketRx (2017 cohort) — sold to global fintech firm MSTS in 2019
- Stenovate (2018 cohort) — received an undisclosed investment from Fountain Innovation Fund in 2020
- TheraWe (2018 cohort) — announced its acquisition in June 2020
- Neer, formerly Blockchain Water (2019 cohort) — accepted to the gener8tor accelerator, which includes $100,000 in capital, in 2020
“Business leaders here saw a need for entrepreneurs to be in the room with investors and decision-makers, and we came together to make it happen,” Fenaroli said. “Some of our alumni have gone on to be accepted to accelerators and have even been acquired by large corporations. Pure Pitch Rally represents the true power of genuine networking and community support in this city.”
Click here to learn more about the resources available to pitchers — including a three-tiered bootcamp — as well as the presenting sponsors for the 2020 event.
“The Pure Pitch Rally is both a funding equalizer and a networking game changer,” Fenaroli said. “The fifth anniversary of this event makes it the longest running funding rally in the Midwest.”
More than 35 startups have pitched to date, and the majority have been funded, she added.