Using business pitch competitions to move your company forward

Dr. Fatma Kaplan
5 min readDec 6, 2021

As a woman entrepreneur, I have fewer resources than many other entrepreneurs. I have to maximize the resources I have to effectively and efficiently bring the nematode pheromone technology to the market. That brings me to the business pitch competitions, the double edge-sword!

Business competitions can provide unique benefits compared to incubators, accelerators, and mentorship programs. If used carefully, they can really make a difference to move your business forward. But, beware! Business competitions have winners and losers. They usually have only one winner, making those that didn’t win seem like losers.

When I chose to participate in a business pitch competition, my goal is to advance Pheronym to the next level regardless of winning or losing the competition. I select the business competitions based on the following criteria: 1- It has to move Pheronym’s product development and commercialization forward long before the pitch day. 2- It has to create awareness of Pheronym’s technology before or during the pitch. 3- It has to have an outreach component to women and minorities. 4- If there is a monetary award, the terms of the award/investment should be available publicly at the time the competition is advertised.

The Grow-NY Food and Agriculture Business Competition, the Ray of Hope Prize, and the Sacramento Innovation Awards have all moved Pheronym’s technology forward by providing connections for commercialization, creating awareness of our product and technology, and communicating the science behind nematode pheromone technology to provide eco-friendly solutions for sustainable agriculture.

2021, Grow-NY Business Competition: I was interested in the Grow-NY business competition to connect with the New York agriculture ecosystem. There are several states I want Pheronym to develop and grow strong roots in. Thanks to our mentor Nathan Cook from the Grow-NY business competition we made connections to the agriculture ecosystem in NY which we couldn’t have otherwise made. Here are the highlights:

  1. We connected to Cornell extension agents and learned about New York Farmers’ most pressing pest problems. Then we planned with extension agents how we could test our product to help New York farmers.
Dr. Fatma Kaplan