Pitch it to win it!

To encourage the entrepreneurial mindset in youth, the Jacobson Institute sponsors the Innovator Competition each fall and spring. This investment in the future of entrepreneurship provides high school innovators with financial support and feedback from successful entrepreneurs.

Who can compete?

The competition is for ANY high school student in grades 9-12. Students don't need a background or course work in business to compete. They just need motivation, passion and a good idea!

Cash prizes

Winners are awarded a combined total of $3,000 in seed capital to take their idea, product or business to the next level.

1st Place: $1,500
2nd Place: $1,000
3rd Place: $500

"I really enjoyed getting to participate in the Innovator Competition. 
The skills I have developed through this competition and the seed money I won 
will help me to grow my business. This was a great experience!"

Andrew Rubin, State Street Spices, Innovator Competition Fall 2023 Winner

Important dates

Deadlines and dates for the next Innovator Competition:

  • Application deadline: April 26, 2024
  • Finalists notified they are moving on to the next round: Week of May 13, 2024
  • Innovator Competition: Week of May 20, 2024

How to compete

What you'll need for the application
  • A one-page Executive Summary
  • Photos of student/team
  • Photo(s) of product (if applicable)
  • Competitors also need the support and assistance of a teacher or adult

Apply for the Innovator Competition

If you're selected as a finalist
  • Give a 3-minute Elevator Pitch via Zoom video conferencing to our panel of entrepreneur judges
  • Pitch is followed by 4 minutes of Q&A with the judges
  • No travel required. You'll pitch from school during the school day (which is why you need adult support).

What is an Executive Summary?

An Executive Summary is a summary of your business plan. Investors use the Executive Summary as a quick way to evaluate ideas. The Executive Summary needs to catch investors' attention and make them WANT to read more.

A one-page Executive Summary MUST include the following:

  • First and Last Name
  • Name of your Business
  • Product/Service Description. This is an overview of your business idea. Promote what is unique about your business idea. What problem is being solved? How is your business solving the problem?
  • Describe key management personnel. Include skills and experience. What makes you/your team qualified to start/run this business?
  • Competitive Analysis & Advantage. Describe your competitors. Identify your competitive advantage. How do you compete? (For example, price, quality, unique features & benefits, distribution, marketing/advertising, strengths/weaknesses.)
  • Target Market. Who is your customer and what are their needs? How will you get your product/service into the hands of your customers?
  • Business Revenue Model. How will your business generate a profit/make money?
  • Current Stage of Business. (For example, startup/new or existing business.)
  • What's the Next Step for Your Business? How will you use the seed capital if you win?
Note: If your business is already operational, you should include the history of your business, an overview of your marketing efforts, and a summary of sales and profits.

What is an Elevator Pitch?

An Elevator Pitch is a brief overview of a business idea. The term "Elevator Pitch" comes from being able to persuade someone to invest in your invention or business idea in the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator from the bottom floor to the top floor.

Investors often judge the quality of a business idea by the quality of its elevator pitch and will ask entrepreneurs for an elevator pitch in order to quickly identify the GREAT ideas!

"From the preparation to pitching my product, I feel that I have truly gone 
through the entrepreneurial cycle through this competition. 
The feedback judges give is invaluable to me and my future business!"

Puraav Karnavat, No Splash LLC, Innovator Competition Fall 2023 Winner

Can students compete more than once?

Yes, within the following guidelines:

  • During an academic year, students who receive first, second or third place in the fall cannot compete again in the spring.
  • If students receive an honorable mention award in the fall, they are eligible to compete again in the spring.
  • The competition starts over each school year, meaning that all students are eligible to compete regardless of whether they previously received a prize.

$93K +

Total Capital Awarded