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AACC's $100,000 Business Pitch Competition

In AACC’s version of the ABC Network’s “Shark Tank,” credit and noncredit students who have successfully completed an AACC course in the last year compete for money to support their business venture. Students submit a comprehensive business plan and finalists pitch their idea to a panel of judges who evaluate and determine awards.

Last year, nine businesses received seed funds ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 for a total of $49,000. Five of the companies received a one-year membership in the Hatchery, AACC's student business incubator, and six new $12,000 scholarships were awarded.

Critical Dates for this Year's Competition

Jan. 29 — Kick-off Event and Information Meeting

March 11-15 — Business Plan Coaching

March 25-28 — Business Plan Coaching

March 29 — Business Pitch Competition application due by noon online

April 11 — Finalists announced

April 15-19 — Business Pitch Coaching

April 25 — Business Pitch Competition live pitch and awards ceremony

How Do I Apply?

The Business Pitch Competition is open to all currently enrolled AACC students or those who completed a credit or noncredit class between July 1, 2017, and March 26, 2018. Your team can be a single person or many people, but at least 50 percent of them must be AACC students. Full details are provided in the Business Pitch Competition 2018 Official Rules, Requirements and Judging Criteria. Students can submit their plan using our online application.


Conduct research and get resources for the Business Pitch Competition with our library guide:

Can non-entrepreneurial studies students enter the competition?

Yes. The Business Pitch Competition is open to all AACC students who took classes during this academic year (between July 1, 2017 and March 26, 2018). This includes students who took classes in the summer, fall, or winter, or who are currently enrolled in credit or non-credit courses.

Is it OK to have just one person or do I need to have a team?

Yes. It is OK to have just one person, although many start-ups thrive with a team of founders.

Do all of my team members need to be AACC students?

No. At least 50 percent of the team, preferably more, must be AACC students who meet the enrollment requirements outlined in the first question’s response.

Am I allowed to have a faculty member or prior winner as a mentor for the BPC?

Yes. You can have a faculty member or prior winner as a mentor. You can also meet new mentors during the required coaching sessions.

Do I have to meet with a BPC & a Pitch coach to compete?

Yes. You must meet with a business coach prior to submitting to the competition. We have been doing this for more than 10 years now, and one of the things we have learned is that coaching has a significant impact on student success. You may find this requirement inconvenient now, but you will thank us later.

Can I get a student to take my company's idea through the competition?

The BPC is a competition for student-driven companies. We have a strict policy guiding outside companies recruiting students to join their team in order to compete.

Students must have an ownership stake in the business or the potential for equity and employment. Only student team members are eligible to earn prize money. No payments will be made to non-students.

Can I compete two years in a row?

Students are welcome and encouraged to participate as many times as they want – as long as they meet the enrollment requirements outlined in the response to the first question.

Can I change the name of the business at some point during the competition?

Yes. You are allowed to change your company name during the competition. We recommend that you reference the name change in your documents such as in the one-page executive summary or business plan.

Can I have more than four members on my team?

You can have as many people on your team as you like; there is no official limit. Most teams consist of three to five people, but you can have as many as makes sense for your business. However, only two members of the team who are AACC students can pitch to the judges.

Is the list of judges for the Business Pitch Competition available to the participants?

We don’t release the names of the judges prior to the pitch presentations. You will meet them on Pitch Day.

Is the BPC Pitch Day open to the public?

Yes. Students, faculty and staff at AACC are invited to attend. Participants may also choose to invite friends and family to attend. There is no fee to attend.

Do judges, coaches or audience members sign non-disclosure agreements?

Judges, coaches, and audience members do not sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). This is common practice in the entrepreneurial world, especially when you are pitching your idea to investors. You should figure out a way to talk about your business, but not give away the confidential information that could be patented, trademarked or that is simply your secret sauce.

2017 Business Pitch Award Winners

Andy Lee Business Pitch Competition

Coffeecade LLC
Marine Corps veteran Andy Lee of Coffeecade LLC received $25,000 in seed funds to start his business. Coffeecade LLC, based in Pasadena, is a specialty coffee shop that will sell coffee, pastries and snacks. It also will sport retro-arcade/pinball machines for patrons to enjoy. The main area will feature seating for about 20 people, with 25 games accessible in a separate area.




Nora and Shanice Business Pitch Competition

Elated Harmonies Massage
Nora Carter and Shanice Ruffin received Ratcliffe Scholarships and $1,000. Elated Harmonies Massage provides therapeutic massage services and products, in-studio and on-location, that encourages individuals to invest in moments of peace.





Business Pitch Hannah Chase

Hannah's Dessert Heaven
Hannah Chase, already a Ratcliffe Scholar, received $1,000 and a one year Hatchery Incubator Membership for her business Hannah's Dessert Heaven. Hannah's Dessert Heaven is a start-up bakery focused on custom cakes, an assortment of desserts, and a diversity of flavors from all around the world.





Business Pitch Shane Lauer

Lauer & Sons Asphalt Services
Shane Lauer, Lauer & Sons Asphalt Services, received a Ratcliffe Scholarship, a one-year Hatchery Incubator Membership and $5,000. Their services include asphalt paving, pothole patching and repair, seal coating, crack repair and filling, and line striping.





Business Pitch Barbara Heinlein

Logiciel Technologies, LLC
Air Force veteran Barbara Heinlein, Logiciel Technologies, LLC, was already a Ratcliffe Scholar and received a one-year Hatchery Incubator Membership and $1,000. Logiciel Technologies, LLC, is a full-service software company partnering with local businesses to deliver powerful IT solutions such as leading-edge website design, e-commerce, mobile applications, internet marketing, graphics design, and website hosting. “Logiciel” means “software” in French.

Business Pitch Pawsy Labs

Pawsy Labs, Inc
Donté Buckmire and Spencer Stamps of Pawsy Labs, Inc., received Ratcliffe Scholarships, a one-year Hatchery Incubator Membership and $5,000. Pawsy provides a unique dog walking and pet sitting service to dog owners in the DC metro area. A mobile app provides convenience by allowing clients to book a walk within seconds, manage their dogs' schedule, track in real-time where their dog is during their walk, and provide automatic payments.



Business Pitch Repke Fitness

Repke Fitness
Louben Repke received a Ratcliffe Scholarship and $5,000 in seed funds to grow his personal training business Repke Fitness. Repke Fitness is a private personal training studio specializing in training people with injuries, limitations, and medical conditions, as well as provides personal fitness training for healthy individuals.





Business Pitch TagTitle

Tag and Title Service of Maryland
Elizabeth Hall, already a Ratcliffe Scholar, received an Incubator Membership and $5,000 for her company Tag and Title Service of Maryland. They offer a convenient alternative to a trip to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). The company provides the same services as the MVA’s vehicle registration and renewal areas in MD and PA, processing vehicle tag and title registration by appointment 24/7. 



Business Pitch Jennifer Woolums

Where About Design
Jennifer Woolums, already a Ratcliffe Scholar, received $1,000 to assist with the startup of her company. Where About Design is a textile and graphic design company that uses digital, block and screen printing techniques to produce artisan travel-oriented mementos, accessories and home décor items.


We’re here to help.

Entrepreneurial Studies Institute

Carlene Cassidy, chair


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