BLKtech Pitch Competition

06/22/2023 ​​ | Hybrid 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm CST

3 hours

  • Early Stage
  • Black
  • DEI
  • Founders
  • Funding
  • Pitch competition

Are you a Black early-stage tech founder looking for an opportunity to get funding? This summer pitch competition is the chance to win a cash prize and receive investments from some of the leading venture firms and corporations in the Midwest.

Event Start Date:
June 22, 2023
Event End Date:
June 22, 2023
Event Venue:


1871 is hosting a three-round pitch competition, in which early stage Black-led tech startups will pitch their company for a chance to win cash prizes and equity opportunities from our notable VC partners. 


Awards & funding

• $30k minimum committed prize money will be awarded at the final event. Prize money will consist of both cash and equity investments from our supporting VC partners

• Top 5 finalists will receive free virtual membership to 1871 for 6-months


Black founders and innovators need the following to enter the BLKtech Pitch Competition:

  • A deep understanding of the problem they seek to solve and for whom 
  • Clear definition of their user and key value propositions
  • Developed a highly effective go-to-market strategy and have tested and verified these strategies
  • Clear and defined business model that ties into the overall strategy of the business
  • Show traction with your business through customers success
  • Applicants are no longer eligible if you have already closed a series A funding round


Applications open

Closed for 2023

The applicants are screened and the top 20 are notified if they are to move onto the semi-finals. The competition is open to non-members, across the US. See eligibility before applying.


The top 20 founders will pitch virtually to a panel of business leaders for a chance to win a finalist spot in the next phase. Only the top 5 will advance to our finalist event. This round will be closed to the public. 



Top 5 finalists will participate by pitching [hybrid options available] to a panel of judges consisting of business leaders and major VC’s in our network for funding & awards.

About BLKtech

Our BLKtech initiative supports Black entrepreneurs & leaders with regular programming, tailored resources, mentorship, & community designed to help them embrace their unique strengths & break down the barriers they face.

Virtual Blacktech pitch competition on zoom


In 2020, venture capital investors funneled $150 billion to startups. But only ~1% of those funds were distributed to Black founders, despite the rapid growth of Black entrepreneurship. There is a vast and growing funding gap!

This event activates our community of early stage startups, corporate partners, venture capitalists and the wider tech ecosystem. As a collective, we aim to deepen the pool of funds that Black founders can access.

Learn more about our affinity programs under BLKtech—BLKtech leaders & BLKtech founders.

2023 Finalist Judges

Bailey Moore

Wintrust Ventures

Back Tech Pitch Competition finalist judge Betsy Ziegler

Betsy Ziegler


David Kokonas

OCA Ventures

David Ervin

Dom Capital Group

Tony Wilkins

Private Investor



Weber Shandwick

Venture Capital