BLKtech Pitch Competition

06/23/2022 ​​ | 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 the funding and support you need to drive your business forward? Pitch your company for the chance to win a cash prize and receive investments from some of the leading venture firms and corporations in the Midwest.

Important dates

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 a cash prize and equity opportunities from our notable VC partners. 

We are excited to hear from Black founders about the solutions & products you are building and support you [and your business!] with the right funding and resources.

Free to enter. Open to the public, nationwide!

Applications open


Applications close







Funding & awards

We want to be an early stage advocate and fundraising partner to you! In addition to building valuable connections to the best and brightest business leaders, tech entrepreneurs, and investors. 

Participants have a chance to win:

  • $50k minimum committed prize money will be awarded at the final event. Prize money will consist of both cash and equity investments from our sponsoring VC partners
  • Top 5 finalists will receive free virtual membership to 1871 for 6-months

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.


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.

Virtual Blacktech pitch competition on zoom

Eligibility to enter

  • Need to have a deep understanding of the problem they seek to solve and for whom 
  • Clear definition of their user and key value propositions
  • Have 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
  • Need to show some traction with your business through customers success
  • Applicants are no longer eligible if you have already closed a series A funding round


App phase

Closed screening
4.27.22 - 5.20.22​

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.


Private - Virtual

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. 


Public - Hybrid

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.

Event Emcee Calvin Evans

Emcee: Calvin Evans

Chicago native Calvin Evans comedy career began during his time at the University Illinois Champaign-Urbana. While obtaining his degree in Sport Management, he fell in love with stand-up comedy and would put his business aspirations on hold. He brought his talents back to Chicago and was quickly named Chicago’s Next Big Comic. His television credits include the Fox series APB, NBC’s Chicago PD, Sherman’s Showcase on IFC and Shameless on Showtime. He has also performed standup on the Kevin Hart Comedy Central series Hart of The City, LOL @ JFL and TruTV Laff Tracks . He can be seen on the new NBC series Bring The Funny and reoccurring on the hit Comedy Central show SouthSide.

Learn more on Calvins Website and Instagram.

Finalist Judges

Back Tech Pitch Competition finalist judge Dana Sun

Dana Sun


Back Tech Pitch Competition finalist judge Tunde Akinniranye

Tunde Akinniranye

7Wire Centures

Back Tech Pitch Competition finalist judge Jason Weingarten

Jason Weingarten


Back Tech Pitch Competition finalist judge Garry Cooper

Garry Cooper

LongJump VC

Back Tech Pitch Competition finalist judge Emmanuel Emah-Emeni

Emmanuel Emah-Emeni

Nueterra Capital

Bailey Moore

Wintrust Ventures

Back Tech Pitch Competition finalist judge Betsy Ziegler

Betsy Ziegler


Back Tech Pitch Competition finalist judge Brian Friedman

Brian Friedman

William Blair

Back Tech Pitch Competition finalist judge Corey Schieler

Corey Shieler

State Farm



Weber Shandwick
Relish Works

Venture Capital