Tulsa StartUp Series Rules

The Tulsa StartUp Series consists of categorized pitch competitions whose winners automatically qualify for the StartUp Series Demo Day event during Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW).

Each pitch competition shall have a separate category focusing upon 1) Cyber Security; 2) Physical Product; 3) Food and Retail; 4) Social Enterprise.  The 5th and final round shall be a Wild Card round in which any startup can enter.

To Enter:

Entrants in the StartUp Series pitch competition must upload a 60-second video pitch onto the StartUp Series website that explains their business and why they need $2,500 to test their concept or advance their business. Each pitch round shall have three judges who will score each video pitch on a numerical scale based upon 1) presentation of the problem the business solves; 2) how the business will solve the problem; 3) how the business will use the $2,500 prize money to test their business concept. Judges will determine the top 5 video pitches, and those entrants will move on to the live pitch round.

Judges and Evaluation Criteria:

A panel of three individuals are selected to review video applications and provide feedback. A new panel of three individuals are selected to judge the live pitch competitions and provide feedback. Those individuals who review videos and judge live pitches are not the same and remain separate to reduce biases. A panel of four judges are selected to judge Demo Day in November as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The panel is different every year and comprised of individuals who have not judged previously for the Tulsa StartUp Series during the calendar year and do not have any relation to those competing. Judges can reside outside of Tulsa, OK.

The qualifications considered when selecting judges include:

  • A professional in a field relevant to the pitch category
  • An entrepreneur
  • An investor
  • A mentor to the startup community
  • Corporate executive
  • Previous winner of a pitch category
  • No relation to any of the businesses competing
  • Be willing to stand behind your decision of pitch category and Demo Day winners

The Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation and Riata Center for Entrepreneurship at OSU along with other community sponsors who make the Tulsa StartUp Series Competition possible will support and guide the section process for judges, but do not make final decisions on awards. We believe the judges are best able to make these decisions and trust that the judges will do so fairly.

The following criteria are utilized to evaluate businesses throughout the judging process:

  • Product Service Description: Is the business clearly explained in a way that is logical and understandable for a lay person?
  • Problem Need Solution: Is the problem that the business is striving to solve well defined?
  • Differentiation: How is the business different from other solutions currently on the market?
  • Target Customer: Does the business clearly understand and articulate who their target customer is?
  • Target Market: Has the business identified their target market? Specifically, have they identified the portion of the target market they can acquire and retain?
  • Overall Pitch: Is the presentation well prepared and presented?
  • Tulsa StartUp Series Goals: Does the business have the potential to create jobs in Oklahoma? Does this business have the potential to invest in the state of Oklahoma?

All decisions made by the judges of the Tulsa StartUp Series on all matters relating to the competition are final. The Tulsa StartUp Series at their discretion and without prior notice, reserves the unrestricted right to interpret and administer these rules, and to alter, amend, or change competition rules, awards or any other conditions.

Cyber Security Entry:

Entrants to the Cyber Security series will also need to upload a one-page abstract for their business in addition to the 60-second pitch video. The 60-second video for the Cyber Security entries does not need to address the $2,500 prize money as the prize package for this series is unique from the other categories. The  video does need to address the other two items: the problem the business solves and how the business will solve the problem. Submissions are due February 21st, 2019.

Live Pitches:

Pitch finalists will be invited to give a live pitch at 36 Degrees North on the 3rd Wednesday of the Month at 5:30 p.m. (unless indicated otherwise). At the live pitch, finalists will have five minutes to pitch to judges, followed by questions from the judges. The winner will be announced live following the pitches. The pitch series winner shall be awarded $2,500 to test or advance their business, a three-month membership to 36 Degrees North and a mentor who will be available to meet with the business owner weekly for at least three months.

The schedule for the Cyber Security Live Pitches will be on a timeline independent of the other four pitch series. This live pitch will occur at 36 Degrees North during the Tulsa Cyber Summit on March 24. As a result of a partnership with the University of Tulsa and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Cyber Security winner will also receive a one-year stipend, a paid downtown apartment and one year of office space and membership at 36 Degrees North.

Most importantly, the Live Pitch Winners will receive automatic entry into Demo Day and a chance to compete to win $15,000 awarded at Demo Day during GEW, along with a year-long membership to 36 Degrees North and a dedicated mentor. The pitch series winner will be required to upload a 10 slide-pitch to the StartUp Series website prior to the November 20, 2019 Demo Day. Those businesses selected to pitch live in a category but not selected as the winner of that category will have the opportunity to participate in Demo Day as part of the Crowd Favorite competition.

Eligibility Requirements and General Terms for Tulsa StartUp Series Pitch Competitions:

In order to qualify for the Pitch Series, the applicant must be an Oklahoma resident whose business is based in Oklahoma in the idea or prototype phase or have a business that is less than one year old. The one-year clock starts when the LLC or similar entity is formed. For social enterprise non-profits, board resolution or approval in board minutes to create the program starts the one-year clock. Furthermore, the business must have less than $25,000 in revenue, grants, invested capital or debt. Company officers/participant team members must be legal residents of the United States. Applicants for the Cyber Security Series do not need to be current Oklahoma residents but should plan to base their business in Tulsa for a twelve month period following the Live Pitch at the Tulsa Cyber Summit. Additionally, company officers/participant team members cannot be directors, officers, or employees of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, Riata Center for Entrepreneurship at OSU, Cox Business or Cox Media. Immediate family members of each of the above are also disqualified. Students who are employed part-time by the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship at OSU are allowed to compete so long as their work at the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship does not support the Tulsa StartUp Series in any capacity. Not-for-profit submissions will be accepted so long as the pitch is for an idea utilizing business principles for revenue generation. A for-profit business which benefits or donates its proceeds to a registered non-profit is not disqualified under these rules.

To enter, applicants must fill out an entry form that includes valid contact information and their 60-second video pitch. Prior to beginning their pitch, the applicant must read the Tulsa StartUp Series Info and Disclaimer which states “My name is ____, my business is called ____, and this is my pitch for the Tulsa StartUp Series.”

By submitting a pitch, you represent and warrant to the Tulsa StartUp Series powered by the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation that you have all right, title and/or interest in the pitch and related documents submitted and the information it contains is original, accurate and complete, and that by submitting the pitch and related documents to the Tulsa StartUp Series powered by  Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation you are not and will not be violating any contract or third party rights including any patent, copyright, trade secret, proprietary or confidential information, trademark, publicity or privacy right.

Participants of the Tulsa StartUp Series agree to waive claims against the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, Riata Center for Entrepreneurship at OSU and any and all judges, mentors, other sponsors and/or participants in the startup competition for any actions that occur as part of, arise out of, or are in any way related to participation in this startup competition. Participants understand that no confidentiality of any information is provided and that protection of highly confidential trade information and other intellectual property is the responsibility of the competition applicants/participants.

The Tulsa StartUp Series will not require judges, mentors or other participants in the competition to sign nondisclosure documents. All participants are encouraged to seek professional guidance on the type of information that should be included in their startup competition submissions. The Tulsa StartUp Series and its sponsors assume no liability for release of confidential information by the competitors, judges, mentors, or audience members.

Pitch Category and Demo Day winners must complete and submit a W9 in order for prize money to be processed. All winners should allow for thirty days from the date that the W9 is submitted to receive payment of prize money.

Participants grant the Tulsa StartUp Series the right to make photographs, audio recordings, and/or video recordings of all program events, and further grant the Tulsa StartUp Series the unlimited right to publish, without compensation, participants’ and company names, photographs, audio/video recordings for promotional, public relations and advertising purposes. Participants may be introduced to local media including newspaper and television stations for promotional opportunities for their businesses. Participation in these opportunities is not required.