PITCH at Web Summit Rio: How to shine a light on your startup

Matthew Taylor's avatar
Matthew Taylor

Web Summit Rio’s PITCH, powered by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, gives founders the chance to pitch to – and learn from – investors and leaders. Here’s how to get involved.

Every startup needs attention. Some founders excel at selling their company story to customers and investors, while others struggle to find their voice. Whichever category a startup falls into, one thing remains true: at some point in its journey, the startup team will need to pitch.

A business pitch is often the dividing line between funding and failure. Selling what you do and why it’s critical for society is a key skill our alums have perfected at our events.

More than 1,500 startups will gather in Rio this April, each hoping to follow in these alums’ footsteps. How can the founders show that they can stand out from the crowd?

What is PITCH?

PITCH is our startup contest at Web Summit Rio, pitting innovative companies head-to-head in live onstage pitching battles.

Participants are chosen by Web Summit Rio team members, who review applications from thousands of businesses across our global startup network to select the best entrants from each industry.

The top 40 startups selected then progress to the PITCH group stages, where they’ll pitch their businesses before a panel of judges and attendees.

Following the group stages, eight startups will advance to the semi-final, where they’ll pitch on Center Stage in a bid for a spot in the PITCH final.

Those three finalists will battle it out on Center Stage for a chance to be named PITCH winner at Web Summit Rio.

“PITCH is amazing, because I think it’s the most important part – it’s better than money. There are other competitions where you could earn bigger prizes, but it doesn’t have this size.”

– Jade Autism, PITCH winner, Web Summit Rio 2023

How PITCH works

Group stages

On Tuesday April 16, selected startups will battle it out in the group rounds of the competition on our PITCH stage. Competing startups will have three minutes to pitch their company, followed by a three-minute Q&A with our judging panel.

Startups are divided into five groups of eight, and each round is overseen by a panel of five judges.

At the end of Day 1, we will announce the eight highest-scoring startups from our group rounds, with these eight startups progressing to the semi-final.


On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 17, the eight group-stage winners will pitch on Center Stage.

Semi-finalists will have three minutes to pitch to the Center Stage audience and to a panel of 10 esteemed judges. Our judges will then deliberate and choose three finalists to battle it out in the PITCH final.


The PITCH final will take place on Web Summit Rio’s Center Stage on the the afternoon of Thursday April 18. Our finalists will deliver a three-minute pitch, followed by a three-minute Q&A with four judges.

But there’s a twist. In the PITCH final, our audience becomes the fifth judge. Following the finalists’ presentations, the audience will have a chance to vote for their favorite startup through the Web Summit mobile app. The audience vote makes up 20 percent of each startup’s final score, giving them as much influence as any of our judges.

“The publicity of winning PITCH gave us momentum for our next fundraising round.”

– Wayve, PITCH winner, Web Summit 2018

The finalist with the highest combined score will be crowned the PITCH winner at Web Summit Rio.

PITCH is open to all ALPHA and BETA startup attendees that have received less than US$5 million in funding to date, and have not discernibly changed their business model in the last three years.

Want to make your mark? Register for the Web Summit Rio startup program for your chance to join PITCH, powered by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI).

Main image of PITCH winner Ronaldo Cohin, founder and CEO of Jade Autism, on Center Stage during Day 3 of Web Summit Rio 2022: Sam Barnes/Web Summit (CC BY 2.0)

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