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

Matthew Taylor's avatar
Matthew Taylor
PITCH winner Ana Robakidze, founder and CEO, Theneo, on Centre stage at Web Summit 2022. Ana is smiling and holding up the PITCH trophy.

Web Summit’s PITCH 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 in selling their company story to customers and investors, while others never find their voice. Whichever group a startup falls into, one thing remains true: at some point in their 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 750 startups will gather in Rio this May, 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 pitching battles.

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

The top 42 startups selected then progress to the PITCH group stages, during which they pitch their businesses before a panel of judges and attendees.

Following the group stages, six startups will advance to the semi-final on Centre Stage, where they’ll pitch against four ‘fast-tracked’ startups chosen because of their stellar applications – and other factors, including funding history – in a bid for a spot in the PITCH finals.

The three finalists will battle it out on Centre Stage for a chance to be named PITCH winner.

“It’s amazing to have this recognition, especially for the team who have been working so hard over the past two years.”

– Smartex, PITCH winner, Web Summit 2021

How PITCH works

Group stages

On Tuesday, May 2, selected startups will battle it out in the group rounds of the competition across our three PITCH stages. 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 groups of seven, and each round is overseen by a panel of five judges.

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


On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 3, the group-stage winners will be joined by four specially selected startups on Centre Stage.

Semi-finalists will have three minutes to pitch to the Centre 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 the afternoon of Thursday, May 4, on Centre Stage. 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 Web Summit’s PITCH winner.

PITCH is open to all ALPHA and BETA startup attendees that have received less than €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 programme for your chance to join PITCH, in partnership with Siemens. Who knows – it may be your first step towards success.

Main image of PITCH winner Ana Robakidze, founder & CEO, Theneo, on Centre stage during day three of Web Summit 2022: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Web Summit (CC BY 2.0)

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