The Web Summit PITCH winners that raised US$1.5 billion

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Matthew Taylor
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2018 PITCH winner Wayve recently secured an incredible round of funding. So what are some of the other big successes to come from our PITCH competition?

Since beginning Web Summit’s startup competition PITCH back in 2013, there have been 21 winners from around the world. Many have gone on to great success in the tech world. 

Collectively, the PITCH winners have raised more than US$1.5 billion, as well as increasing their employee numbers, customer base, and product offerings. 

Here’s the story of just some of the PITCH winners that went on to receive significant investments, and continued to grow their businesses. 

The early winners

Web Summit’s first ever PITCH winner was Import.io, taking the top prize at the 2013 Dublin event. It is a London-founded web data platform which aids data extraction. At the time of the event, Import.io employed 16 people and, since then, that number has risen to more than 70. 

On winning, co-founder Andrew Fogg stated, “We are focused on growing our company and it means a lot to us to win an international competition like this.”

The growth Andrew alluded to has played out, with the company raising more than US$38 million in 2018 before being acquired by Texas-based SaaS growth fund Scaleworks in 2023. 

Another successful PITCH winner, Codacy took the award the following year, in 2014. 

Codacy is a DevOps intelligence platform that helps developers ship billions of lines of code per day by automating and standardising code reviews. 

The Portuguese startup has raised US$29.4 million, closing a US$15 million Series B funding round in September 2022. 

At the time of Codacy’s PITCH win, co-founder Jaime Jorge described it as “like the Oscars for startups in Europe”. Since participating, Codacy has grown from 3,000 to 6,000 users around the world. 

Collision glory

PITCH is a competition run across all of Web Sumit’s events, including Collision in North America. It is here that some of our most successful alumni have come from. 

In 2018, San Francisco-based personal coaching platform Torch won PITCH at Collision in New Orleans, beating out 108 others. It has gone on to become a leading people development platform, raising almost US$90 million to date. 

Torch closed out a US$25 million Series B round in 2021, before raising a further US$40 million Series C round in 2022 from 137 investors, including  Initialized Capital, Norwest Venture Partners and Obvious Ventures, all also Web Summit and Collision participants.

Cameron Yarbrough, co-founder and CEO of Torch, with the PITCH trophy at Collision 2018 in New Orelans

Cameron Yarbrough, co-founder and CEO of Torch, said of PITCH that “[it] provided me an electrifying opportunity to evangelize my startup in front of thousands of technologists and VCs.” 

Collision moved on from New Orleans soon after, with fellow US-based startup Loliware taking the first PITCH trophy awarded at our Toronto event. Loliware is a woman-led, environmentally focussed startup using seaweed resin to replace single use plastics. 

“Winning Pitch is an incredibly exciting milestone for Loliware,” said co-founder and CEO of Loliware, Chelsea F. Briganti at the time.

Loliware has since secured investment from Mark Cuban and Closed Loop Ventures as well as partnerships with Marriott and Pernod. In 2023, the company also closed out a pre-Series A funding round with US$6 million, bringing their total funding to more than US$15.6 million. 

Recent raises

A standout success story is Wayve. In 2018 Alex Kendall, co-founder of the self-driving car tech startup, said “winning PITCH at Web Summit sends a strong signal to the market as we enter into our next fundraising round and validates that others are as excited as we are about this opportunity.” 

In May, 2024 the company secured more than US$1 billion in a funding round led by Japan’s SoftBank, and including tech behemoths Microsoft and Nvidia. 

Alex Kendall, co-founder at Wayve, with the PITCH trophy on Centre Stage at Web Summit 2018 in Lisbon.

Elsewhere, an AI startup that helps textile manufacturers to significantly reduce waste and improve their environmental impact, Smartex took top prize at Web Summit 2021 in Lisbon. 

“It feels good to get recognition for the work the team at Smartex has been doing,” said António Rocha, co-founder of the Portuguese startup, upon collecting the award.  

“We know the real pitch happens with our clients, and that’s where our focus is.”

Since winning the competition, Smartex has raised US$27.6 million, through investors such as Lightspeed Venture Partners, H&M Group and DCVC. 

For your shot at PITCH success, join our startup programme ALPHA today.

Main image of a Henrique Ferreira, co-founder and CXO at Inspira, on Centre Stage during PITCH finals at Web Summit 2023: Harry Murphy/Web Summit ((CC BY 2.0))

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