Note: The Organizing Committee of the HAAAAS Elevate Pitch Competition reserves the right to update these Contest Rules at any time. Every attempt will be made to notify participants of any modification; however, it is ultimately the responsibility of Pitch Competition participants to stay current with the Rules on this Competition website.

Latest Updates:

  • SEMIFINALISTS must submit their slides in ADVANCE to the SEMIFINALS judges by10am EST to their entry in Angelsoft, as a backup, should there be technical difficulties. (9/27/10)
  • If you are having trouble uploading your 2-minute max video, please upload it to YouTube (or another video host) and include the link in your entry, as well as notifying us directly about that at summit-pitch@haaaa.net.  (9/22/10)
  • The 2-minute required VIDEO for preliminary entries is now OPTIONAL, but strongly encouraged, as it may be a key differentiator for you in the judging process.  (9/20/10)
  • If you are the main contact person for your second ELEVATE entry, you will need to set up a separate, additional AngelSoft registration with a different email address other than your Harvard email address used in your first entry.  (9/20/10)
  • Finalists will be able to attend and pitch at the Live Pitch Finals for FREE — Summit registration is optional.  However, you must register if you want to attend the other events.  (9/12/10)
  • New Entry Deadline: Wednesday, September 22, 2010, 11:59 p.m. EDT. (8/30/2010)
  • Each individual participant can submit TWO contest entries TOTAL, whether individually or as a part of a team(s).  If you are the main contact for two entries, your second entry will require a separate, additional Angelsoft registration with a different email address (non-Harvard email is okay) than your first entry. (8/30/10)
  • For SemiFinals & Finals, use of powerpoint slides is entirely optional — 8 slides are the maximum (8/30/10)


Eligible Ideas

The Elevate Pitch Competition’s mission is to identify Harvard’s next great business entrepreneurs, social enterprise visionaries, and creative geniuses in the art, entertainment and design fields. Submissions must be original, innovative, fundable and in keeping with the spirit of the event and the Summit that hosts it. The competition is open to early-stage ventures, programs and creative concepts that fall into one of the following categories:

• Business ventures: Any early-stage startup, product, invention, or idea in any industry is eligible, but must have  not accepted any institutional funding for the idea being presented (i.e. the team cannot have sold equity to anyone outside the team – including non-managing founders). Teams must not have accepted any non-institutional funding in excess of $100,000. Non-institutional funding includes contests, grants, friends and family, bank loans, etc. where there is no equity ownership associated with the funding. Teams that advance to the Semi-Final Round must disclose any funding already received at that time.

• Social entrepreneurship initiatives and nonprofit programs:  Any “change the world” idea is eligible as long as its aim is to create social value and impact in a significant and sustainable manner. The idea may involve a nonprofit, for-profit or hybrid model venture, as long as social impact is central to its mission. Any program sponsored by an existing nonprofit is also eligible. However, the programs and ventures must have NOT received any funding in excess of $100,000.

• Creative arts, design & entertainment projects:  Are you the next big artist, designer, author, writer, chef, producer or filmmaker?  Any unpublished, unproduced or in-progress work of art, music, media, literature, design or performance is eligible.  Unique concepts for TV pilots, screenplays, novels, one-act plays, albums, fashion, animation and other forms of creative expression are welcome.  Such works may have been released and/or performed in the past in preliminary forms or for audience sampling purposes, but can NOT have been professionally produced, released, commercialized, optioned or sold. Preference will be given to projects that are still in conceptual or early-stage form.


Eligible Teams/Individuals

The Pitch Competition is open to teams of one to five individuals in size.  Each team must meet these following qualifications and requirements:

  • At least one Asian/Asian American student, alumnus, faculty member or full-time staffer of any of Harvard’s 12 graduate and undergraduate schools must (1)   play a primary role in the development of the idea, project, program or initiative being submitted; (2) be the primary contact in all rounds of the Competition, including being the person registering at our Elevate submission page hosted by Angelsoft AND (3)  participate in any live semi-final and final presentations made before a judging panel.  Our entry form requires registering with a Harvard email address and we do verify Harvard affiliations.  (If you are the key contact person for your second entry, you will need to set up a separate AngelSoft registration with a separate email address).
  • If selected as a semifinalist or finalist, a minimum of one and a maximum of five individuals from the team may participate in the pitches to the judges.
  • If selected as a finalist, the primary contact of the pitch team and any other Final pitch team participants must ATTEND the Live Pitch Finals during the Harvard Asian American Alumni Summit on Saturday, October 16th. While the basic registration fee is WAIVED to attend the Finals only, all travel and lodging expenses related to attending are the responsibility of the finalist teams.  Should participants wish to attend OTHER Summit events, they must register.
  • Each individual Pitch Competition participant is limited to participating in TWO contest entries TOTAL, whether on an individual basis or as a part of one or two teams.  Any subsequent additional Pitch entries beyond two featuring this individual will be disqualified without notification.
  • All competing teams  must represent that they own, beneficially control or are otherwise legally able to represent the ideas, projects, programs and initiatives they are pitching. HAAAA bears no responsibility for any intellectual property, employment, authorship or creative control issues related to submitted pitches. All Live Pitch Final presentations are open to the public at large, and some presentations may be videotaped. Attendance by media personnel is expected.


Submission Guidelines


You must complete the web submission form in its entirety at the Elevate Pitch Competition Entry Page, co-hosted by Angelsoft by no later than Wednesday, September 22, 2010, 11:59 p.m. EDT.  There is no entry fee, but presenting finalists must attend HAAAA Summit’s Live Pitch Finals (registration fee waived for that sole event).

A team of Harvard-affiliated reviewers from across industries and professions will select a maximum of 16 semi-finalists, who will be notified by Friday, September 24, 2010.

Your initial Pitch Submission will consist of 2 parts:

• Online Registration & Questionnaire: You will be asked questions about your entrepreneurial venture or creative concept.  Upon registering for the contest, your application may be saved and edited anytime prior to the September 22, 2010 deadline. This questionnaire also asks you to submit a “Brief Elevator Pitch,” a succinct 3-4 sentence summary of your idea.  This summary may be posted publicly on our website and other public documentation relating to the Competition. If you do NOT wish to participate in this public posting, please state this clearly in the “Notes & Comments” field at the end of the entry form.

• Video Pitch: You have up to 2-minutes to present your “Elevator””pitch about your idea that should briefly expand,explain, defend, demonstrate or elaborate uponyour idea that will help the judging panel better understand you and your concept.  The video must be uploaded online along with your Questionnaire answers on the  Elevate Pitch Competition Entry Page before the deadline for entry.  Uploading video takes time and bandwidth, so we suggest you submit this well in advance of the deadline. Your pitch will not be judged on its production value, so please focus on the strengths of your idea and the persuasiveness of your pitch rather than dazzling graphics.

Any additional materials  submitted through any other means will be disregarded and disposed of.   In the Prelimary round, we are NO longer accepting optional, 1-page exhibits to support your idea. 


Up to 16 selected semi-finalists will be selected on September 24, 2010 and will be scheduled for a private online web conference presentation via AdobeConnectProPro during Saturday and Sunday, October 2-3, 2010.  While entirely optional, you may use a maximum of 8 Powerpoint slides and may use video, images, animation, website demo and likewise within the slides  to support your pitch.  (UPDATED: You must upload your slides in to your Angelsoft entry no later than 1 hr before your scheduled pitch start time.  We advise doing it earlier if your file is large.  Note the file size contraints noted in the system as well).  Semi-finalists will have 8 minutes to present and further clarify their prelim round ideas, and 5-7 minutes for answering questions from judges.  The judges will select up to 8 finalist teams immediately following these presentations, and will provide written feedback to all semifinalists.

• Supporting Materials:  You may include on the slides any type of media (audio, video, images, animation, etc.) and may bring in any other materials, props or demonstration items to use as part of your web conference pitch.

• Online Platform: The semifinalist pitches will take place online, using standard web-based conference software and a live teleconference. Pitches will be scheduled based on the availability of the review team and semifinalists. HAAAA will provide access by request to the online platform and conference bridge for the pitches in advance for testing/rehearsal purposes; teams will be responsible for ensuring that all participating pitch members are able to connect to the platform and are technically fluent in its operation in advance of their pitch. The platform will allow for geographically separated individuals to pitch collaboratively.


The final round of the competition takes place during the HAAAA Summit on the evening of Saturday, October 16, 8pm-10:30pm, with a preceding dinner reception event 7pm-8pm.  Finalists will have 8 minutes to pitch their ideas to the judges and a live audience of conference attendees — supporting powerpoint slides are optional.  Finalists must submit change in the makeup of their Live Pitch Finals participants to the Pitch Competition organizers no later than Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 11:59 p.m. EDT.  The judges will ask the finalists questions following their presentations, which may be answered by any participating team member on stage. The top winners in each category will be selected that evening.  Also, please note:

• HAAAA Summit Registration is OPTIONAL for Finalists: The primary Harvard Asian contact of the pitch team and any additional team members co-presenting must attend the HAAAA Summit to be eligible to participate in the Live Pitch Finals. All travel and lodging expenses related to attending the Summit; there is NO REGISTRATION fee for finalist teams to attend and pitch at the Finals (admission to dinner reception included), but registration is required to attend all OTHER Summit events.

• 8 Minute Limit: Presentations that are not completed within 8 minutes will be cut short by the moderator.

• Slide Deck Submissions: These are due Friday, October 15.  Please refer to the Finalists emails for final instructions
• Support Materials: Your final presentation will be done on stage with your slide projection.  To support your pitch’s persuasiveness, you may include in the slides any type of media (audio, video, images, etc.) and may bring in other materials, props or demonstration items.  However, such additional materials must be available or accessible to all members of the audience; a minimum of 200 copies of paper items must be provided in advance to the event organizers by Friday, October 15, 2010.  “Test Check Session”  the morning of the Live Pitch Finals. Items for display must be fully visible/audible/recognizable by all audience attendees.

• Technical Services: The Live Pitch Finals’ event venue at Harvard will have basic A/V (e.g., microphone(s), screen, projector,  P.A. system and Internet access; if you are including performances or web-based materials in your pitch, your team will be responsible for all technical elements of your presentation.  We cannot guarantee that Internet, video, graphics and sound will work 100% of the time.  Finalists should bring their own a laptop and backup pitch materials on a CD or USB flash drive and must attend the “Test Check” scheduled for the  morning and/or afternoon of the event day.


Additional  Competition Rules

Copyrights & Permissions: If a team uses copyrighted materials, music and/or images from a third-party in their presentation, one-page overview or video, they must obtain permission and authorization in advance from the owners to use this material, unless the Fair Use doctrine applies to your situation.  Read up on it here and elsewhere on the web.

Non-Confidentiality: The final round of the Competition, including but not limited to oral presentations and question/answer sessions, is open to the public at large. This final event may be broadcast to interested persons through media that may include radio, television and the Internet. Any data or information discussed or divulged in the final round by entrants should be considered information that could possibly enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged, or presented in the Live Pitch Finals.

Decisions Regarding the Competition and the Winners: All decisions regarding the competition rules, procedures, and processes are at the sole discretion of the Elevate Pitch Competition Organizers. Changes and/or interpretations of these rules may be made by the Pitch Competition Organizers at any time, even though they may be (or may appear to be) in conflict with some previously published information. The selection of the teams to compete and the decision about the winners are at the sole discretion of the judges and the Pitch Competition Organizers.

Changes to Competition Rules: While not anticipated, these rules and prizes are subject to change at the discretion of the Elevate Pitch Competition Organizers at any time.  The Pitch Competition staff has the right to interpret these rules according to its own judgment.

Contacting the Pitch Competition Organizers: If you have questions, please contact us at summit-pitch@haaaa.net