Hospitality Pitch Deck Competition 2022
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The Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at the Cornell Nolan School of Hotel Administration sponsors the Cornell Hospitality1 Pitch Deck Competition. This competition is an experiential learning opportunity for student entrepreneurs contemplating, starting, or operating an early-stage venture who are looking to improve their pitching skills with the potential to earn seed funding for their venture. 

Students register for the competition in early fall and submit their pitch decks in October for review by a team of industry judges. Four finalists will be selected to present in November to a panel of industry judges. The winning team will be awarded a prize of $3,000, second place will be awarded a prize of $1,500, and the third place team will be awarded a prize of $500. **All prizes subject to tax withholding as required by IRS regulations.

1 “Hospitality business” for the purpose of this competition is purposefully broadly defined and includes businesses providing support services to the hospitality industry (e.g., businesses such as Micros Systems that provide software and hardware to restaurant and lodging businesses).

Entering and Important 2022 Deadlines:

Thursday, September 22, 2022 by 11:59 PM

  • Register Team to compete via Reviewr

Tuesday, September 27, 2022, 7pm-8pm ET

  • Virtual Instruction Session with Prof. Quagliata via Zoom

Friday, October 14, 2022 by Noon

  • Submit Reading Pitch Deck via Reviewr

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

  • Four finalists selected and invited to participate in Pitch Deck Final Presentation

Sunday, November 6, 2022 by 5:00 PM

  • Finalists to submit Presentation Pitch Video via Reviewr

Tuesday, November 8, 2022 at 5:00 PM

  • Pitch Deck Final Presentations to panel of judges (in front of live audience)
  • Winners announced and prizes awarded (at reception following the event)

Team Eligibility Criteria

  1. Teams consisting of no more than two full-time Cornell University undergraduate and/or graduate students are eligible but at least one the member of each team must be a SHA student.
  2. Students must be in good academic standing (i.e., GPA not less than 2.0).
  3. Students may be members of only one team.
  4. For finalists to be eligible to win, all team members must be present for the final, virtual presentations.
  5. Teams are encouraged to seek advice and counsel from successful entrepreneurs, professionals, and experts, but teams must present only their own work product.
    The Cornell University Honor Code applies to all aspects of the Competition

The Cornell University Honor Code applies to all aspects of the Competition

Requirements for the Business Idea

  1. The objective of the Pitch Deck Competition is to provide an experiential learning opportunity to student entrepreneurs looking to practice pitching a hospitality business idea. As such, most ideas entered in the Competition will be ideas for new independent ventures in the seed, start-up, or early growth stages. Generally excluded are the following: buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area, and spin-outs from existing corporations. Licensing technologies from universities or research labs is allowed, assuming they have not been commercialized previously.
  2. Ideas should be drawn from the hospitality sector. For the purpose of this Competition, “hospitality” is purposefully broadly defined and includes businesses providing support services to the hospitality industry (e.g., businesses such as Micros Systems that provide software and hardware to restaurant and lodging businesses).
  3. The hospitality business ideas pitched may be for both for-profit and non-profit ventures.

Other Requirements

  1. All author(s) of the pitch decks and videos must agree that the work they are submitting is their original work. The author(s) will retain all rights to the pitch decks and videos regarding its use at all times prior to and following the Competition.
  2. By participating in the Competition, author(s) give the Competition organizers the right to post the pitch decks or videos on a password protected website in order for reviewers/judges to access the items, post comments, and assign numerical scores to the submitted items based on an established rubric.
  3. Finalists are required to sign a waiver allowing the Pillsbury Institute the express right to photography, videotape, record, live-stream and otherwise disseminate their Pitch Deck Presentation, and all finalist author(s) will be asked to sign a photo/video release form allowing Cornell University to use the Pitch Deck Presentation recording and Pitch Deck Presentation materials within the University for faculty, staff, students, and the Pillsbury Institute for educational purposes. In addition, final presentation videotapes may be posted on the School of Hotel Administration website for public consumption.
  4. Finalists are required to sign a money allocation agreement prior to the Pitch Deck Final Virtual Presentation. The agreement is meant to prevent any possible disagreements regarding division of money amongst team members after the competition winners are announced. 
  5. Non-confidentiality: Some aspects of the competition, including but not limited to oral presentations and question/answer sessions, are open to the public at large. Any and all of these sessions may be broadcast to interested persons through media, which may include radio, television and the Internet, including but not limited to YouTube. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions 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 these sessions. Due to the nature of the competition, we are not able to ask judges, reviewers, staff, or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements. However, the Pillsbury Institute will make every effort to limit distribution of pitch decks presented at the competition.  We cannot guarantee that other individuals will not obtain access to electronic or hard copies of the pitch deck. The Pitch Deck Final Presentation, whether in person or virtual, will be open to the public and will be recorded.  Attendance by media personnel is expected and final presentations will be posted on the School of Hotel Administration website for public consumption.
  6. Copyrights & Permissions:  If a team uses copyrighted materials and/or images from a third-party in their presentation or business plan, they must obtain permission and authorization in advance from the owners to use this material.

Pitch Deck Competition Guidelines

Building a pitch deck is one of the best ways to grab your audience’s attention and answer key questions about your business idea. Pitch decks help people to understand, care about, and take action. Two of the most common types of pitch decks are reading decks and presentation decks. Reading decks are documents that can be read and understood without the author present. Presentation decks serve as visual support for an entrepreneur’s presentation. This competition provides students the opportunity to experience creating both types of pitch decks.

The first round of the competition requires students to prepare a Reading Pitch Deck. Submissions are due by Noon EST on October 14, 2022. Please submit via Reviewr and name your file using the following format: ReadingDeck_TeamName.pdf  

Four teams will be selected to compete as Finalists. Teams will be notified of whether they are invited to advance in the Competition by October 25, 2022.

Finalist will submit a Presentation Pitch Deck prior the Pitch Deck Competition Finals on Sunday, November 6, 2022 by 5:00pm EST.

Reading Pitch Deck Guidelines

Decks must be limited to 11 slides. Participants should determine how best to communicate their business idea. Do not embed links, include text in the notes field, or include appendices. Teams that do not follow these rules will be disqualified.

Presentation Pitch Deck Guidelines

Presentation Pitch Decks are limited to 11 slides and up to 5 Q&A slides. Each invited team is required to submit a Presentation Pitch Deck and may choose to submit an updated Reading Deck no later than Sunday, November 6, 2022 by 5:00pm EST.

The Reading Pitch Deck can be in PDF form, but the Presentation Pitch Deck should be in PowerPoint. Electronic copies should be submitted via Reviewr and should be named according to the following format:


Any team that does not submit their materials by this date will be disqualified.

Oral Presentation Guidelines 

The Final Presentations will be delivered to a panel of judges in front of a live audience. The teams in the Final Presentations will have 10 minutes to present their hospitality business idea followed by a 5-minute question and answer session from the panel of judges. Teams can assume that the judges have read their Reading Pitch Decks. Once a team has finished its presentation, it may observe both the presentation and Q&A session of the teams that follow it. Teams may NOT observe other presentations until after they have made their own presentations. The order of presentation will be determined randomly.

Detailed scheduling for the Final Presentations will be provided to the teams later in the Competition. The Final Presentation Pitch Deck will be loaded onto a USB to be used during the Final Presentation. Teams may also demonstrate a prototype of their product during the Final Presentation (including a food sample if that is the product). They may NOT bring other materials for the judges such as handouts, etc. Teams are NOT REQUIRED to use materials in the Final Presentation.

The results of the competition will be announced during a reception immediately following the Pitch Deck Final Presentations.