A technology startup needs to have a technologist on the founding team.

By Rebecca Lipon (Application & Judges Coordinator, PITCH Competition 2012)

PITCH NYC is an entirely unique event: a conference, networking event and competition solely focused on encouraging more female founders in technology startups. Every year we get questions about who should apply to the PITCH NYC competition and why, as well as questions on eligibility, so I thought I’d roll them up for you here.

You should apply to PITCH NYC for three reasons:

  1. To codify your process: The application is a resource to help you get clear and concise about the value of your company and put together your pitch.
  2. Exposure: Our community includes tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, and advocates for women who want to see you succeed. Becoming a finalist in PITCH has allowed previous winners to launch, connect with investors, refine their pitch, and increase their notoriety all in the span of one event.
  3. Prizes: Winning teams will win several prizes including $25,000 in cash from L’Oreal, up to $24,000 of hosting services from Rackspace, an interview with TechStars, and much more. These prizes are meant to help our most promising finalists accelerate their success.

Who should apply to PITCH?

The rules say applicant companies must be technology startups who have taken less than $1M in funding. Your company must have a female co-founder, a technologist on the founding team, and a viable prototype in order to be eligible. As long as you meet these rules, you are welcome to apply.

You don’t need to be in New York to apply! Applications accepted globally – finalists will be required to PITCH live in person in New York come November 2012 for prizes.

The most common question I receive from applicants is “what does it mean to be a technology startup?”

It is difficult to figure out what a technology startup means these days because every company with a website is leveraging technology, but we do follow a very specific definition of technology startup inspired by the work of Eric Ries and Steve Blank. While a technology startup can span many industries, we expect to see a company that is, principally, selling technology.

This definition excludes any company that is solely focused on offering human services or media content via the web — your company needs to be providing a platform, offering a product, service, etc. where each additional customer is of little or no incremental cost. For example, Kaplan offering online registration for their live classes wouldn’t qualify, but a solely online educational platform like Udemy would.

Blank defines this as the concept of a “scalable startup” — new companies exploring repeatable, scalable business models. Your company does not need to be profitable yet, but you should be iterating on models that could work and demonstrating market potential.

A common reason for disqualification from PITCH is applicant companies who have hired a technologist, but who do not have a technologist on the founding team.

An entrepreneur could be anyone starting a small business, but a technology startup needs to have a technologist on the founding team. A technologist is an engineer, scientist, mathematician, biologist, etc. If you wanted to start a salon, you wouldn’t do it without a stylist, and the same goes for a technology startup.

Finally, don’t forget to make it really clear who is a founder in your startup. Our eligibility criteria is based on your founding team, so we need all applicant companies to be explicit about who their founders are.

If you have other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at askpitch@women2.org. Applications are open now through August 31, 2012 – Good luck!

Find out more about PITCH NYC 2012 here.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Rebecca Lipon is a product marketing manager at Synopsys, where she works to make sure the technology for verifying computer chips is state-of-the-art. A passionate advocate for women in technology, Rebecca mentors several San Francisco Bay Area non-profits and sits on the board of Spark SF, an organization promoting equality for women throughout the world. Rebecca is also the lead singer of the funk and soul band Sinister Dexter. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT. Follow her on Twitter at @rebeccalipon.