for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
at Davidson College

for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
at Davidson College

The CATS Pitch 2022 invites underrepresented founders of for-profit businesses to submit a 3-minute recorded pitch for a chance to win one of three CATS (capital, advisors, talent, space) prize packages to accelerate their entrepreneurial pursuit.

We are able to offer this competition thanks to generous support from the Regional Impact Grant from the NC IDEA Foundation. Competition organizers and judges are representatives from the Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Davidson College, LaunchCLT and First Turn Innovations.

woman facing crowd and talking

Pitch Info

The application and pitch video are due October 24, 2022. Winners will be notified by email by November 4, 2022 and prizes will be distributed no later than December 16, 2022.

The CATS Pitch 2022 Competition is open to for-profit companies that have at least 50% historically underrepresented ownership and are legally registered/incorporated in one of the eligible counties of Central North Carolina. For purposes of this Competition, an historically underrepresented founder/owner is an individual who identifies as being: Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian or other Person of Color, LGBTQIA+, Woman/Femme, or Disabled. Eligible North Carolina counties include Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Stanly & Union.  

The following entities are ineligible to receive funding and are unable to compete:

  • Endowments, capital campaigns or other fundraising events
  • Lobbying organizations, political parties or labor organizations
  • Fraternal groups
  • Religious groups
  • Individuals
  • Entities that may be connected to prohibited drug-related activities

Pitch Application:

Submit the following information about your company via the online application. 

  • Contact Information: owner/founder name(s) & email
  • Company Information: mailing address, county of business, phone, website, social media handles
  • 3-minute pitch video, following these submission guidelines

Elements to consider in preparing your pitch:

    • Description of Product or Service
    • Value Proposition – How does the product or service add value for customers?
    • Target Market Characteristics – Who buys the product or service? How big is the target market?
    • Differentiation – How is the product or service different from existing products and services?
    • Competitive Advantage – What is the competitive advantage? (patent, algorithm, unique service model, etc.)
    • Revenue Model – How does the product or service generate revenue? (sales, subscription, advertisement, etc.)
    • Team – What unique combination of talent have you gathered to develop your solution?
    • PowerPoint or slide presentations are recommended.

Three (3) prize packages will be awarded to include: 

  • $2,500 grant
  • $1,000 pro bono work to hire a Davidson student through our Gig Hub program
  • Introduction to mentors through LaunchCLT and First Turn Innovations 
  • Coworking package, including space and resources for business acceleration 

Pitches will be judged and scored based on the following criteria:

  • Opportunity: proven need, large addressable market
  • Solution: effective solution; competitive differentiation
  • Business Model: clear articulation of payment flows – B2C, B2B, B2B2C, etc.
  • Traction: product-market fit
  • Team: relevant experience, compatibility, completeness
  • Impact: winning will have a meaningful impact on the business


Confidentiality is not guaranteed in any way. Do not include confidential material in your submissions. CATS Pitch 2022 Competition accepts no responsibility for preventing other competitors, judges, sponsors or others who see or hear a pitch competitor’s idea or materials from sharing the idea and/or materials. Nondisclosure Agreements (NDAs) and Covenants Not to Compete between a competitor and CATS Pitch 2022 Organizing Committee and/or judges are not permitted. Sharing your idea or concept may be deemed a public disclosure. It is the responsibility of applicants to consult with an attorney before entering the competition.


CATS Pitch 2022 Competition Organizers may take photographs and/or video of any materials used or made available by pitching individuals/teams during the competition for public relations purposes. Any content presented by a competitor should be considered public information disclosure. Competitors should carefully consider excluding any proprietary information or materials that the competitor feels is at risk of disclosure.


Funds are intended to be invested in the growth of the business. If chosen as a winner, your business is responsible for all applicable taxes.

PARTICIPATION AGREEMENT – Review the CATS Pitch 2022 Participation Agreement here.

Educational Programming

Students brainstorming at a table
Your Next Big Idea Workshop (In-person)

Wednesday, February 2, 4:30-6:00pm Come stretch your idea-muscles with the Hurt Hub! In this workshop, a facilitator will guide you through a series of exercises to explore where you might discover potential opportunities for an entrepreneurial idea or innovation. We will uncover different ways to start thinking with an entrepreneurial mindset and by the end of the workshop, you’ll have an inspiration list for your next big idea!

three individuals discuss a drawing
Intro to Entrepreneurship (Virtual)

Thursday, February 17, 4:30-6:00pmAre you new to entrepreneurship and don’t know where to begin? In this workshop, we’ll talk about the entrepreneur mindset and introduce a popular tool called the Business Model Canvas. Instructed by Dezbee McDaniel, co-founder of Clinispan Health and Innovator in Residence at UNC-Chapel, you'll learn from his experience as an entrepreneur and leave with an initial strategy for getting started with your own business idea.

Best Practices In Pitching (Virtual)

Thursday, February 24, 4:30-5:30pm

What goes into creating a solid pitch? What can you do to attract others to your idea and put confidence in potential investors? In this workshop, we’ll cover what should go into your pitch deck and go over the best practices and common mistakes entrepreneurs make when presenting their venture. This workshop will be taught by Juan Garzón, Executive Director of Innovate Charlotte and Pitch Breakfast.  

Instructor in front of class
Defining Your Customer and Market (In-Person)

Tuesday, March 8, 12pm-1:30pm It is critical for the entrepreneur to truly understand their customer in order to develop effective and viable solutions. In this presentation, we will go over techniques to develop empathy and understanding of your customer as well as discuss market sizing and potential.

Hurt Hub lobby
Prioritizing Your Startup's people, tools, and processes panel (In-Person)

Wednesday, March 23, 12:00pm-1:00pm Entrepreneurship is anything but linear, and it can be difficult knowing where you should focus your resources. In this panel discussion, we will chat with three entrepreneurs about how they’ve gone about prioritizing and selecting the people, tools, and processes they use to run a successful startup.

Part of the Hub Club Lunch series!

Classroom of students
Go-To-Market Strategy Workshop

Thursday, March 24, 6:30p-8:00pm

Ready to put your product or service out into the world? Join the Hurt Hub@Davidson and Laura McGuire of Fifty Fifty Consulting for a workshop on developing a Go-To-Market strategy. In this workshop you will learn how to bring your venture to market by understanding the customer journey, choosing effective marketing tactics, and developing methods for measuring your success. This workshop is part of the Nisbet Venture Fund educational series. Open to all and conducted in-person.

Structuring Contracts and Agreements Workshop

Monday, April 4, 4:30pm-6:00pm

Establishing strong agreements helps enforce the policies and procedures your venture needs to keep healthy working relationships. In this workshop, we will discuss the important considerations in creating strong contracts and agreements for your small business as well as what kind of agreements that might come up as an entrepreneur. This workshop is in partnership with Michael Best and will be instructed by Michael Fulks and David Sigmon.  

Students and Mentor talk
Pitch Practice Speed Mentoring

Thursday, April 7, 3:30-5:30pm Perfect your pitch by attending this speed mentoring event where experienced business mentors will listen and provide feedback on your presentation.
This event is designed for the selected finalists of the Nisbet Venture Fund. A registration link will be provided in an e-mail to those selected.


Individuals or teams must include an enrolled Davidson College student or recent Davidson alumni from a graduating class between 2016-2021. We accept applications from any profit business model. 


No, but they must own at least 25% of the company.

Acceleration Track Finalists: Yes. Finalists selected for the Acceleration track are assigned and required to participate in weekly mentoring sessions. Teams are also encouraged to attend any relevant events or clinics hosted at the Hub. Non-local alumni and students studying abroad must participate in remote mentoring sessions.

Incubation Track Finalists: Are encouraged to attend office hours at the Hurt Hub leading up to the pitch competition, though it is not a requirement. Incubation Track Finalists are not assigned a specific mentor. Teams are also encouraged to attend the educational workshops and clinics hosted by the Hurt Hub.

Usually, one finalist team on the Acceleration Track takes home the entire $25,000 prize. When the judges believe there should be more than one winner, they have the discretion to divide up the prize. In addition, there is no requirement that the judges make an investment in any team. The investment will be granted in the judges’ discretion.

The Incubation Track finalists will compete for the $2,500 prize and all finalists are placed in the same pool for the $5,000 audience choice award. 

We generally reimburse up to $250.

Investment from the Nisbet Venture Fund is an investment by Davidson College (or a subsidiary of the college) in a Davidson student or young alumni business venture.

While teams may compete and win the investment without being incorporated (or, in the case of a limited liability company, organized), the investment will only be disbursed to a corporation or limited liability company. The winning team(s) will have the option to structure the investment as either a convertible note or a warrant. If the convertible note structure is selected, then the team will enter into a Convertible Promissory Note and a Loan Agreement with Davidson College or a subsidiary of the college (referred to as the “Investor”). If the warrant structure is selected, then the team will enter into a Warrant and Investment Agreement with the Investor.



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Avinger Winners

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Sebastian Charmot (’22) + Oğuzhan Çölkesen (’22)

Emre Koc (’20) + Altan Tutar (’20) + Huseyin Altinisik (’21)
Impact Network

Mariem Bchir (’20)
LEAPS Academy

Nathan Engstrom (’21) + Zane Libke (’21)

Kim Bako (’21) + Patrick Sullivan (’21)

Lorena James (’21)

Andrew Wright (’20) + Jackson Miller (’20)

Arianna Montero-Colbert (’19)

Houston Downes (’18)

Charlie Goldberg (’19)
Get it Poppin’ Clothing Line

Peter (Andy) Baay (’17)
Data Engineer at Tresata, Armfield Capital Management, LLC

Violet Degnan (’17)
Topstone Projects

Scott Cunningham (16’)
Digital Storyteller

Tori Mayernick (’14)
Hives for Lives

Jared Blakney (’14)
Generations Tee Shirt Co.

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