PitchFork Growth

A confluence of networking entrepreneurs, ideas, & investors

What is PitchFork?

The PitchFork platform provides a confluence of networking entrepreneurs, ideas, and investors, all driven by a passion to sustain a strong community. It offers a uniquely local solution by providing fun, low-key networking events for the community to learn about promising ideas and businesses that will help pave the way for a more idea-friendly and vibrant local economy.

PitchFork was established in 2016 when it became abundantly clear that rural areas were not recovering in the same way as their urban counterparts and startup rates were abysmally low. These low rates were tied to low rates of investment for rural businesses and PitchFork has grown and changed over the years to meet the need for diverse types of funding for startup and growth.

What's on Deck for 2022:

PitchFork Growth

PitchFork Community Idea

PitchFork Challenge

See our past PitchFork presenters

How to Launch Your Own PitchFork Challenge

Read our updated “how-to” guide and lessons learned putting together our pitch competition. This is a valuable reference tool to guide any small community interested in supporting their entrepreneurial community with a fun pitch competition.

PitchFork Guide
Access to capital has long been recognized as a major challenge for startups and growing small businesses. In rural America, a lack of capital has been identified as one of the main reasons for the decline in startup rates over the past several years.

Numerous pitch programs exist, but nearly all are urban-based, technology-focused, and concentrate on startups expected to generate big ROIs by going public or selling to another company with deep pockets. Many also have a win-lose, “Shark Tank” mindset, with little support, guidance, or coaching for pitch participants.

The Hannah Grimes Center launched PitchFork in 2016. The program has evolved into two offerings:

The PitchFork EventTM strengthens pitch skills in entrepreneurs and uses a friendly pitch event to build connections with various “investors” in the community — banks, venture angels, regional economic development corporations, private lenders, potential customers, community influencers and champions, mentors, and other resources in the community.

The PitchFork ChallengeTM seeks to do much the same, but is structured as a “competition” with multiple rounds and judges who award a cash prize to the winning business pitch at a high energy pitch finale.

PitchFork is intentionally encouraging and supportive. With access to capital and access to pitch guidance, practice, and coaching for participants, everyone who participates in a PitchFork should feel that they have gained invaluable insights about their business, learned how to talk about their business publicly, and understand what they need to do to make their business a success.

PitchFork provides important opportunities for exposure, visibility, and networking — opportunities often lacking in rural areas. Over the years, we have come to recognize that the program’s social element is one of the aspects of PitchFork valued most by our entrepreneurs.

Critically, PitchFork is intended to be fun, energizing, and festive! It’s a way to bring the community together to support, encourage, and applaud our small town businesses — not just bankers or economic development professionals, but friends, family, and neighbors.

We hope that the guide will inspire and support you in running a Pitch program in YOUR community!

PitchFork Growth
PitchFork Growth is a networking and pitch event that connects local entrepreneurs with local dollars. Entrepreneurs hone critical pitch skills, build investment readiness and gain visibility. Local community members get to view multiple opportunities to invest locally and network with community-minded investors and entrepreneurs.


Learn how to succinctly talk about your business and connect with potential customers, mentors and investors in the community.  This is a great opportunity to connect your business and its growth opportunities to potential lenders and investors with an interest in supporting local economic growth and whose resources extend beyond just financial to include valuable networks, experience, resources and skills.

If you are selected, this program coaches you to create an effective 6-minute presentation and culminates in a live pitch event. As the entrepreneur, you will work with a panel of professional business advisers and consultants to hone your pitch.  You will also be coached to be ready for a due diligence process to take on outside capital. Please see the important dates below and the application link.

As dictated by SEC rules, the event itself does not allow a direct ask of funding, but it does allow investors to learn about your business opportunity and can allow for connections after the event.  If you’re looking for funding for your business or organization, please contact us directly to for more information about PitchFork.  If this program isn’t a fit for you, we can also make suggestions about other good funding sources for your startup or growing business.

Criteria for applying:

The PitchFork Growth event is open to any registered business that is located in the counties below with a population of 30,000 or less. 

NH: Cheshire, Sullivan, and Hillsborough
VT: Windham, Bennington, Windsor
MA: Franklin
* Business must be for-profit
* Business is poised for growth and needs $10,000 to $100,000 to grow*
* Business is kicking off a Crowdfunding Campaign

Please contact the Program Director, sara@hannagrimes.com if you are interested in applying!

Watch: April 14th, 2022,  PitchFork Growth – livestream pitch event

The PitchFork Challenge

What is The PitchFork Challenge?

The PitchFork Challenge provides money and momentum for local rural entrepreneurs in the form of a friendly business pitch competition. Local entrepreneurs are coached to create a compelling pitch describing their business opportunity in pursuit of a cash award. Ultimately, one business owner will be chosen to receive a $10,000 cash prize. For the inaugural Radically Rural Summit in 2018, the success of the Hannah Grimes PitchFork Program was leveraged into the PitchFork Challenge, which provided local entrepreneurs in eligible counties looking to get their business name out to a wider audience, meet like-minded entrepreneurs, develop relationships with investors, and build up the skill of talking about their business in a clear and succinct way.

The 2022 PitchFork Challenge Goes National!

This year’s final live pitch will be held on Thursday, September 22, 2022, as part of the Radically Rural Summit

If you’re unsure if you should apply – come talk to us! Or if you’ve never pitched before and are nervous about talking about your business- don’t worry! Our program director will help you develop your presentation and practice with you. Don’t think “Shark Tank”. This is a very supportive and friendly pitch competition. The PitchFork Challenge is a great opportunity to get your business name out to a wider audience, meet new people who are building a business just like you and others who like to support small businesses and build a skill of talking about your business in a clear and succinct way.

Apply Here!

If you are not able to answer or supply the required documents for the application, please let us know (programs@hannahgrimes.com) as we can help develop the materials with you.

When does The Pitchfork Challenge Program happen?

The PitchFork Challenge Program will run from August to September, with a series of events narrowing down the finalists.

Who’s eligible?

The PitchFork Challenge is open to any resident and business that meets the following requirements:

  • Business must be located in a town with a population of 30,000 or less
  • Business must be for-profit and is currently earning revenue
  • May not have won the PitchFork Challenge Rural Small Business Track in previous years
  • May not have raised more than $250,000 in funding
  • May not have earned more than $250,000 in past year revenue

What will I win?

  • $10,000
  • National print and digital media coverage

Winner Requirements:

  • If a NH resident, complete a business form for three years after the award is received
  • Document the first year with photos of the use of the award and the impact of the award if applicable
  • Be available for social media, blog, website marketing, and promotion

How do I enter and what is required?

Round 1: Application is due by the end of business day on Monday, July 11th, 2022

Required documentation you will need to upload throughout the application process includes:

  • Company Logo
  • Company Tax Filing 2021
  • Profit & Loss Statement
  • Current Balance Sheet
  • Cash Flow Projections for 2022
  • Business Plan

Round 2: Required live Closed Round pitch event on Wednesday, August 10th, 2022, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM at the Hannah Grimes Center- participants will present their 6-minute pitch to a panel of judges

  • Up to two people may be eliminated
  • Semi-finalists will be notified of their status before the semi-finals live PitchFork Challenge Event

Round 3: Required Semi-Finals event on Thursday, September 8, 2022, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM – semi-finalists will prepare and present their 6-minute pitch to the judges and audience.

  • Up to two people may be eliminated.
  • Tuesday, September 15th, 2022 – Finalists for the rural small business track will meet with judges over Zoom for Q&A and further develop their final pitch at 5:00 PM -7:00 PM by appointment

Round 4: Required: The PitchFork Challenge final event on Thursday, September 22, 2022, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM during the Radically Rural Summit

  • Live pitch to the judging panel and live audience

How will I be judged?

You will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Traction
  • Team
  • Product
  • Market
  • Community benefit
  • Pitch – pitch performance

Important Dates For PitchFork Challenge Presenters (REQUIRED for Participation):

*All dates and times are in EST*

  1. Monday, June 27th, 3:00 PM – 4:00: PM PitchFork Challenge Info Session
  2. Monday, July 11th: The application is due by the end of the business day. APPLICATION LINK
  3. Wednesday, July 20th, 3:00 PM: PitchFork Challenge overview info session for accepted Applicants
  4. Wednesday, July 27th, 4pm – 5:30pm: Pitch Clinic with Hannah Grimes Staff – including an example pitch from a previous participant
  5. Monday, August 1st, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM: Schedule a 1:1 with Program Director for pitch practice
  6. Wednesday, August 10th, 5:00 PM – 7:00PM: Round 1: Closed event with a live pitch to the panel of judges
  7. Monday, August 15th & Wednesday, August 17th, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM: Schedule a 1:1 with Program Director for pitch practice
  8. Monday, August 29th & Wednesday, August 31st, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM: Schedule 1:1 pitch practice with Program Director
  9. Thursday, September 8th, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM: PitchFork Challenge semi-final event (Virtual-Livestreamed)
  10. Tuesday, September 15th, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM (Zoom by appointment): Finalists meet with the judges for Q&A
  11. Monday, September 12th, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM: Schedule a final pitch practice with Program Director
  12. Thursday, September 22nd, 10:00 am – 11:30 am: The PitchFork Challenge, the final live event will be held during the Radically Rural Summit (In Person)
  13. Thursday, September 22nd, 4:00 PM: Announcement Ceremony of the winners will be during the Livability Slam event at the Radically Rural Summit
  14. Finalists will need to register for the CONNECT event. (In Person)

Watch the PitchFork Challenge 2021


Idea Jam
Register Here

Sometimes the first step towards turning an idea into reality is saying it out loud. Giving voice to an idea can help it grow into something fully formed and ready to bear fruit. The Idea Jam is a place for civic entrepreneurs, local instigators, grassroots leaders, and everyday citizens to share ideas about how to help their communities thrive.

The event will feature an open mic where you can pitch your idea to a welcoming and supportive peer group. No idea is too small or too big to bring to the table. It could be something brand new or an existing project. The important thing is that the idea would in some way make your community more vibrant, prosperous, strong, sustainable…a generally more awesome place to be.

Not sure whether the Idea Jam is the right place to share your idea? First of all, yes it is! Here are a few examples, though, to open your imagination:

  • A festival in your community’s downtown.
  • A grassroots initiative that facilitates neighbors helping neighbors.
  • Local efforts to make a community more welcoming and supportive of small business.
  • A business or organizational start-up.
  • Creative ways to expand childcare access.
  • An initiative to improve transportation options.
  • A novel approach to creating more housing options.
  • Any project or program with a connection to an important community issue.

You won’t need to bring anything to the Jam other than yourself and your idea—distilled to a 90-second pitch. Here are some points you may want to touch upon in your pitch (you probably won’t be able to address them all):

  1. Name
  2. Quick description of idea
  3. Who’s working on this?
  4. What stage is the idea in?
  5. How does this idea help your community thrive? What is the opportunity?
  6. What resources and support is needed to move this idea forward.
  7. What is one small step you can take?
  8. What is one question you want to ask this group?

Even if you don’t want to pitch an idea yourself, you’re still welcome to attend and cheer on your friends, colleagues, and neighbors. All in the Monadnock Region are welcome to attend.

In addition to pitching and hearing about amazing ideas, attendees will learn how those ideas can connect with regional economic development work underway through the Our Economy initiative.

Next Community Idea Jam:

June 29th, 2022

5:00 PM- 7:00 PM
Location: The HIVE at Hannah Grimes Center
25 Roxbury St. Keene, NH

Register Here

Questions? Contact either Sara Powell or Todd Horner.

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