World Series of Business: Birmingham’s Big Pitch

This is the fourth in our series from guest blogger Marty Swant who is joining us for a series on creative collaborations in Birmingham. Marty is a writer, musician, and the very definition of a “Man about Town” — he’s so likely to be spotted at the best shows and new events in Birmingham that there’s even a hashtag, […]

This is the fourth in our series from guest blogger Marty Swant who is joining us for a series on creative collaborations in Birmingham. Marty is a writer, musician, and the very definition of a “Man about Town” — he’s so likely to be spotted at the best shows and new events in Birmingham that there’s even a hashtag, #wheresmartyswant, dedicated to spotting him. Today Marty writes about The Big Pitch from REV Birmingham.


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I once heard someone say that sales is merely a transfer of passion. However, even before the sales begin, the idea itself needs to be sold.

Ten Birmingham businesses (and potential businesses) are vying for $15,000 in funding in competition next week called The Big Pitch. The competition is sponsored by REV Birmingham, a Birmingham economic development organization focused on the city’s center and its neighborhood commercial centers.

The Big Pitch began with 60 applications from small businesses before a panel of judges narrowed the group to 10 finalists. Some finalists are still in the idea phase, while others already exist and are looking to expand, said Matthew Hamilton, a consultant with REV who is helping as organizer.

The event kicks off on Nov. 6 with a reception at Trim Tab Brewing Co. Along with the reception, attendees will hear a keynote speech by Lonnie Johnson, a native of Mobile and inventor of the Super Soaker toy water gun. The next day, finalists will receive one-on-one workshops with lawyers, graphic designers, marketing experts and other professional service providers to help refine their business plans before the final pitch on Saturday.

“The goal of Rev is not just to help prepare them for the pitch, but also to help them refine their business plan, and through the process get them more visibility in the city,” Hamilton says.

The grand prize of $10,000 is provided by PNC Bank. A second award of $5,000 will go to the finalist who receives the most votes through a People’s Choice contest with Alabama Media Group, which is sponsoring the online vote on al.com.

Judges were selected from people associated with the funders, along with a group of seasoned entrepreneurs who have already successfully created businesses. Hamilton said the panel has been looking at various criteria including viability and growth potential, the ability to revitalize Birmingham’s city center, the potential to create jobs, and the presence of a “cool factor” that makes the idea new or innovative.

“A lot of economic development research agencies will tell you that small businesses are the driver of growth,” Hamilton says. “We have a lot of people in Birmingham that have an entrepreneurial spirit, and there is a good budding ecosystem here.”

Interested in attending? Buy a ticket here.

(Read Marty’s posts on Design Week BirminghamBirmingham Creative Roundtable, and ArcLight Stories here. Marty’s profile picture by Stephen DeVries.)