What's the Big Idea 2024 Pitch Competition - Official Rules

What’s the Big Idea? is a business start-up summit designed to inspire entrepreneurial action. The competition will bring together bright minds with bright ideas to participate in an intensive period of prototyping, community building, planning, incubation, and launching. The winning idea will be advanced to one of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s Business Model development programs (Co.Starters, Starting Your Business 101, Growing Your Business 201, or The Works Accelerator Program) and will receive $10,000 in prize money after completing the program.



Applications for WTBI will open on January 10th, and close on February 2nd. From that pool of applicants, entrepreneurs will be selected to submit ‘pitch’ videos describing their business concept. Those ideas will be posted to a website where the public can vote on their favorites. Public voting will run from February 12th through February 18th. After voting closes, five ideas will be selected to move on as finalists in the Big Idea competition. The finale Pitch Night will be held on March 3rd at 6pm where we’ll announce a winner!


  1. Applicants with a concept or a new enterprise in the seed-capital, start-up, or early-growth stage.
  2. Applicants who are at least 18 years of age.
  3. Applicants with a concept that could lead to potential growth and job creation in the Knoxville, Tennessee area*.* Defined as being located in Knox County or a contiguous county including: Anderson, Blount, Jefferson, Grainger, Loudon, Sevier, and Union counties.


  1. Companies that are acquisitions or buy-outs.
  2. Companies that are expansions of existing companies.
  3. Companies that are considered a franchise.
  4. Companies that have a licensing agreement for distribution of products and services by others.
  5. Enterprises that have raised equity capital from sources other than direct members of the venture, their friends, or their families.
  6. Companies that do not intend to grow in the Knoxville area (as defined above).

Ideas will be judged on potential for growth and success.


The winner will receive a cash prize of $10,000, and complimentary registration in one of KEC’s business development programs.


Prior to receiving the cash reimbursement grant, the winner must complete one of KEC’s business development programs (like Co.Starters, Starting Your Business 101, Growing Your Business 201, etc. and have established a business license in the Knoxville area.  If no such program is scheduled to start within 2 months of the Big Idea Finale, the winner will provide a letter of intent committing to complete the next available program. 


JANUARY 10th – Applications Open

FEBRUARY 2nd  / 11:59PM – Applications Close

FEBRUARY 12-18th – Public Voting on Video Pitches

FEBRUARY 21st – Finalists Announced

MARCH 3rd – Finale Event

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