MasterCard Courts Startups – In The Elevator

Got an elevator pitch? MasterCard wants to hear it. The company will provide the elevator.

The payments tech mainstay is partnering with Mashable for the Priceless Elevator Pitch promotion, which will be held at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, on March 13-15. Any aspiring entrepreneur — provided that he or she is a MasterCard cardholder who is in good standing — is invited to pitch his or her concept, in 60 seconds or less, in an actual elevator, for a chance to win $15,000.

The elevator pitches will be captured on camera and broadcast on screens throughout Mashable’s home base at SXSW, the Mashable House.

The contest will run from 12-5 p.m. on March 13 and 14, and from 12-2 p.m. on March 15, when the $15,000 grand prize winner will be named from a pool of nine finalists.

The judges for the competition will be representatives from some of the country’s top venture capital firms; they will award three finalists at the end of each of the three days with a $250 MasterCard prepaid card. MasterCard’s senior vice president, North America commercial products, Jay Singer, will join the panel on the last day to help select the winner.

Pitches will be judged based on three key components: most viable business concept or product; originality of pitch; and presentation of pitch.

“You never know where the next big idea might come from — sometimes it just takes a little encouragement and the right opportunity,” said Singer in a company press release. “That’s why we’re bringing the Priceless Elevator Pitch to Mashable House. We want to support the entrepreneurial spirit in our cardholders.”

Coaches will be on hand throughout the event to help the contestants rehearse and fine-tune their pitches prior to showtime. Once the entrepreneurial contenders step inside the elevator, though, they’ll be on their own.



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