Rules & Requirements

How does it work?

Important Dates & Deadlines

Wednesday, September 2, 2020 Application Period for Springfield Hustles Opens
Sunday, September 20, 2020 Application Deadline
Friday, September 25, 2020 Semi-finalists Announced
Friday, October 23, 2020 Semi-Final Business Plan Submission Deadline
Friday, October 30, 2020 Finalists Announced
Friday, November 8, 2020 Finalist Pitch Decks Deadline
Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 8:00 PM Springfield Hustles Final Pitch Event


  • Only brand new business concepts and startups who have been in existence for less than 3 years will be considered.
  • All semi-finalists are required to work with a business coach from the local Small Business Development Center to develop an investor-ready business plan and financial projections.
  • All ventures must be “for-profit” entities.
  • At least one business owner must be 18 years or older.
  • The following types of ventures are not eligible to compete: new businesses formed through a merger or acquisition, buy-outs of existing businesses, tax shelters, holding companies, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area, and spin-outs from existing corporations.
  • All competitors must be able to attend the live taping of the Springfield Hustles Pitch Event in person on the evening of Wednesday, November 11th.
  • Previous Springfield Hustles finalists are ineligible to compete in this year’s contest.

The Springfield Hustles Selection Committee has the final decision on which teams are invited to compete in the competition and reserves the right to include or exclude any teams for any reasons.

Competition Format

  • Round 1 – Elevator Pitches
    In our opening round, we’ll be asking entrants to shoot a 3-minute video pitching their business concept and asking a few simple questions when they submit their video online. This round is far less about production value and more about how intriguing the business concept is and how well the person is able to present their ideas out loud.
  • Round 2 – Business Model Design
    In our semi-final round, competitors will be working 1-on-1 with a skilled business advisor to complete an investor-ready business plan and 3-years’ worth of financial projections. These written plans will be reviewed by a team of judges to determine who will move on to the Final Pitch Event.
  • Round 3 – Final Pitch Event
    Each finalist will get an opportunity to take the stage and pitch their company or concept to a panel of judges who will determine the Grand Prize winner. After the pitch has concluded, the panel of judges will have an opportunity to ask follow-up questions to help inform their scores and decisions.

Judging and Scoring

Both the business plans and the live pitches will be judged and scored based on the following three categories:

  1. Business Model Feasibility – Does the business solve a problem for its target market in a way that would make it better or different than its competitors and do they have a good plan to reach and profit from their target market?
  2. Management Team Feasibility – Does the owner(s) have the characteristics, expertise, and experience to lead this business toward success?
  3. Market Feasibility – Given the competitive environment the business is likely to face, how likely is it that the business would thrive in Springfield?

The same scoring criteria will be used for both the initial Business Plan Evaluation round and the final Pitch Event round.