Intending to inspire and help capitalize future Black entrepreneurs and innovators, the popular soda brand Mountain Dew is launching a $1 million ideas pitch competition.
Gaining access to capital remains is one of the biggest challenges for Black Americans wanting to start or expand a business. So the contest’s timing is perhaps fitting for those individuals and others.
Called the MTN DEW Real Change Opportunity Fund, the contest is an ideas pitch competition offering the $1 million prize pool annually with an expected initial commitment of five years. Mountain Dew just announced it is teaming with Howard University, Hampton University and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) linked with its parent company PepsiCo.
The contest comes after PepsiCo announced, in June, its plans to invest over $400 million in the next five years to uplift Black communities across America. The contest is separate from that pledge.
The Real Change Ideas Pitch Competition will offer students and recent alumni of Howard, Hampton and other HBCUs a chance to win cash. The Top 10 finalists will compete for a piece of the $1 million prize pool, with their respective schools also getting an award fund.
The competition will provide resources, programming and funding to future Black Entrepreneurs. The goal is to encourage and empower HBCU students to go out and “Do,” meaning convert their ideas into real action. Those interested in applying and getting more entry details can go here.
A panel of experienced “Doers,” including seasoned entrepreneurs, will pick the top 50 applicants. Those applicants will be invited to a round of virtual pitches with an all-star panel beginning January 18, 2021. Ten finalists will emerge and can pitch their ideas in front of a Real Change panel. The 10 finalists will compete during a virtually streamed finale in February 2021.
Mountain Dew is partnering with media powerhouses, including BET, Blavity, iHeartMedia and ViacomCBS to highlight the journeys of the finalists and their paths to the ideas pitch finale. Mountain Dew will select the winners and the schools will not be involved in that process.