Starting and operating a new business in America is no easy task. Looking at data from Empire State Development, New York's economic development arm. You will quickly learn that small businesses comprise 98 percent of New York's companies and employ more than 40 percent of the state's workforce.

With more than 1 in 5 New York small businesses failing in the first year, there are groups all over the region taking steps to help support companies as they try to sustain themselves and grow.

One program in particular is making great strides in helping small businesses and start-ups in Western New York become sustainable.

READ MORE: New Small Business Grant Program Available In Western New York

If you own a small business, are the founder of a start-up, or are an entrepreneur stuck in a rut, then Pitch-In is a program you want to look at.

Pitch-In is a free program that allows entrepreneurs to hone their skills by learning how to pitch their business concepts to various funding streams. Think of It as a training program for Shark Tank or something similar. BootSector and the WNY Incubator Network created the program.

The way Pitch-In works is pretty simple: Three businesses in their early stages of development are allowed to pitch their businesses to an audience. The audience is then able to ask questions and respond to the business owner, helping them develop their business ideas and valuable feedback better.

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I was able to attend the Pitch In Start-Up Founder Pitch Event on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at the University at Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS) in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where I was able to observe three new businesses present their ideas to a room of about 50 people.

The audience consisted of other small business owners, a few students from The University at Buffalo, others from the business sector, and even a few community members.

The three businesses pitching—Patrick Rost, owner of InfoSecurity Blueprint, Denine Jackson, founder of Denine Jackson Interiors and EMBRACE, and Matt Morgan, co-founder of FRESUMES—all had 5 minutes to pitch their businesses to the crowd. They then participated in a question-and-answer session, which seemed to be very helpful.

Pitch In Small Business Event

Western New York has been a hub of activity for start-up businesses, and this program, which took place on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, is key to helping them grow. 

Gallery Credit: Ed Nice

If I were in the process of starting a new business, I would check this program out. The education you gain seems invaluable.

The next Pitch-In session is scheduled for Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at 5:30 p.m. More information about it can be found here.

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