Startup Peoria’s KeyStart Pitch Competition application period is open and now accepting ideas for new or existing startup businesses that could use $10,000 to help them grow.

The program provides entrepreneurs with an opportunity to not only compete for a cash prize, but to raise awareness around their idea and also introduce and integrate into the local startup ecosystem. It also provides participants a platform for publicity and networking to help entrepreneurs create more collisions among the people, ideas and resources needed to help them be successful.

Building off of the past success of the initiative, the total investment amount in the June competition is double the amount of previous competitions. Recipients of the past 5 KeyStart competitions were awarded $5,000 each and the total amount invested in local startups by Startup Peoria and its key partners reached $25,000.

Past KeyStart winners include:



Virtual Halo

Device Tree Protection Services

Sol Cool Systems

While there are no residency requirements for those out-of-town businesses that are looking to apply, all applications must be submitted by June 3rd. A selection committee will evaluate which of the startups adequately meet the initial criteria. Finalists will then be determined for the pitch competition held on June 3oth. During the competition, the panel of judges will determine which of the finalists pitches were the most compelling, who answered the Q&A portion the best, and rank the competitors based on a number of factors pertaining to their business models.

So what can you do to help in your application to help your chances of becoming a finalist?

According to Randon Gettys, Startup Peoria Coordinator, “Most people don’t have a good answer for the metrics question. Taking time to really think that out and also provide better answers on how your idea scales will help the selection committee understand your idea better.”

Additionally, interested individuals or startups can stop by The Nest Coworking to connect, plan and prepare for their application with the help of existing businesses, past KeyStart applicants and wealth of educational resources.

The application process is available online by visiting


This article was created in collaboration with Startup Peoria, a PEN Partner.

Startup Peoria is a program of the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council. The Greater Peoria EDC is a 501(c) 6 non-profit organization that drives economic growth in a five county region through targeted business and talent development.