Contestant FAQs and Rules


This Contest is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations and void where prohibited.  Participation constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to these Rules and Organizer’s decisions, which are final and binding in all matters related to the Contest.  Winning a prize is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein. Entrants that are selected as finalists or semi-finalists (as described below): (i) may be required to record and submit pitches and content, (ii) may be required to complete a live judging panel, and (iii) must be available on Thursday  October 17, 2024 from approximately 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm CT. By entering, entrants agree that if they are selected as finalists or semifinalists, that they are available and willing to complete any such actions.   

Contest entries must comply with the Content requirements described here to be valid. “Content” refers to all content you submit in connection with your entry form for the Contest and, if applicable, any videos, pitches, or other content submitted during the semi-finalist and finalist rounds. Organizer reserves the right to remove any Content that does not adhere to the submission requirements, as determined in Organizer’s sole discretion, and/or disqualify the entrant.  

By entering the South Side Pitch, you represent and warrant that you are submitting only your original Content, which has not been copied from others or generated by AI and does not infringe on or violate the rights of any third party or entity. You also represent and warrant that publication of the Content via various media including web posting will not infringe on the rights of any third party. You represent and warrant that you have the right to enter the Contest on behalf of a business. If anyone claims the Content of your submissions is a violation of others’ rights, you promise to hold Organizer, Sponsors, Judges and others associated with the South Side Pitch harmless and indemnify them against any such claims.  

Any entrant whose Content includes likenesses of third parties or contains elements not owned by the entrant (such as, but not limited to, depictions of persons, trademarks or logos) must be able to provide legal releases for such use including Organizer’s use of such Content, in a form satisfactory to Organizer, upon request, prior to award of prize and/or naming of entrant as a semi-finalist or finalist.  

By submitting Content, you agree that you are sharing the Content without expectation of payment and without restrictions, and the Content will not place Organizer under any obligation. You agree that Organizer is free to use or otherwise disclose the ideas contained in the Content on a non-confidential basis to anyone or otherwise use the Content without any additional compensation to you. You acknowledge that, by acceptance of your Content, Organizer does not waive any rights to use similar or related ideas previously known to Organizer, or developed by its employees, or obtained from sources other than you.  


All Content submitted by you must conform to the additional submission requirements set forth herein:  

  • Entries must be in English.  
  • Content must comply with these Official Rules;  
  • Content cannot be sexually explicit or suggestive, violent or derogatory of any ethnic, racial, gender, religious, professional or age group, profane or pornographic, contain nudity or any materially dangerous activity;  
  • Content cannot promote illegal drugs, tobacco, firearms/weapons (or the use of any of the foregoing), any activities that may appear unsafe or dangerous, or any political agenda or message;  
  • Content cannot be obscene or offensive, endorse any form of hate or hate group;  
  • Content cannot defame, misrepresent or contain disparaging remarks about Organizer or its services, or other people, products or companies;  
  • Content cannot contain trademarks or trade dress owned by others, or advertise or promote any brand or product of any kind, without permission, or contain any personal identification, such as license plate numbers, personal names, e-mail addresses or street addresses;  
  • Content cannot contain copyrighted materials owned by others without permission; Organizer does not permit the infringement of others’ rights and any use of materials not original to the entrant (except copyrighted materials owned by Organizer or licensed to entrant) is grounds for disqualification from the Contest. Do not copy your favorite book or use any other third party’s language unless you have obtained all rights necessary to permit you to use the same in connection with your Content and grant the rights herein granted to Organizer;  
  • Content, including texts, images, and audio recordings, cannot be generated by AI. 
  • Content cannot contain materials embodying the names or other indicia identifying any person, living or dead, without permission;  
  • Content cannot communicate messages or images inconsistent with the positive images and/or goodwill to which Organizer wishes to associate (as determined by Organizer in its sole discretion); and  
  • Content cannot depict, and cannot itself, be in violation of any law. 

Potential semi-finalists, finalists, and winners are subject to verification. If any such individual is found not to be eligible or not in compliance with these Rules, cannot be verified, is not responsive to requests on time, is unreachable, is unable to attend the pitches on the dates specified or unable to provide the content required, or is otherwise unable or unwilling to accept and claim the prize as stated, then such individual may be disqualified and the position and prize (if any) may be forfeited in Organizer’s sole discretion.  

Organizer reserves the right to waive the Contest submission requirements set forth herein in its reasonable discretion. 

South Side Pitch is a contest to identify and showcase established South Side businesses that have made a positive impact on the lives of their customers, employees, community members, or owners through their business. We look for entrepreneurs who can effectively describe what business project they hope to start or develop if they receive South Side Pitch prize money.  

To enter the Contest, submit a complete application during the Entry Period in the online form at An application that contains all required information, including answers to the required questions, and complies with all Content requirements described here under “What goes in the submissions?” receives one (1) entry into the Contest. Limit of one (1) entry per business. By submitting your application, you agree to abide by the rules of the contest explained here and the decisions of the judges.  

On or before August 23, 2024, we will notify approximately 25 contestants who have been chosen to be South Side Pitch semi-finalists. Semi-finalists will be subject to verification. Only semi-finalists will proceed to the subsequent semi-finalist round. If you are selected as a semi-finalist, you will be asked to submit a thirty to sixty (30-60) second video about your business. On or before September 9, 2024, we will publish the video of each semi-finalist on the South Side Pitch YouTube channel. The public will have the opportunity to “like” their favorite semi-finalists, from September 9, 2024 to September 20, 2024, and the video with the most likes will be announced on September 23, 2024. The one (1) semi-finalist that receives the most likes will be guaranteed to advance to the finals. Semi-finalists are not allowed to pay for services that generate likes or take steps to generate artificial engagement with the video; if the IJ Clinic detects evidence of artificial engagement, it has discretion to disqualify or otherwise penalize the semi-finalist.  

The IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship will select approximately four (4) additional semi-finalists to be finalists. On September 23, 2024, we’ll announce our finalists, who will prepare a pitch and compete at our October 17, 2024 event. Finalists will be invited to perform a five (5)-minute pitch before our panel of judges and an in-person and virtual audience including investors, entrepreneurs, and community leaders. The winners will receive prizes. Details of the final pitch process will be provided to the finalists once they are selected.  

Around the time of our event on October 17, 2024, we’ll open up an online voting poll where the public will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite finalist. Any member of the public will be allowed to vote once for their favorite finalist during this voting period and the first-place winner shall be deemed the “South Side Pitch Community Favorite.” There may not be any prize connected with winning the poll for the South Side Pitch Community Favorite. ” 

South Side Pitch is a pitching competition that showcases some of the South Side’s most creative and promising businesses before an in-person and virtual audience. It will culminate in an event on October 17, 2024 where finalists’ business pitches will be presented and the winners chosen by a panel of judges will be announced. Organizer reserves the right to adjust or alter any round of submissions, including how and when the finalists’ pitches are completed. 

Entry Period: The Entry Period for the Contest begins on June 17, 2024 at 12:00:00 am CT and ends on August 5, 2024 at 11:59:59 pm CT. Only selected semi-finalists and finalists shall move on to the next round of the Contest. 

Event Details: 

South Side Pitch
Thursday, October 17, 2024
Polsky Exchange North Center
1452 E 53rd St., Chicago, IL 60615
In-Person and Virtual Event

The Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School is the “Organizer” of South Side Pitch. 

June to August 2024

Applications open from June 17th to August 5th 2024

To be considered for 2024 SSP, you must apply by August 5th at 11:59pm CST.

Mid August 2024

Application Review & Pitch Perfect

Interested in networking and refining your business pitch? Join the IJCE at the University of Chicago Law School in late August 2024 for Pitch Perfect!

Late August to Mid September 2024

Semifinalist Season

Semifinalists are selected in late August 2024! Submit your video pitch and the public votes who receives the People’s Choice award! The Peopleʼs Choice is guaranteed a spot to compete in October!

Late September 2024

Finalist Coaching

Finalists are selected in late September 2024! Join IJCE & pitching experts to practice your pitch!

October 17, 2024

South Side Pitch!

Live at the Polsky Center North on October 17, 2024. Finalists pitch to win the top prize!

In order for your business to be eligible for South Side Pitch, your business must meet the following requirements as of the start of the Contest: 

  • Have fewer than 50 employees 
  • Be past the idea stage and have a track record of serving customers 
  • Be a for-profit company 
  • Not be part of a franchise 
  • Not be a former or current client of the IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship 
  • Not be a former South Side Pitch finalist 
  • Demonstrate connection to the South Side. At minimum, your primary business location must be on the South Side. If you own a home-based business or do not have a physical location for your business then your place of residency should be on the South Side. We define the South Side as any address in the City of Chicago south of Roosevelt Road.
  • Must be at least eighteen (18) years of age or older 
  • Made less than $1 million in annual revenue

In order to be allowed to pitch for South Side Pitch, you must be an owner or founder of the eligible business. South Side Pitch is open to legal residents of Illinois, who are at least eighteen (18) years of age or older, and who are located in Illinois at the time of entry. Employees, contractors, directors, officers, owners or founders of former clients, owners or founders of current clients, agents of the Institute for Justice, and members of their immediate family or household are not eligible to enter or win.

The judges of South Side Pitch will judge applications on the quality of their answers to the questions. Applicants and semi-finalists should focus on explaining their business model clearly and convincing us that they would be exciting finalists in an inspirational event! Throughout the competition, judges will consider these specific criteria:

Business Impact: What meaningful change has your business created?
For example: How has your business had a positive impact in your own life or the lives of your employees, neighborhood, and customers? Does your business offer a product that solves a pressing problem for consumers? Did your business improve your community by bringing jobs or a much-needed good/service? Has it brought wealth or generated revenue for yourself or for others in your community?
Business Vision:  How would receiving additional funds enable your business plans for growth?
For example: What project would the $10,000 grand prize support? What investments are you making into the next phase of your business? Why should the community be excited about your business’s future?
Creativity: How has creativity helped you grow your business or adapt in light of challenges?
For example: Did you adjust your business plan when you were not making enough sales or revenue? Did your product or service lead to an industry change or a new way to tackle an existing problem? Have you deployed creativity in creating a market for your business, finding funding, or attracting a customer base?
South Side Connection: Does the business have deep roots on the South Side?
For example: Was the founder or current owner born or raised in the South Side? Has the business been located in the South Side for many years? Does the business have an important presence in a South Side neighborhood?
Showmanship: Will you be able to bring an energetic and enthusiastic pitch that will inspire the audience?
For example: Are you able to motivate the audience to invest in and support your business? What inspired you to become an entrepreneur or start a business?

If there is a tie at any level during the judging (including the public voting round), Organizer will decide who proceeds or wins.

Finalists competing in the live event are eligible for cash or in-kind prizes. Awards numbers may change due to additional support or sponsorship arranged for the year. In 2023, each of the five South Side Pitch finalists received an award. The first-place winner received $12,000, second-place winner received $9,000, third-place winner received $5,000, fourth-place winner received $2,500, and the fifth-place winner received $1,000. The individual who receives the most valid public votes during the Finals Voting Period shall be deemed the “South Side Pitch Community Favorite” but might not be awarded any prize for such achievement. The first-place winner of the semifinals online poll, on or before September  9, 2024 to September 20, 2024, will be allowed to advance to the finals. When the winners are announced, they will receive their prizes or certificates representing their prizes via direct deposit or mail (please allow 10 business days to receive such an item). If a prize, or any portion of it, cannot be awarded for any reason, the Organizer reserves the right to substitute for another prize. Prize winners will be solely responsible for all federal, state, and/or local taxes, and for any other fees or costs associated with the prizes they receive. If required, winners will receive an IRS Form 1099 for the approximate retail value of the prize. Winners may be required to fill out an IRS W-9 Form, a Direct Deposit Authorization Form, and a Grants and Other Assistance Form, an Affidavit of Eligibility/Liability Release, and, where lawful, a Publicity Release, within ten (10) business days of attempted notification or prize may be forfeited.  

Submissions will NOT be confidential. Organizer of the South Side Pitch may announce or publicize the entries in the contest or post them on the web. Finalists will make a public presentation of their content. Submissions are not covered by attorney-client confidentiality. 

You should be aware that entering the Contest might be considered a publication or disclosure of your ideas, and it might affect your ability to patent any innovations contained in your entry. 

Entrants will retain the ownership of the content and ideas in their submissions, but by entering entrants give Organizer and the South Side Pitch an unlimited, worldwide license and right to share, publish, use, publicize, and publicly perform the Content in any way, in any and all media, without limitation, and without consideration to the entrant, as well as the same right and license to use their identities, name, likeness, and their pictures. 


By entering, you agree to release Organizer, Sponsors, Judges and others associated with the South Side Pitch from any and all liability, loss or damage incurred as a result of the South Side Pitch. Organizer reserves the right to modify the plans for this Contest. Organizer is not responsible for any entries that are lost due to technical malfunctions or mistakes or failures or other issues outside its control.  Organizer shall not be responsible for a finalist’s or semi-finalist’s inability to access any live pitch events, inability to access any required virtual platform, and/or inability or difficulty in submitting any Contest Content or materials. Individuals who do not follow all of the instructions, provide the required information, fully complete the Contest questions, attend any required calls or provide any additional materials, and/or abide by these Rules or other instructions of Organizer may be disqualified. 

Organizer reserves the right to cancel, suspend and/or modify the Contest, or any part of it, if any fraud, bugs, virus, technical failures, or any other factor beyond Organizer’s reasonable control impairs the integrity or the proper functioning of the Contest, or if the Contest otherwise cannot be run or is not realistic to run because of factors outside of the Organizer’s reasonable control, all as determined by Organizer in its sole discretion. Organizer is not responsible for computer system, phone line, hardware, software or program malfunctions, or other errors, failures or delays in computer transmissions, any website, or network connections that are human or technical in nature. Organizer reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual it finds to be tampering with the entry process, the website, or the operation of the Contest or to be acting in violation of the Rules of this Contest or any other promotion or in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner. Any attempt by any person to deliberately undermine the legitimate operation of the Contest may be a violation of criminal and civil law, and, should such an attempt be made, Organizer reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.  Organizer’s delay or failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. 

As a condition of entering, entrants agree (and agree to confirm in writing): (a) to release Organizer,  Sponsors, Judges and others associated with the South Side Pitch, from any and all liability, loss or damage incurred with respect to the awarding, receipt, possession, and/or use or misuse of any prize; (b) under no circumstances will any entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and entrant hereby knowingly and expressly waives all rights to claim, punitive, incidental, consequential, or any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses and/or any rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased; (c) all causes of action arising out of or connected with this Contest, or any prize awarded, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action; and (d) any and all claims, judgments, and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred (if any), excluding attorneys’ fees and court costs. 

Please see the privacy policy located at for details of Organizer’s policy regarding the use of personal information collected in connection with this Contest. If you are selected as a winner, your information may also be included in a publicly-available winner’s list.