FINALIST Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

BELOW YOU WILL FIND FAQs ABOUT the Food+City Challenge Prize Experience.

  • What is the agenda for the weekend?
    • Feb. 2, 2017, 5-7 p.m.: Intimate three-course dinners at Austin restaurants using the Jeffersonian Dinner model with a focus of The Last Food Mile. A Jeffersonian Dinner operates on a simple — but critical — shift in standard dinner-party dynamics: The whole group discusses one topic. This is patterned after Thomas Jefferson's catalyzing dinners at his home, Monticello. Each table includes a diverse group of thought leaders, investors and entrepreneurs, along with a moderator to guide the discussion and keep it moving throughout the meal. 
    • Feb. 3, 2017: Finalists will be given a 20-minute slot to practice their pitch before a group of advisors and receive specific feedback. We recommend finalists watch the other pitches because the feedback may inform how you frame your business going forward. We will also have funder meetings in the same space. Finally, join us for a Prize Happy Hour for Food+City Finalists, Mentors, Judges, Advisors and friends from 5 to 7 p.m. that evening.
    • Feb. 4, 2017
      • 8:00 a.m. - Finalists arrive and set up displays at their six-foot table
        9:15 a.m. - Judges arrive and are briefed
        10:00 a.m. - 12:30 pm - Judging: Round 1 for all finalists
        11:00 a.m. - Prize opens to the public
        12:30 p.m. - Lunch will be sent to your booth; Judges deliberate
        1:30 p.m. - Top 10 finalists announced; Fast Pitches begin
        2:30 - 3:30 p.m. - Judges deliberate
        3:30 - 4:30 p.m. - Winners announced and celebration reception begins 
  • What is the time limit for Round 1 with the judges? 
    • Judges will visit each team’s table for about 7 - 9 minutes.
  • Can you tell me more about Practice Pitch Day? 
    • Teams will have 20 minutes to practice their three-minute pitch, ask questions and get feedback from advisors. Your team's scheduled time will be sent to you closer to the event. We will collect your presentation in advance and have a computer and projector for you to present your deck. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack will be provided. We encourage all teams to attend for the entire day. You will hear valuable information by watching other teams practice and listening to the feedback they receive. 
  • Can we use audio/visual support in Round 1 of judging? 
    • Yes, but please know that the sound in the space is not conducive to video materials at your booth. The deadline to request power strips, monitors or additional materials is Jan. 6, 2017. We recommend that your initial pitch be an informal explanation of your idea, business plan and unique value proposition, rather than a formal PowerPoint presentation. 
  • Is the initial pitch when we should aim to address all the judging criteria? 
    • Yes. Judges will have the opportunity to really experience your product/service during the initial judging round.
  • How will the top 10 finalist teams be selected and what can we can do to make sure we have the strongest chance of being selected? 
    • Judges will rate teams using a 100-point judging criteria.
    • Total scores will be determined; the 10 teams with the highest cumulative scores will move on to the Fast Pitch round.
  • What is the format of the first few hours of judging? Are there any particular materials we should have at our booth? 
    • The initial judging from 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. will be informal as the judges walk around to each team’s table.
    • We encourage you to be creative in your set-up. 
    • Feel free to include samples, business materials/handouts, posters, swag or anything fun and interactive that would make your business stand out.
    • Please note that there will not be a supporting wall for displaying materials behind your table.
    • Your presentation needs to be self-supporting on the 6’ x 3’ table that each team is given.
  • How long will the pitch be? What time will it be during Prize day? 
    • The Top 10 Finalists will be announced at 1:30 p.m. on Prize day. The three-minute Fast Pitches will immediately follow.
  • Can you tell me more about the Fast Pitch judging criteria?
  • When do we submit a final business plan?
    • You will not be required to submit a final business plan.
    • It is your job to convey the most valuable information to the judges about your business plan within the allotted time for initial judging and fast pitches.
  • What’s the difference between the initial pitch and the fast pitch?
    • The emphasis for the fast pitch is on the ability of your team to verbally and visually present your idea to a critical audience in a short, concise format.
    • You will have three minutes to emphasize how your business plan will successfully provide solutions.  
    • Remember that your slide presentation for the fast pitch portion must be turned in by 8:00 a.m. on Feb. 4, 2017.
  • Can you tell me more about the pitch deck?
    • Going into Friday, you should have a pitch deck ready that you will use to assist your three-minute presentation. On Friday, you’ll present your pitch and then several advisors will give you feedback on your presentation style and content. You’ll have Friday night to revise the deck, if needed. Send your revised slides to by 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. If you are chosen as a finalist, we will have your slides queued up for the fast pitch presentation.
    • The building blocks of the presentation are all things you should at least mention in your three minutes. That said, you will have to cover most of these topics very briefly and use your judgment to pick the two or three key topics you want to spend your time covering.  
  • Is this event open to the public?
    • Yes. The Saturday event is free and open to the public. Last year, we had more than 700 attendees.
    • We encourage you to invite friends and family (RSVP here).
    • It may also be beneficial to bring enough samples or promotional items to give out to event attendees to increase company awareness. 
  • Are there any hotels nearby? 

Judging criteria


Click here to view the judging criteria.  Make sure you include highlights for each criterion in your conversations with the judges.

Top 10 Fast pitches

We recommend using the the book, "Get Backed," by Evan Baehr to help structure your pitch deck. You can download the relevant chapter here



  • Gather (Formerly Vuka)
  • 5540 North Lamar Austin TX 78721
  • Parking is available at the back of the venue

Saturday logistics info


  • McCombs School of Business
  • CBA Atrium on 3rd floor
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • 2110 Speedway, Austin, TX 78705
  • View Map

Saturday PARKING

On Saturday, teams will be given a parking card to validate your parking at the Brazos Garage. Once you park, the McCombs School of Business is a short four-minute walk to the event venue. 


You are welcome to bring guests to the event (RSVP here).


If you get lost, need directions or have any specific event questions, please contact: