What is RISE, and why did you change the name of the competition?

RISE or Restorative Investing for Social Equity, has been the name of Rising Tide Capital’s signature event for the past two years. At this event, we bring all of our Rising Tide Community together–from funders and investors, to local and statewide government, program partners, staff and of course our entrepreneurs under the banner of Restorative Investing. We believe that it will truly take all of these stakeholders to co-create a flourishing, inclusive future economy and in this way we are all restorative investors working together to create the foundation for a future where everyone has access and opportunity.

For the past 8 years, our Challenge has been a platform for growth for our entrepreneurs in a different way than our regular work–it’s the one time of year where we put a significant amount of dollars directly into the hands of our entrepreneurs. We do this because we believe in the transformative power of our entrepreneurs to create the change they want to see in their communities by meeting some of the deepest needs. We’re literally investing in their ability to rise and to lift their families and neighbors with them, hence the new name of our competition–RISE: the Challenge.

What is the criteria for entering RISE: The Challenge?

To participate in the 2019 RISE: The Challenge you must:

  • Be a graduate of the Community Business Academy
  • Have an open business (you must have made at least one sale) or have a definitive business start date
  • Be very clear on the product or service you are selling
  • Have a clear understanding of your target market
  • Have a business that makes a positive contribution to your community

When is the deadline for submission?

Noon on Wednesday, June 26, 2018.

What are the prizes?

$36,000 in Cash Prizes!

There is one $5,000 prize in each of the five sectors, totaling $25,000. The five sector winners will have the opportunity to pitch for an additional $10,000, totaling a grand prize of $15,000!

All prizes are presented, at the annual RISE Celebration on November 13, when all finalists are honored. We will also present a community choice award of $1,000 on that day.

How does it work?

  • Check to see if your qualify.
  • Fill out the application by June 26 at noon.
  • Wait to see if you have been accepted as one of the RISE 50.
  • If you are accepted into the competition, promote your business profile between July 8-15 to accrue votes.
  • After one round of online voting, three contestants in each sector will be chosen to pitch their ideas live in front of a panel of experts.
  • If you have questions, please email us at RISE@RisingTideCapital.org.

What are some of the key dates in the RISE: The Challenge?

  • 6/26 | Deadline to Submit Application
  • 7/3 | Announcement of The RISE 50
  • 7/8 – 7/15 | Voting Round
  • 7/16 | Announcement of Sector Finalists
  • 7/18 | Pitch Tutorial
  • 7/25 | RISE Sector Finals
  • 8/1 | RISE: The Challenge Finale
  • 11/13 | RISE: The Celebration

Do I have to own a business?

Yes, though in previous years, this was not a requirement, this year we will only be accepting contestants who own open businesses (have completed at least one sale) or have a definitive start date (actively planning your launch).

Where can I learn more about starting or growing my business?

Rising Tide Capital offers a 12-week Community Business Academy in Essex and Hudson Counties, teaching entrepreneurs the nuts and bolts of starting a business. The class is tuition-free for anyone accepted through a competitive application process.

How is The Challenge different than earlier years?

This year there are several  important changes to The Challenge:

  1. You MUST be a graduate of Rising Tide Capital’s Community Business Academy to qualify for the competition.
  2. When you apply, you are no longer required to select a sector. We will assign your entry to a sector if you are selected to move on in the competition as one of our RISE 50.
  3. There are more rounds of competition:
    1. In Round One, you apply for the competition. Our staff will place you in a sector based on the way you responded to the questions in the application. Judges will select the top 50 entrepreneurs, 10 in each sector to move on in the competition.
    2. Round Two of the competition will be judged in two ways. 50 percent  of the score will be based on judge’s scores. 50 percent will be based on public voting on RISE.RisingTideCapital.org. 15 entrepreneurs–the top three in each sector–will move on in the competition.
    3. Round Three of the competition is new this year and will be a sector finals. The three finalists in each sector will pitch head-to-head for a prize of $5,000. Five entrepreneurs–one in each sector–will not simply win $5,000 each, but will move on in the competition to win an additional $10,000.
    4. Round Four is our Grand Finale. Five finalists will pitch head-to-head for an additional $10,000.

What are these business sectors?

For RISE: The Challenge 2019 we are asking you to think about the value your business provides to the Community. If accepted into the competition, you will be assigned to one of 5 business sectors: 

  • Food
    Entrepreneurs that are delivering food services and experiences, creating innovative food products, or re-educating their communities on food through activism and tourism
    Community Kitchens, Food Products, Restaurants, Food Education 
  • Health
    Entrepreneurs striving to optimize physical and mental wellness by creating affordable and effective methods for prevention, diagnosis and therapy for individuals and communities
    Fitness, Holistic Living, Medical Support
  • Sustainability
    Entrepreneurs working to sustain human life on the planet with businesses that create safe, clean, green solutions that optimize the Earth’s ecosystems
    Energy solutions, Environmental education or activism, Water
  • Community
    Entrepreneurs creating structures and access to information and experiences that connect people-whether in virtual or physical communities
    Construction, Real Estate, Learning, Security, Technology
  • Expression
    Entrepreneurs generating outlets for creativity within their communities, inspiring other humans to give meaning and value to each other’s lives.
    Fashion, Beauty, Art, Entertainment

How much does it cost to enter?

Entry is FREE

Why enter?

Aside from the obvious $5,000 prize–business pitch competitions are one way to cultivate new relationships, learn new skills and generate cash – three important components to help start or grow your business. By competing in RISE: The Challenge, your business idea will receive valuable feedback from expert judges, significant web exposure, as well as cash to grow your business.

What do I do after I submit my application?

Wait to hear if you have been accepted as one of our RISE 50! Getting your clients, friends and family ready to support you in the weeks prior to the voting period could really help you in the second round!

Can I purchase Social Media Ads to help me in the competition?

No. Your promotions must be completely organic. Any participants found to be cheating will immediately be disqualified from the competition.

Do I need to be a graduate of Rising Tide Capital?

Yes. RISE: The Challenge is open only to graduates of The Community Business Academy.

What are the competition rules?

You can find the official rules here.


Contact us at RISE@RisingTideCapital.org or 201-432-4316 Ext 110