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ConnectWise and Channel Program Team Up to Give MSPs a Say in Selecting PitchIT Competition Finalists

Attendees at a two-part online “Battle Royale” hosted next week by IT network and marketplace Channel Program will help select this year’s finalists in ConnectWise’s annual competition for startup makers of MSP software. By Rich Freeman

ConnectWise is giving channel pros a greater say over who wins PitchIT, its annual competition for startup makers of software for MSPs. 

As before, attendees at the vendor’s IT Nation Connect event in Orlando this November will determine who among the three finalists places first, second, and third. This year, however, partners will also get to influence who those finalists are by casting their votes during an online “Battle Royale” hosted by IT network and marketplace Channel Program.

The two-part event, scheduled to take place August 30th and September 1st at 1:00pm EST, is modeled after the livestreamed “channel pitch” events that Channel Program runs regularly, in which vendors articulate their value proposition to an anonymous audience of IT providers in a tight seven minutes flat. The 18 contenders for this year’s top PitchIT prizes will get an even tighter five minutes each to explain their solution, after which audience members will provide feedback and pick their favorites. ConnectWise will combine those votes with input from a panel of M&A consultants, tech experts, and others to decide who advances to the final round in Orlando.

Channel Program was the ideal collaborator for the new showdowns, according to ConnectWise evangelist Sean Lardo, who is running this year’s PitchIT program. 

“That’s what they do,” he says. “That’s their whole go to market.”

For his part, Matt Solomon, Channel Program’s co-founder and chief business development officer, saw a natural affinity between his organization and PitchIT as well.

“It fit right into the Channel Program mission, which started with giving more voice to emerging vendors but also giving more voice to the MSP community,” he says.

Letting channel pros chime in on finalists isn’t the only change in 2022 for PitchIT, which is in its fifth year. The program is also now an incubator and accelerator for promising software companies in addition to a competition. The 18 contenders, selected by ConnectWise from among hundreds of applicants, each participated in 16 weeks of workshops on topics ranging from sales, marketing, and product development to channel-building and operations, and honed their communication skills in a series of ConnectWise-hosted webinars.

“The goal was to try to get them as battle ready as possible for a long-term relationship with us, not just PitchIT,” Lardo explains.

All 18 companies are also eligible for heavily discounted exhibition space in the “startup alley” section of this year’s IT Nation Connect expo hall. According to Solomon, the product and presentation input they’ll get from Battle Royale attendees is invaluable as well.

“There are no losers in this situation,” he says. “Everybody’s going to walk out of here as a winner in terms of the value that they’re going to get.”

The three finalists will get free booths in the expo hall, plus one-on-one coaching from former PitchIT champions Gene Reich of 2021 grand prize winner; Callen Sapien, of 2018 grand prize honoree Refactr (which was acquired by security vendor Sophos last year); and Jamison West of TimeZest, 2019’s top finisher.

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