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Path to Pitching

As part of the Higher Ed challenge, OpenIDEO is experimenting with the best way to improve the pipeline to impact for strong ideas. We’ve created the Path to Pitching, a track within the challenge for entrepreneurs, organizations or anyone else committed to putting in the blood, sweat and tears necessary to make their ideas a reality. Throughout the challenge, we will provide guidance and milestones to help those interested be better ready to pitch.

Ready to join? Sign up here.

Have an idea for the challenge? Add your idea now!


By signing up for the Path to Pitching, you’ll get:

  • Additional resources and tools to help you get pitch ready. Including our Human Centered Milestones to guide you. 
  • Mentor support from the OpenIDEO team and industry experts during the Ideas and Refinement Phases.

Ideas that demonstrate market viability and traction will be selected to take part in our virtual pitch day with our network of accelerator partners. You’ll skip a step in the accelerator partners’ application processes and have a better chance at gaining entry into their competitive programs.


We want to hear everyone’s contributions on OpenIDEO regardless of their interest in acceleration. However, the Path to Pitching is not for everyone. You need to be ready to fully commit the time and effort necessary for your idea to take off.

We expect that:

  • You are committed to making your idea real. This means it’s already your full time job or you’d be ready to leave your job to focus on it.
  • There will be at least one person willing to take on the role of founder, preferably two cofounders.
  • Founders will be able to commit to an accelerator program. Most are residential and vary from 1 to 6 months.
  • Teams will commit to preparing relevant milestones throughout the OpenIDEO challenge.
  • Teams will use the OpenIDEO platform and the Human Centered Design process to improve upon and develop their ideas.
  • Collaboration and innovation are at the heart of our process. Teams should actively seek to collaborate and build on others ideas.

*Note: The Path to Pitching is a track within the challenge and those selected to pitch are evaluated on different criteria than those selected as Top Ideas. While there may be overlap, those who are selected to pitch are not necessarily Top Ideas and Top Ideas are not necessarily selected to pitch.

Excited about the Path to Pitching?  Sign up here!


Chicago | 16 Weeks | Residential

The accelerator program supports impact entrepreneurs through seminars on the key components of starting and building a successful impact company, access to our mentor, alumni, and investor networks, and free workspace. They invest in early stage, tech-enabled companies with large market opportunities that will build empowered individuals and sustainable resources for our planet through products that improve health, education, resource efficiency, and economic empowerment.

20+ cities nationwide | 6 Weeks | Non-Residential

Startup Next, a Techstars program, is the #1 startup pre-acceleration program in the world. They prepare startups for accelerators and seed investment, by providing high quality mentorship and leveraging our global network of investors, mentors and founders. Applicants should plan to build a scalable, sustainable venture. They do not accept NGOs or non-profits but social ventures or public benefit corporations are fine.

NYC or New Orleans | 3 months | Residential

A platform for teachers, technologists and entrepreneurs to create bold solutions for the real problems facing students, teachers, and families. They're looking for entrepreneurs working on ideas for products, services, programs, or school models. Their programs are designed to give aspiring entrepreneurs a pathway from their initial hunch to the launch of their new solution.

Boston | 3 months + 3 month follow-up | First 3 months Residential

LearnLaunch Accelerator is a leading edtech startup program, personalized for each entrepreneur. After a highly selective application process, LearnLaunch Accelerator provides the most promising edtech startups worldwide with seed funding, an unmatched team of mentors, intensive coaching and all the tools needed to grow a successful edtech startup.

Colorado, Mexico, East Africa | 5 days - 5 weeks | Residential or On site

For entrepreneurs tackling global challenges who need help attracting people and resources to build their vision, Unreasonable Institute is an accelerator that gets them entrepreneurial skills, mentorship, access to capital, and a global network of peers and critical service providers. Unreasonable Institute runs programs running from 5 days to 5 weeks for entrepreneurs in all stages, from idea to growth stage.

San Francisco | 4 months | Residential

An urban ventures accelerator with a mission to empower entrepreneurs solving urban problems. Through a customized, four-month program, Tumml invites early stage companies into its office space to receive hands-on support, seed funding, and services to help grow their businesses and make significant impact on their communities.

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San Francisco | 6 months | Virtual or In Person

The Aspire Accelerator works with organizations that use technology to help students succeed, strengthen schools and communities, or prepare learners for employment.The Aspire Accelerator is open to non-profits and for-profit companies of any size. To participate, you must: Be working on a product or service that uses technology to support students’ educational and/or career success, have a minimum viable product and some proof of product-market fit, have at least one technical founder or team member who will participate in the Aspire Accelerator.

Baltimore | 4 months | Residential

The Conscious Venture Lab and the Conscious Venture Fund together constitute an early stage business accelerator program and emerging venture capital fund for entrepreneurs who want to operate at the intersection of purpose and profit. Their goal is to develop entrepreneurs who are practicing capitalism in a way that elevates the humanity of all stakeholders, using the core principles of purpose, highly engaged employee cultures, managing for stakeholders and servant leadership.

Sign up here to join the Path to Pitching or add your idea to the challenge!

Get started on your Human Centered Milestones!