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Group Hug

Small Businesses. Big Impact.


Competition Overview

The Hatch Bloomington pitch competition begins with an open call for applications - the 2024 application period has now ended. After a review of submissions, three separate pitch rounds will take place. There will be a semifinalist round with the top twenty-five applicants presenting pitches (June), a pitch round with the top ten finalists (July), and a Hatch-Off competition with the top three finalists (August). The winner of the Hatch Bloomington competition is announced in September.

Why apply for Hatch Bloomington? One major benefit of the contest is exposure – if your proposal advances to the Top 10 pitch round, there will be significant public exposure and earned media, with your product or service in front of thousands of potential customers. Additionally, the competition is an outstanding opportunity to gain experience pitching your business idea, and to grow your network as you do so. The winner of the competition will not only receive the $100,000 award but will also receive technical assistance in establishing their business.


Ideal applicants are aspiring entrepreneurs or veteran small business owners who are looking to launch or grow an independent brick-and-mortar retail businesses in Bloomington, with an emphasis on sustainability, racial equity, gender inclusivity, and creativity. Applicants can apply at any point on their business development timeline – from ideation to the expansion stage. Strong applications will propose a brick-and-mortar store front presence in the City of Bloomington.

For official competition rules, click here.

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Who Should Apply


The City of Bloomington is interested in revitalizing economic corridors throughout our community! This competition is open to anyone along the business development spectrum – from an aspiring entrepreneur with no business experience to a veteran small business owner looking to launch a new venture. Any U.S. citizen is encouraged to apply, as long as their pitch includes a brick-and-mortar/physical presence in our city. 

In addition, the competition is not limited to for-profit businesses; social entrepreneurs and non-profits are more than welcome to participate, as long as they satisfy the above criteria.

The definition of a retail business is very broad. This could be a donut shop, a bar, a restaurant, a gym, a café, or a flower shop – we encourage applicants to get creative! We are excited to see what the future of the Bloomington economy will look like.

A proposal is competitive if it is economically and environmentally sustainable, with a business strategy aimed at filling a retail gap that currently exists in the city. The proposal will also include a clear path to viability and articulate a strong vision for how the business will positively engage with the Bloomington community. All applications will be required to submit a financial plan – a template is available for download and use, but applicants are welcome to submit their own financial document if they have already developed one. Additional materials that are not required, but will strengthen your competitiveness, include a business plan, pitch deck, and one-minute video.

Unfortunately, we will not accept applications from food trucks or franchise stores – we want to ensure that the economic impact of your business is felt, first and foremost, in Bloomington.



Application Information


The application period for Hatch Bloomington 2024 was open from April 3 to May 3, and is now closed.

Applicant Deliverables


The application includes the following required elements:


  • Completed questionnaire 

  • Demographic and professional competency questions.

  • Description of business proposal, work completed, and projected use of funds.

  • Finance/budget document.


Additionally, there will be an opportunity to provide additional information, including:


  • Two-page written concept/formal business plan

  • Ten-slide pitch deck.

  • One-minute video.


Selection Process

Evaluation Criteria


  • Breakthrough/opportunity factor

(How innovative is the proposed idea?)

  • Relevance and impact

(how relevant/impactful to Bloomington and beyond?)

  • Structure and performance

(how convincing is the pitch?)

  • Brick and mortar (proposed physical location in the City of Bloomington.)

  • Emphasis on sustainability, racial equity, gender inclusivity, creativity

  • Additional notes:

    • For-profit, social entrepreneurs and nonprofit submissions welcome​

    • Food trucks and franchises will not be considered.




The nine-member judge panel will include the following:

  • Three selected by the City of Bloomington

  • Three selected by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber

  • Three members of the Bloomington City Council


There will be four (4) rounds of voting, with the final two (2) open to the public.

The four rounds include:

  • First round application review 

  • Top 25 semifinalist round – Nine-member judge panel.

  • Top 10 finalist round – Nine-member judge panel and community voting.

  • Top 3 finalist round – Nine-member judge panel and community voting.


For the final two rounds, votes will be weighted evenly between the nine-member judge panel and votes submitted by the community. 

To accomplish the community voting component, the Hatch Bloomington Pitch Competition will leverage vote-by-text software to guard against duplicate and fraudulent efforts. Voters are not restricted to residents of Bloomington – anyone following the competition is encouraged to submit votes!

Throughout the competition, community members are encouraged to attend all pitch rounds and public-facing events. We want to make sure the people have a voice in what the future of the Bloomington economy looks like!

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