Virginia Shark Tank

Applications for the next Ignite Virginia event open in November 2017. The deadline to apply is March 1. Please sign up for our mailing list or check our facebook page for updates.

Our first Ignite Virginia event, Virginia Shark Tank, brought together investors and 20 companies for a startup expo and evening of pitches to investors and seven judges. The event resulted in $150K in investment for startups from the judges and investors, and attracted a crowd of 200. 

Why Ignite Virginia?

The event is fun and entertaining, but we’re really here to come together as one and celebrate the journey of entrepreneurship. It is not about any city or any geographic region. We don't see borders or divisions. It's about something much bigger- the spirit of entrepreneurship, creation, and ingenuity. The desire to create something that will enhance our world beyond our generation. We're here to celebrate this spirit, and the risks and challenges associated with that journey.

We seek to inspire others to create something they are passionate about, to adopt the entrepreneurial mindset, and to let them know that while the journey is intimidating, that there is a strong community that has walked in their shoes, and is here to support them. 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

How does the event work?

We receive more than 50 applications to pitch in the event each year. While it is not possible to include everyone, we do our best to accommodate each startup through an exhibit table and a 2-minute elevator pitch. This gives the audience and investors a taste of more companies. As a result, we have two types of pitches.

The first pitches are two-minute elevator pitches, designed to peak someone's interest during a long elevator ride. These elevator pitches are a great way to provide startups with greater exposure to the audience and judges.

The second type of pitch are companies seeking investment from the judges. The goal of these startups is to convince the judges to invest, mentor, or support them. Judges may negotiate any offer they want, and can offer to support them in non-financial ways. They have been given access to each company’s business plan and financials. Judges may invest in each company directly, or through Ignition’s fund. These pitches will begin with a maximum 8-minute presentation, followed by a 15-minute Q&A with the judges.

All types of pitches must address four basic questions to win the judge’s confidence:

1. How will my startup make money? 2. How will I make you money? 3. Why is my startup awesome, and why should you join it? 4. What do I want- state what you are looking for from the judges!! 

All presenters are welcome to have a table in the exhibit space in the lobby to showcase their startup. Presenters can be spotted by their yellow lanyards and name tags. 

The first two main pitches will be preceded by seven to eight 2-minute elevator pitches. There will be no Q&A by the audience, but the audience will have an opportunity to learn more by visiting their space in the expo area, or connecting with them through Ignition’s Facebook page. Those presenting tonight have worked on their business for some time. 

This event will showcase more established and serious startups, instead of someone who may have just thought about an idea weeks before the event. No participation prize money is given in this event.

The founders here tonight are here because they are passionate about what they do and committed to their startup, not out of expectation of prize money.

Each founder went through an application process that consisted of completing Ignition’s application, a review, and an interview designed to measure the business model of each company. The main pitchers typically have a business that is ready to receive investment, is more mature, generating revenue, has established some customer base, and has validated its business model. Our judges are nice people, but they aren’t here to be nice. They are encouraged to scrutinize investment offers, be skeptical, and challenge each company. The founders presenting tonight are in the hot seat, and we want the audience to experience it.

This event is not about selecting a first, second, or third place winner like you might see in many startup competitions, delivering participation awards as a popularity contest. In the real world, there is no first or second place. You either make it, or you fail and learn. We want to make sure everyone wins. We’re all in this together, and we want to have fun during the journey. 


I just wanted to say thank you for having KAksuKers the product and myself there Saturday night. What a great time and experience. Talking with people I realized exactly where I believe the product should go moving forward. An epiphany you could say. Thanks again for everything and hopefully I will be seeing you soon.
- Cole B

Wanted to reach out and say thank you for inviting us to participate in the Virginia Shark Tank.  It was an extremely well run event and it was great to meet all of the other entrepreneurs.  Moreover, it was extremely valuable to our company and we are currently engaging with a number of the judges and spectators that we met at the event.  If there is anything we can do to help, in terms of promotion, feedback, testimonials, etc., please don't hesitate to ask.
- Sam B, 1Degree App

"Congratulations on a great event.  Your turn-out was much better in numbers and quality compared to the START events over the last six years."
- Jack G, Investor

"This has been an amazing event unlike anything in Williamsburg before"
- John T

"I wanted to thank you again for hosting such a great event. We received a lot of positive feedback and helpful suggestions for our business. 

We look forward to being a part of the Ignition team and might be reaching out soon for some assistance in some way..."
- Steve W, WormWatchers

"Thank you for the amazing experience at Shark Tank. The ability to get so much exposure so early on in this process is so valuable. I received a lot of valuable feedback and made many new contacts. I am very grateful to you and Ignition for making this possible."
- Billy K

Next time a larger venue! I enjoyed it on FB live, but would have loved to have attended.
- Valerie S

“Excellent event, I look forward to the next one”
- Tony S

Virginia Shark Tank 2018

SATURDAY, APRIL 7th, 2018 at 5:00pm - 10:30pm
Stryker Center, 412 North Boundary St. Williamsburg, VA 23185

Ignition Business Accelerator and the City of Williamsburg present the second annual Virginia Shark Tank. Ambitious entrepreneurs and hopeful upstarts will present their business ideas to a panel of judges, investors, a live audience, and online viewers during a live internet streamed broadcast.

The second annual Virginia Shark Tank will feature ambitious entrepreneurs as they present their business ideas to a panel of judges and investors that will not be pulling any punches, and a live audience. Several regional startups will be on exposition in the lobby during the reception and intermission, where you can learn about the impressive companies founders are working so hard to build.

We’ll start with a welcome reception from 4:30 to 6pm featuring delicious food and beverage options available for purchase from the Creekside Catering Company. Ignition is currently accepting applications for companies to pitch or reserve space in our exhibit area. Please visit and complete the application at

Ignition is a 501(c)3 non-profit business accelerator based in Williamsburg, Virginia. Founded by entrepreneurs, we provide support, resources, and direct investment to help entrepreneurs develop an idea and swiftly take it to market. We collaborate with entrepreneurs to build profitable and sustainable businesses. We invest in possibility. Learn more at

This event is not endorsed or sponsored by Shark Tank the TV show


4:30 pmDoors Open
6:00 pmMain event begins
6:05 to 6:10 pmWelcoming remarks
6:10 to 6:30 pmGuest speaker / introduce pitches
6:30 to 6:40 pmIntroduce judges
6:40 pm1st pitch
7:05 pm2nd pitch
7:30 pm3rd pitch
7:55 pm20 minute intermission
8:15 pmIntermission ends
8:20 pm4th pitch
8:45 pm5th pitch
9:10 pm6th pitch
9:35 pmConcluding remarks from judges and MC, audience Q&A
10:00 pmMain event ends
10pm-10:30 pmNetworking in lobby
10:30 pmFacility closes