Most of the companies that come through the doors of our InvestorPitches business are looking for help raising funds from friends, family, angel groups or venture capitalists. Kim Munzo, the winner of our April “Pitch to Win” competition, has taken a different route to funding her ed-tech startup AspirEDU.

Max Kerwick from Sol Marketing sat down with Kim to find out a little more about her fundraising strategy, as well as her experience competing for a $1 million prize in Verizon’s Powerful Answers competition.

Max: You’ve accomplished a rather extraordinary feat of funding your company almost entirely through pitch competitions. What is it about you and your company that has enabled you to be so successful?
Kim: I really think the key is being really passionate about what you’re pitching. People say that in order to sell something you have to believe in the product; you really need to have the same level of passion when selling your pitch. I believe strongly in our product when I walk prospects through it, and I still get excited when I step up to pitch. You have to have that spark to make it long term.

Max: Did you set out with this strategy in mind?
Kim: Our first pitch was completely spontaneous. I had the idea and had worked through the business plan, but I had no idea there would be hundreds of companies there. I didn’t prepare at all, I just did it and ended up winning $25,000. I figured if I could do that off the cuff my chances would be much better with preparation.

After that we decided to make an effort to find contests and prepare for each one individually. Once we had a few wins under our belt it became clear that there are enough of these to keep a company going for at least a year. And we’ve been fortunate in being able to make that happen.

Max: So what do you look for in a pitch or business plan competition?
Kim: Level of competition is the biggest factor. Superior competitors really force us to raise our game when we are pitching. High dollar. And it has to be in our wheelhouse. As a B2B education solution it can be hard for us to compete against a big B2C company.

Max: What advice would you offer to the anyone out there looking to enter in a similar competition?
Kim: There are a lot of differing opinions on business plans for startups; some people think you don’t need one at all. I agree that you may not need a 35-pager, but going through the very painstaking process of making an excellent, thorough business plan puts you in a position to answer any question judges might throw at you in competition.