Post Last Updated January 9th, 2024

No matter what stage your business venture is at, conferences and conventions are a key way to expand your network, hear about opportunities, and keep up with current and emerging trends in your industry. Alternatively, pitch competitions are a great way to gain funding for your business.

Because these two event-driven opportunities are so vital to the entrepreneurial process, we’ve compiled a list of conferences and pitch competitions in the United States during 2023. Many are exclusively for veterans and military spouses, but there are also many listed that are open to all ventures, or those within specific industries. Be sure to read closely and check the event’s website. Our hope is that it can help you plan your year and make you aware of nearby events that can make a difference for your venture.

Some of the events listed have not yet finalized dates or locations. We have listed the traditional time of year and location for those events, but it is subject to change. For pitch competitions, keep in mind the applications tend to open a few months before the competition. Keep checking the event’s website for the most up-to-date details.

Are We Missing a Conference or Pitch Competition?

If there is a great conference or pitch competition for veterans and military spouses that isn’t listed below, feel free to let us know! Leave a comment below with the name of the event, the 2023 dates, and a link to the website, and we’ll be sure to update the list.

January 2024 Conferences & Pitch Competitions

Affiliate Summit West (ASW) Conference

At ASW, you’ll find thousands of partners of all shapes and sizes, from mass media publishers and bloggers, to coupon and cashback websites, to other brands with the same goals as you, to innovative technology partners.

Website: https://www.affiliatesummit.com/west?
Dates: Jan 15-17, 2024
Location: Caesar’s Forum, Las Vegas, NV

SubSummit Pitch Competition Application

$50,000 pitch competition for subscription-based services

Website: https://subsummit.com/pitch-competition/
Dates: June 17-19, 2024 app deadline traditionally late Jan, waiting list to apply open now
Location: Dallas, TX

FedEx Small Business Pitch Competition Application

Traditionally, 10 grand prize winners receive $30,000 in grant money, and one will be a US veteran, who receives an additional $20,000, another 10 “people’s choice” selections receive $1,000 in prize money

Website: https://www.fedex.com/en-us/small-business/grant-contest.html
Dates: Apps traditionally open Jan-Feb, winners usually announced in May
Location: Virtual via pitch video

Rice Business/Jones Graduate School of Business Veterans Business Battle Pitch Competition Application

Shark Tank-style event that historically has $30,000 in prizes, and has extended $5mm in investment offers to veteran entrepreneurs since 2015

Website: https://business.rice.edu/veterans-business-battle
Dates: April 18-20, 2024 (applications open now! close Feb 13)
Location: Rice University, Houston, TX

Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition Application

This education-focused business and non-profit pitch competition awards $80,000 in prize money among four top finishers.

Website: https://www.educationcompetition.org/competition-details
Dates: Applications open Jan 22-Feb 19, semi-finalists announced in May, finalists in September, Pitch Competition in October
Location: Unclear, possibly virtual and Philadelphia, PA

February Conferences & Pitch Competitions

MilVet Startups Conference

A great event celebrating the military veteran entrepreneur ecosystem, Bunker Labs has attended in force in the past (check out CEO Blake Hogan in the intro video!)

Website: https://www.milvetstartups.com/
Dates: Feb 8-9, 2024
Location: San Francisco, CA, Marines’ Memorial Club

DistribuTech International Conference

A conference related to smart cities and tech startups that reshape cities

Website: https://www.distributech.com/welcome
Dates: Feb 26-29, 2024
Location: Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL

FedEx Small Business Pitch Competition Application

Traditionally, 10 grand prize winners receive $30,000 in grant money, and one will be a US veteran, who receives an additional $20,000, another 10 “people’s choice” selections receive $1,000 in prize money

Website: https://www.fedex.com/en-us/small-business/grant-contest.html
Dates: Apps traditionally open Jan-Feb, winners usually announced in May
Location: Virtual via pitch video

Arch Grants Pitch Competition Application

Open only to St. Louis-based companies (or those willing to relocate) for a $75,000 grant

Website: https://archgrants.org/competition/
Dates: Typically Aug, Applications typically open Jan-Mar (get an alert for apps opening)
Location: St Louis, MO

March Conferences

NYU Veterans Future Lab Summit

The VFL Summit assembles an all-star cast of speakers leading fundraising and marketing discussions essential to the success of small businesses and startups, from brick-and-mortar to those raising a Series B. Network with the veteran entrepreneurship community, visit the startup showcase, and connect with NYC influencers during our cocktail reception. Don’t miss out on this complimentary event dedicated to veteran and military spouse entrepreneurship.

Website: https://sites.google.com/nyu.edu/vflsummit2023/ (still awaiting 2024 site)
Dates: Typically Mar
Location: Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY

Tech Up For Women West Coast Conference

The Tech Up For Women Conference is a hub of inspiration, idea exchange, and advocacy around the issue of the advancement of women through technology.

Website: https://techupforwomen.com/tech-up-sandiego/
Dates: Mar 6, 2024
Location: San Diego, CA

South x Southwest (SXSW) Conference

This mammoth conference is best known as an arts festival with an A-list musician lineup, but it has robust programming tracks for startups, tech, healthcare, transportation, and other industries.

Website: https://www.sxsw.com/conference/startups (or click the conference tab for other program tracks)
Dates: Mar 8-16, 2024, Applications for Panels and Showcases open now, but pitch applications are closed!
Location: Austin, TX

Adobe Summit Conference

The Digital Experience Conference is the premier event for digital marketers and advertisers to learn about and share key strategies for driving marketing innovation.

Website: https://summit.adobe.com/na/
Dates: Mar 26-28, 2024 (pre-conference events on 25th)
Location: Las Vegas, NV

Veteran EDGE Conference

Hosted by the D’aniello Institute for Veteran and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University for veterans and military spouses

Website: https://ivmf.syracuse.edu/programs/entrepreneurship/growth/veteran-edge/
Dates: Mar 20-22, 2024 (applications open now!)
Location: Renaissance Dallas Addison Hotel, Dallas, TX

VetsinTech Invasion

A virtual event for veterans in tech with separate program tracks for employment, education, and entrepreneurship

Website: https://events.vetsintech.co/invasion2023/ (no information available for 2024 yet)
Dates: Typically late Mar
Location: Virtual

April Conferences & Pitch Competitions

Harrisburg Multicultural Small Business Lab Pitch Competition

M&T Bank searches for 50 entrepreneurs to participate in its annual Capital Region Multicultural Small Business Lab, a seven-week program, in partnership with the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (CIE), that focuses on business planning, establishing credit, accessing capital, marketing, branding and networking. The has courses held weekly each Wednesday evening at Harrisburg University and concludes with a pitch competition to win grants totaling $12k, including $6k for first place, $4k for second place and $2k for third place, all funded by M&T.

Website: https://www3.mtb.com/harrisburglab (no information available for 2024 yet)
Dates: Applications open typically in Apr, Program runs May-June
Location: Harrisburg, PA

Startup Grind Global Conference

The Startup Exhibition is an annual showcase of startups from around the world who are building the next big thing. There are opportunities to pitch (apply on website now), get exposure, meet with investors and potential partners, and more.

Website: https://startupgrind.tech/conference/
Dates: Apr 23-24, 2024
Location: Silicon Valley, CA

TechCrunch Early Stage Conference

At this one-day founder summit, you’ll get actionable advice and takeaways from top experts, meet other entrepreneurs taking similar journeys, share your own experiences and build the confidence to take the next steps towards growing your business.

Website: https://techcrunch.com/events/tc-early-stage-2024/ 
Dates: Apr 25, 2024
Location: Boston, MA

Rice Business/Jones Graduate School of Business Veterans Business Battle Pitch Competition Application

Shark Tank-style event that historically has $30,000 in prizes, and has extended $5mm in investment offers to veteran entrepreneurs since 2015

Website: https://business.rice.edu/veterans-business-battle
Dates: April 18-20, 2024 (applications open now! close Feb 13)
Location: Rice University, Houston, TX

PenFed Ignition Challenge Pitch Competition

Historically, the PenFed Foundation Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP) puts on this summer pitch competition with $75,000 in prizes for veterans and military spouses.

Website: https://penfedfoundation.org/ (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Traditionally late April
Location: Previously Minneapolis, MN

Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition

This education-focused business and non-profit pitch competition awards $80,000 in prize money among four top finishers.

Website: https://www.educationcompetition.org/competition-details
Dates: Applications open Jan 22-Feb 19, semi-finalists announced in May, finalists in September, Pitch Competition in October
Location: Unclear, possibly virtual and Philadelphia, PA

May Conferences & Pitch Competitions

EnvisionB2B Conference

B2B Networking Conference

Website: https://b2bmarketing.wbresearch.com/ 
Dates: May 6-8, 2024
Location: Chicago Mariott Downtown, Chicago, IL

RSA Conference

This cybersecurity-focused conference includes an innovation sandbox challenge that can put you in front of investors and their Shark Tank-Style Launchpad contest. Apps for both are due Feb 10th.

Website: https://www.rsaconference.com/usa
Dates: May 6-9, 2024
Location: Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA

National Veteran Small Business Coalition VETS’24 Conference

The VETS24 Conference is NVSBC’s premier annual event and the largest federal small business procurement event of its kind being held in-person in 2024. The VETS24 Conference enables business networking between procurement-ready small business suppliers and buyers from both Federal agencies and large GovCon prime contractors.

Website: https://nvsbc.memberclicks.net/
Dates: May 20-24, 2024 (sponsor and exhibitor applications open now!)
Location: Rosen Center, Orlando, FL

Capital Camp

Investors and entrepreneurs meet in a summer camp atmosphere that fills the spaces between traditional conference activities with summer-camp style activities for unique meet and greets.

Website: https://www.capitalcamp.com/
Dates: May 21-23, 2024
Location: Columbia, MO

MedCity Invest Conference

INVEST unites active investors with corporate business development executives to facilitate investment opportunities with the most promising healthcare startups

Website: https://events.medcitynews.com/invest/
Dates: May 21-24, 2024
Location: Ritz Carlton, Chicago, IL

StartUp World Cup Pitch Competition

Major pitch event where 2,500+ startups compete across 60+ regional events for a spot at the grand finale and a million dollar investment prize

Website: https://www.startupworldcup.io/ (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Finale Event typically December (apps traditionally open in May)
Location: San Francisco, CA

SBA Military Spouse Entrepreneur Summit

In association with a simultaneous Hiring our Heroes event, this free event will connect military spouses with resources and information to help them start or grow a small business. Various panels will highlight entrepreneurship training and counseling opportunities and introduce peer-to-peer networking.

Website: https://www.sba.gov/event/24726 (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Traditionally Late May
Location: Traditionally Virtual

Future Festival Chicago

A conference examining future business trends with keynotes and panels.

Website: https://www.futurefestival.com/chicago (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Traditionally Mid May
Location: Chicago, IL

June Conferences

MozCon Conference

A marketing conference that includes “non-stuffy networking and expert sessions delivered by industry leaders in SEO, search marketing, mobile, conversion optimization, local search, and more”.

Website: https://moz.com/mozcon
Dates: June 3-4, 2024
Location: Seattle Convention Center, Seattle, WA

SubSummit Conference & Pitch Competition

Conference for subscription-based services, featuring Netflix, Google, and the NBA, with $50,000 pitch competition, as well as a workshop and program track for subscription entrepreneurs.

Website: https://subsummit.com/
Dates: June 17-19, 2024
Location: Dallas, TX

Deloitte Entrepreneurial Summit

Networking event focused on connecting entrepreneurs and investors.

Website: https://www2.deloitte.com/xa/en/pages/corporate-finance/events/entrepreneur-summit.html (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Typically Early June
Location: Omni Hotel Downtown Dallas, TX

CultureCon

Networking event targeting entrepreneurs of color that also features celebrity-studded launches and activations

Website: https://www.culturecon.theccnyc.com/ (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Typically Mid June
Location: Los Angeles, CA

July Conferences

Veteran Shark Tank Applications

This shark tank-style event traditionally has a $50,000 grand prize, but can also lead to investment offers.

Website: https://veteransharktank.com/
Dates: Dec 4th, to kick off Army/Navy Football Week, Applications traditionally open in July
Location: CYTO/PHL in Philadelphia, PA

South x Southwest (SXSW) Conference Applications

This mammoth conference is best known as an arts festival with an A-list musician lineup, but it has robust programming tracks for startups, tech, healthcare, transportation, and other industries.

Website: https://www.sxsw.com/conference/startups (or click the conference tab for other program tracks)
Dates: Mar 8-16, 2024, Applications for Panels and Showcases, and pitch applications traditionally open in July
Location: Austin, TX

August Conferences

Black Hat USA Conference

A cybersecurity-focused conference with robust trainings, briefings, tool demos, and networking.

Website: https://www.blackhat.com/us-23/  (no 2024 website yet)
Dates: August 3-8, 2024
Location: Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV, and virtual

Department of the Navy Gold Coast Small Business Procurement Conference

An opportunity to meet key government and industry contracting personnel through one-on-one matchmaking sessions, a hallmark of the event. The exhibit floor, has over 200 government agencies and industry organizations with procurement needs, including the ten Navy Systems Commands.

Website: https://www.navygoldcoast.org/
Dates: Aug 19-21, 2024
Location: San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA

Rally Innovation Conference

Billed as the “largest global cross-sector innovation experience,” this event also features a “Rally In Prize” pitch competition for up to 1mm in investments. You can sign up now to get alerts for when applications are live.

Website: https://rallyinnovation.com/
Dates: Aug 27-28, 2024
Location: Indianapolis, IN

September Conferences & Pitch Competitions

AWBC Leadership Conference

This annual conference is put on by the Association of Women’s Business Centers, a nonprofit representing 100+ locations dedicated to women’s entrepreneurship.

Website: https://awbc.org/2024-leadership-conference/
Dates: Sep 10-12, 2024
Location: Kansas City, MO

SA Tech Fuel Pitch Competition Application

A tech startup pitch competition with a $100,000 grand prize for Texas companies.

Website: https://satechbloc.com/tech-fuel/ (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Typically early October, Applications typically open in August/September
Location: San Antonio, TX

TFX Capital Annual Veteran Startup Showcase Pitch Competition

No firm dates yet, but traditionally has prizes totaling over $100,000.

Website: https://tfxcap.com/ (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Traditionally September/October
Location: Charlotte, NC

TechCrunch Disrupt Conference

At this tech-focused founder summit, you’ll get actionable advice and takeaways from top experts, meet other entrepreneurs taking similar journeys, share your own experiences and build the confidence to take the next steps towards growing your business. New program tracks for business built around AI, FinTech, Hardware, SaaS, Security, and Sustainability.

Website: https://techcrunch.com/events/tc-disrupt-2023/ (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Typically mid September
Location: San Francisco, CA

LG Nova Mission for the Future Pitch Competition Application

Traditionally selects up to 40 winners across 7 program tracks to work with LG for up to $100,000 investments or even 7-figure partnerships

Website: https://www.lgnova.com/ (No 2024 information available)
Dates: Apps traditionally run Sep-October, winners traditionally announced at CES in January
Location: Las Vegas, NV

ASBDC “Reimagine Mainstreet” Annual Conference

Roughly 1,200 attendees will gather in Nashville for five days to participate in 200+ workshops and attend keynotes from the founder of Shazam Chris Barton and Administrator of the SBA Isabel Casillas Guzman of the SBA .

Website: https://americassbdc.org/conference-2023/  (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Typically early September
Location: Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Nashville, TN

3686 Festival Powered by Launch Tennessee Conference

This is LaunchTN’s entrepreneur festival, with a variety of programming that will feature leading entrepreneurs, tech entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists.  Additionally, Bunker Labs community members are eligible for a $50 discount for tickets to the event when they buy online using general discount code “NP103686“.

Website: https://attend3686.com/ (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Typically late September
Location: Nashville, TN

October Conferences & Pitch Competitions

Content Marketing World

This is THE conference for content marketers and is brought to you by the folks at Content Marketing Institute. Meet other content marketers and learn from 150+ industry leading speakers.

Website: https://www.contentmarketingworld.com/
Dates: Oct 21-23, 2024
Location: San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA

Startup Mountain Summit

“Join startup founders from across the Southeast for 3 days of inspiration, education, and networking. Learn from the best speakers in the startup industry and take your startup to the next level.”

Website: https://startupmountainsummit.com/
Dates: Oct 25-27, 2024
Location: Johnson City, Tennessee

Business Beyond the Battlefield Conference

BBBC is a 3-day business development and entrepreneur education experience for veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs

Website: https://bbbc.uta.edu/ (2024 dates coming soon)
Dates: Typically early October
Location: Arlington, TX

SNVCC VetFest

This event is put on by the Southern Nevada Chamber of Commerce for veteran and military family entrepreneurs.
Website: https://snvcc.regfox.com/snvcc-vetfest
Dates: Traditionally late October
Location: Traditionally the lawn at downtown Summerlin, NV (western Las Vegas)

Tech Up For Women West Coast Conference Application

The Tech Up For Women Conference is a hub of inspiration, idea exchange, and advocacy around the issue of the advancement of women through technology.

Website: https://techupforwomen.com/tech-up-sandiego/
Dates: Typically March, event registration typically opens October
Location: San Diego, CA

VetsinTech Startup Pitch Competition

Traditionally awards $40,000 in prizes to veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs.

Website: https://sun.vetsintech.co/ (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Traditionally in October, applications traditionally due in mid September
Location: Traditionally Virtual or San Francisco, CA

Bunker Labs and USAA Pitch Competition

USAA is continuing their relationship with Bunker Labs to host pitch competitions with $85,000 in prizes, including a $50,000 grand prize!

Website: https://bunkerlabs.org/usaa-pitch/
Dates: Traditionally October
Location: Washington D.C.

November Conferences

Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Small Business Conference

SAME’s Federal Small Business Conference creates the biggest and best event connecting small businesses directly with federal government procurement decision makers, contracting officers, small business liaison officers, and leaders. The event brings together small businesses with large businesses that have teaming and sub-contracting opportunities in support of government work.

Website: https://www.samesbc.org/
Dates: Nov 20-22, 2024
Location: New Orleans, LA, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

Military Influencer Conference (MIC)

A conference for veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs. Last year the Veteran Fund held a $100,000 pitch competition, and Second Service Foundation held a $25,000 pitch competition at MIC. Both competitions are expected to happen at MIC again in 2023.

Website: https://militaryinfluencer.com/
Dates: Sep 29-Oct 3, 2024
Location: Signia by Hilton, Atlanta, GA

8th Annual Veterans in Business (VIB) National Conference

This conference is designed to help Veteran businesses build connections between Corporations, Government Agencies, and Primes looking to create partnerships for contracting opportunities, putting you in front of key buyers and suppliers throughout the two-day event

Website: https://www.vibnetwork.org/ (no 2024 information available)
Dates: Typically mid November, (Registration typically opens in May)
Location: San Diego, CA

December Pitch Competitions

Veteran Shark Tank

This shark tank-style event traditionally has a $50,000 grand prize, but can also lead to investment offers.

Website: https://veteransharktank.com/
Dates: Typically Early Dec to kick off Army/Navy Football Week, Applications traditionally open in July
Location: Traditionally CYTO/PHL in Philadelphia, PA

New England Venture Summit

“Where innovation meets capital”, this summit aims to bring together VC capital with innovative ventures.

Website: https://youngstartup.com/events/nevs23
Dates: Typically mid Dec
Location: Typically Boston Dedham, MA

Did We Miss Something?

If there is a great conference or pitch competition for veterans and military spouses that isn’t listed above, feel free to let us know! Leave a comment below with the name of the event, the 2023 dates, and a link to the website, and we’ll be sure to update the list.

Bunker Labs is Now Part of IVMF

As of January 2024, Bunker Labs is now a part of Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). In addition to ongoing Bunker Labs programming, we’d encourage you to browse IVMF’s deep wealth of entrepreneurship programming, much of it available virtually or at locations across the country. Find the program to help your business take the next step today!