HR Tech Conference 2021: The return of a conference favorite

In just a few short years–starting in 2018, to be precise–the HR Technology Conference Pitchfest competition has become one of the most popular, exciting activities at HR Tech, which will be held this year Sept. 28-Oct. 1 in Las Vegas. In case you are not familiar or need a refresh (since we sadly had to postpone the 2020 competition with the pivot to a virtual conference), Pitchfest showcases 30-plus HR technology start-ups. The companies all present their pitches in front of a lively audience in our Pitchfest Theater in the Expo Hall, as all vie to win bragging rights and cash prizes courtesy of the Randstad Innovation Fund.

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This year’s competition will play out in three preliminary rounds, on Sept. 28 and 29, where two start-ups will be selected from each round to advance in the competition. The final round of presentations from the six HR tech start-ups that advance will take place at 10 a.m. Sept. 30, after which our 2021 HR Tech Pitchfest winner will be named. I am extremely excited to say that I will once again host the Pitchfest finals–it is without question one of the highlights of HR Tech for me personally.

See also: Catching up with Pitchfest winner Ben Brooks of PILOT

Why is Pitchfest such a can’t-miss element of the conference?

For one, the preliminary rounds and especially the finals are incredibly exciting. The start-ups get just a few minutes to pitch their solution and the rounds move quickly, with 10-plus pitches slated for each of the first-round sessions. Additionally, after each presentation, the start-ups are subjected to questions from our judging panel of HR technology experts, who carefully evaluate both the content and delivery of the pitch, as well as how presenters can think on their feet to answer questions.

But I think the primary reason for the popularity of the Pitchfest is that innovation in HR technology often presents itself first in the HR tech start-up community. Audience members who are gathered around the Pitchfest Theater are getting a first-hand look at the very latest in technology innovation, straight from the next generation of industry thought leaders and developers. Pitchfest, along with the Start-up Pavilion in the Expo, provides the industry’s largest in-person showcase of the very latest in HR tech and continues to grow in scope and influence every year.

Related: 6 HR tech start-ups changing the company culture, EX market

Pilot Coaching CEO Ben Brooks accepts the winner’s check at HR Tech 2019’s Pitchfest.

Lastly, and this is really personal for me, I just love the presentation of the giant novelty “check” to the winner of Pitchfest and getting to see the excitement and happiness on their faces after they earn such a fantastic industry award. Please make sure you make time at HR Tech to visit the Pitchfest Theater for one or all the rounds of our 2021 Pitchfest competition–I will see you there!

Click here to register for the HR Technology Conference.

Steve Boese, HR Tech Conference chair
Steve Boese
Steve Boese is HRE's Inside HR Tech columnist and chair of HRE’s HR Technology Conference®. He also writes a blog and hosts the HR Happy Hour Show, a radio program and podcast.