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Initiate is the major hub for start-ups to showcase their technologies to electric utilities at DISTRIBUTECH International. Start-ups can pitch their solution to a panel of industry experts, exhibit their company, and connect with other innovators from around the world. There is no better place for startup companies to connect with the energy industry and deploy their technology into the world of transmission & distribution!


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Your application and pitch deck will be reviewed by the team to determine whether you qualify for the Initiate Start-Up Program.

The company should have:

  • Less than 25 employees
  • No more than $15M in funding
  • A pitch deck to provide in the application
  • A technology that is applicable to the energy industry

The company should be:

  • Founded less than 6 years ago
  • New to Initiate (has not participated in previous years)
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What's Happening

March 14, 2025

Send final presentation to Sarah Toews (also bring it on a flash drive as a backup).

March 23-24, 2025

Arrive in Dallas to get set up.

March 25-27, 2025

Have the kiosk staffed, network, present your pitch at assigned time, walk the exhibit floor, attend conference sessions, etc. To kick off the event, the keynote will take place on March 25th at 8:30 AM, then the exhibit hall opens at 10:00 AM.

March 27, 2025

Awards given out by judges and Duke Energy on Initiate stage, 10:30 AM.


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All Initiate participants were judged on their financial and technical viability, innovation, quality of the pitch and if their technology brings a benefit to the community. These four start-up companies came out on top and will receive a free booth at DISTRIBUTECH 2025. Congratulations!

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Initiate FAQs

Should my company participate in Initiate or exhibit with a booth?

We encourage the start-ups to choose one or the other. Participating in the Initiate program will give you the chance to pitch and exhibit alongside other innovators and founders.

How many passes are included and how do I register my staff?

Once the portal is ready, you will login to the exhibitor portal online and register your staff (2 full conference pass and 2 exhibition passes). 

How do I rent additional items for my kiosk (monitor, lead retrieval, additional stool, etc.)?

Once the exhibitor portal is open, you can rent these items through the portal. You can also bring/ship items directly to the convention center and instructions are located in the exhibitor manual (coming soon to the event website).

How long is the pitch?

Each start-up will have 5 minutes to pitch and 5 minutes of Q&A from our judges for a total of 10 minutes.

How is Duke Energy participating in Initiate this year?

Duke typically selects one start-up each year to receive the Duke Energy Award. This means that Duke will meet with one start-up post event to discuss potentially working together in the future.

How many start-ups will participate in Initiate this year?

58 companies will participate, showcasing a variety of technologies.

Who is the audience of my pitch?

The audience at DTECH is mostly utility representatives. There might be some VCs in the audience, but the main purpose of pitching at DTECH is to get in front of a utility audience to showcase your technology and how it might be useful to them as customers.

Is there a prize if our company is one of the top three start-ups?

While there is not a cash prize, the top three start-ups will receive a physical award to display, interview with one of Clarion’s content directors, a press release, and a free 10x10 booth for DTECH 2026 in San Diego, CA. The top start-up will also receive a $1,500 sponsorship credit to use toward the 2026 event. 

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