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Just 42 seconds. That’s all it takes to reach the top of Seattle’s Space Needle. And that’s the amount of time we’re giving entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas as they cruise to the top of one of the world’s iconic landmarks.

Welcome to GeekWire’s Elevator Pitch, presented by Smartsheet.

This new GeekWire video series showcases up-and-coming startup founders who pitch their business concepts as they travel to the top of the Space Needle. Over the next six months, 27 entrepreneurs will compete in this unique challenge. But only one will truly make it to the top. Clarity, conciseness and competence will rule the day, not to mention grace under pressure and a resistance to acrophobia.

Watch the first episode above, and vote on your favorite below.

The clock is ticking as we chronicle the action in this fast-paced show. In today’s episode, three startup entrepreneurs —Kristine Campbell of Rankfull, Kwame Boler of NEU and Rahil Jain of Airy Sensors — take the elevator ride.

Kwame Boler of NEU pitches to the judges. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Kristine Campbell of Rankfull pitches to the judges. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Airy Sensors founder Rahil Jain on GeekWire’s Elevator Pitch. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Afterward, they face tough questions and biting critiques from our judges: Flying Fish Partners co-founder Heather Redman; serial entrepreneur T.A. McCann and Cranium co-founder and Starbucks entrepreneur-in-residence Richard Tait.

Our judges: T.A. McCann, Richard Tait and Heather Redman. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Did the judges pick the right entrepreneur? Share your thoughts in the comments, and vote in our reader poll below.

Eight more episodes will follow today’s debut, and we’ll be back next Thursday to showcase three new entrepreneurs. Later this year, Elevator Pitch viewers will vote on their favorite pitches from the competition, picking four winning entrepreneurs who will go on to present live onstage in front of more than 900 business and tech leaders at the 2018 GeekWire Summit in October.

Longtime GeekWire readers may recall the original Elevator Pitch, since we launched a similar concept at the Space Needle back in 2012. This time, we’re back with a new crop of entrepreneurs and judges.

A big thanks to Smartsheet for sponsoring The Elevator Pitch. Also, thanks to The Space Needle and The Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Thanks for watching, and be sure to subscribe to GeekWire’s YouTube channel to catch every episode.

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