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Amazon Docuseries Podcast Follows Founders in “NCAA of Pitch Competitions”

Amazon Docuseries Podcast Follows Founders in “NCAA of Pitch Competitions”

JAR Audio

June 20, 2023

Amazon’s new miniseries This Is Small Business: Next Generation offers a unique take on business podcasts. This documentary-style series follows MBAs and founders as they pitch their business ideas in the “NCAA of business startup competitions”, the Rice University Business Plan Competition (RBPC).

The eight-episode miniseries launched on June 20 with a new episode dropping each Tuesday. The new podcast follows four college teams through the competition as they prepare to pitch and compete for up to $3M in prizes in one of the largest and richest intercollegiate startup competitions.

The miniseries is produced by the Amazon Small Business Academy and is hosted by This is Small Business’s Andrea Marquez, a future small business owner, and welcomes Mitchella Gilbert (or Mitch), founder of OYA Femtech Apparel and an ex-RBPC competitor, as her cohost. Andrea and Mitch take you behind the scenes of how startup founders pitch their business ideas in front of some of the world’s leading venture capitalists and investors. Can they handle the pressure? Will their business ideas stand out? Will they have what it takes to win?

“I think business school so much focuses on leading a business or being in an existing business, but the act of starting a business is really different. It’s going it alone, it’s being a founder. It’s taking a leap that’s much harder. It’s really like the NCAA tournament of business startup competitions. And so you feel that pressure. And if you’re a business owner or a founder, pressure needs to bring out the best in you. You need to find a way to get the nerves down and just be who you are,” says Peter Rodriguez, Dean of the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.

Similar to This is Small Business regular episodes, the miniseries offers valuable insights and learnings for entrepreneurs looking to succeed in the world of business pitch competitions or business owners looking to make their business more attractive for potential investors. Throughout the series, we’ll hear from competitors as they prepare before the competition and check in with them after every round of feedback with judges and investors. We’ll also be hearing from judges, investors, and event organizers as they give us insight to the makings of a successful and outstanding pitch.

“Our aim is to reflect the optimism and passion of early-stage entrepreneurs in a way that inspires and serves as an educational tool that is both memorable and applicable,” says Andrea Marquez, co-host of This is Small Business Next Generation.

Competitors are at Rice University for three days where they have to give 15-minute pitches and a 60-second elevator pitch various times. They get feedback from judges and have to implement it in only hours before they have to do it all over again.

“There were so many forces and stakeholders and actors, and they’re probably in competition season, so it’s not exactly like this is the only competition. It’s like they have competitions on competitions and they’re probably not sleeping that much in general, so everything’s happening at one time and you’re just really holding onto the wheel trying to survive,” says Mitch Gilbert, CEO of Oya Femtech Apparel, past competitor at RBPC, and cohost of This is Small Business Next Generation.

The miniseries is in a documentary/reality series format that really digs deep into how competitors are feeling, the challenges they are facing in real time, and what’s at stake for them and for their future.

You can listen to episodes every Tuesday starting June 20, wherever you get your podcasts. For more information visit

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company, Earth’s Best Employer, and Earth’s Safest Place to Work. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Career Choice, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Just Walk Out technology, Amazon Studios, and The Climate Pledge are some of the things pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit and follow @AmazonNews.

About Amazon Small Business Academy

Amazon Small Business Academy (ASBA) offers free educational content and resources for early-stage entrepreneurs and small business owners. With webinars, live Q&As, podcast, and events, ASBA is designed to be the one-stop resource to learn foundational business education, hear inspirational stories from experts and other small business owners, and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs. For more information, visit

About This is Small Business

This is Small Business is a podcast that pulls back the curtain on pivotal moments in the journey to success for small business owners across the U.S. Each episode focuses on the most pressing challenges small business owners have faced, and how they learned from—and conquered—them on their path to scaling up. The educational and inspirational podcast breaks down each pivotal moment into tangible, actionable takeaways, wrapped in an inspirational small business story. In addition to the small business owners and entrepreneurs, each episode also features industry experts, who will offer best practices, trend analysis, and a unique point of view. For more information, visit


Liz Hames