“Pitch nights” are a popular and effective way for startup founders to present their ideas to potential investors. But in the age of coronavirus, in-person gatherings have stopped and entrepreneurs have a tough time raising funds.

Jerusalem-based early-stage venture capital firm Ground Up Ventures has come to the rescue with what it claims is the world’s largest online live startup pitch competition.

“To help founders weather the storm, Ground Up Ventures launched March Madness, a competition for startups that have raised between $200,000 and $2 million to pitch a panel of world-class venture capitalists from the United States and Israel,” says David Stark, founding partner at Ground Up Ventures.

Start explains that 32 startups will be chosen from the applicants. They will pitch their ideas online to a live audience of investors and other participants from across the globe. These 32 will be whittled down to the Final Four by the investor panel. The audience will vote on two additional startups to compete in the finals.

The winner will receive a $100,000 investment.

Stark says more than 35 percent of the startups that have applied so far come from Israel. These startups include Trusstor, a command and control system for construction; Lynx.MD, a platform for running collaborative data projects within healthcare organizations; and buywith, an ecommerce solution that brings together brands with influencers and their followers for social shopping online.

Israeli investors participating as judges in the competition include Amit Karp of Bessemer Venture Partners, Yonatan Machado of Samsung NEXT and Shiran Shalev of Battery Ventures.

“Despite the physical distance that may be between us, now is the time for VCs and founders to be closer together and more engaged, not further apart,” said Stark.

He promises the event “will be very fun and will be a mix between watching Shark Tank and The Voice.”

Applications to attend the online event as an audience member will remain open until April 1. Click here to register.