BOULDER - New this year at the Naturally Boulder Pitch Slam event: an audience vote to help determine the winning startup company and an additional $2,000 cash prize for the winner.

Some 25 entrepreneurs will pitch their business plans to a panel of judges at the preliminary pitch slam event on Wednesday, Oct 9, at eTown Hall, 1535 Spruce St. in Boulder. The pitch slam is part competition and part mentoring session. Past winners of the event include entrepreneurs who founded companies such as Soft Style Inc., doing business as Bamboobies, makers of washable nursing pads; and Evol Foods, makers of frozen burritos and meals.

Naturally Boulder is a local industry trade group that promotes startup natural-food companies. Sponsors include Boulder Brands Inc. (Nasdaq: BDBD) in Niwot, WhiteWave Foods Co. (NYSE: WWAV) and the city of Boulder, among others.

This year's event will feature the $2,000 cash prize to the winning entrepreneur, along with a prize package of business-building services worth more than $50,000 that's provided by supporters of Naturally Boulder. Judges include notable leaders in the local natural food industry. Judges choose three finalists from the preliminary pitch slam event held from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday. The audience helps choose the company winner at the final pitch slam event held as part of the 2013 Naturally Boulder Awards, held from 5 to 9 p.m. that day at Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St. in Boulder.

"There's no way to put a price on the wisdom and insights participants can gain from such well-respected business leaders in an open forum like the Naturally Boulder Pitch Slam," Ellen Feeney, Naturally Boulder board president, said in a press statement. "We're proud of the positive impact that winning the Pitch Slam has had on emerging entrepreneurial companies from the Boulder natural-product community."

Sara Snow, an author and former host of Discovery Health's "Get Fresh with Sara Snow" will serve as master of ceremonies for the event. Awards include the Lance Gentry Breakthrough Innovation Award, named after the former president of Justin's LLC, who died in 2012. Boulder-based nut butter company Justin's won an early pitch slam event.