In general I would agree with your cofounder that the cost/benefit of pitch competition is riskier. But I have always been more prone to try to develop my way ahead of the curve. But it really depends on your business model I suppose. Exposure has sometimes hyped a company into a front runner position which pays off if they can then follow thru and deliver on a primed market with key backing.
I think direct F2F time with interested and synergistic investors that bring more than money to the table will serve you best.