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What is Launchpad? By now most of the civilized world has seen an episode of “Shark Tank.” An entrepreneur is launching a new business or posing the next great invention to a panel of judges, hoping one of them will approve of the concept and invest in the venture.
A team from the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council (MOVRC) is developing a business pitch contest called “Launchpad.” The MOVRC is a regional agency comprised of elected officials and economic development professionals who come together to work on regional concerns that affect all our communities in an eight-county region (Calhoun, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler, Wirt and Wood.) And new business development is one of our key goals!
Who qualifies to pitch an idea in the Launchpad contest? Any new business less than 2 years old located inside the MOVRC's 8-county region.
If I’m already an existing business, can I enter the contest? To enter you must be a new business start-up (in idea phase) or have been in business for less than two years.
What’s the first step? You must complete our short three-page application (click the button at the bottom of the page). We will want to know a little about you personally, your business concept or product, your target audience for the product, and what type of financing you need to make your idea a reality.
Deadline to submit an application is July 31.
What comes next? Applications will be reviewed and semifinalists will be invited to the September 19 Launchpad event. The event is open to the public to come and hear your ideas.
Semi-finalists will also be part of the The Pre-Launch Expo from 5 - 6 p.m, Sept. 13. This is an interactive opportunity for pitchers to appeal to crowd-sourced voters. Contestants will set up a booth to display, demonstrate and explain their idea during the pre-Launch Business-After-Hours event. Attendees to the pre-launch Business After Hours Expo will be given $10,000 in “Fuel Points” to invest in their favorite pitch idea. The two ideas with the most “Fuel Points” received during the Expo will be part of the Launchpad’s five-person pitch finalists later that evening.
Combining the points from the judges’ panel and the public votes, a winner will be presented with the $5,000 prize money to help launch their idea.
Will the judges be rough on me like Mr. Wonderful is to the contestants on Shark Tank? It is our goal to provide an environment that supports entrepreneurs! I can promise no one will be too tough on you. The judges will have the opportunity to ask a few questions after your presentation to help aid in their decision to select a winner. No one from the audience will be allowed to ask questions.
Did you say “prize money”?? Yes, $5,000. We are excited to help fund a portion of your next great idea and see a new business venture come to fruition. In addition to a prize of at least $5,000 the winner will make connections with several business development professionals in the area served by the MOVRC.
We are hopeful this Launchpad initiative will encourage and entice entrepreneurship and grow new business in the area. So start preparing your materials and practice your 5-minute pitch – you could be the next contestant for the MOVRC Launchpad!
Jill Parsons, President of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley
Rules and requirements:
Launchpad is open to individuals and businesses in the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council's eight-county area.
Launchpad is for new or proposed start up businesses. New businesses must be less than 2 years old.
No non-profits or charities.
For additional questions, contact Jody Murphy at 304-684-9909 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dates to remember:
July 31: Deadline for Applications
August 17: Notifications to Semifinalists.
September 13: LAUNCHPAD! (@Parkersburg Arts Center)
5-6 p.m. PreLaunch Expo
6-8 p.m. Launchpad Pitch Contest