Sixteen entrepreneurs from San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Mariposa, Amador and Tuolumne counties have been selected to participate in the first round of competition for over $24,000 in cash and business services in the 2014 San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge on Wednesday, March 5.
The 16 quarter-finalists are proposing a broad range of business ideas from food products to hi-tech surveillance devices including electronic devices, social networking, media products and services, health care products, educational services, food products, safety products and various other consumer goods and services. Contestants competing for the $10,000 in cash and $14,000 in business services will have two minutes each to present their business ideas, in what is known as an “elevator pitch”, to a panel of judges and a voting audience in the first round of this American Idol style business plan competition. Eight winners will be selected from these 16 quarter finalists to proceed to the second and possibly third rounds of competition to be held on March 26. Last year, a Riverbank firm took home the grand prize.
The March 5 event will be held from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Stockton Golf & Country Club, 3800 West Country Club Boulevard, Stockton. Members of the public are invited to attend for a cover charge for each event of $15 prepaid or $20 at the door. Food and beverages will be served. For more information or to register to attend the events go to: http://www.sjchallenge.com.
Mark Plovnick, San Joaquin Angel President and University of the Pacific Director of Economic Development, said “These aspiring entrepreneurs have now taken the first steps to starting their own business in our region, and we hope the competition will encourage them to continue to pursue their vision. Many of the 250 past participants in the Challenge have started and/or grown their businesses. One particularly successful 2010 participant sold his software business to computer maker Dell.”
The San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge is part of a regional economic development strategy. The Challenge is being implemented through a partnership of the San Joaquin Angels, University of the Pacific, San Joaquin Partnership, Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance, the Business Council, Inc., NEC Small Business Development Center- San Joaquin Delta College, and the Alliance Small Business Development Center.
Sponsors of the event include Wells Fargo Foundation, Central Valley Fund, Bank of Agriculture & Commerce, Bank of Stockton, Central Valley Community Bank, Farmers & Merchants Bank, PG&E, Rabobank, Oak Valley Community Bank and The Record. Additional in-kind services are being offered by Croce & Company Accountancy Corporation, Downey Brand, attorneys; Never Boring Design, marketing and public relations, and External Resources Inc., business advisors.
The Entrepreneur Challenge poses a four-step competitive process:
1. The many business plans that were submitted to the Challenge were reviewed by a screening committee of business and academic experts who selected the 16 best ideas for the initial public round of competition.
2. On March 5, each selected contestant will participate in a two-minute drill to describe his or her business. The audience and a panel of judges will select eight businesses to move on to the next stage.
3. On March 26, the remaining eight entrepreneurs will have five minutes to present a more detailed analysis of their businesses before the audience and a panel of judges selects four finalists eligible for the cash prizes.
4. Also at the March 26 event, each of the four finalists will participate in a simulated challenging business situation. Audience and judges will then select the winner and runner-up.
Winners of the previous three Entrepreneur Challenges report they are making good progress with their businesses. According to 2012 winner, John Paoluccio of Inventive Resources, “The funding and professional assistance that we received from the Challenge has helped us to put our product in the marketplace spotlight. We now have sales in Florida, Las Vegas, Canada and even Dubai.”