Local up-and-coming businesses will have the chance to win $5,000 during the 9th annual Pitch It & Win It competition in October.
Hosted by StartUp Jefferson City, the contest gives individuals and newly established businesses the chance to win the prize based on a business pitch given to StartUp Jefferson City committee members.
Existing businesses are also eligible but only if the business has received less than $150,000 in funding and has earned less than $150,000 in gross revenues before October 2020.
Shaun Sappenfield, existing business manager for the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, said the process has a few stages.
Businesses or individuals will register for the competition, then each will meet with a committee made up of Sappenfield, Sherry Major, of the Missouri Women’s Business Center, and Lauren Carter, of the Lincoln University Small Business Development Center.
Those three will interview the individuals who have entered the competition.
“That works, obviously for us to understand what they’re trying to do — their business idea or business,” Sappenfield said. “Then the other part of it is they’re always getting input as well.”
Once those interviews are complete, the small panel will send the information to the full StartUp Jefferson City committee to narrow down to a few finalists.
Finalists will then have a couple weeks to take any notes or questions they received and create a visual presentation for their final pitch.
“This allows us to not only engage the finalists again, but also critique their business and offer any counseling,” Sappenfield said.
The final presentation event will be held in the last week of October at the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce office. A specific date has not yet been finalized.
Typically, the final pitching event takes place during the Business Expo, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the expo will most likely be held virtually, Sappenfield said, making the competition its own event.
Although only one can win the prize money, Sappenfield said it is worthwhile for those who enter because they have a chance to talk with the chamber and other business resources about their business plan.
“The winner’s going to benefit with $5,000,” Sappenfield said. “But say we get 15 entries. If we take it down to five, that 10 that didn’t make the final — we communicate with them that any business counseling or any interaction you would like to have with the chamber or the others on the committee, they can always connect with them.”
The chamber always offers business counseling assistance, but Sappenfield said the competition is a good way to connect prospective or small businesses with chamber resources.
“We don’t want anyone to fail,” Sappenfield said. “I think there should be more people taking advantage of services like this.”
The deadline to register for the competition is Sept. 18. To register, visit the chamber’s website under the Small Business tab, or contact Sappenfield at 573-638-3586 or [email protected]