11th annual ‘Best Business Idea Competition’ offers participants a shot at $5K

CEDAR CITY Do you have a great idea for a startup product or a better way to do business? The Southern Utah University Small Business Development Center is hosting two free training sessions in November leading up to the 11th annual “Best Business Idea Competition” in December, with a chance for feedback and up to $5,000 in prize money.

The competition is open to any Southern Utah University student or resident of Iron, Beaver or Garfield counties. Joni Anderson has been with the Small Business Development Center for almost 20 years, and she said she has seen many interesting business proposals in previous years of the competition.

“One year, we had … something along the lines of caskets for pets,” Anderson said. “It was sort of a do-it-yourself kit for pet caskets.”

The pet-casket entrepreneurs didn’t win first prize that year, Anderson said, but they did get honorable mention.

The winning idea of the 2015-16 contest was “Fake-A-Shade” by Chip Sanders and Malachi McAfee.

“You know how popular the plantation shutters are in homes?” Anderson said. “It’s sort of a … low-cost alternative.”

That’s all the information Anderson could share on Fake-A-Shade, she said, as well as any other past entries in order to protect the business idea. The concept of confidentiality is very important for the Best Business Idea Competition.

“It’s different than a lot of the popular competitions now, like the pitch competitions where anybody can attend and listen to the pitches,” Anderson said. “It’s a closed presentation. Only the judges and the people presenting are allowed in the room at that presentation.”

In addition, the judges are all required to sign a confidentiality agreement. Judges include representatives from most of the local banks, Anderson said, as well as the Southwest Applied Technology College, Cedar City-Iron County Economic Development Office, the Chamber of Commerce and several local entrepreneurs. So even if a participant doesn’t win one of the cash prizes, the potential for feedback from the judges is invaluable.

However, for startups, the possibility of a cash prize can go a long way. Residents of Iron, Beaver and Garfield County will be competing for the following: 1st place – $5,000; 2nd place – $3,000; 3rd place – $1,000 and two honorable mentions of $500 each. University students will be competing for 1st place – $2,000, 2nd place – $1,000 and 3rd place – $750.

Entries for the competition are due Dec. 9. by 5 p.m. and must be submitted online. Entries will be reviewed by the panel of judges, and those who submit the top ideas will have a chance to give an “elevator pitch” to the panel in person.

As far as crafting your proposal, a media release from the Small Business Development Center suggested the following:

  • Build your proposal by identifying a market need and the solution your product or service will provide.
  • Create a pitch that shows your creativity, personality and passion for your product or service.
  • Keep it simple and inspire confidence.

However, to assist potential applicants even more, the center is holding two free training sessions in November to assist with submissions and presentations.

“It’s just basically an informational session if people aren’t really sure what they should include,” Anderson said. “(For example) for their submission, they have to have an executive summary, so if they’re not really sure what they should include in that executive summary or what the requirements are for the competition, the training session is to answer questions.”

Both sessions will offer the same information, so participants don’t need to attend both. Training sessions take place at the SUU Business Resource Center at 510 W. 800 South in Cedar City on Nov. 1 at 4:30 p.m. or Nov. 14 at noon. Free pizza will be served at the sessions. To attend, RSVP by email to [email protected].

Official rules, additional contest information and past winners are available at the Best Business Idea Competition website.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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