Local Entrepreneurs Compete for Best Business Ideas

3 years 8 months 1 day ago Friday, April 11 2014 Apr 11, 2014 Friday, April 11, 2014 6:25:00 AM CDT April 11, 2014 in News
By: Tatiana Darie and Eduardo Gonzalez, KOMU 8 Reporters

COLUMBIA - Mid-Missouri entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas at the Boom Pitch Competition on Friday.

This year, the judges are hearing 36 start-up ideas and offering monetary prizes. First place winners will get $5,000 and they are also eligible for other prize categories. The prize money is offered by Missouri CORE (Connecting Our Regional Economy), a nonprofit economic development agency representing five Mid-Missouri counties: Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole and Cooper.

This competition comes at a time when start-up activity dropped sharply in Missouri and nationwide in 2013 to pre-recession levels. The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, which is a leading indicator of startup businesses in the US, shows a more than 40 percent decline in Missouri business launches. That moved the Show-Me state from 18th to 35th place among states. Nationally, the decline was less than 10 percent. You can read the full report here.

The event wants to promote the entrepreneurial community and encourage more mid-Missourians in starting their own ventures. Venture capitalists, bankers and the business and academic community will be there to support the young entrepreneurs.

The live presentations and judging runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Windsor Auditorium at Stephens College. Boone County National Bank will provide lunch on-site for all attendees. You can find the full schedule of the event here.

J. Michael Brooks, President of REDI, said events for entrepreneurs, like this one, help communities thrive economically.

"All the meet ups that entrepreneurs are having in this community, they're all building to an excitement," Brooks said. "There are so many positive things that are occurring in our community right now, that all are helping to lead toward an understanding that this is a viable and important asset."

He said more people and private companies are jumping on board to help entrepreneurs. He said another factor playing a major role in helping entrepreneurs is that more programs and universities are teaching students the basics of entrepreneurship.

"You can also go to school to be an engineer who wants to start his own company," Brooks said. "And so entrepreneurship is an opportunity to understand that you don't have to go to work for the big accounting firm, you can start your own company." 

Kim Lanes was there do just that. She started a company to sell a chili and ketchup-based sauce that has been in her family for five generations. 

"This is a huge opportunity for exposure, for networking and for the prize money, too, of course," Lanes said. "It would help me expand my business."

The Boom Pitch competition is open to any individual or team of up to four individuals from mid-Missouri. To find event materials, follow this link.

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