New "tech challenge" helps start-ups launch their businesses

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COLUMBIA – Four local start-ups will be taking the stage Wednesday evening to pitch their companies to an audience and panel of investors.

The Missouri Innovation Center is holding its first Missouri Tech Challenge at The Blue Note, giving entrepreneurs a chance to launch their companies.

Each company met with investors before the event to determine eligibility. 

"We pre-qualified them all, so we know these are four interesting companies in a diverse set of areas," President of the Missouri Innovation Center Bill Turpin said.

Each group will pitch its company to the panel for a chance to receive up to $50,000 from the Missouri Innovation Center Accelerator Fund.

Coordinators said they hope the event shows the audience what a real pitch meeting looks like.

“I think it will show a higher level of what a company needs to actually raise money, because it’s not pretend money, it’s real money. Our fund is supposed to make money for our investors so we have a pretty high bar of what we’ll invest in,” Turpin said.

The event is part of the center’s Mid-Missouri Innovation Week, that aims to teach the public about entrepreneurship.

“For entrepreneurs, it's a chance to share ideas, make connections, and grow their business.  For all Mid-Missourians, it's a chance to see the incredible things happening in our own backyard,” MIC Entrepreneurial Scholar William Galvin said.

Galvin said he hopes to expand on the event and those like it in the future.

“I hope the week becomes a nationally recognized event series. I know that we will keep striving to provide valuable and exciting events to help promote and develop entrepreneurship here in Columbia,” Galvin said.

The event is open to the public, those interested can pre-register online or pay at the door.