Aspiring entrepreneurs with an idea for a new business venture have an opportunity to win part of $50,000 in prize money during the fifth annual Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge at the University of Northern Colorado.
The call for entries is being made earlier than in past years to give entrepreneurs more time to prepare their applications, which are due by Friday, Nov. 8 and can be submitted at www.mcb-echallenge.com.
The competition is limited to Colorado-based start-up ventures or businesses that have begun business development, market research and product development but have not received payment for the sale of products or services.
The first-place winner will receive $25,000, second-place $15,000 and third-place $10,000. In addition, winners will receive business incubator services from UNC BizHub, the new business incubator at UNC.
Preliminary Challenge semi-finalists will be notified by Nov. 22 and will present their business concept to a panel of experts Jan.15 at UNC's Loveland Center at Centerra, located at 2915 Rocky Mountain Ave..
Five finalists will then be invited to present their business plan in a Shark Tank format during the Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge on Tuesday, March 25, at the University Center on UNC's campus in Greeley.
The event will be open to the public and the winners will be announced during the Bravo! Entrepreneur Awards, a Northern Colorado Business Report event sponsored by the Monfort College of Business.
"This competition encourages anyone with the entrepreneurial spirit to take that first step toward their dream of starting their own company," said David Thomas, assistant professor of management and director of the Entrepreneurial Challenge. "Our previous winners have gone on to much success, including Panda Bicycles, which has been featured on the Discovery Channel."
Winners of the fourth annual Entrepreneurial Challenge were Vertikle Enterprises LLC/5280 Prosthetics, a company that improves the lives of amputees through a new generation of products; Grouse Malting and Roasting Co., producing organic, gluten-free grains for brewing and baking; and WildFit Gyms, an outdoor fitness equipment concept featuring website and mobile app integration.
"Winning the fourth annual Entrepreneurial Challenge made a big difference," said Vertikle Enterprises co-founder Clint Accinni. "Not only were we able to use some of the prize money to produce units and get them to patients who were waiting on the technology, but the press and attention that it drew also helped us tremendously. We have been able to increase our Internet presence and actually attract investors for larger capital amounts."
Bedside Solutions, LLC placed first in the third annual Entrepreneurial Challenge. Bedside Solutions co-founder Jamie Alexander said, "We used the award money to focus on marketing for our product, and secured a booth at the Critical Care Nurses Association Meeting and Trade Show in Orlando last May. This provided us with a lot of leads, feedback and great contacts, resulting in inquiries from as far away as Iceland and Japan. Going through the competition also forced us to refine our plan and really focus on what was important. It was a great experience."