By Katie Nussbaum Savannah Morning News, Ga.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Several budding entrepreneurs will go head to head Friday night at Savannah SCORE's BizPitch competition.
Savannah Morning News, Ga.
A collapsible guitar, a community sewing center and a restaurant focusing on the heritage of the Geechee people are just a few of the business ideas that will be presented during Savannah SCORE's BizPitch competition on Friday.
Similar to "Shark Tank," but with a little less bite and more of a community effort, the event aims to shine a light on entrepreneurship and the importance of small businesses in the community.
"... We wanted (ideas) that were different, innovative, creative and really just kind of cool," said Savannah SCORE chapter chair Michael Siegel.
Eight finalists will have four minutes to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, who will have an additional four minutes to provide comments and ask questions.
After all of the pitches are complete with judges will choose three winners who will receive $2,500 in cash and a package of professional business services, including logo design, public relations, legal services and more worth more than $7,500 to help launch their new business.
The winners must establish the business in Chatham County and launch no later than Jan. 1, 2020.
"The focus was to add businesses and add jobs in Chatham County. That's really our focus," Siegel said.
The application to pitch was similar to a business plan, Siegel said, adding that along with looking for creative ideas, the application review committee also sought out ideas that were financially viable and thorough.
"We wanted people to have an opportunity to show that they've thought this through; that they've done the research and understand the market, they understand their competition," he said.
Part of the national SCORE network, which provides free mentoring and assistance to business owners, the Savannah chapter has helped establish nearly 300 new small businesses and create almost 500 new non-owner jobs in the last two years alone.
While the finalists pitching on Friday worked with mentors to ready them for Friday's event, those applicants who didn't make the final cut were also encouraged to meet with a mentor to keep shaping their idea.
"Just because you didn't make it into the finals of this competition doesn't mean it's a bad idea and that you shouldn't continue to try to develop it down the road," Siegel said.
"We want to make our mentors available to everybody."
The inaugural event, which is free and open to the public, was made possible through a $5,000 grant from SCORE National and though partnerships with more than a dozen awarding, supporting and in-kind service donors, including the City of Savannah Office of Business Opportunity, Savannah Economic Development Authority, Yates-Astro, Sand Dollar Accounting Services, University of Georgia Small Business Development Center and more.
"It turned out to be an amazing partnership that emerged," Siegel said.
"...We want to promote entrepreneurism, we want to make a contribution to this vibrant business community here and we want people to understand, A: What creative business people we have here; B: That if you have a dream you can make it come true and C: that small businesses are an incredibly important part of our Savannah/Chatham County business community."