Who said business pitch contests were just for adults? The Maine Venture Fund is launching the first annual Maine Startup Challenge this fall to encourage entrepreneurship among innovators of all ages.
The competition will be held at four levels: kindergarten through eighth grade; high school; college; and open, for all adults.
Submitted business plans will be judged by a panel of Maine investors and entrepreneurs, with top prizes awarded in each category to help entrepreneurs take their ideas to the next level.
The open category winner will also have the opportunity to pitch their idea to the Maine Venture Fund board for further investment, and to the public at an event in late October.
Courtesy/Maine Venture Capital Fund
The Maine Startup Challenge, whose logo is shown here, is a new annual business plan competition launched by the Maine Venture Fund.
“We are very excited about the potential of this competition to spark creative entrepreneurial thinking in Maine, and we hope that some of these ideas will eventually translate into real business ventures and create a wider impact in the state,” Joe Powers, chief executive of the Maine Venture Fund, told Mainebiz.
Asked what will differentiate the Maine Startup Challenge from traditional pitch competitions, he cited two factors.
First, winners will be chosen based on their written submissions before the culminating event in October, so stage skills are not a requirement.
“Secondly, there are four age brackets, allowing us to include children from kindergarten, which is a longer-term investment in the ideas and aspirations of the next generation,” he said. he declares.
Nina Scheepers, investment manager at the Maine Venture Fund, said organizers encourage those with even the earliest ideas to apply.
She said that although it is difficult to predict the number of applications, the hope is to attract applications at every level.
“Entrepreneurs don’t need to have incorporated the business or have already spent a lot of time on the idea,” she added.
Contest organizers will begin accepting entries on September 1, and new business planners can find templates and educational materials on the contest website. Lesson plans will also be available for educators who wish to incorporate the contest into the classroom curriculum.
Applications must be submitted by September 30 and a showcase event is scheduled for Wednesday, October 26 at the Roux Institute at Northeastern University in Portland. The current plan is to hold the event in person unless that changes due to pandemic restrictions.