When Andrew Beckler created a bamboo ski pole in his garage in 2014, he knew it was a great idea, but the founder says these were the lessons he learned while coming up with a business plan the following year that laid the foundation for the success of Grass Sticks.
It was there that he crafted a plan that not only found success when he won the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center’s Community Business Plan competition in 2015, but also formed the roadmap that the company followed to achieve its goals in the years that followed.
“I strongly believe that played a huge role,” Beckler said of the competition. “The prize money was obviously a big help – at the time it was $10,000 – so it was a good start, but more importantly the competition forced me to sit down and write a business plan, a financial plan and a forecast for everything.”
Randy Rudasics, director of the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center, said Routt County residents who want to follow in the footsteps of Grass Stick have just over a month to prepare their business plans for the 10e Annual community business plan competition.
The deadline for business plans is October 17 at 5 p.m. In November, the authors of the best entries will present their plans to a jury and the winners will be announced in December. The top placer will win $6,600 and the second place winner will win $4,400. Seminar rules, judging criteria, and registration information are available at coloradomtn.edu/yvec.
Beckler said the competition also introduced him to the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a national nonprofit organization whose members provide free consulting services and advice to business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. .
He said the competition experience and the people he was introduced to at the event helped his business grow into what it is today.
“We had to sit down and write a business plan and do some financial forecasting, which I would have done a bit, but I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time if it hadn’t been for the competition. .,” Beckler said. “Most importantly, the Entrepreneurship Center and SCORE provided expert support, expert guidance and mentorship throughout the process.”
The 2022 competition is sponsored by Startup Colorado. The City of Steamboat Springs, Routt County, Alpine Bank, THPK, Mountain Valley Bank, Yampa Valley Bank, Routt County Economic Development Partnership and Vectra Bank will be sponsoring the cash prize. Past winners include C4 Crypto Advisors, HearO Club, Chill Angel, Grass Sticks, Mountain Pine Manufacturing, Hive 180, Town Hall Outdoor.
Rudasics said the competition promotes effective planning for new start-ups, which promotes greater funding opportunities and prepares new businesses for potential challenges. The Entrepreneurship Center offers a variety of seminars and workshops to prepare candidates for the event. Rudasics said those events have ended, but he is still available to answer questions, provide feedback and advice through the hub.
“There’s about a month left until plans are due,” Rudasics said. “I can always offer free business advice that comes with it, and I can always advise people on what to do, what a good plan looks like, and show them some examples.”
John Bristol, executive director of the Routt County Economic Development Partnership, said the competition is important to Steamboat and to all of Routt County.
“It’s a great pipeline for those with ideas, and it’s a great pipeline for developing new businesses,” Bristol said. “This competition, which has 10 years under its belt, has shown success in entrepreneurship and business creation in the valley.”
He said the event promotes greater diversity in local economies, which plays a key role in places like Steamboat, Oak Creek, Hayden and Craig where a diverse economy helps reduce economic shocks. He said the competition is a great way to improve the odds that more businesses will succeed and eventually contribute to local economies.
“This competition gives you the opportunity to bounce off your idea and shape it a little better with feedback from some people who have done it before,” Bristol said. “The judges are going to have a diversity of thoughts and a diversity of opinions that will make every shot stronger.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.