A total of at least $10,000 in cash and $14,000 in professional services will be awarded to the two winning entrepreneurs when the San Joaquin Angels investment group, in collaboration with regional educational institutions and economic development groups, stages the fifth annual San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge on March 5 and March 26.
The San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge is an American Idol-style multi-round business plan competition including audience and expert judging. Challenge organizers are seeking individuals or start-up companies with a great idea to compete during two public events for selection as the most persuasive business opportunity. The audience and judges will select two finalists eligible for the top prizes and an opportunity for further discussions with potential investors and advisors.
The Entrepreneur Challenge consists of a four-step competitive process:
1. Applications submitted online by Feb. 9 will be reviewed by a screening committee of business and academic experts who will select the best business opportunities for the initial public round of competition.
2. On March 5, each selected contestant will participate in a two-minute drill to describe his or her business. The audience and a panel of judges will select several businesses to move on to the next stage.
3. On March 26, the remaining entrepreneurs will have five minutes to present a more detailed analysis of their businesses before the audience and a panel of judges, who will select several finalists eligible for the final competition.
4. The final competition will also be held at the March 26 event, where each finalist will participate in a simulated challenging business situation. Audience and judges will then select the winner and runner-up for the prizes.
The previous four years' Entrepreneur Challenges attracted applications from over 250 aspiring entrepreneurs with the public events drawing over 300 audience participants each year. This year's Challenge is again being organized by business and community leaders from San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties with the added participation of Calaveras, Amador, Alpine, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties. Entrepreneurs from the eight counties must apply online to compete in the Challenge at www.sjchallenge.com. Workshops to help entrepreneurs prepare their applications will be offered in all three counties, with details about time, location, etc. available on the SJ Challenge web site.
"By winning the San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge I was able to meet with marketing, legal, management, and financial advisors who knew how to help a start-up business succeed and grow. The funding and professional assistance that we received from the Challenge helped to put our product in the marketplace spotlight. We now have sales in Florida, Las Vegas, Canada and even Dubai," said John Paoluccio, winner of the 2012 Challenge.
The San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge is part of a broad regional economic development strategy to stimulate business start-ups and job creation in the San Joaquin Valley. The Challenge is being presented by the San Joaquin Angels in partnership with the University of the Pacific, San Joaquin Partnership, Business Council of San Joaquin County Inc., Stanislaus Economic Development & Workforce Alliance, NEC San Joaquin Delta College Small Business Development Center, and the Alliance Small Business Development Center.
The March 5 and March 26 events will be held from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Stockton Golf & Country Club, 3800 West Country Club Boulevard. Members of the public are invited to attend for a cover charge for each event of $15 prepaid on-line or $20 at the door.