Who can participate?

Adults who live or own a business in the six county region (Henderson, Henry, Knox, Mercer, Stark and Warren) are invited to share their ideas for:

  • a new retail or service business
  • expanding an existing business
  • a new manufacturing/fabrication business
  • students sixteen (16) years or older who are enrolled in a school or college located in one of the six (6) participating counties

What will I have to do?

The presentation is made to judges during individual, confidential sessions for a chance to win cash, prizes, advertising, and professional small business consultation to advance their ideas into reality.

Eligible participants will have five (5) minutes to “pitch” an idea that would be developed in one of the six participating counties.  Each participant will be given an additional five (5) minutes setup time and the judges reserve the right to ask you questions for an additional five (5) minutes.

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Help With Documents

Some of the downloads on this Site require PowerPoint, Excel or a PDF program to view or use. You can download Micorsoft's Free Excel Viewer, Microsoft's free PowerPoint Viewer, and Adobe's Free .PDF program to aid you.

Administrative Paperwork


Get your application here, download and sign a form allowing us to take and use your photograph, and take a look at the Judge's Sheet:

Start Up Help

Find out if you have the wherewithal to start a business by grapling with the "Back of the Napkin" download which will help you answer the question: "Can I really do this and make a living"? Download sample pro-formas (initial business financials), a sample set of financial statements based on a Coffee House start-up, and get some hints and tips with Abrams six week start-up worksheets. Additonally, we have provided, for your perusal, the Small Business Development Center's "Services Presentation" and the Small Business Administrations "Smart Start Presentation."

What the Gurus Say


J.T. O'Donnell discusses four words that impact your career and business decisions, while Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan passes along a productivity tip:


Joel Youngs with the SBDC explains the Fast Pitch


What Are The Judges Looking For?

The answer to these six questions:

  • So what is your business all about? In other words, what problem are you trying to solve or what is the need you are trying to fulfill?
  • Who will your customers be? Who are you selling to and how large is your market? What is your market's demographics profile?
  • How will you make money? In other words, how do you intend to get your product or service to your customers; what will they be willing to pay for your product or service?
  • Who will you be competing against? Is there an 800-pound gorilla out there ready to take you down?
  • How do you expect to stay in business? In other words, what is your competitive advantage; how are you unique; can you innovate faster than the Gorilla; do you currently have a patent; a patent pending; need one?
  • Who is on your team and what are their backgrounds? Explain why you and your team have the experience to succeed.

Do You Have Any Presentation Tips For Me?


  • Grab the judge's attention early. Hook them, then reel them in. This is your Elevator Speech.
  • Whenever possible, weave your business idea into a story, YOUR Story.
  • Keep their attention by being passionate about your idea, product or service. After all, you are going to make your customers better off.
  • Keep the goal in mind. What is it that you need to bring your idea to market? Money? Marketing? Mentoring? Production? A combination?
  • Be succinct, concise and clear - You only have TEN MINUTES to convince the judges to pick YOU!
  • Do not overwhelm the judges with technological jargon.
  • Stick with the highlights - speed talking is bad form.
  • Practice, then revise, then do it again. Take advantage of the live practice session.
  • Remember this outline: Elevator Speech (one minute); Exposition (using your gift for gab, an easel, a flip-chart or a sample of your product, explain your business to the judges using the tips above in 4 to 5 minutes); Explanation (this is where you will answer questions from the judges)