August 26, 2013
Local entrepreneurs who need startup cash will get a chance to make investors bite on their business plans next month when Columbus hosts its own version of the popular television show Shark Tank.
City Councilman A. Troy Miller and the Economic and Community Development Institute will sponsor WidgetPitch, a competition that will give local startups or those with an idea for a business a chance to make their dreams happen.
As on the television show, a panel of business leaders will be ready to offer cash for a piece of the company, Miller said. Presenters must have revenue projections and a cost analysis to produce their product or idea, he said.
“(Participants) must finish a business plan if you are going to be making a pitch and a trial video of the pitch,” Miller said. “This can’t be their first time presenting, and I don’t want to have anyone trying to wing this.”
The competition will take place on Sept. 26 during Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s Small Business Conference at the Hyatt Regency Columbus. Entrepreneurs have until Sept. 5 to apply to make a business pitch.
Those interested can visit the website columbus.gov/kickstart.
“We will have a minimum of three finalists and as many as five who will make their pitch,” said Miller, who owns and operates a web development and consulting firm. “The finalists will be vetted, and they will have to present a business model for their idea.”
The goal is to get those with the right business plans cash for a storefront, equipment costs and notoriety.
The city also is offering free rent for up to a year for some of the participants.
Investors from the Economic and Community Development Institute, Smoot Construction and Broadline Principle Capital will be the sharks trying to shred or validate presenters’ business plans. Institute officials will evaluate the proposals and choose the presenters.
“We want to see cash flow and financial projections in the next three to five years,” said Inna Kinney, founder and CEO of the institute. “We want to look at the person and see where they are in the process, and we want to make sure candidates have some personal equity put into this because that means their success rate will be higher.”
Miller said that, unlike the show, the event is not meant to be a spectacle for television ratings but a way to develop small business.
The city is not putting up any cash to develop the businesses, he said.