Monday, February 11, 2013

Charlotte Venture Challenge seeks startups seeking big opportunities

In its twelfth year, Charlotte Venture Challenge has lofty goals.

According to Devin Collins, assistant director, business and entrepreneurial development at UNC-Charlotte's Charlotte Research Institute, Charlotte Venture Challenge is seeking more than 100 new startup applicants to participate.

All startups that submit an application will receive actionable feedback on their applications, said Collins. Forty startups will be invited to Charlotte to compete in the semi-finalist round, working with the more than 100 mentors who plan to be on-site during the competition.

"We don't have anything like this in the Southeast," said Collins, "we have gone out and targeted innovation executives from Fortune 500 companies to participate [as mentors]." It is often these executives that help facilitate an introduction, allowing startups to close sales with big-name customers, said Collins.

The grand prize winner receives a big check - $25,000 - and all of the accolades that come along with it.

The competition has a preliminary application deadline of March 1st. The organizing team will select semifinalists quickly, notifying companies before March 12th.

Finalists will be selected prior to April 10, and mentoring sessions are open to all semi-finalists and finalists between March 25th and May 1st. Winners will be announced on May 1st.

Who participates? According to Collins, more than 100 startups from 28 counties in North Carolina applied to last year's challenge. This year, the challenge is open to startups from both Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Washington, D.C.

The ideal company will have a high-growth business opportunity, said Collins. "We are looking for start-ups with big opportunities and a team that has a business model to execute on the big opportunity," said Collins. The best applicants understand their business, their market, and their team, said Collins.

Perhaps one of the best benefits the challenge provides is the open connection to the Charlotte Venture Challenge Mentor Community - which attracted more than 120 mentors in 2012. The community is comprised of entrepreneurs, angel investors, lawyers, accountants, business professionals and competition alumni.

The application period ends at 8 PM ET on March 1st. More details on the challenge and information on how to apply can be found at the Charlotte Venture Challenge website.

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