Start-Up Challenge offers $22K in prizes

Start-Up Challenge offers $22K in prizes


EDWARDSVILLE — Entrepreneurs and new business startups are invited to compete in the 2021 Metro East Start-Up Challenge (MESC), Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s 8th annual regional business plan competition.

The MESC is organized by the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for the Metro East at SIUE. The Challenge identifies, encourages and supports entrepreneurs and business startups across the SBDC’s service area including Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe, Fayette, Montgomery and Randolph counties.

“The Metro East Start-Up Challenge elevates the discussion of, and support for, entrepreneurship across our region,” said SBDC Director Jo Ann Di Maggio May. “Interest in the annual Challenge continues to grow with each passing year.”

The first-place winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize. Second, third and fourth place winners will receive $6,000, $4,000 and $2,000, respectively.

Prize winners will also receive an array of in-kind professional services such as legal assistance from Carol Sparks, Attorney at Law; accounting services from Kerber Eck & Braeckel, LLP (KEB); web design services by Codd Interactive; and co-working space at The Lodge.

The Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE plans to secure other in-kind services to offer the four winners.

This year, the SBDC and its partners are introducing two additional prize categories: Rural Business of the Year and Woman, Minority, or Veteran Business of the Year. Each category will have the opportunity to take home $1,500 in prize money.

The MESC is made possible through support by the SIUE School of Business, the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, Anders CPA & Advisors, Madison County Economic Development, the City of Edwardsville, National Development Council, Town and Country Bank (Edwardsville and Fairview Heights locations), City of Highland, Carrollton Bank, St. Clair County Economic Development, Growth Corp, the City of Alton, Regions Bank, Riverbend Growth Association, FCB Banks, Monroe County Economic Development Corporation, Commerce Bank, Barber Murphy Group and University Park at SIUE.

Scott Credit Union and Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Programs are this year’s sponsors of the Mentor-Semifinalist Networking Event to be held at the newly renovated Gateway Center in Collinsville.

SIUE’s School of Business, the SBDC’s host organization, will assist with facilitating the competition.

The 2021 MESC encourages for-profit entrepreneurs and startup businesses in (but not limited to) four target industries: information technology, manufacturing, healthcare and sustainable food. For a startup business enterprise to be eligible, it must have been established after April 30, 2018.

The MESC includes three rounds beginning with a brief questionnaire and executive summary submittal open to all applications that meet the eligibility guidelines. Participants selected for the second round are invited to expand on their entrepreneurial concept by submitting a full business plan. Semifinalists are paired with business professionals who will mentor them through the competition and potentially beyond. The last round is the “final pitch” in front of a panel of business experts.

For more information or to initiate the application process, visit The initial entry deadline is Sunday, Aug. 8. Semi-finalists will be announced Friday, Aug. 20. Finalists will be notified on Friday, Oct. 22.

The Challenge will announce its cash prize winners on Friday, Nov. 5 during the monthly Leadership Council SW IL meeting.

To learn how the SBDC can help your small business, contact the Metro East SBDC at 618-650-2929 or [email protected]

Source link