Local businesses encouraged to apply for 2nd Annual Charlie Walker Pitch Challenge

Local businesses encouraged to apply for 2nd Annual Charlie Walker Pitch Challenge

Salina Area Chamber of Commerce

StartUp Salina is announcing that applications are now open for the 2nd Annual Charlie Walker Pitch Challenge to be held Friday, March 24, 2023 at Kansas Wesleyan University. The Challenge is open to start-up businesses as well as young businesses who have been operating for three years or less and offers an opportunity to win up to $7,500 in cash prizes.

Last year’s event gave out $16,000 in prizes to three top place finishers. The 2022 top prize winner, Joyful Noise Studios, has utilized their funding to help continue to expand their business and seek out a larger location in Salina.

“This competition is an amazing opportunity. Preparing the materials taught us so much about our own business, that even if we had not won, it would have been worth the time,” Melissa Burrows, owner of Joyful Noise Studios, said, “We also loved making connections with other businesses as well as business leaders in the community. The money we were awarded has been used to help grow our business offerings and we have great plans for the future.”

This year’s event is again presented by Bennington State Bank and JRI Hospitality and offers cash prizes for the top five finishers: $7,500 for 1st place, $4,500 for 2nd place, $3,000 for 3rd place, $2,000 for 4th place, and $1,000 for 5th place. Other sponsors include Network Kansas and VentureDash.

Initial application includes submitting a business plan as well as a short 2-3 minute video introducing the business idea. Deadline to submit is March 10, 2023 at 11:59pm. There is no charge to apply, and includes residents of Saline county, as well as Dickinson, Ellsworth, McPherson, and Ottawa counties.

All applications will then be scored, and ten (10) applicants will be chosen to move on to the in-person event and pitch competition.

The pitch competition will take place on Friday, March 24, 2023 at KWU’s Peters Science Hall. Competitors will be given five (5) minutes to pitch their business plan to a group of judges, similar to what is seen on popular shows like ‘Shark Tank.’ The judges will then have some time to ask questions, and will score the businesses. At the end of the night, scores will be tabulated and the top five finishers will be announced.

The Entrepreneurial Challenge is named in honor of the iconic Salina businessman, Charlie Walker, who founded a number of companies, largest among them Salina-based Blue Beacon International (known for its truck and RV washes), and the Rolling Hills Zoo near Hedville. Walker died in 2012, but his family has continued his commitment by spearheading a number of civic causes in the Salina community.

“We have some generous business owners in this community who are eager and interested in supporting the next generation of small business for the area,” Renee Duxler, Interim CEO & President of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce said, “This event has evolved from a group of them, to include the Walker Family, wanting to encourage entrepreneurship in a really fun and educational way. This pitchcompetition really does achieve that.”

StartUp Salina will be offering a training on how to pitch a business in February for any competitors that are interested. More information will be available on the application website when that class date is set.

To find out more information and to apply for the challenge, visit goventuredash.com/competitions/416.

You can also get more information by emailing Renee Duxler at [email protected]

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