Start Garden opens entries for $300,000 startup pitch competition

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Start Garden Inc. is now accepting submissions from entrepreneurs participating in The 100, a business competition with $300,000 in funding for startups.

The competition aims to break down barriers to entrepreneurship by providing seed funding to participants exploring a new business idea. Entrepreneurs can submit videos with their business ideas until July 11. From there, 100 finalists are chosen to receive $1,000 each, with no strings attached. The 100 finalists will pitch their business pitch in a Demo Day 2022 competition on September 21, 2022. On Demo Day, 10 winners will be chosen to receive an additional $20,000 towards their business plan.

The Start Garden business incubator, as well as L3C Spartan Innovationsadministers the Grand Rapids SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority, which collects property taxes to fund entrepreneurship in the city.

This year marks Start Garden’s fourth The 100 competition. Last year, 650 applications were submitted, and 53% of the finalists were women while 60% of the finalists belonged to minority groups.

“When we designed the Start Garden 100, our goal was to make it a real opportunity for anyone in any neighborhood in Michigan,” Start Garden co-director Paul Moore said in a statement. “Not to mention, it’s literally the easiest $1,000 an entrepreneur can get for playing around with an idea.”

A 2019 study of the pitch competition found that the previous 100 entrants received no benefits based on where they live, education level, or household income.

“We are proud that the data shows The 100 is a level playing field in commercial competitions,” Start Garden co-director Darel Ross said in a statement. “Access to resources is the number one thing entrepreneurs need, and the 100 hit that scale.”

The Demo Day 2021 competition attracted more than 670 spectators, while the winning entries included a range of products and services including food and drink, online platforms and services as well as manufacturers. The competition returned after taking time off from 2020 to redirect funding to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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