Semifinalists chosen in SIUE Metro East Start-Up Challenge

Sixteen Southwestern Illinois-based entrepreneurs and their innovative business concepts have been selected to move into the second round of the Metro East’s 6th annual business plan competition, the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Metro East Start-Up Challenge.

More than 50 entrepreneurs expressed interest in the regional competition this year, according to Jo Ann Di Maggio May, director of the Metro East SBDC and Challenge coordinator. About half of these individuals completed the entry process and almost two-thirds of those were invited to participate in the next round.

“We’re extremely pleased with the sustained level of interest in our region’s business plan contest,” Di Maggio May said. “There has been a robust outpouring of enthusiasm about the Challenge from applicants, community leaders and our small business development partners.”

“The SIUE Metro East Start-Up Challenge creates the opportunity to engage with the region in cultivating an important economic development strategy,” Di Maggio May added. “Although only 16 remain eligible for the $10,000 top cash prize, we encourage everyone that considered or entered the Challenge to access the SBDC’s wide menu of resources and expertise.”

Round two of the challenge will require semifinalists to create a condensed business plan, develop financial projections and clearly define reasons why their business concept will be successful. The Metro East SBDC will offer guidance and support to semifinalists in the form of workshops throughout September.

Competitors have until Friday, Oct. 4, to submit their business plans and financial statements. Judges will select 6-8 finalists, who will pitch their business concept on Thursday, Oct. 24 to a select panel of judges. The winners will be announced immediately following the pitch presentations.

First place is worth $10,000, second place is $6,000 and third place is $4,000. Winners are also offered an array of in-kind services. The 2019 Metro East Start-Up Challenge semifinalists include:

  • House of Ninjas LLC (Fairview Heights)
  • Maydai Trauma Focused Clinical Research & Network Center (East St. Louis)
  • Logan & Logan Management and Accounting Services, LLC (Belleville)
  • Stone’s Essential Care Package: Just for YOU! (Belleville)
  • Sports Throne LLC (Columbia)
  • Tricentum Technologies LLC (Prairie Du Rocher)
  • Cover Me (Edwardsville)
  • DonVal Mizzou, LLC (St. Charles, Mo.)
  • Giggles & Screams Indoor Play Center (Collinsville)
  • Grain Densification International (Granite City)
  • Dry Street Gardens (Alton)
  • Daughtsy (Belleville)
  • Sweet Cravings LLC (Fairview Heights)
  • 724 St. Louis Road LLC (Collinsville)
  • Hypry (Fairview Heights)
  • SOS Project Consulting (O’Fallon)

The Illinois SBDC for the Metro East assists start-up ventures, as well as existing businesses headquartered in the nine-county region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and SIUE as a service to Illinois small businesses.

By aiding entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success, the SBDC network positively impacts the Metro East by strengthening the business community, creating and retaining new jobs and encouraging new investment. It enhances the region’s economic interests by providing one-stop assistance to individuals by means of counseling, training, research and advocacy for new ventures and existing small businesses. When appropriate, the SBDC strives to affiliate its ties to the region to support the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large.

To learn more, contact the IL SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE at (618) 650-2929.

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