On April 5, the semi-finalists in the New Hampshire Startup Challenge will pitch their business plans to a live audience with the hope of ultimately winning up to $55,000 in cash and professional services. The Startup Challenge, which is one of the main business plan competitions in the state, is run by the Manchester Young Professionals Network, the state’s first and largest young professionals organization. For the past eight years, the Startup Challenge has connected New Hampshire entrepreneurs and social innovators with the seed capital and key services that are necessary for growing an early-stage business. To date, over $385,000 has been awarded to local startups. Moreover, the Startup Challenge has been a significant contributor to the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the granite state.
If selected to go on to the final round of the competition, applicants will pitch their business plan to a panel of judges comprised of venture capitalists, investment bankers, technology experts and other leaders in the field of emerging businesses. In addition to the first place prize, all finalists have the opportunity to win the People’s Choice Award. Added to the Challenge last year, the People’s Choice Award provides the final event audience with an opportunity to vote on which business they think should bring home an additional cash prize. This year, the Startup Challenge has once again upped the ante by adding a second place prize of up to $5,000.
This year’s six semi-finalists include AlignMeeting, Awato, Hidden Collective, Higher Ed Profiles, Nobl Coffee and ValChoice. These New Hampshire companies were selected from a competitive pool of nearly forty applicants. Not only did the pool of applicants increase by more than fifty percent this year, the overall caliber of the pool has also continuously improved. The strength of the applicants directly coincides with the growth of the startup community throughout the state, and the Startup Challenge is eager to connect these startups with the capital and business connections that are vital to success.
One of the major aspects ensuring the Startup Challenge’s continued success is the longstanding support of the local business community. Several businesses from the greater Manchester area have returned year after year to provide cash and in-kind services, including legal, accounting, and marketing services, to the competition’s winner. Additionally, AlphaLoft, a local business incubator and accelerator, co-hosts the Startup Challenge events and provides the winner with a workspace membership. This year, a pass to the Nantucket Conference, a technology and entrepreneurship conference, has also been donated to the award package. By sponsoring the Challenge, these businesses advance the competition’s mission and aid in the winner’s success, but on a broader scale, they also help the entrepreneurial culture in New Hampshire to thrive.
Next Tuesday at 5:30pm, members of the community will have the opportunity to hear the semi-finalists pitch their business plans to the judges at AlphaLoft in Manchester. To be part of the fun and to see why New Hampshire has been rated as one of the top states for entrepreneurship, please consider joining us on April 5. Click here to learn more and to register for the Live Pitch event.