UNA Hosts Inaugural Idea Audition

UNA College of Business Pitch Contest

The University of North Alabama College of Business and the Shoals Chamber of Commerce invite alumni, students and community members to participate in the first Shoals Idea Audition, a contest designed to attract area entrepreneurs and foster new business. The contest will occur on November 18 and the winning pitch will receive $5,000 cash.

The COB has been a leading force in the Shoals for mentoring and assisting entrepreneurs looking to establish a new business by offering guidance through the UNA Small Business Development Center and by educating rising entrepreneurs who are seeking business degrees from UNA. “Many students are creating businesses while they’re in school and the Idea Audition presents another opportunity for those students to advance their idea,” Dean Gregory Carnes said. “Education means more than following the established curriculum. We want students to learn by experience, through internships, study abroad opportunities, and the like. This contest is one more outlet for them to gain knowledge, establish professional connections, and seek mentorship.”

The contest is not limited to student entries but open to everyone with a viable idea and the desire to see that idea come to fruition. The judging panels are comprised of local business people who have started their own businesses or have worked closely with entrepreneurs to launch businesses. Each candidate stands to benefit from participating in the contest, regardless of who wins. Shoals Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Investor Relations and Public Policy, Mary Marshall VanSant, said, “Even if an idea presented doesn't win the grand prize, it’s our hope that the presenters will learn about the supportive community we have here for start-up businesses. We also hope that mentor relationships can be formed. Our panelists are experts and are anxious to share their knowledge and wisdom with people who are just beginning the start-up process.”

The Shoals Entrepreneurial Center is one of several sponsors working with the Chamber of Commerce and UNA COB to produce the Idea Audition. “The Entrepreneurial Center operates a network of business incubators,” Executive Director of the SEC, Giles McDaniel said. “This contest is a good way for us to identify entrepreneurs and to mentor them and help them grow their business. We are hoping to attract people from North Alabama, South Tennessee and Northeast Mississippi.”

Participants must register by November 11, 2014, and there is no cost to participate. There will be a training session in October when participants can practice their presentations with professionals who will be on hand to help fine-tune pitches. The participant with the winning idea will receive $5,000 cash to help fund the first steps of establishing a new business. There are additional benefits for the winner, including counseling sessions with bankers, marketing professionals, and sales and distribution experts.

Registration, contest rules and a calendar of events can be found on the event website at www.shoalsideaaudition.com.

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