Start Garden’s 100 competition returns to support potential entrepreneurs

Winners of the 2019 Demo Day competition Courtesy Start Garden

Aspiring entrepreneurs can begin submitting their business ideas for the third season of Start Garden’s 100 competition.

Individuals 14 and older can submit a video of themselves describing their ideas in any language with the chance of receiving funding. The deadline is July 26. Video submissions will not be shared with the public.

In July, 100 finalists will be chosen to receive $1,000 each. The finalists will then have two months to refine their ideas with community support in preparation for judging at the 2021 Demo Day competition Oct. 2.

At Demo Day, 10 winners will receive another $20,000 to help their business. Additionally, a $5,000 award will go to a high school student or team competing in the high school category.

When the pandemic began last year, Start Garden quickly pivoted from the 100 competition and launched a COVID-19 relief platform called the 100 Comeback. The platform received 430 submissions and distributed $300,000 in small grants to 68 entrepreneurs by April 16 of last year.

“When COVID hit, most of our community’s entrepreneurs were completely unprepared because they had been investing into their businesses first, themselves second,” said Paul Moore, Start Garden co-director. “We diverted the $300,000 for the 100 competition to COVID relief and canceled the competition. We’re incredibly happy to be able to bring it back for 2021.”

The 2019 Demo Day competition drew more than 1,100 visitors. The winning ideas included a wide range of products and services: food and drink, online platforms and services, and manufacturers.

“This is a communitywide investment into businesses of tomorrow,” Start Garden Co-Director Jorge Gonzalez said. “We want Grand Rapids to be a leader in great places to start a business, even from scratch and no matter your background.”

In addition to receiving funds, aspiring entrepreneurs will have a network of professional supporters who can help to further their business.

“The 100 is an opportunity for all organizations that want to support entrepreneurship to get involved and do what they can to accelerate new entrepreneurs both before and after Demo Day,” said Laurie Supinski, Start Garden co-director.

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