Published in Small Business
Winners from The 100 Demo Day in 2019. Winners from The 100 Demo Day in 2019. COURTESY PHOTO

Start Garden opens registration for $300K startup pitch competition

BY Tuesday, May 03, 2022 11:34am

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

The competition aims to remove barriers to entrepreneurship by providing startup funding to participants exploring a new business idea. Entrepreneurs can submit videos with their business ideas through July 11. From there, 100 finalists are chosen to receive $1,000 each, with no strings attached. The 100 finalists will present their business pitch at a 2022 Demo Day competition on Sept. 21, 2022. On Demo Day, 10 winners will be chosen to receive an additional $20,000 for their business plan. 

Business incubator Start Garden, along with Spartan Innovations L3C, administers the Grand Rapids SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority, which captures property taxes to fund entrepreneurialism in the city. 

This year marks Start Garden’s fourth The 100 competition. Last year drew 650 submissions, and 53 percent of the finalists were women while 60 percent of finalists were from minority groups. 

“When we designed the Start Garden 100, our goal was to make it a genuine opportunity for anyone from 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 to play with an idea.”

A 2019 study on the pitch competition found that the previous 100 participants gained no advantage based on where they lived, their education level or household income.

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

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

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