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Grand Rapids contest wants more minorities to pitch a business idea in 100 seconds or less

Jan 29, 2018

The Next Idea

The city of Grand Rapids is widely considered a great place to do business, unless you’re black. A 2015 study in Forbes magazine found that it was the second-worst city in the nation in terms of being economically friendly to African-Americans. An organization that works to promote entrepreneurship in Grand Rapids has started a pitch contest that’s meant to encourage startup ideas from everyone — especially people of color.

“100 Ideas” lets anyone pitch their business idea in 100 seconds or less. 

Budding entrepreneurs with the best ideas will win $1,000 to flesh out their plans, and advance to a round where they could get incubation capital.

Paul Moore, one of four co-directors of Start Garden, joined Stateside to discuss “100 Ideas.”

Listen above for the entire conversation.

On the origins of Start Garden’s “100 Ideas”

The organization Start Garden began with tech start-up investments, but a few years ago, it started to focus on supporting Grand Rapids entrepreneurship more generally. “The Forbes article was a great wake-up call that there’s a lot of work to do across the board,” Moore said.

On how “100 Ideas” works

“100 Ideas” is a competition for the community to reward entrepreneurial innovation. The capital needed to find success is almost always reserved for those with connections or with the luxury of time. “This is really made for people who don’t have access — the bootstraps or friends and family — and to put the capital within their reach so they can use it,” Moore said.

The submission process is very simple. “We made the easiest platform ever I think to submit an idea,” Moore said. “In fact, I’ve started to just say, ‘Can you tell your phone your idea?’” “100 Ideas” gives seed money to one hundred video submissions and invites them back in July to present what they’ve come up with. That’s when the real pitches happen.

Pitches for “100 Ideas” are due by April 10, 2018. You can learn more by visiting startgarden.com.

The Next Idea is Michigan Radio’s project devoted to new innovations and ideas that will change our state.

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