South Piedmont’s Small Business Center is leading the third annual ‘53 Ideas Pitch Competition,’ an initiative that began in 2020 with support from Fifth Third Bank to provide anyone with an idea access to the capital, training and social connections needed to take an idea and turn it into a viable business.
Contestants will not only compete for cash awards they will have access to training resources and expanded networks to build social connections. Training and coaching on pitching, financing, forecasting and general business will be available to every participant, even if they do not make the top 53. These free resources will be offered by Small Business Centers located at community colleges throughout the region, including Central Piedmont, Cleveland, Gaston, Mitchell, Rowan-Cabarrus, South Piedmont and Stanly.
“We are excited to host the ‘53 Ideas Pitch Competition’ again this year and are thankful for the support and continued involvement of Fifth Third Bank,” said South Piedmont’s Director of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Renee Hode. “We are aware of the challenges and inequalities in entrepreneurship and this competition provides access to training, coaching, capital and exposure to propel ideas into businesses.”
To enter, individuals have 53 seconds to share their idea in the form of a video submitted at 53ideas.com. Round one is based on the idea. Contestants do not have to be pitch pros. They just need to share who they are, their idea, the problem it solves, how it is new or superior to an existing product or service and how they can make it happen. Judges will select the top 53 ideas and those contestants will move on in the competition to receive training to help them prepare a 3-minute pitch for the second round of the competition. Judges will then narrow the field to the top 10 and those selected will receive $250 before moving forward to compete in the Pitch Day finale. The top spot will receive $10,000, second place $5,000 and third place $2,500 to help turn their idea into a viable business.
“We are committed to supporting entrepreneurship across Charlotte and throughout North Carolina,” said Joel Dancy, Vice President, Community & Economic Development, Mid-Atlantic Region, Fifth Third Bank. “We are very excited to again be supporting the 53 Ideas Pitch Competition because it not only helps in the short term with access to capital for the winners but also in the long term through financial education for all participants.”
Last year’s competition received more than 130 entries. Nicole Hawthorne was announced the winner for Jayla’s Heirlooms, a business providing handcrafted diverse dolls. Nicole went on to partner with Amazon, where her culturally diverse dolls are available for children and families worldwide.
To learn more and enter this year’s pitch competition by the May 31 deadline, visit 53ideas.com.