PORTSMOUTH — For the past few weeks, local entrepreneurs have been building their skills and learning the ins and outs of the business world.
Through the Kricker Innovation Hub and the Tri-State Angel Investment Group, a grand total of $8,500 is up in cash prizes for participants in the Ignite Portsmouth: Business Bootcamp and Pitch Competition.
Those with developing or existing business ideas from Scioto, Lawrence, Pike, Jackson, and Adams counties in Ohio and Lewis and Greenup counties in Kentucky have been working since May 20 in weekly, virtual sessions to get ready for the June 24 competition.
With the final pitch coming next week, KIH Director David Kilroy said progress in the previous four sessions has been a gradual, yet strong process. The hub’s Startup Weekends, a three-day affair where entrepreneurs work on crafting their pitch, was at the heart of this camp.
“We thought to ourselves if we’re not going to do the Startup Weekend, we want to keep doing something,” he said in a Friday interview, the 2020 Startup canceled due to COVID-19. “How can we do something that is one- virtual – and two – builds of Startup Weekend?”
The answer to that question was Ignite Portsmouth, which Kilroy described as a more expansive form of the Startup Weekend. Additional resources are going towards the competition – a boost towards the long-term vision of the KIH building being constructed on Chillicothe Street.
“It is really fulfilling that vision of being the central point for innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship in southern Ohio,” Kilroy said, the grand opening set for Spring 2022.
Of that $8,500, $5,000 will go to the winner who will then have an opportunity to pitch before the Tri-State Angel Investment Group. The runner-ups will receive $1,500, $1,000, and two $500 prizes for the fourth and fifth place finisher.
Preparing for the pitch, which will be moderated by Shawnee State University Vice President Eric Braun, Mike Thompson, Treasurer at the Tri-State Angel Investment Group, and Faith Knutsen, Director of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, started with foundational knowledge before more specialized discussions took place.
Kilroy said the first half of the six sessions acted as a crash course where the goal was to teach how to avoid common mistakes starting businesses make. From there, participants had the opportunity to speak with a mentor in a condensed, virtual format and a lesson on how to access capital before the final pitch.
The final pitch is the only in-person portion of the session and will be held at the SSU campus. Kilroy hopes the sessions will be fully or at least partially in-person next year.
In the first year, he has been impressed with the diverse range of applicants and how far along many already are in their pursuits of starting a business.
“We wanted this to be about southern Ohio because Columbus and Cincinnati already have their own programs,” he said. “The entrepreneurs here deserve a shot to get their business started as well.”
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter. © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.