August 13, 2019 — Five local businesses are heading for a showdown, as they approach the final round of a competition for $20,000 in prizes to take their businesses to the next level. Startup Mendocino is a program launched by West Business Development Center, using a grant from the governor’s office of economic development to train small-scale entrepreneurs on how to pitch their ventures. Local business leaders selected the contestants, helped with the training, judged the first round of the competition, and provided the prize money. The next round will be on August 25th at Mendocino College, and the audience will pick the final winners.
West CEO Mary Anne Petrillo said that in May, 82 applicants vied for 12 spots in the competition, which started with a business boot camp. Contestants learned how to formulate their ideas and financial plans for their businesses, and how to communicate these ideas to potential supporters. Local trainers as well as those from the Small Business Administration (SBA) participated in that portion of the program.
The final event will start off with refreshments from local vendors and music by the Fort Bragg-based band Mama Grows Funk. Then the finalists will make their five-minute pitch and answer follow-up questions from a panel of judges from the SBA. Audience members as well as the judges will vote on the winners, who will walk away with prize money and a few new skills.
Petrillo also expects the small business advocate from the governor’s office to attend the final event of this inaugural program, which she hopes will become a regular feature of the county’s entrepreneurial landscape.