Boise Entrepreneur Week is coming up October 18 through the 22 and any Idahoan with an idea is invited to participate. Now in its sixth year, there are several different categories participants can enter including, the main pitch competition, Trailmix, Youth Innovation Challenge, BSU Hacking for Homebuilding, and Cybersecurity Entrepreneur Challenge, presented in partnership by Micron and Boise State University.
The main pitch competition allows early-stage entrepreneurs to compete for a chance at winning $20,000 in prize money, with $5,000 going to the runner-up. Participants will be whittled down to 10 finalists who will be paired with industry mentors to prepare them for their final pitch. Additionally, the first-place winner will automatically qualify for the 2 Minute Drill, a show that features entrepreneurs who compete for $50,000 in prize money. The deadline to apply for the main pitch competition is September 7.
The Trailmix pitch competition is geared toward food and beverage startups hoping to take their product from local farmer’s markets straight to the shelves of major grocery stores. Applicants will be judged upon innovation, market traction, taste, shelf readiness for large retail, ingredients, and the unique value of their product. The winner will be awarded $20,000 and shelf space at Albertsons, with $5,000 going to the runner-up. The deadline to apply for the Trailmix competition is September 10. Applicants cannot be current vendors of Albertsons.
Student and youth involvement
The BSU Cybersecurity Entrepreneurship Challenge and BSU Hacking for Homebuilding are both reverse-pitch style competitions hosted by Boise State’s Venture College. Problem statements will be released after Labor Day and participants will be tasked with working on a solution in the form of a venture. Participants will also be mentored by industry professionals. Hacking for Homebuilding is open to both the public and college students across Idaho while the cybersecurity competition is open only to college students. There are up to $20,000 in cash prizes available to students and the public competing in Hacking for Homebuilding and $30,000 up for grabs for the cybersecurity challenge. The deadline to apply for Hacking for Homebuilding is September 26 and participants must apply for the cybersecurity challenge by October 10.
Executive Director of BSU’s Venture College Nic Miller says the student competitions are not all about winning, as 90% to 95% of all startups fail.
“Our goal is to help students get exposed to growing industries, and the building materials and homebuilding industry, as well as cybersecurity, and those are two industries that are growing fast nationally but particularly in Boise, and in Idaho,” Miller said. “So, if they don’t make it, they still end up with a network of industry professionals and have a better understanding of the industry because they’ve spent a week or two, working on the inside, and they have a leg up on other students and other people in the community should they choose to pursue that industry as a career.”
Finally, there is the Youth Innovation Challenge which is a learning opportunity for student teams at the high school and college levels to advance modern solutions to today’s problems. Participants will compete for scholarship money and cash prizes. Applications are not yet open for the Youth Innovation Challenge.
While presenting your early-stage venture idea to some of the best professionals in the industry can be intimidating, Miller says just go for it.
“You never know until you try. And what you’ll find is, whatever your idea is at the start of the competition, it could look drastically different by the end. And without any risk, there won’t be any reward.”