Do you have an idea for a service, project, application, business idea, etc?

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A winning business idea could win you thousands of dollars to help with start-up costs.  The first ‘Starting Line’ competition is designed to attract anyone who wants to bring solutions to the community’s problems.  

The competition will be three rounds, a 90-second online pitch, an executive online summary, and a live pitch in the final round.  The Idea Fund and Ben Franklin Technology partnering to create this competition offering a total of $30,000 to the winners.

This competition is for new and innovative ideas and is meant for those without a financial track record, which they call, “the purest form of a start-up”.  It is open to anyone 18 years and older residing in and with the business intent of improving Erie County.

Samuel ‘Pat’ Black III of Erie Management Group tells us, “This community is hurting. The first step is entrepreneurship and [to] get the ideas out there…. go from there and hopefully, some of them will develop into businesses and employ people.”

The first place winner will receive four $5,000 Awards and up to $10,000 in grant funding through Ben Franklin Technology Partners.  The second place winner will receive one $200 prize to be used for Facebook Advertising Credits.  And, to provide minorities, US Military Veterans, and women entrepreneurs the opportunity to each up to $5,000 in pre-seed funding, an additional $5,000 Judges’ Choice Award will be open to anyone residing in Erie County.


The project/idea/company must be a completely new concept, wholly conceived by the individual/team; it is not a part of an existing firm and must be a for-profit project/company.

Application Process

Applicants will need to submit a short video (applications will be accepted until the deadline of October 31st).  Applicants that move to the second round will be notified by November 27th and finalists invited by end of January to present.

All applicants will be notified regarding the results of their application no later than December 31st and unsuccessful applicants may be offered further assistance in developing and launching their new venture.

Round One (online)

  • Video (90 second elevator pitch)
  • Individual/Company Profile
    • Description of team (brief bio/background for each team member) if applicable
    • Social Media Links (if applicable) Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
    • Length of time team/business has been together
    • Personal/business reference
    • Short, written description of the business idea

Round Two (online)

  • Executive Summary (one page max or investment summary)
  • Powerpoint Pitch Deck (10-15 slides max)
  • 3 Year Financial Projections
  • Who else is already doing this?
  • Why you and why now?

Judges and volunteers will assist Round 1 finalists

Round 3 (live)

  • Tentative Date:  February 15th, 2018
  • Location:  SB3 Building
  • Live Pitch Elements and Timeframe
  • Each team gets to do a live pitch via PowerPoint (to be submitted one week before live event)
  • Each team will then have up to 10 minutes of Q&A by the judges

To submit your idea, upload your video to  Good luck!

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