Local businesses encouraged to apply for the second annual Charlie Walker Submission Challenge

Salina Area Chamber of Commerce

StartUp Salina announces that applications are now open for the second annual Charlie Walker Pitch Challenge to be held on Friday, March 24, 2023 at Kansas Wesleyan University. The Challenge is open to startups, as well as young businesses that have been in business for three years or less, and offers the chance to win up to $7,500 in cash prizes.

Last year’s event awarded $16,000 in prizes to the top three finishers. The 2022 jackpot winner, Joyful Noise Studios, has used funds from him to help continue to expand his business and search for a larger location in Salina.

“This competition is an incredible opportunity. Preparing the materials taught us so much about our own business, that even if we hadn’t won, it would have been worth it,” said Melissa Burrows, owner of Joyful Noise Studios, “We also loved making connections with other businesses as well as business leaders in the community. The money we receive has been used to help grow our business offerings and we have big plans for the future.”

This year’s event is again presented by Bennington State Bank and JRI Hospitality and offers cash prizes for the top five finishers: $7,500 for first place, $4,500 for second place, $3,000 for third place, $2,000 for fourth place and $1,000 for fifth place. Other sponsors include Network Kansas and VentureDash.

The initial application includes the submission of a business plan, as well as a short 2-3 minute video presenting the business idea. The deadline to submit is March 10, 2023 at 11:59 pm The application is free and includes residents of Saline County, as well as Dickinson, Ellsworth, McPherson, and Ottawa counties.

All applications will then be scored and ten (10) applicants will be chosen to proceed to the in-person event and presentation competition.

The launch competition will take place on Friday, March 24, 2023 at KWU’s Peters Science Hall. Competitors will have five (5) minutes to present their business plan to a panel of judges, similar to what is seen on popular shows like ‘Shark Tank.’ The judges will then have some time to ask questions and rate the businesses. At the end of the night, the scores will be tabulated and the top five finishers will be announced.

The Entrepreneurial Challenge is named in honor of iconic Salina businessman Charlie Walker, who founded several companies, the largest of which is Salina-based Blue Beacon International (known for its truck and RV washes), and the Rolling Hills Zoo near Hedville. Walker died in 2012, but his family has continued his commitment by spearheading various civic causes in the Salina community.

“We have some generous business owners in this community who are eager and interested in supporting the next generation of area small businesses,” said Renee Duxler, Interim CEO and President of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, “ This event has evolved from a group of them, to include the Walker Family, wanting to foster entrepreneurship in a very fun and educational way. This pitching competition really does that.”

StartUp Salina will offer a training on starting a business in February for any interested competitor. More information will be available on the application website when the class date is set.

To learn more and to apply for the challenge, visit goventuredash.com/competitions/416.

You can also get more information by emailing Renee Duxler at [email protected]

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