Today marks the beginning of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a seven-day celebration of, as the event’s website describes, “the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.” Held each November, the week’s events look to recognize successful entrepreneurs, and to encourage bright minds to pursue their own business endeavors. Pitch competitions, boot camps, seminars and the like are held in 160 countries and countless communities.
Columbia is no exception to this. As a community with a growing entrepreneurial fervor and a desire to get the word out (as we have discussed at The Anchor before), The Capital City hosts several highly anticipated events during this week. In fact, one such event has already taken place.
Startup Weekend was held from Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13, finishing up with a pitch competition last night. The event encourages aspiring entrepreneurs across a wide range of backgrounds to try and bring their ideas to the next level, even if an idea is all they have. On the first evening of Startup Weekend, all participants are invited to pitch their ideas, and teams are formed around the best ones. Over the next 54 hours, these teams pool their resources in an attempt to create a full-scale business plan before Sunday night’s pitch in front of judges and potential investors. This year’s winner was Kore, a navigational app that allows users to search specifically for destinations that are in front of them on their route, rather than ones they have already passed.
Looking forward, one event to keep an eye out for is EngenuitySC’s “Ignite!” As EngenuitySC’s Lauren Liles calls it, “Ignite!” is “a celebration of all things awesome happening in the Midlands.” Taking place on Wednesday at the First Base Building at Bull Street Commons, the event features 3 sets of speeches from local leaders, who give 5-minute presentations about how the Midlands has helped them grow. This year’s speakers will be Melanie Huggins (executive director of Richland Library), Elise Partin (Mayor of the City of Cayce), Mike Crapps (president and CEO of First Community Bank), and Michaela Pilar Brown and Darion McCloud (Columbia-based internationally acclaimed artists). Then comes the Ideas Contest, which is really where the entrepreneurial focus comes in. Anyone in the Midlands is eligible to submit a two-minute video pitch of their idea, and how it can impact the region. Submissions are narrowed down to the top 3, who are invited to present their ideas at Ignite! At the event, the audience votes live on the best idea. The winner receives a check for $5,000.
“The hope is that we are providing someone with a great idea a little bit of seed money to really take that idea to the next level,” says Liles.
“Ignite! Is really about celebrating the success of the region,” says Liles. I really don’t think we toot our own horn enough. There are people in this community doing absolutely amazing things that some people have never heard of, because maybe they’re a bit off the radar. Part of being the cheerleader is helping shout that stuff from the rooftops.”
Similar to the ideas contest is the University of South Carolina’s “Proving Ground,” which takes place on Thursday at the Darla Moore School of Business. Actually, the pitch event on Thursday is the culmination of a three-month competition, with winners receiving up to $17,500. As such, the ideas need to be a bit more fleshed out in The Proving Ground than in the Ignite! Ideas Contest; a full-fledged business plan must be submitted to enter.
You can learn more about these events, as well as a number of other events happening in Columbia this week, at colagew.org.
The Anchor will be releasing articles throughout the week featuring local leaders giving their input on Global Entrepreneurship Week and Columbia’s entrepreneurial environment. Check back in every day to read our latest installment.
Catch up on the Global Entrepreneurship Week Series:
Watch the entire Startup Weekend Final Pitch Competition below
Congrats to Startup Weekend pitch competition winners: Kore- 1st place, RPGTown- 2nd place,Vibe- 3rd place, Crowd Favorite-Leasily.