A good idea is just an idea until something launches it forward. The NEW Launch Alliance Hatch event is one such catalyst for local entrepreneurs.
Hatch begins with Startup Week in Wisconsin, which runs Nov. 11-18, and will feature seven in-person or virtual competitions in the New North where entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas. The top finisher in the local contests will advance to the regional Hatch event that will be held Dec. 3.
New North, Inc. President and CEO Barb LaMue says Hatch has seen significant growth since its inaugural event last year when there were only four local competitions. She says the organization is grateful to work with local partner organizations “to provide an opportunity for creative business ideas to be shared through these pitch competitions.”
Whether at the local or regional level, Hatch contestants are given three to five minutes to make their startup pitch to a team of judges followed by another three to five minutes of questions and answers. Entrepreneurs can also upload a 90-second video about their business with their application.
At the local level, the first-place winner will receive $1,000, while the second-place winner will receive $500. At the regional event, contestants compete for additional funding for their business ideas — $3,000 for first place and $2,000 for second place — and broad investor attention. The top two finishers will be invited to pitch their ideas at the New North Summit slated to take place March 11 at Lambeau Field.
Andrew Schmitz, the winner of the New North Hatch competition in 2019 for Proceed.app, says pitch events provide a great way for a company to increase its exposure and score some cash. Proceed.app crowdsources, manages and distributes learning materials for small- and medium-sized businesses using visual elements, as opposed to text-based knowledge materials.
“We run a lean startup and the money we won last year covered all of our expenses, but the PR benefit you get from participating — and even better when you win — is immense,” says Schmitz of Appleton. “We’re no longer a startup where we all work from home; we’re now an award-winning startup where we all work from home.”
When pulling together his presentation for last year’s Hatch finals and the Startup Wisconsin Pitch at Summerfest Tech, where Proceed.app won $12,500, Schmitz says convincing judges you are the right person to bring the product to market is key.
“When we did the Hatch event, we were going up against companies who already had customers and revenue — something we didn’t have,” he says. “I was able to persuade the judges that not only did I have a great idea with demand, but we had the right team in place to get it done.”
The Greater Green Bay Chamber’s Startup Hub is one of the initial Hatch host sites, and Hub manager Ron Franklin says each of the local events will use the same scorecard, so contestants in Green Bay will be judged on the same criteria as the ones in Fond du Lac.
“It’s designed to be the same for all areas to be an even playing field,” he says.
Contestants must be at least 18 years old and the business must have generated less than $300,000 in either capital raised and/or revenue received. In addition to Green Bay, other pitch events are being held in Sturgeon Bay, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Marinette, Oshkosh (covering both Outagamie and Winnebago counties) and Sheboygan.