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Start-Up Competition 2014

We’re gearing up for this year’s 2014 Start-Up Competition!

For inspiration, read about last year’s winners:

Speakeasy was named the Region’s Next Best Start-Up at the 2nd Annual i.e.* Start-Up Competition in April 2013.  They took home a $10,000 check and other great prizes. Dragon Grips won the $2,500 People’s Choice Award. Read all details. Read about the event on Work It, Richmond. Read about all of the finalists on RVANews.


The 2014 Competition
Finalists will receive:

– One on One Pitch Practice from Lighthouse Labs. Lighthouse Labs is proud to offer a pitch preparation seminar and for those participants who express interest a follow-up 30 minute one-on-one mentoring session for i.e. finalists.
– 804RVA will offer 6 months of our “community membership” for each person on your team.

The winner of the Start-Up Competition receives a $10,000 cash prize, thanks to our friends at Cherry Bekaert LLP, as well as…

– Six months of free office space at New Richmond Ventures
– $3,500 worth of IT strategy and implementation services from Imagine Simplicity
– 804RVA will offer 6 months of the “roaming wolf” plan for the winning team
– Lighthouse Labs will also offer the winner an hour long ‘what’s next’ conversation.

One finalist will be named the People’s Choice Award Winner and receive $2,500 from First Capital Bank.
Once again, we’ll be using the fantastic custom-designed app by Shockoe to determine the People’s Choice Award winner.  Attendees of the i.e.* Start-Up Competition on April 17th will have the opportunity to vote live and in person for their favorite contestant to win the People’s Choice Award.



1.  Contestants must verify that they have been in business for less than one year (or not prior to March 18, 2013), or not yet a licensed business, and
2.  Contestants must be willing to headquarter their business somewhere in the Richmond Region.


Judging Criteria

  • Evaluation of the viability of the business to be successful
  • Evaluation of the innovative nature of the business
  • Originality of the product or service in the market


Selection of Finalists: 

Finalists are selected in one of two ways:

  • A cadre of local successful entrepreneurs will select their top five from the overall contestant pool. They will have access only to the information posted on the i.e.* website.
  • The public will vote during a three day period, March 25, 26 and 27, via the i.e.* site. The ten contestants that receive the most votes will be named finalists, along with the five selected by local entrepreneurs.
  • Once verified, the 15 total finalists will compete in the Start-Up Competition, a live pitch competition on April 17.
  • i.e.* will arrange for mentoring and other resources to be available to finalists, as well as for finalists’ company profiles to appear in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
  • Chamber staff members are NOT involved in selecting the finalists.


Information for 2014 Contestants:
You can go back to the i.e.* website at any time to edit your description: Your username is the email address you used to register for the competition. If you have forgotten your password, or do not know it, use the “reset password” function to create a new password.

You are invited (but it is NOT mandatory!), to upload a 2 minute YouTube video describing your business and/or a written 2-page Executive Summary describing your business in more detail. If you plan to do either or both, please do so before the online public voting begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 25th.


Selection of Finalists:

We will have between 10 and 15 Finalists in the i.e.* Start-Up Competition on April 17th. Here is how we will select the Finalists:

We have a cadre of local successful entrepreneurs who will be picking their top 5 who will be named Finalists. Their judging will be blind – so they will not know who the contestants are – just the information open to the public posted on our i.e.* website. The other 10 Finalists will be chosen by online public voting. If there is overlap (i.e., one business is picked by the entrepreneurs AND is in the top 10 by online public voting, then we will have only 14 Finalists this year. (So, we will have between 10 and 15 Finalists – if the entrepreneurs pick all 5 who also happen to be in the top 10 from online public voting, we’d only have 10 Finalists this year). Last year, we had 14 Finalists because one company was selected by both methodologies.

We will NOT announce which Finalists were chosen by which method.

We have 8 highly esteemed super-successful local entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to serve as Judges for the i.e.* Start-Up Competition – not one of them will have been involved in selecting the Finalists . No one at the Chamber is involved in choosing the Finalists in any way.


Online Public Voting: As indicated above, 10 of the Finalists will be selected by online public voting – the top 10 businesses with the most votes will be named Finalists. So start promoting yourself to all of your social media friends NOW to tee them up to vote for you! Here are the rules for online public voting:


Online public voting starts at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 25th and lasts until 11 p.m. Thursday, March 27th. During the three days of voting, your friends and family can vote for you ONCE PER DAY. A new “day” begins each night at midnight, so, for example, your friend can cast his or her Tuesday vote for you as late as 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, and vote again to cast his or her Wednesday vote at 12:01 a.m., two minutes later. But that same person would not be able to vote again to cast his or her Thursday vote until 12:01 a.m. just after midnight on Wednesday, when Thursday starts. We have systems in place to protect against robo-voting, so don’t try it. We love you guys and support you, and want to see you win, but that might be the only reason we would consider disqualifying a business from the competition, so just don’t go there, OK?


Finalists announced on March 28th: We will announce the 10-15 Finalists on Friday, March 28th. The Finalists will be invited to an initial meeting on March 31st at 5 p.m. at which we’ll explain everything you need to know to prepare for your presentation at the i.e.* Start-Up Competition. We’ll have pitch experts available to help you craft your presentation, and guide you through!


Enter the Competition

If you meet the criteria listed above, you can register to compete. Registration for the 2014 Start-Up Competition will open Tuesday, February 4th and close at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18th. Entry is FREE .


The application entry deadline for Start-Up Competition 2014 has passed.

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