“Businesses start with great ideas, and we want to be part of efforts to provide resources, nurture and grow those ideas so that our community will thrive,” said Megan Smit, Rowan-Cabarrus Small Business Center director.

The “53 Ideas Pitch Competition” is an open call for business ideas from residents across the region. Individuals will have 53 seconds to pitch their idea in the form of a video submission that can be uploaded to 53ideas.com. For open, inclusive access, if someone has an idea but does not have the technology to submit an entry, he or she can visit a local small business center to access a computer to enter the competition.

Judges will review the submissions and select the top 53 pitches. Top entrants will receive a $50 award, as well as the opportunity to advance in the competition. Training and coaching on pitching, financing, forecasting, and general business will be available to every participant, even if they do not make the top 53. These free resources will be offered by Small Business Centers at community colleges throughout the southwest region, including Central Piedmont, Cleveland, Gaston, Mitchell, Rowan-Cabarrus, South Piedmont and Stanly.

After the training period, the top 53 entrants will participate in a closed virtual pitch event, where the judges will narrow the field down to 10. The top 10 will receive $250 each and go on to compete on a virtual stage for the top awards: first place receives $10,000, second place earns $5,000, and third place receives $2,500 in seed funding to help turn their ideas into a viable business.