TAG Business Launch Competition

February 3, 2013

in Fundraising

The application deadline for the 2013 TAG Business Launch Competition is coming up on Feb 15. This is a great experience for any Georgia startups, especially those with a little bit of traction.

AccelerEyes won the Business Launch Competition in 2009. Here are the ways it helped us:

Benefits of Winning

  • $100,000 cash prize. It varies from year-to-year, but any cash is most helpful in the early days of bootstrapped startups.
  • $250,000 of free services (2013 has $450k of services). Here are the 2013 service providers. Here are some of the services we used,
    • AcuityCFO – free help at getting our first Quickbooks processes up and running
    • What’s Up Interactive – free awesome website re-design. While it was great to get our first website up on the cheap with a part-time student, What’s Up Interactive stepped in to give us a professional design upgrade.
    • Leapfrog – free website hosting for several years
    • Arketi Group – free awesome graphic design, spruced up our early presentation decks
    • Grant Thornton – they did our business taxes for free in 2010
    • Aventis Systems – gave us 5 free refurbished HP workstations
    • My memory has faded so sorry if I forgot some services in this list.
  • Present at Venture Atlanta automatically.

Benefits of Participating

  • Mentor Relationship. TAG does a good job at pairing up startups with industry mentors. In our case, we got to interact with Dan Dreschel, a more seasoned entrepreneur. He provided excellent guidance to our team in an advisory capacity and has been a friend over the years since.
  • Vetting. The rounds of the competition itself can provide early startups with excellent critical and constructive feedback. Something about competitions enable judges to speak hard truths more freely than in one-on-one meetings.
  • Internal Refinement. The process of applying, building the slide decks, and preparing to pitch have an important byproduct of forcing your startup to refine its message, its plan, and its understanding of how it will deliver value to customers and position itself in the competitive landscape.

This particular competition seems best suited for companies that have some traction (e.g. beta customer signups, or early strong revenue indications). You need to be able to have enough proof to say that people really do want your stuff, but little enough data so that you can make reasonably-unreasonable hockey-stick projections to “Wow” the judges. I’ll describe what I mean by “reasonably-unreasonable” in a later post.

Some may say competitions like this are a waste of time. For some, it may be. For me, it was an excellent experience and I’m glad we did it.

How do you feel about participating in competitions like this?

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