Shoals idea audition returns to community

The Shoals Idea Audition is back for its fifth year. Sponsored by Bank Independent and the Joel R. Anderson Family Foundation, this annual competition gives entrepreneurs within the community the opportunity to present their ideas and advance their leadership skills.

Co-founder of the event Mary Marshall VanSant said it is a collaborative effort with UNA and the Shoals Chamber of Commerce.

“It is a great platform for budding entrepreneurs and innovators to share their ideas and get feedback and possibly receive funding,” VanSant said. “The winner or one of the top three may be a UNA student.”

Last year’s participant Carl Holden won first place with his location-based app Vicinidi.

“Every year is different,” VanSant said. “That is one thing that makes it so exciting, seeing what ideas are floating around in the Shoals.”

Marketing Officer of Bank Independent Chris King said last year’s competitors set the bar high.

“We had some great ideas from Vicinidi to Shoals Takeout,” King said. “So, we’re just really excited to see what people bring to the table. It doesn’t matter how high tech or low tech the idea is. There’s always something that people can latch onto. Any kind of big idea we want people to bring that out and get involved.”

The Shoals Idea Audition judges will be local entrepreneurs. Judges will listen to the contestant’s three-minute pitch and choose the finalists. These finalists will progress to the last round and be judged by another panel of judges. The first-place winner will be awarded $5,000, the second-place winner will be awarded $2,500 and the third-place winner will be awarded $1,000.

“They gain the experience,” King said. “They get some good feedback. Maybe they’ve got the start of a good idea and one of the judges can get them something to help them build on it and make it even better. Of course, the winners get the cash and that helps them build their business, but everybody who participates gets something out of it.”

Freshman Leslie Turner said she thinks Shoals Idea Audition is great because it gives people a chance to get their ideas out into the public and jumpstart their careers.

“People like to take advantage of what’s available around them,” Tuner said. “If something like this never existed, their ideas could go unheard and remain just that, an idea.”

The Shoals Idea Audition is scheduled for Oct. 4 at 4 p.m. on the second floor of the Guillot University Center and is free to the public.