Business idea? Pitch it at Idea Auction

For those who like “Shark Tank,” and “American Idol,” a similar contest gives students and community members a chance to pitch their ideas to a panel of local business leaders.

The Idea Auction will be held Nov. 18 and is sponsored by the Shoals Chamber of Commerce.

The person(s) with the winning pitch will receive $5,000 cash.

“It can be high-tech, low-tech or no-tech,” said Mary Marshall VanSant, vice president of Investor Relations and Public Policy at the Shoals Chamber of Commerce. “This is equal playing ground.”

The preliminary round of three-minute pitches will take place at 4:30 p.m., with a final round of pitches and a keynote speaker scheduled for 6 p.m. Winners will be announced at 7 p.m. with networking to follow.

Each entrant will make a three-minute pitch to a panel of judges. While an entry can have more than one person behind it, it is suggested that only one person give the pitch, and no PowerPoints are allowed.

VanSant said a member of the planning committee said, “We put a man on the moon before we put wheels on a suitcase.”

While promoting the audition, “We have all taken that idea and ran with it,” she said.

Anyone who wants guidance planning for his or her three-minute pitch can attend a free training session Nov. 10 from 8:30-10:30 p.m.

VanSant said the training is open for everybody, and there is no registration process for the training.

According to the rules, a person making a pitch should tell the audience what the idea is and how they plan to market the idea.

Senior Mike McGee said the Auction will provide valuable networking opportunities for students.

Meeting local business leaders could help land them a job someday, McGee said.

“Any opportunity provided is bound to open doors for people, especially if they are upperclassmen,” said freshman Jasmine Joiner. “Students can create relationships by catching the attention of those business leaders.”

VanSant received 10 applications during the week of Oct. 20, bringing the total number of entries in the audition to 20, she said.

VanSant said, “If that [the number of entries] continues at that rate, it’s going to be huge.”

Based on the success seen thus far with the number of entries and the types of ideas received, VanSant said she believes the Idea Audition will take place annually. This is good news for students who want to enter, but do not have an idea ready to present just yet.

“They came and talked to us about it in my management class,” said senior Sinclair Marks. “I think it’s a great idea; I don’t know if I’m going to enter yet.”

Marks said she wanted to enter, but did not have an idea ready.

There will also be a keynote speaker at the Nov. 18 event. Joe Fields is a professional entrepreneur. His business startups include Polypac, which has a presence in the Shoals, Cutting Edge Wheels, Inc. and Shiloh Sewing. He is a former President of Speedo, former Vice President of Adidas and former CEO of Fieldturf.

To enter an idea, students should email VanSant at [email protected] with their name, address, email, phone number , business name and website if established. A 1,000-word pitch should also be included.