The Sunmark Startup Grant

sunmark startup grant badgeUpdate! The deadline has been extended.

In the 3+ years since AOA began, we've met a lot of creative people with interesting business, art and community ideas -- everything from music festivals to bakeries to urban sustainability projects.

Starting something new is hard. (We know.) And one of the biggest problems in getting a new project off the ground is that first bit of funding.

So AOA is partnering with Sunmark Federal Credit Union to give a good idea a little push. Sunmark is offering a $1,500 startup grant to help one micro-enterprise move forward.

And you get to help decide which idea gets the funding. Maybe that idea is yours.

Here's the plan...

To enter:

AOA will be accepting proposals from today through April 20 29. To enter, email the following to startups |at| alloveralbany |dot| com. Be sure to include:

A short bio: Tell us a little about yourself. What have you done in the past? What led you to this project?
A description of your proposed project: What is it you want to do? Why do you want to do it? Why should it get funding?
An image: A photo or screen grab of the idea as it exists now, or an image of what you would like to change -- be creative. The higher the resolution, the better. Got a video? Great. Please upload it somewhere so that we can see it and embed it (YouTube, Vimeo, or the like).
What's next: How would this funding help you grow your idea and help you move it into the next phase? This is important. The funding isn't for finishing a project -- it's for helping it move on to something bigger or better.

Who should enter:

The $1,500 probably isn't going to change a lot for an established small business. But for someone with an idea, or a small project that they want to take to the next phase -- it could help a lot.

So maybe you have some crafty project and need to buy supplies to reach the next level. Maybe you need a piece of equipment to create a work of art that will get you noticed. Or you need the money to rent kitchen space for your line of gourmet cookies.

Basically, we're looking for micro-enterprises or projects that need a push.

The first round

+ AOA will post all the projects for the crowd to review.

+ The crowd will pick two finalists through voting. The editors will pick a third.

The Finals

Entrepreneurial Crash Course

All three finalists will be required to attend a one night crash course with business/creativity coach Janet Tanguay on May 4 10. Janet will help the finalists arrange their ideas and think about how to present them to the judges in the final round.

The three finalists will have about a week to get their presentations together for the judges (May 16). On presentation night, they'll each get 20 minutes to convince the judges to fund their project.

The judges

Our panel of judges are experienced entrepreneurs who have started successful businesses in the Capital Region.

+ Lorraine Murphy -- owner of Bettie's Cakes.
+ Blake Hanen -- co-founder of Mealeo.com.
+ Lissa D'Aquanni -- Former small business owner and director of community relations at the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region.

The judges will select the winner. We'll announce the winner on May 18.

Important: Here are a few things you need to keep in mind if you're going to enter. You have to be OK with sharing details/descriptions/images of your project, as well as details/descriptions/images of yourself. If you're picked as a finalist, you'll need to show up for the entrepreneurial crash course (May 4) and the presentation to the judges (date still to be determined). And if you win, we ask that you check in with AOA a few times after getting the grant so we can hear about how things are going.

The Sunmark Startup Grants are sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union.

Comments

I worked with Janet at the Albany/Colonie Chamber's Entrepreneur Boot Camp. It's a great program and Janet is passionate about helping small businesses succeed.

All Good is applying! Although we've managed to open our bakery "by our bootstraps", we could put that grant money to good use in a number of ways. We look forward to reading about all the cool projects that are sure to be submitted!

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