AOA Startup Grant 2016

startup grant 2015 flower scout big check

The 2015 winner, Colie Collen's Flower Scout. Here's a recent follow-up with her.

There are plenty of people with great ideas here in the Capital Region -- but sometimes an idea needs an extra push to get it going, or to take it to the next level.

So we're happy to announce we're bringing back the AOA Startup Grant contest -- with the help of CDPHP, Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants, The Tech Valley Center of Gravity, The Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region, and Berkshire Bank.

The idea: Provide $2,500 in cash, as well as some attention, to help a new project off the ground, or take an existing small business project to the next level. (Yep, the cash prize is bigger this year.)

The contest is also an opportunity to get a look at some of the good ideas circulating just below the radar in our region. And once again, you get to help decide who gets that funding. Or -- you know -- maybe even enter your own idea.

We're really looking forward to seeing what people come up with this year.

So, here's what we're looking for -- and how to apply...

16-0375 All Over Albany Small Business online Ad_525x80

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino

Startup2015 Berkshire Bank in-post ad

Saint Rose in-post ad 2016

Nine Pin Cider Works AOA Startup Grant ad

Previous years entries

Before entering it's a good idea to review some of the entries from past years -- especially which projects made it to the finals. Here are the previous years:

+ 2015 (finalists)
+ 2014 (finalists)
+ 2012 (finalists)
+ 2011 (finalists)

Entries

Please read these instructions carefully.

What we're looking for
Think small business (retail shop, taco truck) or community effort (public art, neighborhood program). We're not looking for straight-up charities, but rather business or community enterprises.

Who should enter
The $2,500 cash prize 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.

How to enter -- please read all the details!
AOA will be accepting proposals from August 3 through August 26 at 11:59 pm. 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/screengrab/image of the idea as it exists now and/or of what you would like to change. Be creative. Images should be at least 600 pixels wide and 400 pixels tall. Have a video to go along with your application? Excellent. Please post it online somewhere (example: YouTube or Vimeo) and provide us with the link so we can embed it.

+ How this funding would help: Tell us how you'd use the $2,500 startup grant to grow your idea and help you move it into the next phase. We're not looking for a dissertation -- 200-300 words should be enough.

+ You're email address and phone number so we can contact you. (We will not share this info publicly.)

Entries will be posted on AOA in the order they're received. So the sooner you enter, the more time your entry will be on display on the site.

Applications should be emailed to startups@alloveralbany.com. Please enter the title of your project in the subject line. You will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours of your submission.

How finalists are selected

The first round
AOA will post all the projects online for the crowd to review. Crowd voting -- from August 31 through through September 9 -- will select two finalists. The editors will pick a third.

Coaching for finalists
All three finalists will be required to attend a one-night crash course with John Dion, associate professor of marketing at The College of Saint Rose. Finalists will meet with Dion on Thursday, September 15 to help them arrange their ideas and think about how to present their projects to the judges in the final round.

The final round
The three finalists will then present their ideas to the judges on September 22 at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity. Each finalist will get 20 minutes to convince the judges to fund their project.

The judges

+ Lissa D'Aquanni: director of community relations at the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region and former small business owner

+ Rhea Drysdale: founder and CEO of Troy-based online marketing firm Outspoken Media

+ Vic Christopher: co-owner of The Lucas Confectionery, Peck's Arcade and Little Pecks, and Twenty-Two 2nd Street Wine Co. in Troy.

Results

Shortly after the final presentations, the winner will be announced here at AOA. And we'll check in with that project over the next year to see how things have progressed.

Important dates

So, just to review:

August 3-August 26: Open for entries.

August 31-September 9: Crowd voting for two of the finalists.

September 15: Coaching night for finalists.

September 22: Presentation to the judges.

Big thanks to Berkshire Bank and CDPHP for providing prize money and to Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants, The Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region, and The Tech Valley Center of Gravityfor sponsoring the contest this year.

Comments

Great idea!

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