Enter the Black Enterprise Small Business Awards and Elevator Pitch Competition Now!

Small Business Awards

Attention Small Business Owners:

 

You have just a few more days to apply for BLACK ENTERPRISE’s 2017 Small Business Awards, which will be held during BLACK ENTERPRISE’s Entrepreneurs Summit.

This year, BE’s Entrepreneur Summit is being held May 17-20,2017, in Houston. The deadline to apply for the awards is Monday, March 13, 2017. Winners will be announced at a special awards luncheon on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

 The award categories are as follows:

  • Techpreneur of the Year: This award is given to a fast-growing company that is delivering groundbreaking technology products or is disrupting the digital industry in some manner.
  • Family Business of the Year: This award is presented to a family-operated business that exemplifies the combined experience and expertise needed to excel in a key industry.
  • Franchise Owner of the Year: This award is presented to a franchisee for outstanding performance and overall contribution in enhancing the growth and development of the franchising industry.
  • Teenpreneur of the Year: This award recognizes entrepreneurs, ages 19 and  under, committed to the tradition of black business achievement.

Click here for details on the Small Business Awards.

 


 

On top of that, BE will also honor the entrepreneur offering the best elevator pitch for a  prize of $10,000! So, if you want to win cash for your pitch, then enter the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition now!

All you have to do is record a pitch that is two minutes or less, upload the video to YouTube, and then send us the link to beevents@blackenterprise.com. (Please review details about the contest before sending your submission.)

Ten semifinalists will be invited to attend the Summit, where they will have the opportunity to pitch their business idea in front of a live audience. A panel of judges will decide the winner of the $10,000 grand prize.

Check out the video below, for more insight regarding the Elevator Pitch Competition:

 



 

Good luck!

Enter the Black Enterprise Small Business Awards and Elevator Pitch Competition Now!

Small Business Awards

Attention Small Business Owners:

 

You have just a few more days to apply for BLACK ENTERPRISE’s 2017 Small Business Awards, which will be held during BLACK ENTERPRISE’s Entrepreneurs Summit.

This year, BE’s Entrepreneur Summit is being held May 17-20,2017, in Houston. The deadline to apply for the awards is Monday, March 13, 2017. Winners will be announced at a special awards luncheon on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

 The award categories are as follows:

  • Techpreneur of the Year: This award is given to a fast-growing company that is delivering groundbreaking technology products or is disrupting the digital industry in some manner.
  • Family Business of the Year: This award is presented to a family-operated business that exemplifies the combined experience and expertise needed to excel in a key industry.
  • Franchise Owner of the Year: This award is presented to a franchisee for outstanding performance and overall contribution in enhancing the growth and development of the franchising industry.
  • Teenpreneur of the Year: This award recognizes entrepreneurs, ages 19 and  under, committed to the tradition of black business achievement.

Click here for details on the Small Business Awards.

 


 

On top of that, BE will also honor the entrepreneur offering the best elevator pitch for a  prize of $10,000! So, if you want to win cash for your pitch, then enter the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition now!

All you have to do is record a pitch that is two minutes or less, upload the video to YouTube, and then send us the link to beevents@blackenterprise.com. (Please review details about the contest before sending your submission.)

Ten semifinalists will be invited to attend the Summit, where they will have the opportunity to pitch their business idea in front of a live audience. A panel of judges will decide the winner of the $10,000 grand prize.

Check out the video below, for more insight regarding the Elevator Pitch Competition:

 



 

Good luck!

Here’s How To Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

Many have watched the show Shark Tank, where contestants pitch products and businesses in hopes of garnering big bucks. But more need to know about the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition, sponsored by AT&T, taking place at BE’s 2016 Entrepreneur’s Summit. When pitching your idea or business, you should be the subject matter expert for your industry. Think about it like this, the judges should not know more about your industry than you! Understand how big your market is. Is it a multimillion- or even billion-dollar market? Who are the major players in your space?  What is your competitive advantage? No one likes to hear an elevator pitch that is confusing and hard to follow. Your 60-second elevator pitch should always tell a good story. Your story should include:

[Related: Entrepreneur Summit Elevator Pitch Winner Shares Overnight Success Story]

  1. An introduction: Who are you and who are your team members?
  2. Information about your market
  3. The problem or pain you are solving, your solution—what product, service, or technology you are offering
  4. Your business model: How will you make money?
  5. Customer acquisition: How are you going to acquire customers?
  6. How much money do you need, or what will you use the money for?

And the big winner of this year’s Elevator Pitch Competition was Blendoor, a mobile job-matching app that incorporates a blind-recruiting strategy to mitigate unconscious bias and to increase diversity at top tech companies. Think ‘anti-Tinder’ for job search, connecting qualified women, minorities, veterans, LGBTQ, and disabled candidates, says founder and CEO Stephanie Lampkin, who walked away with the grand prize of $10,000 and coaching sessions with entrepreneur, author, and tech guru Ramon Ray.

Her story: It was after a 12-year career in tech that Lampkin, 31, decided to create Blendoor to address unconscious bias. “I had interviewed at Google in New York and was told I only qualified for a marketing role; I was deemed not technical enough,” explains the Stanford engineer, who started coding at age 13, holds an M.B.A. from MIT, and spent five years at Microsoft.

In addition to making matches, Blendoor leverages big data to equip candidates with career development opportunities that better aligns them to land their dream job.

Elevator Pitch Competition Deadline Extended!

We know you’ve had every intention of submitting to the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit Elevator Pitch Competition, but that initial deadline, somehow, snuck up and got away from you. Fret not, dear entrepreneur! Black Enterprise just announced that we have so graciously extended the submission deadline to Tuesday, March 22!

[Related: Black VC’s and Financiers Who Want to Invest in You]

This means that you now have a little less than a week to perfect and submit your 2 minute pitch selling the necessity of your business. Here’s a reminder of how this competition works:

  • You sharpen your business elevator pitch to detail the problem your business solves, who your primary customers are, what you’re selling your business for, and your current/projected sales revenue.
  • You get your pitch down to 2 minutes or less and you submit! You’ve seen Shark Tank and thought if you were pitching you’d knock it out of the park—now’s your chance.
  • You Email Black Enterprise by the March 22 deadline with a YouTube video submission of you pitching the product or service and be sure to include your name, e-mail, and phone number in your email. In the subject line write: 2016 BE Elevator Pitch Competition, then sit back and watch your future unfold.

There will be 10 semi-finalists selected from submissions. If you’re selected as a semi-finalist you’re then granted the opportunity to pitch live to a panel of expert judges at the 2016 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit, May 4-7, Loews Hotel Miami, Florida. The top 3 finalists of the semi-finalists will pitch again, with a refined 30-second time limit, in front of inventors, experts, venture capitalists, and angel investors for a chance to win a $10,000 cash prize.

Please Note: As an Elevator Pitch contestant, your name and likeness may be used for future advertising and promotional purposes. Additionally, it is advised that you obtain the appropriate legal documentation to protect your business idea or product. Black Enterprise is not liable for duplication of your business idea or product by a third party. Prize money will be released after all mentoring sessions are completed. The two-minute video submission is intended as a guideline. Contestants will not be disqualified for videos within the 2-3 minute range or for using props during the video. However, onsite these rules will be strictly adhered to.

Check out the video snippet of a past pitch competition below:

Now ready, set, pitch!

Click here for all of the information you need to prepare and submit your pitch. Register now to secure your spot at the 2016 BE Entrepreneurs Summit, May 4-7, Loews Hotel Miami, Miami, Florida. Best of luck!

Be sure to follow Black Enterprise on social media @BlackEnterprise for Entrepreneur Summit news, highlights, and updates. Use hashtag #BESummit to stay in the loop. Please be on the lookout at BlackEnterprise.com as speakers, activities, and sessions are announced.

Elevator Pitch Competition Tips, Straight from the Judges

Inventors and entrepreneurs across the country are prepping and refining their elevator pitches to submit for a chance to win $10,000 at the 2016 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit.

As you prepare, BlackEnterprise.com has gathered advice from pitch competition judges so that you may have a trusty guide to follow for your submissions.

[Related: Entrepreneurs Summit: Who Has the Best Small Business? We Need Names]

Take this advice into account as you sharpen your 2 minute business pitch detailing the problem your business solves, who your primary customers are, what you’re selling your business for, and your current/projected sales revenue.

Click here for all of the information you need to prepare and submit your pitch. Register now to secure your spot at the 2016 BE Entrepreneurs Summit, May 4-7, Loews Hotel Miami, Miami, Florida. Best of luck!

Be sure to follow Black Enterprise on social media @BlackEnterprise for Entrepreneur Summit news, highlights, and updates. Use hashtag #BESummit to stay in the loop. Please be on the lookout at BlackEnterprise.com as speakers, activities, and sessions are announced.

Peep what the judges had to offer below. Best of luck.

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6 Blunders to Avoid When Pitching to Influencers, Especially at SXSW

South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual event that occurs in mid-March, where sets of interactive films, music festivals, and conferences take place at different venues in Austin, Texas. South by Southwest is run through the company SXSW, which launched in 1987, and has grown in both scope and size every year into a week-long event. For 2016, Interactive Media will take place on March 11-15, Film will take place March 11-19, and Music from March 15-20.

Film and television actress turned techpreneur Cooper Harris has traversed the SXSW landscape numerous times. The founder and CEO of Klickly, a pro-social donations software platform, based in Santa Monica, had her own venture to promote.  But amidst all the meetings, on-camera interviews and speaking, she also found herself “keenly aware of certain individuals I should talk to and connect with — folks who could have been very powerful catalysts for my company.”

Harris is also the director of tech for Collective Summit and produced the first-ever Innovation Summit and Social-Impact Hackathon at Sundance. She is credited with being one of the first females to win the Los Angeles AT&T Hackathon. Cooper asked other experienced tech figures for feedback on what not to do when pitching your company, thought or idea. In the process, she gleaned some very useful and surprising anecdotes.

Here, she shares five tips to help other young entrepreneurs as they navigate SXSW and other upcoming tech conferences.

[Related: Married Couple To Pitch Their Beauty Startup at Startup Grind]

One. Don’t Throw Yourself at Strangers: Cooper points out that coming from the entertainment world as an actress, not everyone receives her as a tech CEO even though she now runs a software company, which she built, and has all but left the big screen behind her. So, during the conference, one of her well-respected friends went around SXSW introducing her as the ‘Queen of Silicon Beach,’ providing a pre-vetted stamp of approval, and usually elicits curiosity to know more.

Takeaway: Ask a mentor in the space to introduce you to someone you need to know. If you can’t find anyone to vouch for you, consider what else you might be doing wrong.

Two. Don’t Start a Filibuster: Taking advice from Sean Percival of 500 Startups, “It’s important to understand some investors get a lot of pitches at events. So the best thing you can do is respect their time and keep your pitch brief.” Like the concept of having only 30 seconds to talk with the proverbial VC in the “elevator pitch scenario,” this is a good rule of thumb, notes Cooper.

Takeaway: Get to the point quickly and ask to follow up via email with more information and your investor presentation.

Three. Don’t Pitch During a Reception: Lo Toney, a partner at Google Ventures (speaker at the Black Enterprise TechConnext Summit), had what might seem like obvious advice, but not everyone follows it. The end of the night — just when investors may think they’re safe to enjoy a great party, music and dancing — is one of the worst times to be approached regarding work. Not only are investors not in a work-related frame of mind, but it’s just logistically hard to hear. According to Toney, “The worst pitch that I got was when an entrepreneur wanted to pitch me during a party. It was after 10 p.m., he’d clearly had a few adult beverages, and he insisted on pitching me even with the music blasting.”

Takeaway: Telling VIPs info they might not want to hear, in a place they physically can’t hear you, is just bad news.

Hey, Entrepreneur! Is Your Elevator Pitch Worth $10,000? Prove It.

Entrepreneurs–read and be inspired. Your time is NOW. The Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit has officially opened its highly anticipated Elevator Pitch Competition, and it’s ready for your submission. Here’s how this works:

  1. You’re an awesomely innovative and creative aspiring entrepreneur.
  2. You’ve been eagerly waiting on the space and opportunity to pitch your awesomely innovative and creative business product or service to decisions-makers who know just how to make things happen.
  3. You’ve heard about seeking out venture capitalists and/or capital investors to help your business get off the ground but you haven’t the slightest idea about how to get your face in the place–though you know exactly what you’d say if you ever got the chance.
  4. Black Enterprise has just presented you with the chance you’ve been waiting for.

And that’s just the beginning. Now the ball is totally in your court. Now you sharpen your business pitch to detail the problem your business solves, who your primary customers are, what you’re selling, and your current/projected sales revenue. Get your pitch down to 2 minutes or less and then submit it! You’ve watched Shark Tank and said to yourself, If that was me, I’d knock it out of the park. Well, now’s your chance!

Email Black Enterprise by the March 14th deadline with a YouTube video submission of you pitching your product or service and be sure to include your name, e-mail, and phone number. In the subject line, write: 2016 BE Elevator Pitch Competition, then sit back and watch your future unfold.

There will be 10 semi-finalists selected from the submissions. If you’re selected as a semi-finalist, you’re then granted the opportunity to pitch live to a panel of expert judges at the 2016 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit, May 4-7, at the Loews Hotel in Miami, Florida. The top three finalists from the 10 semi-finalists will pitch again–this time with a refined 30-second time limit (don’t choke!)–in front of inventors, experts, venture capitalists, and angel investors for a chance to win a $10,000 cash prize.

Get the idea? Check out a video snippet of last year’s competition below.

Now ready, set, PITCH!

Click here for all of the information you’ll need to prepare and submit your pitch. Register NOW to secure your spot at the 2016 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit, May 4-7, Loews Hotel Miami, Miami, Florida. Best of luck!

Be sure to follow Black Enterprise on social media @BlackEnterprise for Entrepreneur Summit news, highlights, and updates. Use hashtag #BESummit to stay in the loop. Be on the lookout at BlackEnterprise.com as speakers, activities, and sessions are announced.

Business Pitch Champions Join Forces to Teach You How to Win Big Money For Your Business

headshot of Gwen Jimmere

Gwen Jimmere, founder of Naturalicious hair products and winner of the 2014 Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition

It takes a lot of resilience to open and run a successful business. In many markets it is difficult to find investors and money to invest back into your business. For Gwen Jimmere, CEO and founder of NATURALICIOUS, and Brian Williams, founder of Purchase Black, they found this to be true and decided to do something about it.

“As a culture we generally are not trained how to actively and successfully raise capital. Studies have shown women and minorities fund their businesses with personal debt far more than other demographics. We want to help change that story and help businesses grow,” says Jimmere.

If there’s anyone who can teach other how to win, it’s these two. Jimmere is the 2014 Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition winner. Williams is the 2014 winner of National Black MBA’s Innovation Whiteboard Challenge. Earlier this year, the two pitch competition winners teamed up to start Pitch Proof. “We are a company that teaches small business owners and entrepreneurs how to raise money without going into debt. We teach them how to successfully enter, prepare for, and ultimately win business pitch competitions, as well as how to attract equity investments,” Jimmere explains.

When someone signs up for Pitch Proof it starts with a 20 minute video call that the team dubs as a “pitch audit.” This is a coaching session where the duo helps you refine your pitch and craft it to exactly what judges are looking to hear. Jimmere and Williams also have a 12-week capstone course that allows you to learn step-by-step how to prepare for, present, and win pitch competitions and investment dollars. The 12-week course includes one full year of access to the partners. Students in the course are sent weekly video training, assignments, and guidance for both pitching for competitions and investment dollars.

“There is a big difference between the two and we train you to do both. When the 12-week course ends, we are available to students for an entire year to help them hone and solidify their pitch and tailor it to their intended audience,” says Jimmere. “Students also receive a comprehensive list of  competitions throughout the country so they don’t have to go searching for where the money is. We hold their hand through the entire process.”

Brian Williams, founder of PurchaseBlack.com

Brian Williams, founder of PurchaseBlack.com and winner of the 2014 National Black MBA Innovation Whiteboard Challenge

Beyond their aforementioned winnings, Both Jimmere and Williams have won tens of thousands of dollars in various pitch competitions and equity investment opportunities. As experts in this area, their advice is to first focus on becoming a finalist, then go for the gold and win.

“Your first goal is to be a finalist. This puts you on a platform that few others have access to. Being in a pitch competition as a finalist provides you the chance to talk to everyone in the room about your business. Considering hundreds of people often attend these competitions as spectators, you have a unique opportunity to speak to each and every person. You can’t possibly speak to hundreds of people at once via traditional networking,” Jimmere says.

“It’s not uncommon for the audience to consist of new customers, potential investors, or a retail partners,” she continues. “While you certainly want to win, even if you don’t end up being the ultimate victor, you can very easily walk away with a purchase order for hundreds of thousands of dollars, just by being a finalist and having the right people in the audience.”

With only a few months as a company under their belts, these pitch champions have the proof to show they truly train clients to become winners, such as Keon Davis of Smooth N Groove, among numerous others.

For more information visit www.pitchproof.com

East Coast vs. West Coast: It Matters When Pitching Your Business to Investors

(Image: Thinkstock)

Not surprisingly, there is a difference in formality and look among entrepreneurs between the East Coast and the West Coast. In cities like San Francisco and Seattle, dress is often more casual, while on the East Coast, business attire is more formal. This was evident when more than 450 tech entrepreneurs and executives participated in Silicon Valley’s latest disruption—the Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit. They flocked to the two-day conference held October 12th and the 13th at the Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara in Santa Clara, California to not only hear from tech luminaries—a powerful lineup of innovators, entrepreneurs, financiers, and executives—but to connect and collaborate with the promise of creating the next big thing.

East Coast vs. West Coast was a common theme that came up during several panel discussions, especially ones focused on burgeoning tech hubs in Atlanta, Austin, and Detroit. But not in terms of rivalry. Inquiring entrepreneurial minds wanted to know, for instance, if there is a difference in how you should pitch investors based on where their business operations were located.

[Related: How To Deliver A Powerful Pitch To Investors]

Black Enterprise decided to find out, from Silicon Alley to Silicon Valley, how do angel investors and venture capitalists compare? The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

When pitching your business or concept here’s what you need to know:

1. Be More Modest on the East Coast
Risk-averse East Coast investors prefer small but sure gains over gambles. The more grandiose your claims, the more relentlessly East Coasters work to sniff out hidden downsides. Meanwhile, West Coast VCs go for multiple high-stakes bets and don’t need your modesty; show them a twinkle of unicorn potential and your fact-based recognition of the slim odds you aim to beat.

Manpreet Singh, TalkLocal

2. Consider Both Coast and Timeline
Keep your pitch honed to both the coast you’re talking to and the time horizon. East Coast seed round? Pitch the small story about how you’re going to hit a few million in revenue in months and reach an exit point. VC in California? Pitch the biggest, baddest version of your pitch that still represents your core business.

Brennan White, Cortex

3. Emphasize Tradition in New York
Having lived in both Silicon Valley and New York and having been able to pitch at top-notch VC firms, I found that there was much more of an emphasis on the industry opportunity, your growth rate, and the revenue you’re currently generating in The Valley. New York, at least in my experience, tends to be more focused on profitability and the traditional measures of a successful business.

David Ciccarelli, Voices.com

4. Keep Culture in Mind
With Silicon Valley, it’s important to be aware of and discuss company “culture,” where East Coasters are much less likely to care, and may even be suspicious of any presentation that distracts from the numbers. By culture, I mean try to craft your company as an interesting story when working with West Coasters. They still want the numbers, but a dream is important.

Matt Doyle, Excel Builders

(Image: File)

5. Focus on Traditional Growth Metrics on the East Coast
The majority of investors in New York and on the East Coast (Boston, Washington D.C., Philadelphia) are traditional and rely mostly upon traditional valuation metrics such as Earnings Before Interest Tax Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA), growth profit, and/or revenue to value companies. In contrast, West Coast investors are less traditional and focus on total users and viral coefficient.

Obinna Ekezie, Wakanow.com

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[TechConnext Summit] Recap: How to Deliver a Powerful Pitch to Investors

Newbie entrepreneurs are often big on ideas but less knowledgeable about how to secure financing for their companies. Being able to communicate well and convey the value in their ideas is what separates more successful fundraising and relationship-building.

This panel provided an impressive mix of seasoned Silicon Valley veterans as well as a successful entrepreneur and investor from outside the Valley for a comprehensive overview and evaluation of what it takes to make it. They discussed early-round pitching for those totally new to this, as well as second and third round pitching for those with some experience under their belt.

Moderator Carol Sands, founder of The Angels’ Forum (TAF), one of the most respected angel groups in the San Francisco Bay Area, presided over a panel of distinguished industry peers. The panel consisted of June Riley, CEO of VC Taskforce; Charles Hudson, partner at SoftTechVC; and Donray Von, founder of Caslteberry & Co.

a) VC Taskforce addresses both sides of the investing ecosystem to connect people seeking funding with those who want to provide it.

b) Start Up Academy – workshops for entrepreneurs on how to dialogue with investors
Angel Academy – tools for investors on identifying and vetting potential startups

Charles Hudson discussed his career background in greater detail and used this forum as the opportunity to mention that he would soon be launching his own fund. Any startup founders looking to pitch should definitely add his name to their list of potential investors.

Donray Von had a successful career in the music business as a manager before becoming an investor. He explained the differences between those on the buying side and those selling. As a check writer (investor), he better understands why he didn’t always get funding—he needed to refine his ideas.

VC MATH: Funding Differences Between Big Investors & Smaller Investors
Angel Investors are usually affluent people (read that as anyone who is willing or able to take a loss in case the business fails) who receive a small equity ownership (1%-2% percent) in a company. This would likely be in exchange for a small six-figure sum invested.

An Angel may not fund you if they think your company will need a lot of money to stay afloat. Larger investors may come into play, which would reduce the chances of smaller investors making any profit.

In this example a $50M fund needs to earn at least three times the net and can often take 10 years to recoup.

Larger VCs (venture capitalists) get a greater percentage of companies and may invest as much as $10M or more. Note: Some investors don’t only want money, they may be just as interested in program related investments (PRIs). PRIs are included under the charity/nonprofit/private foundation area and are defined by the IRS as potentially covering:

  1. Low-interest or interest-free loans to needy students
  2. High-risk investments in nonprofit, low-income housing projects
  3. Low-interest loans to small businesses owned by members of economically disadvantaged groups, where commercial funds at reasonable interest rates are not readily available
  4. Investments in businesses in deteriorated urban areas under a plan to improve the economy of the area by providing employment or training for unemployed residents
  5. Investments in nonprofit organizations combating community deterioration

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