The “Concept to Company” competitions are ongoing entrepreneur contests held in various regions across the state of Utah. The main objectives of the contests are to encourage and support Utah’s entrepreneurial innovators with the intent of helping them turn their concepts into a company.Competitions are held in all regions of the state with each competition focusing on the unique entrepreneurial strengths of that region. Contests are completely free and prizes are awarded with no strings attached!
The contests are organized and hosted by Grow Utah Ventures, a non-profit group committed to assisting Utah’s entrepreneurs, and Zions Bank. Local businesses & experts also provide judging & sponsorship services for contests in each region. See the individual past/upcoming contest pages for a list of specific contest sponsors.
How Does It Work?
About 5 contests are held each year around the state. Each contest typically runs for 3 months consisting of a two month application window, a finalist selection process, and a final judging day. An average of 90 entrepreneurs apply to each contest and from that, 8 finalists are chosen to pitch in person to the judges. At the end of judging, three winners are chosen and announced. Following the judging day, a public CrowdPitch/Awards Event is held to celebrate the winners and let the public vote on their favorite and hear the pitches. The Grand Prize Winner is also announced at that event.
Who Can Apply?
Any Utah-based entrepreneur and small businesses with a product or service innovation that fits within the contest rules. Generally, eligibility is for ideas that have not yet been taken to market (meaning they have no sales revenue); however each contest is a little bit different so be sure to read the rules for each contest under the “Current Contests” section.
The winning entry typically receives a cash and services award between $5,000 – $20,000 to help bring the idea to fruition. Additionally, the two runner-up winners typically receive cash and services awards of $2000 – $10,000 each. The exact amounts vary per individual contest due to the number of participating sponsors. Please see the “Current Contest” pages for exact prize amounts for each contest. All prizes are awarded with no strings attached- honest!
How Do I Submit My Idea?
Go to the “Current Contests” page and select the contest you want to apply to. On that particular contest page, you will see a link to apply.
Can I Submit More Than One Idea?
Yes. You may enter as many ideas as you would like, provided each submitted entry is unique and separate. However, there is a limit of one (1) prize per person, household, business and/or email address.
Does It Cost To Enter?
No, the contest is completely free to enter. However, if you are chosen as finalist you will be responsible for the associated travel expenses to get to and from the judging location.
Who Are The Main Sponsors?
The contest is organized and hosted by Grow Utah Ventures
and Zions Bank
. Additional specific contest sponsors are listed under the respective contest pages. All the sponsors have a common passion for supporting Utah’s entrepreneurs and inventors and growing Utah’s industry clusters. These sponsors will be covering the costs of the contest as well as offering up the prize money and services.
Is This The Same As The Grow America (SpringBoard) Competition?
No. The Concept to Company is different from the Grow America Contests (formerly Springboard). While both entities were founded by Alan Hall, Grow Utah Ventures and Concept to Company are non-profit entities while Grow America is a for-profit entity. The Grow America contests were founded on the success of C2C and were a ramped-up national version of our contest, however they no longer exist. Concept to Company contests remain committed to Utah entrepreneurs only.
How Do I Keep My Idea Safe?
We believe that all involved are trustworthy individuals who are volunteering their time just to help you move your idea and invention along. Our track record with the thousands of previous applicants can attest to that. Many previous entrants have formed critical business relationships with the industry judges and their respective companies. These relationships have furthered their business in ways that never would have happened otherwise.
With that said, this is a public event being sponsored by state and regional entities. Many media outlets will be involved and will likely cover the final competition including the winners and their ideas. For some entrants, publicly sharing their ideas may be of concern. To minimize this concern we encourage all entrants to give as much detail as possible without giving us the “secret formula”. We don’t necessarily need the schematics and details of the core technology to know if it’s a good idea. If we need more information we will contact you to discuss it further.
Although we will try to eliminate as much concern as possible, there is no way to fully eliminate all concern for a public contest like this. If you are unsure about what or what not to disclose, we advise you to seek good legal counsel before proceeding.
When Will I Hear Back?
After the judges review all the entries, a group of 8 finalists will be selected to present on the final judging day. Generally, you will hear back as to whether or not you are a finalist about three weeks after the application deadline. You will be notified via email.
What Does It Mean To Be a Finalist?
If you are chosen as finalist, it means that the judging committee feels your innovation has the real potential to generate business. It also means that the judges want to hear more about your idea in person. All finalists will be required to pitch their innovation in person to the judges on on the final judging day. If you are a chosen finalist, we will contact you with more details regarding your presentation.
Who Can Attend The Final Presentations?
The final judging event is both a private and public event. The first half of the event is for the judges and contestants only. Following that, the public is allowed to come, listen to the pitches, and vote on their favorite as well. Immediately following that, the winners will be announced and prizes awarded.
What Is The Related CrowdPitch Event?
CrowdPitch events are an exciting way for the general public to feel the excitement of entrepreneurship and to participate in the Concept to Company awards. At the end of the private judging portion of the final event, the public will be invited in to enjoy food, networking, and listen to the entrepreneur pitches themselves. Along with the judges, the crowd will also get to vote on their favorite pitch. Immediately following that, the winners will be announced and prizes awarded. These very popular events provide opportunity for a broad audience to share the passion and excitement of business creation. CrowdPitch details will be announced as each event approaches.
How Is The Winner Decided?
All entries will be initially screened by a pool of screening judges made up of contest organizers, sponsors, and industry experts. Entries that qualify based on the first screening will be placed in the potential finalist category.
A more detailed second screening of entries in the potential finalist category will then be conducted. Phone interviews and additional research may be done during this phase. Entries that qualify based on this second screening will be placed in the Qualified Finalist Category.
Entries in the Qualified Finalist Category will personally present their inventions/innovations to a panel of industry and business judges. The judges will then select a Grand Prize Winner as well as two Runner-Up Winners from among those presenters.
All Potential Winners are subject to verification, including without limitation, verification of eligibility, compliance with the Official Rules and completion of release forms.
What Are The Judges Looking For?
Since the focus of this contest is to help those who have taken their concept down the road but just need some more help to succeed, the judges will be looking at two main criteria: (1. How big is the need for your innovation (marketplace “pain”) and does your idea adequately address that need? (2. How much of a difference will the prize money and services make? These two factors are weighed together so that, although one idea may be far superior to another, it may not get chosen if the prize will not make that much of a difference to the superior entry.
Other considerations may include the number of new jobs that might be created, professionalism of presentation/application, and the amount of other resources already available to help the applicant.
Who Are The Judges?
The judges’ panel consists of leaders and experts from successful companies, universities, and industry fields throughout Utah. They share your passion for fun, excitement and creativity around creating products and you’ll enjoy just meeting them. All finalists will enjoy a rare opportunity to present their ideas to these industry leaders and form possible strategic relationships that would otherwise not happen.
Can My Company Participate as a Prize Sponsor?
Yes! Does your company offer services to startups in need? (Legal? Accounting? Rapid prototyping? Lean launch tools? Graphic design? Website design?) If so, we’d love to consider your services for an upcoming contest prize package. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
and tell us what you’d like to offer and let us know. If it’s a good fit, and doesn’t conflict with other sponsors, then we’ll give it consideration.