The Changes To Ignite Capital 2018

The Changes To Ignite Capital 2018

This year, Ignite Capital has changed a few elements of our annual pitch competition. First, let’s take a look at what’s staying the same.

Compete Against Your Category

Entrepreneurs who are selected as finalists will compete against entrepreneurs in their own category. The winner will receive a $5,000 grant and a $5,000 loan. The first and second runners-up will each receive a $5,000 loan.

The Grand Prize

The winner of each category will pitch their business again, this time against the winners of the other categories. The entrepreneur with the best pitch will be selected to win an additional $5,000 loan.

So, what’s changed?

Fewer, and Different Categories

This year’s pitch competition only has three categories, instead of four. In past competitions, entrepreneurs were groups into categories based on their own traits, such as being a woman, being Indigenous or being a youth.

In 2018, entrepreneurs will be grouped based on the stage of their business development. The Starting Up category will feature businesses less than two years old, with few or no sales. The Scaling Up category is for businesses less than five years old, that aren’t being worked on full time. The Growing Up category is for businesses less than five years old that are a full-time venture.

Prize Amounts

The prize amounts have changed compared to past years. This year’s winner will take home $15,000 in funding. Every finalist selected to pitch will receive at least a $5,000 loan.

5 Practices to Perfect your Pitch

5 Practices to Perfect your Pitch

The ability to pitch your business isn’t immediately obvious as a vital skill in the entrepreneurial toolkit. When we dig a little deeper, it becomes clear that entrepreneurs are constantly pitching their business and selling themselves. Every marketing campaign, every tweet, even every answer to the age old question, “What do you do?”

Here are 5 key elements that every entrepreneur should incorporate into their business pitch.

Tell a story.

Pitching your business is about more than just the facts (but don’t forget those, too). Potential investors and judges are people too, and should be approached as such. People resonate best with stories, so be sure to include the story of you and your business. Why did you start your business? What motivates you?

Describe A Problem

But don’t go overboard. An important rule in fundraising, which can be applied to pitching a business, is that people don’t want to give money if there is no problem to overcome. Some examples of “good” problems include:

  • Can’t afford to purchase more inventory to fill orders

  • Wanting to spend money on marketing to grow the business

  • Start-up costs in opening a new location, or expanding to more stores

 

Alternatively, describe the problem your product or service seeks to solve for your customers. Be sure to explain how receiving funding would allow you to grow your business to solve the problem.

Provide A Vivid End-State

Conversely, people don’t want to give money if the problem is unsolvable, or if you don’t have a plan to solve the problem. It’s vital to follow up your description of the problem with a detailed plan of how it will be overcome. By providing a vivid description of what your business will look like after it has solved the problem, you can dramatically increase your chances of winning over your audience.

Be clear and simple.

The phrase, “if you can’t explain something to a five year old, you don’t understand it” comes to mind. Your audience will have questions for you, but ideally, those questions will be to expand their knowledge of the business, not to clarify the information you’ve given them.

A confused audience isn’t a friendly audience. Make sure you present your pitch clearly and logically. This brings us to our final point...

Practice.

A lot. And then practice some more. Gather some family or friends and practice your pitch to them. It’s important to work on your public speaking skills, as well as your body language and the flow of your pitch. You’ll want to practice until you’re certain you won’t stumble during your pitch.

Three Smart Ways To Use Funding

Three Smart Ways To Use Funding

If you’re lucky enough to get funding, there are important decisions to be made about what to do with the funding to maximize the capital. Funding is difficult to come by, especially for small businesses and those with a less than stellar credit score.

Numbers Can be for Everyone

Numbers Can be for Everyone

The financial burden strikes again! Whether it be lack of financing or lack of understanding it. We teamed up Jean Barret from Alterna Savings, to break down the financial information template that Ignite Capital requires applicants to submit. Follow these tips to improve your financial literacy skills and create informative financial documents.

Fueling Emerging Entrepreneurs Panel

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Fueling Emerging Entrepreneurs Panel

As the deadline for Ignite Capital applications is fast approaching, we recently invited past winners to share their insight on how to create a winning entry and deliver a winning pitch. On August 23rd, we were joined by five panelists for a discussion style panel where some of our past winners and judges answered questions and shared tips on how to achieve success in the competition...

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Five Things your Business Plan is Missing

Five Things your Business Plan is Missing

So you have an idea, strong ambition and have combined the two to create a business. But what’s your plan? Here are five tips for you to consider when building your business plan and to make a winning entry for the Ignite Capital competition and other funding opportunities...