‘Shark Tank’-like competition comes to LFCC

A ‘Shark Tank’-esque competition will be held at Lord Fairfax Community College’s Caron Center at the Middletown campus on April 19.

As many as 15 participants made up of regional small business owners are expected to compete for the first place cash prize of $5,000 and a marketing package valued at more than $3,500.

The program is five weeks long, culminating with a final presentation and award night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 19.

“The Award Night promises to be a great event. Our top five participants will each have five minutes to make their pitch, followed by a brief question and answer session,” said Leslie Currle, business development manager for People Inc., a nonprofit human services agency based in Woodstock.

A panel of judges composed of local business leaders will be responsible for selecting winners.

“The judges will make their decision for the grand prize winner,” Currle said. “However, we will also have an ‘audience favorite’ award. We are encouraging friends, family and community members to attend the award night. The admission is $10. Each audience member will receive one vote. The participant with the most audience votes will win the pool of admission fees. That could be pretty substantial as well.”

The Regional Entrepreneur Café is the force behind the event.

“It’s the first regional entrepreneur effort that encompasses partners from each county in the Northern Shenandoah Valley,” Currle said. “The program is designed to bring together entrepreneurs and regional resources through networking, educational components and competition to assist our participants in developing a sound business plan and tools to assist them in their business operations.”

Prior to the competition, participants took part in a six-week educational portion of the program in which business owners were taught how to better develop business plans as well as management and profit maximization.

The educational portion includes the elements of a business plan, cash flow planning and understanding your financial position, financial resources, business operations, insurance and marketing and social media, Currle said. “The classes meet once per week and are taught by local business professionals.”

Currle noted that she is excited about about the momentum the Regional Entrepreneurial Café is generating for entrepreneur development in the northern Shenandoah Valley.

“We are seeking to create a sustainable program that will develop an ecosystem that will inspire and develop small business owners in our communities,” she said. “Both programs will become an annual event, with the hopes of growing larger, becoming a pipeline for additional start-ups and creating job growth in the valley.”

View more information on the competition at http://tiny.cc/ms1z9x or contact the Small Business Development Center at Lord Fairfax Community College.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com