Entrepreneurs vie for Nevada $100K upstart prize

Hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs vie for $100,000 Nevada upstart prize

Associated Press

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- Hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs are hoping for a chance to win cold cash to help them launch a new Nevada business venture.

Some 232 teams have submitted proposals to Project Vesto, a Nevada business competition offering $100,000 prize for the best idea, contest sponsors said Friday. The Governor's Office of Economic Development is funding half the prize money.

The deadline for applications was Dec. 31. Ideas must be for the creation of a for-profit business to be based in Nevada. The business can be a startup or early-stage venture, defined as a business that has not earned more than $1 million or received more than $100,000 in investment backing.

Project organizers said business proposals received include biofuel companies, biotechnology cancer cell testing laboratories, dance studios, restaurants and Web companies.

Applicants had to limit their proposals to a one-page business model summarizing the most important aspects of their idea.

"Project Vesto is showing Nevada entrepreneurs that there are other tools out there besides the typical 30-page business plan," said Daniel Herr, program manager at Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization, which is coordinating the contest.

In the next phase, applicants will get five minutes to pitch their business plan to a panel of judges, made up of potential investors and venture capitalists.

"These are real people with real money who could actually invest in their business," Herr said.

Judges will select 10 team finalists who will then have to develop a marketing strategy to sell their ideas to the public, which will choose the overall winner through online voting that's expected to begin by March.

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