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VT KnowledgeWorks Announces $25,000 Challenge

VT KnowledgeWorks is pleased to announce the Game Changers Challenge, an opportunity for one entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team to qualify for a $25,000 “Running Start” loan plus a package of free startup assistance services.  Solid runners-up may also qualify for free startup assistance.  
Any aspiring entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team may enter.  The challenge is open to all who meet the following criteria:
The product or service to be provided by the venture must either be consumed (not simply re-marketed) by another business, or be integrated into a more complex end-product for downstream sale.
The targeted buyers must constitute a relatively narrow demographic niche that can be addressed with limited resources.
The proposed product or service must powerfully address some widely acknowledged niche need.
High leverage must be obtained by the $25,000 (not just the first $25,000 out of a $1M needed for launch, for instance).
The entrepreneurial team must be able to fill the technology leadership roles in the proposed venture.
The team must be committed to locating business operations in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.
Any intellectual property related to the enterprise must be appropriately owned or licensed by the enterprise.
Finalists will be selected by VT KnowledgeWorks staff, and will then be invited to make a 15-minute presentation to the Running Start Committee on their proposed new ventures.  There will be no public events, nor will competing teams be allowed to attend each other’s presentations.  In the absence of a solid applicant, no loan will be made.  This is a qualifying process, not a contest.
Proposals must be submitted in accordance with the guidelines available on the VT KnowledgeWorks website  The deadline for the spring 2015 application submissions is May 8, 2015.  Applications should be submitted to  The selection committee will review applications and VT KnowledgeWorks will communicate with applicants shortly thereafter.  Awards will be announced in June.
For more information contact Jim Flowers, Executive Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, at 540-443-9100, extension 1 or at  Read about it on our blog at
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Star Tank Expands Program, Adds May "Tip-Off" Event

Think you have the next big thing? Roanoke Star Tank wants to help you get it off the ground.

Star Tank has announced a new event: the Star Tank Tip-Off on May 14, 2015 in the Grandin CoLab. Star Tank will keep their main event in November, which is a local version of the ABC show "Shark Tank" in which entrepreneurs pitch their product or idea to investors, who then have the opportunity to invest. 

The new Tip-Off program aims to fill in the gaps between marquee Star Tank events in the fall. The Tip-Off will focus on business development by allowing start-ups, inventors, and entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their pitch and receive feedback. 

If you are interested in participating in the Tip-Off, register onlin at >>>

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ScaleUp Roanoke Looking to Help Small Businesses

Roanoke has been selected as one of eight locations for the ScaleUp, a federally funded initiative orchestrated by the Small Business Association. The program assists small business owners grow through training, strategy, and consulting sessions. 

The first round of ScaleUp Roanoke is underway, but the program will host a second round to begin in April of this year. 

To be elegible, businesses must have been established for at least two years and have revenues of $150,000 to $750,000.

This article from the Roanoke Times has more details on how ScaleUp Roanoke is affecting real businesses in the area.

Find more information and learn how to get involved >>>

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Pitch Your Idea at Big Lick Soup Funding Event

If you have a business idea you want to get off the ground, another micro-funding event is taking place in Roanoke in February.

The Big Lick Soup event will take place on February 26, from 6-8 p.m. at 16 West Marketplace. Finalists will pitch their civic-minded ideas to be voted on by those in attendance. 

Anyone interested in pitching their idea to make Roanoke a better, more interesting place to live can apply by outlining their plan on the Big Lick Soup Facebook page. The deadline to apply is February 9. 

Find out more via the Roanoke Star >>>

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Virginia Hosting $1 Million Business Plan Contest

If you have an idea for a business plan, Virginia wants to hear from you, and it could earn you $1 million.

Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced one of the largest business plan competitions in the nation, with $1 million in prizes for the winners. The competition will take place during the spring and summer of 2015 and is focused on the strategic growth sectors of Agriculture, Bio-Life Sciences, Cybersecurity, and Social Entrepreneurism. 

The competition is part of the governor's efforts to create a "new Virginia economy" through generating more startup enterprises in the Commonwealth.

“Hosting this world-class business plan competition in Virginia is another step forward in our efforts to create a new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe in a statement.  “It is through growth in these important sectors that we will see economic benefits in our rural communities and across the Commonwealth.  This competition is one piece of my administration’s efforts to systematically generate more startup enterprises in Virginia, especially in Virginia’s key growth sectors.” 

Read the full press release with more details on the competition >>>

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Grandin CoLab Opens Second Co-Working Space

There is a new co-working space, with a familiar name, in downtown Roanoke. The Grandin CoLab has opened a second locations in the former Kirk Avenue Music Hall venue at 22 Kirk Avenue. 

The CoLab on Kirk will serve members who prefer to work downtown - the Grandin CoLab is located in the Grandin Village area - and will offer the same amenities as the original location: a space to work, internet access, etc. 

The Grandin CoLab boasts around 60 members, and hopes to add at least another 40 in the coming year. Membership costs around $100 a month and does not require a long-term lease.

The Kirk Avenue space previously served as a venue tor concerts and entertainment, but is in an 'experimental' phase according to owner Ed Walker, who also owns the Grandin CoLab building. The CoLab on Kirk will remain for at least a year. 

For more on the CoLab on Kirk, check out the Roanoke Times >>>

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Virginia Tech Investors Seeking Virginia Tech Startups

Virginia TechA group of Virginia Tech alumni are on the hunt for Virginia Tech-affiliated startups, and want to help them get off the ground.

The Virginia Tech Investor Network is a group of about 100 "active, check-writing investors" looking to break into angel investing, and they are starting with their alma mater. 

The groups first meeting will be held on Nov. 5 in Washington, D.C., and they plan to eventually merge with 460 Angels, a similar investor group focused on the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. The group hopes to invest $1-3 million in its first year, $3-5 million in its second year, and more than $5 million each year after that.

Any company that was founded or led by a Tech graduate, current student or employee is eligible.

Find out more about the Virginia Tech Investor Network >>>

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Got a Business Idea? Enter the Gauntlet

A new event is coming to the Roanoke Region with the goal of helping you get your start-up off the ground. 

The Advancement Foundation will host a one-day event on January 15, 2015 labeled The Gauntlet. Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch their business idea or community concept to potential investors in 15 minutes. The event is focused on enterprises with a "double bottom line," meaning ventures will be profitable, but also bring significant social returns.

Anyone with an idea for a business - or already have a business that is less than two years old and has a total gross revenue of under $250,000 - are invited to participate. 

Leading up to The Gauntlet, the Advancement Foundation will also host a series of workshops to help entrepreneurs refine their ideas, get business advice, and prepare their presentation. The final result will be a "Shark Tank" like presentation to a panel of business leaders and investors. 

Applications are due by September 29th. 

Find out more about the application process >>>

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Virginia Cooperative Extension Releases Entrepreneur E-Book

The Virginia Cooperative Extension is making it easier than ever to get the resources entrepreneurs need with the release of their latest e-book. 

The Extension recently announced the release of "Question and Answer Guide for Starting and Growing Your Own Business," to provide Virginia business owners with essential information in an easy to digest format. 

The publication is available for Nook, Kindle, Sony Reader, and Apple readers and covers the business basics of entrepreneurship, business plans, legal considerations, and more. The e-book is authored by Scott Tate, senior economic development specialist in Virginia Tech's Office of Economic Development, and Crystal Tyler-Mackey, Virginia Cooperative Extension community viability specialist. 

You can access the e-book through the Extension website, >>>

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Star Tank: Roanoke's Spin on "Shark Tank"

The Roanoke Region will hold its own version of the ABC reality show "Shark Tank," in an attempt to connect local entrepreneurs with investors. The Roanoke Star Tank will be held Nov. 6 at the Grandin CoLab. 

The event will be based on the show, which has entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to venture capitalists on network television. While the Star Tank will not be televised or made public - to protect the interests of the innovators - local investors like Mark Lucas, Sam Rasoul, Katina Hamlar, and others are expected to make up the panel of investors. 

Entrepreneurs will have five to ten minutes to pitch their ideas, and then the panel will ask questions and decide if they want to invest in the idea, or not. 

Read the full story on Star Tank at the Roanoke Times >>>

Get more details on how to apply >>>

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