StartUp Cup evolves into StartUp Series
By Samuel Hardiman
© 2015 BH Media Group Holdings, Inc.
Tulsa’s StartUp competition is getting a face-lift a decade after its inception.
Tulsa Community College and the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation have re-branded it the StartUp Series as part of an evolution to better suit the needs of today’s entrepreneurs.
“Small businesses account for 86 percent of Tulsa’s revenue, and this competition has provided an entry point for some very successful businesses in our city,” Elizabeth Frame Ellison, president and CEO of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation said in a statement.
The changes are designed to create multiple entry points into the competition, shorten the timeline for the competition and to allow greater accessibility. The StartUp Series will retain the mentoring aspect of the competition, according to a news release.
The new format breaks the competition up into five different categories sorted by industry, the news release said. Applicants submit a minute-long video to enter.
The categories are technology and apps; kindergarten-12th grade education; physical products; food and retail; and wildcard.
Five finalists will be chosen from each category to perform a live pitch. The winners of the live pitch get $2,500, a chance to test their product at i2e and weekly mentoring for the next three months. The category winners will also compete to win $15,000 and a yearlong membership to 36°North among other things.
Autumn Worten, chairwoman of the StartUp Series, said the biggest complaint StartUp Cup received was the long timeline and the downtime between rounds.
“They wanted a shorter timeline to get the feedback and move forward with their ideas,” Worten said.
The extension of the mentorship program is designed to give entrepreneurs someone to call on and consult with weekly on their business, Worten said.
A former participant herself, Worten said her mentor through the competition is now one of her dearest friends and the changes to the competition are designed to foster that sense of community.
“You feel like people might not understand you if they’re not also an entrepreneur.”