Quad Cities entrepreneurs make “investor” pitches

SCORE, Project Now partner on new program

Four minority women entrepreneurs will make their “investor” pitches this morning to Quad Cities judges as they vie for cash prizes to aid them in trying to grow their new businesses.

Since last fall, the four women have been participating in Start-Up Learn & Pitch, a new education program led by SCORE Quad Cities and Project NOW. The program is designed to help jumpstart a  “side hustle” to a high-growth enterprise.

The promising entrepreneurs have been developing plans to launch and grow their small businesses during eight weeks of classes with SCORE. They have developed an idea, validated it and learned how to market it. The program culminates today when the women make their investor pitches at 9 a.m. at the Rock Island High School Little Theatre, 1400 25th Ave.

Tom Trone, chairman of the SCORE Quad Cities chapter, believes that anyone can start and manage a successful small business. “We know the road is harder for some than for others. Diverse backgrounds, different voices and unique needs call for specialized resources and mentoring approaches which we provided over the past eight weeks.”

A local panel of judges will choose the top “pitch presenter,” who will win $1,000. Mr. Trone says the 2nd place winner will receive $750 and the third-place winner will receive $500.

The Start-Up Learn & Pitch followed the proven Business Model Canvas framework to build sustainable business models and go to market strategies.

Mr. Trone says the priority of SCORE chapters across the country is to develop minority entrepreneurs by supporting their specific community needs. The specialized mentoring is provided under a program known as “SCORE for All.”

Project NOW, based in Rock Island, partnered by helping identify program participants.

“We believe small businesses are the fuel to local economies,” Project NOW Executive Director Dwight Ford said. “The fact that SCORE has expanded their services through partnerships with a specific focus on helping to create economic inclusive opportunities, not only encourages these deserving minority women entrepreneurs with business opportunities but it also helps to build economically strong communities.”

According to a new release issued in January by the national SCORE organization, the number of small businesses formed in 2021 reached record numbers. More than 5 million business owners applied for small business applications last year – up from 4.4 million in 2020 and 3 million in 2016. SCORE predicts the trend will continue into 2022 as many Americans, including minorities and women, pursue their dream of owning their own business.

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