University of Bridgeport is supporting the Bridgeport Business Challenge for the entrepreneurs of the city.
This public-private partnership is designed to create jobs by “investing in the drive, talent, and ideas of the residents of the Park City.” $50,000 in cash grants for growth or startup will be available.
UB is on the planning committee for this challenge, along with the City of Bridgeport, CT Next, the Entrepreneurship Foundation, Community Economic Development Fund, Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District, Minority Entrepreneurs Training Association, Bridgeport Regional Business Council, Pullman & Comley, and Housatonic Community College. “Helping the Bridgeport community through collaborations such as this directly reflects the mission of both the University of Bridgeport and the UB Bauer Innovation Center,” says director of the UB Entrepreneur Center Elena Cahill.
There will be an information session on September 14, 2021, at 6 p.m. in the University of Bridgeport John J. Cox Student Center. On September 29 there will be a training session at 211 State Street from 6 to 8 p.m. on how to complete the application. Attorneys from Pullman and Comley will also hold office hours that day from 4 to 6 p.m. for those who want to discuss alternative legal structures for their businesses.
The grants will be awarded to both large market venture enterprises and personal or service businesses to ensure that “a proposal to open a sub sandwich shop will not have to compete with a plan to build real submarines.” There will be additional awards given to selected finalists, as service vouchers for six months at an incubator or co-working space.
The Community Economic Development Fund (CEDF) is one of the key cash sponsors of the grant. “As a mission-driven, nonprofit small business lender, we have a major interest in improving the economy across the state, but especially in the major urban areas like our largest city, Bridgeport,” says Frederick L. Welk Jr., the Director of Business Education and Communications at CEDF. “We recognize the value of promoting entrepreneurship and business formation to help these communities. Along with the challenges to wellbeing brought on by COVID, we’ve seen a big increase in interest in business ownership.”
Entrepreneurs must provide brief descriptions of their value propositions, market validation, revenue streams, cost structure, channels of marketing, and distribution, as well as list the management team and describe their competition, all in less than 1500 words. The judges will then use criteria based on whether the proposal solves a real problem, gives a superior or cheaper solution, clearly defines a target market, provides adequate management, has sufficient financing, and outlines clear funding or other needs.
Submissions will be due on October 13 at www.Back-Offices.com/Bridgeport, and 10 finalists will be notified on October 15. A Zoom practice pitch session will be held on October 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. at https://tinyurl.com/ES-Oct19. The following day on October 20, the top 10 entries will pitch to a panel of judges, who will allocate the startup and growth grants.
The Bridgeport Business Challenge is one of the many ways that the Entrepreneur Center and UB are serving the community. However, students and faculty are also eligible to apply, as long as proceeds are used to start or grow a business in the Park City. “Most cities look for one mega company to move into town to provide jobs,” says president of the Entrepreneurship Foundation Mike Roer. “Bridgeport is looking to its own residents to create multiple new job-building ventures. Greatness lies within.”