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Metro East Start-Up Challenge
Metro East Start-Up Challenge

News - 2019

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CoverMe is 2019 SIUE SBDC Metro East Start-Up Challenge Winner

November 1, 2019, 12:55 PM

2019 MESC Winners

Cover Me, of Edwardsville, is the winner of the Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s 6th annual Metro East Start-Up Challenge (MESC) business plan competition. CoverMe emerged from eight Southwestern Illinois-based entrepreneurs to claim the $10,000 first prize.

Tech entrepreneur Jeremy Packer has created CoverMe, an E-Gaming Platform that connects players and sponsors.

Representing House of Ninjas LLC, of O’Fallon, owner John Wilmas received the $6,000 prize as runner-up. John and Nicky Wilmas hope to promote an active, healthy lifestyle for kids by tackling physically challenging obstacle courses designed and inspired by the hit TV competition, American Ninja Warrior. The gym is scheduled to open mid-November in O’Fallon.

Sharon and Michael Sabo’s Tricentum Technologies LLC, of Monroe County, earned $4,000 for third place. The Renault duo has patented a medical product for use by patients with physical challenges and/or visual impairments that need to self-inject medication. The product goes over a syringe cap allowing ease of removal and ultimately the administration of required medicine.

“We are impressed by the large number of superior quality concepts brought forth by the participants,” said Jo Ann DiMaggio May, IL SBDC for the Metro East director. “It made the evaluation process and final decision on awarding the prize money extremely difficult for all of our reviewers and judges.”

The winners will also receive in-kind support from Carol Sparks, Sparks Law of Troy, and accounting services from Scheffel Boyle, of Edwardsville, to help form their businesses and manage start-up expenses. Other in-kind services include website design assistance from Tech Fusion, of Troy, and co-working space for a set period of time at The Lodge in Edwardsville.

The top three teams presented their winning business concepts before a live audience at the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois (SWIL) board of directors meeting on Friday, Nov. 1. SWIL includes more than 200 leaders in business, industry, education, government and labor in southwestern Illinois.

May and SBDC Business Specialist Marti Wieland are enthused about the overall participation in the Challenge and the applicants’ efforts put into their business ideas and presentations, and hope to see continued community involvement for next year’s Challenge.

 “Our goal is to continue to increase awareness and reach of the Start-up Challenge’s vast opportunities,” May said. “The Challenge is becoming a recognized fixture in the region’s entrepreneurial community, and the Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE looks forward to its continued growth and success.” 

The IL SBDC for the Metro East organizes and manages the competition with the support of the SIUE School of Business, as well as from other business and economic development partners throughout its 9-county service area. 

Finalists in the 2019 MESC also included:

  • Maydai Trauma Focused Clinical Research & Network Center of East St. Louis
  • Daughtsy of Belleville
  • Grain Densification International of Granite City
  • Stone’s Essential Care Package: Just for You! of Belleville
  • 724 St. Louis Rd. d.b.a Hyperion Commercial Properties of Collinsville

The Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE and East St. Louis assists start-up ventures like these, as well as existing businesses headquartered in the nine-county region of southwestern Illinois, including Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph counties. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and SIUE as a service to Illinois small businesses.

By aiding entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success, the SBDC network positively impacts the Metro East by strengthening the business community, creating and retaining new jobs and encouraging new investment. The SBDC enhances the region’s economic interests by providing one-stop assistance to individuals by means of advising, training, research and advocacy for new ventures and existing small businesses. When appropriate, the SBDC strives to affiliate its ties to the region to support the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large.

To learn more about the SBDC, contact the IL SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE at 618-650-2929.

Finalists Chosen in SIUE SBDC Metro East Start-Up Challenge

October 17, 2019, 8:10 AM

2019 MESC Logo

Eight Southwestern Illinois-based entrepreneurs and their innovative business concepts have been selected to move on to the final round of the Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s 6th annual Metro East Start-Up Challenge (MESC) business plan competition.

A total of 16 semifinalists completed and submitted their full business plans with the support of the SBDC and professional business mentors. First prize is worth $10,000, second prize is $6,000 and third prize is $4,000. Winners are also offered an array of in-kind services.

“We’re extremely pleased with the sustained level of interest in our region’s business plan contest,” said Jo Ann Di Maggio May, SBDC director. “There has been a robust outpouring of enthusiasm about the Challenge from applicants, community leaders and our small business development partners.

“The Challenge creates the opportunity to engage with the region in cultivating an important economic development strategy. Although only eight companies remain eligible for the top prize, we encourage everyone who considered or entered the Challenge to access the SBDC’s wide menu of resources and expertise.”

The Challenge’s final round requires the competitors to pitch their business concept to five judges on Thursday, Oct. 24. The winners will be announced immediately following the pitches.

The 2019 MESC finalists are:

  • House of Ninjas LLC, O'Fallon
  • Maydai Trauma Focused Clinical Research & Network Center, East St. Louis
  • Stone’s Essential Care Package: Just for YOU! Belleville
  • Tricentum Technologies LLC, Prairie Du Rocher
  • Cover Me, Edwardsville
  • Grain Densification International, Granite City
  • Daughtsy, Belleville
  • 724 St. Louis Road, LLC, d.b.a. Hyperion Commercial Properties, Collinsville

The Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE and East St. Louis assists start-up ventures like these, as well as existing businesses headquartered in the nine-county region of southwestern Illinois, including Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph counties. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and SIUE as a service to Illinois small businesses.

By aiding entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success, the SBDC network positively impacts the Metro East by strengthening the business community, creating and retaining new jobs and encouraging new investment. The SBDC enhances the region’s economic interests by providing one-stop assistance to individuals by means of advising, training, research and advocacy for new ventures and existing small businesses. When appropriate, the SBDC strives to affiliate its ties to the region to support the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large.

To learn more about the SBDC, contact the IL SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE at (618) 650-2929.

Semifinalists Chosen in SIUE Metro East Start-Up Challenge

August 22, 2019

SIUE Metro East Start-Up Challenge 2019

Sixteen Southwestern Illinois-based entrepreneurs and their innovative business concepts have been selected to move into the second round of the Metro East’s 6th annual business plan competition, the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Metro East Start-Up Challenge.

More than 50 entrepreneurs expressed interest in the regional competition this year, according to Jo Ann Di Maggio May, director of the Metro East SBDC and Challenge coordinator. About half of these individuals completed the entry process and almost two-thirds of those were invited to participate in the next round.

“We’re extremely pleased with the sustained level of interest in our region’s business plan contest,” Di Maggio May said. “There has been a robust outpouring of enthusiasm about the Challenge from applicants, community leaders and our small business development partners.”

“The SIUE Metro East Start-Up Challenge creates the opportunity to engage with the region in cultivating an important economic development strategy,” Di Maggio May added. “Although only 16 remain eligible for the $10,000 top cash prize, we encourage everyone that considered or entered the Challenge to access the SBDC’s wide menu of resources and expertise.”

Round two of the challenge will require semifinalists to create a condensed business plan, develop financial projections and clearly define reasons why their business concept will be successful. The Metro East SBDC will offer guidance and support to semifinalists in the form of workshops throughout September.

Competitors have until Friday, Oct. 4 to submit their business plans and financial statements. Judges will select 6-8 finalists, who will pitch their business concept on Thursday, Oct. 24 to a select panel of judges. The winners will be announced immediately following the pitch presentations.

First place is worth $10,000, second place is $6,000 and third place is $4,000. Winners are also offered an array of in-kind services. The 2019 Metro East Start-Up Challenge semifinalists include:

  • House of Ninjas LLC (Fairview Heights)
  • Maydai Trauma Focused Clinical Research & Network Center (East St. Louis)
  • Logan & Logan Management and Accounting Services, LLC (Belleville)
  • Stone’s Essential Care Package: Just for YOU! (Belleville)
  • Sports Throne LLC (Columbia)
  • Tricentum Technologies LLC (Prairie Du Rocher)
  • Cover Me (Edwardsville)
  • DonVal Mizzou, LLC (St. Charles, Mo.)
  • Giggles & Screams Indoor Play Center (Collinsville)
  • Grain Densification International (Granite City)
  • Dry Street Gardens (Alton)
  • Daughtsy (Belleville)
  • Sweet Cravings LLC (Fairview Heights)
  • 724 St. Louis Road LLC (Collinsville)
  • Hypry (Fairview Heights)
  • SOS Project Consulting (O’Fallon)

The Illinois SBDC for the Metro East assists start-up ventures, as well as existing businesses headquartered in the nine-county region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and SIUE as a service to Illinois small businesses.

By aiding entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success, the SBDC network positively impacts the Metro East by strengthening the business community, creating and retaining new jobs and encouraging new investment. It enhances the region’s economic interests by providing one-stop assistance to individuals by means of counseling, training, research and advocacy for new ventures and existing small businesses. When appropriate, the SBDC strives to affiliate its ties to the region to support the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large.

To learn more, contact the IL SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE at (618) 650-2929.

Photo: SIUE Metro East Start-Up Challenge 2019

For More Information
Contact the Illinois Small Business
Development Center (SBDC)
618-650-2929
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