Four years ago, Emporia Main Street had an opportunity to participate in a study by the Brookings Institute. The study focused on the practices of three Main Street programs in the rural communities of Laramie, Wyoming; Wheeling, West Virginia; and Emporia, Kansas. While researchers were busy studying us, each community got the chance to study each other. We learned a lot by looking at Laramie and Wheeling, and one of the Wheeling internal programs seemed to fit a need in our region. "Show of Hands" is an entrepreneurial pitch concept that ties community members to real startups/expansions of locally owned businesses to foster growth.
Show of Hands resembles many pitch competitions with a few key differences. First, the Show of Hands concept is open to anyone starting or significantly expanding a business in Lyon County. The competition doesn't limit itself to certain age ranges or organizational/institutional affiliations. Second, the community can get involved by voting for their favorite concepts with their dollars. The Show of Hands concept invites the public to the pitches with a cover charge, and that charge is converted to a grant to the entrepreneurial concept of their choice. Third, actual potential additional investors will be part of the competition, and can provide additional investment dollars for businesses that meet qualifications. Finally, and this is a REALLY important distinction: the dollars raised for individual entrepreneurs are distributed as a grant to offset actual business startup or expansion expenses for businesses starting up or expanding in Lyon County. This is not a public speaking contest or a theoretical pitch; Show of Hands is real dollars for real businesses.
A big thank you to our supporters that are providing both resources and financial incentives to competitors: Network Kansas, ESB Financial, Community National Bank, Lyon County State Bank, KVOE, and Coffelt Sign Company!
Details for the Public Pitch Event
The Show of Hands pitches will take place on March 28th, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the new Radius Production Facility. Tickets to enter are $10, and 100% of the ticket price is converted into grant support for the participating entrepreneur of your choice. Here’s how the process works:
After a brief introduction, participating entrepreneurs will make a five-to-seven-minute concept pitch to the audience. The pitch may be followed by a brief question and answer period conducted by three panelists. After all the presentations are completed, each audience member will be allowed to “vote” for their favorite concept(s) with special voting tickets (one ticket equals $10). You can buy as many tickets as you would like. For example, if you want to support entrepreneurs with $100, you can purchase ten tickets, and distribute those ten tickets among different participants or simply “vote” for one concept. You must buy at least one ticket per person to enter the Show of Hands pitch event. Tickets are purchased electronically via the form below. Physical ticket(s) will be distributed at the door the night of the competition. Additional tickets can be purchased at the event.
In addition to the ticket income, local businesses, statewide economic development initiatives, and area citizens have donated dollars and/or services for distribution at the discretion of panelists. A separate pool of potential investors have “golden tickets” that they will provide to entrepreneurs for an additional activity that will include the potential for equity investments and other types of support. All the dollars and services awarded at the event will be held in reserve until the business incurs actual business expenses commensurate with the process of opening their concept. Entrepreneurs have one year to open their concept, with an additional “grace year” awarded for extenuating circumstances. If an entrepreneur does not open their business concept, dollars and/or services will be banked for future Show of Hands participants.
The Show of Hands pitch event gives you the power to help entrepreneurs starting up or expanding. Buy tickets, show up to the event on March 9th, and vote with your dollars for the types of businesses you want to see in Lyon County!
After all the presentations are completed, each audience member will be allowed to “vote” for their favorite concept(s) with special voting tickets (one ticket equals $10). You can buy as many tickets as you would like. For example, if you want to support entrepreneurs with $100, you can purchase ten tickets, and distribute those ten tickets among different participants or simply “vote” for one concept. You must buy at least one ticket per person to enter the Show of Hands pitch event. To purchase, fill out the form below.