AdvoCare, EDF offer business competition

Biz-0723-advocare-3cBy Errol Castens

Oxford Citizen

Got a business idea? With the AdvoCare Entrepreneur Challenge, you can turn it into cash and some opportunities to get help growing it into reality.

Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and AdvoCare, an international health and fitness products company, are teaming up to sponsor the Challenge. The rigorous competition is designed to encourage and inspire north Mississippi entrepreneurs and develop business plan submissions from an idea into a reality.

“Richard Wright, the CEO of AdvoCare, was the guest speaker at our annual meeting in June,” said EDF President and CEO Jon Maynard.

When responding to Maynard’s invitation, Wright asked if the organization had any type of entrepreneur award. At the time, there wasn’t such a program, but Maynard knew that wasn’t the right answer for his mentor and longtime friend.

“I designed a program that’s open to anybody in north Mississippi, not just here in Oxford,” Maynard said. “The judging requirements are going to be on (A) their written business plan, (B) the pitch that they make and (C) meeting with them every month and making sure they’re utilizing the resources here in Oxford. We brought that back to AdvoCare and they said, ‘We want to do a $10,000 first prize, a $5,000 second prize, and a $2,500 third prize.’”

Those chosen for the competition will commit to a nine-month process with business coaches who will prepare them for each of three “Pitch Nights” where they will be required to showcase their business plans to a group of north Mississippi business leaders. Winners will be announced at the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber and EDF Annual meeting in June 2015.

In addition to business advice and coaching during the process, the top three business proposals will receive the Advocare Entrepreneur Challenge Trophy and the respective cash prizes. Other benefits will include business incubator space, legal and accounting assistance, publicity and access to sources of funding.

Beginning in September the businesses chosen to compete will meet with the Entrepreneurial Alliance and make their initial pitch, after which they will be connected with local resources. The process will continue through December.

In January, March and May, competitors will face elimination-round “Pitch Nights,” with continuing growth and advising in the intervening time.

Applicants should apply online at www.oxfordms.com/advocare-challenge by Sept. 15.

“They will have to have a two-page executive summary that will outline their basic plan. The whole idea is to help them turn their idea into a business,” Maynard said. “Not everybody’s going to make that first cut, but the judges we plan to use for the different Pitch Night events are going to be increasingly higher in ability to fund deals – to put money into good ideas.”

For information, contact Maynard at (662) 234-4651 or jon@oxfordms.com.

errol.castens@journalinc.com