Yakima County Development Association - Judges Are the MVP's of the Enterprise Challenge

Jean Brown

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Jean Brown

Jean publishes a blog called the Enterprise Corner.  It features articles on entrepreneurship, local industry trends, manufacturing news and periodic ‘toolbox’ articles showcasing assistance, incentives and other resources for local businesses.

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Judges Are the MVP's of the Enterprise Challenge

Judges Are the MVP's of the Enterprise Challenge

September 01, 2015

The most valuable aspect of the Enterprise Challenge each year is the feedback contestants get from our judges.  There are three points during the contest when judges evaluate participating entrepreneurs.  Judges use our contest scoring criteria and ultimately determine who wins the Challenge.  More importantly though they provide invaluable feedback to the contestants. 

Recently, I visited with a couple of past judges to learn what they think of the completion and to see if they had any tips to pass along to future contestants. 

“I think the Enterprise Challenge is a very positive feature for our valley,” said Valerie Woerner, CFO for Keith Day Company.  “I think the several levels of judging [utilizing business leaders] and having candidates present more informally with the second to last round and then more formally at the final judging round is excellent practice for candidates to learn to explain and sell their business and hone their presentation skills as these can be used in many settings – applying for loans, marketing, business expansion, customer contact, etc.”

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase entrepreneurs in our valley and for these new businesses to gain valuable experience as they start their business,” said Ryan Franklin, CFO at Moss Adams.  “I typically look for a business that has a well thought out plan including a solid assessment of the demand for their product/service, good financial analysis, and of course energy and passion for their business.”

Contestants receive assistance learning how to write and present their business plan through a series of workshops, judge’s feedback, as well access to other local resources like the Small Business Development Center.  Melissa Gagnon, a past contestant, believes that the biggest benefit was the education at the start of the contest.  "The workshops were led by industry professionals that care about getting new businesses off the ground. Their information has been invaluable.  Even though I didn't advance in the contest the education and judges feedback I received was well worth the time and registration fee."

Our goal is that participants get the counsel and support they need to get their businesses off to a strong start.  We designed the contest so that it helps all participants even if they don’t advance to the winner's circle.  By offering in-depth business seminars and offering hands on counseling to everyone in the contest, we are confident that our participants gain traction with their enterprise and learn what it takes to launch a successful business. 

Registration for the contest is October 9th.  For more information on the Enterprise Challenge visit the website.  To sign up for the Enterprise Corner newsletter click here.


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"The [Enterprise Challenge] business plan contest was really a kick start. I think the best part of the contest was that you could look at your dream and turn it into a real business." - Carol VanEvenhoven, Co-Owner, Hop Central Brewing Company