Eligibility and Judging Criteria

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible, business must:

  • Have less than 50 employees
  • Be past the idea stage and have a track record of serving customers.
  • Be a for-profit company
  • Not be part of a franchise
  • Not be a former or current client of the IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship. (The owners and/or founders of the business also cannot be a former or current client.)
  • Demonstrate connection to the South Side. At minimum, your primary business location must be on the South Side. If you own a home-based business or do not have a physical location for your business then your place of residency should be on the South Side.
  • Make less than $1 million in annual revenue

Judging Criteria/Guidelines

  • Business Impact: What meaningful change has your business created?
    • For example: How has your business had a positive impact in your own life or the lives of your employees, neighborhood, customers? Does your business offer a product that solves a problem for consumers? Did your business improve your community by bringing jobs or a much-needed good/service? Has it brought wealth or generated revenue for yourself or for others in your community?
  • Creativity: How has creativity helped you grow your business or adapt in light of challenges?
    • For example: Did you adjust your business plan when the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order took place? Did your product or service lead to an industry change or a new way to tackle an existing problem? Have you deployed creativity in creating a market for your business, finding funding, or attracting a customer base?
  • South Side Connection: Does the business have deep roots on the South Side?
    • For example: Was the founder or current owner born or raised in the South Side? Has the business been located in the South Side for many years? Does the business have an important presence in a South Side neighborhood?
  • Future Plans: How would receiving additional capital or funds help you grow your business?
    • For example: How do you anticipate your business will adapt to a changing world? What investments are you making into future plans? How will you use the prize money to ensure your business continues to grow? Why should the community be excited to invest in your business?
  • Showmanship: Will you be able to bring an energetic and enthusiastic pitch that will inspire the audience?
    • For example: Are you able to motivate the audience to invest in and support your business?