Funded through the generous donation of James Clark Coffman to West Virginia University, Seed WV is a $15,000 cash prize entrepreneurship contest open to WV residents and small businesses.
Seed WV will be back in early 2022
First place, $7,500, Warhead Offroad. The judges loved the fact that the biggest problem this veteran-owned business in Bruceton Mills faces is finding qualified technicians to keep up with the enormous demand for their new UTV aftermarket products. They also loved how nicely Warhead’s story dovetails with WV’s new outdoor economy focus and the recently announced Ascend WV remote worker program.
Second place, $5,000, Parthian Battery Solutions. The judges loved that this Morgantown-based business is well-poised to ride the wave of what is sure to become an enormous problem—what to do with used electric vehicle batteries. The judges were impressed by progress the entrepreneurs have made since winning last year’s state business plan competition.
Third place, $2,500, Appalachian Botanical. The judges fell in love with the triple bottom line mission of this company that grows lavender on reclaimed coal mine land in Foster.
Crowd favorite, $500, Chia Chews. This entrepreneur in Wheeling convinced the crowd that his beet root powder, honey, and chia seed food product was worth a vote.
Who Should Apply?
Seed WV is seeking WV residents and small businesses with an idea for a new product or service. These ideas do NOT have to be high technology, radical innovations. Low to medium technology ideas that make incremental advancements are strongly encouraged. Applicants with the potential to succeed in this contest will clearly articulate:
- A compelling market need or desire for the product or service.
- A plan and budget to take the idea to market in 6 to 12 months.
- A plan for growing annual sales to $1 million or more by selling the product or
service nationally or globally.
- Why they are uniquely suited to bring this product or service to market.
- Exactly how the prize money would be spent, if awarded.
The following answers pertinent questions about the contest.
1. Who is Sponsoring this Contest?
West Virginia University is hosting and managing this contest with funds generously provided through the James Clark Coffman Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies.
2. Who is Eligible to Apply?
This contest is open to individuals whose current legal residence is the state of West Virginia and who are at least 18 years or older; teams of eligible individuals; organizations (including corporations, not-for-profit corporations and other nonprofit organizations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and other legal entities) that exist and have been organized or incorporated at the time of entry in the state of West Virginia, and employ no more than 50 people; and non-West Virginia residents that are students currently enrolled at a West Virginia institution of higher education who agree to form an organization in West Virginia within 6 months should they receive a contest award. Detailed eligibility, rules, terms, and conditions for the Seed WV contest can be found at https://seedwv.wvu.edu/rules
3. What Types of Ideas Are Sought?
The genesis for this contest is the observation that
many companies on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies
in the U.S. got off the ground with less than $10,000 of startup capital and bootstrapped
their way to success. The contest is therefore very broad and seeks new ideas for
products or services that can reasonably be brought to market quickly and at a
low cost. Importantly, ideas must also scale beyond “Main Street.” Thus, applicants
with an idea for a local bakery or photography business will not receive favorable
marks by the judges. However, this does not imply that you must have a high-tech
company that you plan to grow to a billion dollars in sales. We are specifically
seeking low to medium technology ideas that can rapidly be commercialized and sold
to national or global customer audiences. Examples of successful, low-tech ideas
from the Inc. 5000 list that would fit well with Seed WV include:
4. How Advanced Must My Idea Be?
Entries that are in the concept stage of development are welcome. However, preference will be given to those entries that have proven their technical viability, validated customer interest, are in the prototype stage of development, and have a near term prospect of being introduced into the marketplace. If your product or service has been introduced to the marketplace, it must have been in the market (sales transactions) for less than 1 year.
5. Who Are the Judges?
Contest judges may consist of successful entrepreneurs, as well as seasoned
business managers, financiers, and academics who are experts in their fields.
6. How Will My Entry be Judged?
All entries will be initially screened by a set of judges selected by West Virginia University. Up to 10 entries will be selected as finalists and invited to present their ideas to a group of judges via Zoom. These presentations and evaluations will go beyond the responses to the questions initially submitted as part of each entry. All aspects of the invention, innovation or business idea will be open to examination by the judges. Based on their evaluation, the group of judges will determine how to award the prize money. Ideas that can feasibly be brought to market quickly at a low cost will receive favorable evaluations, as will ideas that can realistically be scaled up and sold to national or global markets.
7. What is the Prize and What Can I Do with it?
Contest winners will receive a check in the amount determined by the judges (no one check to exceed $10,000). The cash prize is yours to spend on any legitimate expense related to advancing your idea and launching your business.
8. Do I Have to Come to Morgantown to Win?
No. Due to COVID-19, this contest will be entirely virtual.
9. What Will Happen After the Contest?
Depending on funding availability, Seed WV contest will be held annually to spark entrepreneurial activity throughout West Virginia on a continuous basis.
10. What Will Happen After the Contest?
If you have questions about the application process, or any other aspect of Seed WV, please email firstname.lastname@example.org