Apr 3, 2024 - News

Bloomington launches 'Shark Tank'-style entrepreneur competition

Five people sit in large swivel chairs on a television set, all staring intently at a point off-camera.

Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran won't be judging Bloomington's "Shark Tank"-style competition … but wouldn't that be fun if they were? Photo: Christopher Willard/Disney via Getty Images

Bloomington leaders have launched a competition with a $100,000 prize awaiting the entrepreneur with the best pitch for a small business in the city.

The big picture: The "Hatch Bloomington" competition is sorta like the reality TV show "Shark Tank" β€” only set near the Mall of America.

  • More accurately, it's a spinoff of Hatch Detroit, another civic-oriented pitch contest that started more than a decade ago.

The latest: Bloomington and Minneapolis Regional Chamber started accepting pitches Wednesday. The application deadline is May 3.

Between the lines: Starting a business is costly. It's possible to string together financial help from the government, but entrepreneurs from many underrepresented groups struggle especially to access startup capital.

How it works: "Strong applications will propose a brick-and-mortar storefront presence in the city of Bloomington," the contest's website says β€” anything from a donut shop to a gym.

  • Any U.S. citizen can apply.
  • Franchisees and food truck owners are ineligible, but contest organizers will accept applications from existing businesses looking to expand.

What's next: A committee of city leaders and chamber appointees will review the applications and then hold several rounds of voting to winnow the field.

  • The public will also get a chance to participate in later rounds using "vote-by-text software."
  • The winner will be crowned in September.

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