SMARTstart Challenge Business Pitch Competition Returns in 2017

December 14, 2016


Local business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs compete for cash prizes and business assistance from Pasco EDC’s SMARTstart Pasco Business Incubator

Saint Leo, Fla. (December 14, 2016)— Applications are now being accepted to take part in the Pasco Economic Development Council’s 3rd Annual SMARTstart Challenge business pitch competition.  During the competition, which will be held February 9, 2017 (2 pm – 4 pm) in conjunction with Saint Leo University’s student business plan competition, local entrepreneurs will compete for a cash prize and a six-month, on-site membership in one of the SMARTstart Pasco Business Incubators.

“The SMARTstart Challenge is a fun, fast-paced event for entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses to a panel of business experts and an audience of other entrepreneurs, business owners, potential investors, students and community leaders,” says Krista Covey, SMARTstart Business Incubator Director.  “In addition, the winners get some cash and resources that can be vital to start-ups.”

"Not only is Pasco EDC’s SMARTstart Challenge a great opportunity for entrepreneurs in Pasco County, but it also provides Saint Leo students a great opportunity to apply what they're learning in their coursework to a 'real world' situation," added Russell Clayton, Assistant Professor of Management at Saint Leo University.

SMARTstart Challenge applications will be evaluated on measures relating to important elements about the economics of the business and the ability of the applicant to be successful. Other important elements will include; market potential and research, unique dynamics of the business/idea, evaluation of potential partners, financial considerations and attractiveness of business/idea.

Deadlines for the event include:

  • January 6, 2017 – Applications due
  • January 11, 2017 – Application review
    The review team will evaluate the applications according to the preapproved measures and select up to 10 businesses for oral presentations which are scheduled to be given on January 19, 2017.
  • January 19, 2017 – 5 minute Oral Presentations with slide deck, followed by Q&A from judges.
    The contestants will have 5 minutes to present their business/idea to a panel of judges. The judges will evaluate the business plan/idea and the quality of the presentation and question any aspect of the presentation within the categories identified for the completion. Five or six finalists will be selected for the final competition on February 9, 2017.
  • February 9, 2017 - SMARTstart Challenge Finals

During the finals, which will be held in Saint Leo University’s TECO Hall and open to the public, the five to six finalists will present their five-minute pitch to a panel of judges.  The grand prize winner and runners up will be announced at a reception following the presentations.

Interested applicants can download an application now at  For additional information about the 2017 SMARTstart Challenge, call the SMARTstart Pasco Business Incubator at 352-437-4861 or email

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About Pasco Economic Development Council
Pasco EDC is the lead economic development organization dedicated to the overall growth and prosperity of Pasco County through the development of a sustainable and diversified economy.  Pasco EDC continues to be a strong partnership funded by corporate and public investors focused on the economic vitality of Pasco County.

About SMARTstart
SMARTstart is the Pasco Economic Development Council’s capstone program to engage entrepreneurs, grow business, and create job opportunities in Pasco County.  The innovative suite of programs offered through SMARTstart benefits businesses of all sizes throughout Pasco County from start-up to existing local companies and includes CO.STARTERS, the SMARTstart Pasco Business Incubator, SMARTstart Microloan Fund, and the Pasco Enterprise Network.