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Lincoln’s JumpStart Challenge is awarding $3,000 for business ideas

On February 9, Union Bank and Trust, along with the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and NMotion, will be kicking off the fifth annual JumpStart Challenge with a reverse pitch presentation.

Presenters will be sharing a specific, real-world FinTech challenge that they encounter in the industry. Teams have 10 days to work up a solution and then return to give their 6 minute pitches back to the Union Bank and Trust judges.

The opportunity for students, individuals and businesses to connect to a corporate customer is invaluable.

“Basically starting your company with your first customer already under your belt is an exciting proposition for a lot of these entrepreneurs that are just trying to get started,” said Christina Oldfather, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and NMotion, and coordinator of the event.

The winner of the pitch challenge will receive $1,000 from Union Bank and Trust, plus a 3 month membership to FUSE Coworking and a 1 month membership to Nebraska Innovation Studio.

New Wild Card Challenge

This year, a Wild Card challenge is being added that opens up the competition beyond FinTech companies. Any company or idea that is under 6 months old and is scalable is able to participate.

The winner of the Wild Card Challenge will receive $2,000, a 3 month membership to FUSE Coworking, a 1 month membership to Nebraska Innovation Studio, a free ticket to an MVP in a Day Workshop, and a membership in Prelaunch that will enable them to work through the validation of their idea.

Widening the talent pool

Organizers want the added Wild Card Challenge to broaden the range of event participants. They’re also opening up the challenges to a wider community this year.

In years past, eligible challenge competitors were limited to people and companies within, or closely connected to, the Lincoln community. This year, participants are not required to have local ties.

“This program has really helped build companies in our community and we really hope to see that continue and get bigger. We hope to see it expand beyond our borders here in Lincoln,” said Oldfather.

Students are also strongly encouraged to attend.

Proof of success

One past winner has turned their success with the challenge into major success in the real world.

“I owe the inception of LiveBy, at the time myBlock, wholly to the JumpStart Challenge,” said Cory Scott, founder and CEO of LiveBy. “JumpStart helps to blend entrepreneurial minds with industry leaders who are lacking solutions to innovate their businesses.”

Winning the competition in 2015 led to immediate success for LiveBy.

“We were able to sell a product before it was built and expand nationwide quicker because we had a jump-start on validating our solutions with a large industry partner,” said Scott.

The real value is in connection

Prize packages are typically what draws participants into competitions like the JumpStart Challenge, but the real long term value is in the connections that can be made between incoming talent and corporations.

Oldfather sees the JumpStart Challenge serving two goals.

“The goal is to build companies but we also want to build community,” said Oldfather.

Interested participants can visit the JumpStart Challenge website for more information or to register.