A conference slated for March in Helena will give entrepreneurs the chance to partake in a “Shark Tank” style competition. 

In partnership with The Montana Small Business Development Center Network, the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Recreation will host the business-pitch competition March 12-14.

The competition will create a forum for local entrepreneurs to present their business plans and receive constructive feedback from a panel of industry professionals. First place in the contest will win $5,000, second place will win $2,500, and third place will win $1,000.

Participants will first pitch their business idea to an initial screening panel March 13, and the live pitch will be held during the closing luncheon on March 14. This year’s panel of judges will include experts across the banking and finance industries in the state

The competition is open to Montana startup/pre-venture entrepreneurs with less than one year of activity. 

“Tourism, recreation and business development go hand in hand,” said SBDC State Director Chad Moore. “This partnership is a real win for small business attendees, as they learn industry trends while also receiving consulting and training from expert SBDC advisors. They’ll also be entertained by Shark Tank, a first for the Governor’s Conference.”

Ronald Turner, owner of Anchor Yanker, a Montana-based startup business based on a device that pulls rope efficiently was the winner of last year’s competition.

“Winning the prize money helped get manufacturing going, but it was not the best thing to come from the competition,” said Turner. “Winning was reassurance that the product I created was a good idea. It was very uplifting to know that professionals, other inventors and entrepreneurs not only thought that my invention was feasible but were excited by it, and I made many contacts that helped to get my invention from idea to production.”

In addition to Shark Tank, SBDC Business Advisors will teach classes in human resources, financials and marketing, which will be open to all attendees. Advisors will also consult clients via prescheduled appointments during the conference.

To register for the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, visit bit.ly/2ib8m5O.

To register for Shark Tank, go to sbdc.submittable.com before Feb. 4.

For more information, contact Rebecca Ziegler at 406-841-2747.

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