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First Virtual Liftoff Houston Start-Up Business Plan Competition Now Accepting Applications

Winners in three categories can receive more than $30,000 in cash and prizes

HOUSTON- Applications are now open for LiftoffHouston, theCityofHouston’s annual business plan competition sponsored by Capital One Bank and administered by theHoustonPublic Library (HPL) and the OfficeofBusiness Opportunity (OBO). Winners in three categories – Service, Product and Innovation – will each receive $10,000 in seed money from Capital One Bank. This year, due to COVID-19 concerns, all LiftoffHoustonevents will be held in a virtual format.

The competition, which launched at 4 p.m. today and takes place through Pitch Day on Nov. 7, allows participants access to tools, resources and support that will help them develop a sound business plan for their startups. Winners will be selected during Pitch Day, after contestants present their business plans to a panelofjudges. Prior to Pitch Day, participants will attend required workshops that will cover topics such as business plan basics, raising capital, marketing and information aboutCityofHoustonbusiness resources. 

New this year is the LiftoffHoustonEducational Pathway, where participants who do not qualify to compete can still take advantageofthe business education opportunities provided by the program. Participants who attend all required workshops under the Educational Pathway will receive a certificateofcompletion.

“I encourage all enterprising Houstonians to compete or participate in this program,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “We are all awareofthe challenges that business owners have faced during this pandemic, and theCityremains steadfast in providing opportunities for entrepreneurs. We recognize that outofcrisis, incredible opportunities can emerge.” 

Mayor Turner also commended Capital One Bank for its constant supportofLiftoffHouston. 

“Over the past seven years, Capital One Bank has awarded more than $210,000 in start-up capital to aspiring small business owners inHouston,” Turner said. “Their continued generosity – especially in these unprecedented times – means a great deal to ourcity.”

Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, directoroftheHoustonPublic Library, joined Mayor Turner in thanking those who have made LiftofffHoustonpossible. She also expressed excitement about the expanseofopportunities that this year’s virtual platform allows participants. 

“I join the Mayor in thanking Capital One, the OfficeofBusiness Opportunity, HTV, theHoustonPublic Library team and all our partners,” she said. “Despite the recent challenges in both the health and social justice spaces, I believe that the most creative and innovative business ideas are imagined during trying times. I look forward to the exciting business plans that will evolve and be presented at this year’s program.”

To qualify as a contestant for LiftoffHouston, applicants must live and operate their business within theHoustoncitylimits. The business should be for-profit, in operation for less than one year, and have verifiable revenue that does not exceed $10,000. Winners have included businesses in retail, merchandise, labor, consulting, software, hardware, market businesses, hospitality, tourism, health and fitness, education, finance, technology and logistics. Click here to see a listofpast winners. 

“Whether your business plan is based on a product, service or innovation, LiftoffHoustonwill provide you with invaluable information about how to master the fundamentals you need for your company to succeed. Even if you do not qualify as a contestant, we invite you to take full advantageofthe program’s free Educational Pathway,” said Marsha Murray, directorofthe OfficeofBusiness Opportunity. 

Jim Nicholas,Houstonmarket president for Capital One Bank, said Capital One is proud to continue its longtime supportofLiftoffHouston.

“We recognize that oneofthe most important investments Capital One Bank can make in the futureofour community is an investment in small businesses,” Nicholas said. “We are pleased to partner again with Mayor Turner,HoustonPublic Library and the OfficeofBusiness Opportunity to offer this competition.”

Application deadline for LiftoffHoustonis 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 10. Orientation is required for all contestants and those who would like to participate in the Educational Pathway. Clickhereto access the application form or e-mailliftoffhouston@houstontx.govfor more information. Also follow @LiftoffHouston on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.

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