Fifth Third Bank’s 53 Ideas Competition Supports Entrepreneurs with Capital and Training
David Hunt held three jobs last year to support his vision of building a tech company that would use artificial intelligence to help small business owners. Then his money ran out.
“I had the vision, we had registered beta testers, we had product designs and customers that I had worked with. The pressing need was crucial, ”he recalled.
Running out of options and with investors looking for a product he didn’t have, Hunt learned of a new Fifth Third Bank competition for entrepreneurs.
Inspired by the popular reality TV show “Shark Tank”, 53 Ideas invites entrepreneurs to present their business ideas to a jury. Candidates chosen to progress receive training and supervision. The first place winner receives $ 10,000.
Hunt entered the competition with a short video explaining his vision. He was chosen as one of the 53 nominees and ultimately won the top prize.
Since then, his company, Framewrk, has attracted additional investment, hired engineers, and created an app.
“The $ 10,000 has taken us a long way, but winning the contest opened up other opportunities, including people to contact and contribute capital,” Hunt recalled a year later. “Now we’re in a completely different place than we hadn’t done 53 Ideas.”
53 Ideas is now entering its second year. From May 1 through May 31, applicants can apply by submitting a 53-second video explaining their pitch.
In creating the competition, Fifth Third Bank’s goal is to support and grow the innovation that is bubbling up in the Charlotte area. South Piedmont Community College will lead this initiative in collaboration with the Community College Small Business Centers in the region.
53 Ideas is open to everyone in the 10 counties surrounding Charlotte – even budding entrepreneurs with nothing more than a dream.
Reinvest in communities
Over the past five years, Fifth Third Bank has spent $ 41.6 billion on programs designed to help meet community needs, such as investing in affordable housing, promoting economic development and supporting financial stabilization.
While the bank has a long history of offering programs to help existing small businesses, it has recently expanded those efforts to include entrepreneurs with viable ideas but no way to get them off the ground.
Enter 53 ideas.
Last year, organizers planned for the competitions and workshops to be held in person, but when the pandemic hit, they brought the events online. The bank expected 50 people to apply, but 177 submitted videos.
The organizers were encouraged by the positive response.
“There were great business concepts and submissions,” said Joel Dancy, the bank’s director of regional economic and community development for the central Atlantic.
It was Dancy, in fact, who came up with the idea for 53 ideas.
“A lot of service companies were struggling,” he said, “and it was good to see individuals bringing new concepts to the fore and coming forward. It was good to see how resilient people were in the midst of a pandemic. “
More than a competition
After the first round, competitors participated in a series of workshops on topics such as “Understanding the Field”, “Discovering Customers” and “Understanding Your Finances”.
Hunt particularly enjoyed a workshop on idea pitching facilitated by Juan Garzon, Executive Director of Innovate Charlotte. Hunt says it helped him understand how to use the power of storytelling to connect with potential investors. He credits what he’s learned to helping his business get an additional $ 30,000 from investors. He was also accepted into an accelerator program sponsored by Ernst & Young.
“The educational component is very valuable,” Hunt said. “From a strategic perspective, it has helped us as small business owners to think longer term about our finances, operations and sales strategy.”
Dancy, the fifth third leader, said it was important for the bank to include the educational workshops. Dancy said he will often hear from people who are good at the creative aspects of starting a business but need help on the operational side.
“They come in and don’t understand the talk of the banks,” he said. “We want to help local entrepreneurs successfully deliver this speech to an investor or commercial bank for resource support as they grow.
After winning the 53 Ideas competition, life got a lot busier for Hunt and Framewrk. He went from being a mobile application engineer, whom he struggled to pay, to a team of 7 employees.
“Now we are in a completely different place,” he said.
Fifth Third Bank, meanwhile, would like to see the Charlotte area competition expanded statewide. Dancy also said he heard colleagues from Fifth Third Bank in other states express interest in adopting a similar event. He was also happy to see how those who entered the competition used the skills they learned to further develop their business.
“Fifth Third Bank is happy to see other financial institutions apply additional resources to support women-owned and minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs who have historically been overlooked to secure seed funding to support their creative ideas. that they wish to bring to the market, ”said Dancy mentioned. “We hope this current trend of support becomes permanent to help create sustainable economic markets for consumers to use.”
About 53 ideas
Entry is limited to residents of the following North Carolina counties: Anson, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly, and Union.
To Apply: Submit a 53-second video showcasing your business idea. The submission deadline is May 31, 2021.
Finalists will receive a cash award, as well as training and coaching to prepare for the next round.
- First Place Winner – $ 10,000
- Second Place Winner – $ 5,000
- Third Place Winner – $ 2,500
- Top 10 finalists – $ 250
- Top 53 finalists – $ 50
More information: Visit the 53 Ideas website
Framewrk is a mobile application that gives advice to entrepreneurs using artificial intelligence. The app is in beta testing, but Framewrk eventually plans to charge $ 29 per month for access.
Find Framewrk on http://framewrktogether.com/