Like in years past, the Metrolina Entrepreneurial Council (MEC) is seeking entries for its business plan competition. But this time there’s $5,000 at stake.

The five finalists chosen for the competition will present to a panel of judges at the MEC’s Capital Access Conference on Jan. 14 in Charlotte. RSM McGladrey will fund the prize money, and Womble Carlyle is sponsoring the event.

While this is not the fist business plan competition for the Capital Access Conference, it is the fist time a cash prize will be up for grabs.

Chicago Tokyo Group’s David Worrell, an MEC volunteer and recently-appointed board member, collaborated on the new competition plan with Mark Widowik, director of the office of technology transfer at UNC Charlotte. Together, Worrell and Widowik are co-chairs of the business plan competition.

“The Capital Access Conference has always had some kind of business plan competition,” Worrell tells Local Tech Wire. “This year, Mark and I added several new ideas, including the idea to compete for a monetary prize, and the idea to have a panel of judges interact with the presenters at the competition.”

Opening the field

Worrell says any company, old or new, may enter if they are looking to raise capital. Requirements include having less than $5 million in annual revenues last year, having less than 100 employees and were not recognized as one of the finalists last year.

For recent startups wanting to enter, the MEC says it’s looking for “innovative service, product or business model” and “strong potential for revenue and headcount growth.”

The wide scope of companies eligible for this competition … from startup to those with $5 million in revenues … is one of its distinguishing factors, organizers say.

“There are many business plan competitions across the country every year. Some are only for university students, some only for startups. Ours is for any new or small business that is raising capital,” Worrell explains. “Additionally, since it is an interactive competition held in front of an audience of both entrepreneurial peers and experienced investors, there is an opportunity for great visibility for the company.”

Deadline nearing for prizes

The deadline to submit an executive summary for the competition is Nov. 3. Three weeks later, the MEC will announce 10 semi-finalists to give 15-minute PowerPoint presentations on Dec. 11 to the review committee, followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. The five finalists will be announced and notified the next day.

Before the Capital Access Conference on Jan. 14, the MEC will provide the five finalists with mentoring and coaching to prepare them for the final presentations.

In addition to the cash prize, Worrell says the winner will receive consulting and guidance, not to mention plenty of publicity, including an MEC makeover.

“We will have ample opportunities to promote the business, through MEC press releases, publications, and day-of-the-show events,” he said. “Finalists will also be recognized in our press and show publications, and may set up a booth at the show to promote their business. The winner will receive — additional press attention, and an opportunity for a ‘media makeover’ from an MEC member organization.”

Entrepreneurs interested in submitting their businesses for consideration in the MEC’s business plan competition should visit David Worrell’s website, which is listed below, or contact him at


David Worrell: