Demo Day Frequently Asked Questions

What is the size of the table? 6×6 space with a 6ft table

Will power outlets be provided?
Yes- it will be limited. Please let us know your electrical needs ASAP and keep in mind there will be outlets available to charge your laptop or tablet.

Time of event? 4:00 – 8:00PM

When can you begin to set up your table?
12pm. Loading zones will be assigned based on the floor plan

Can I bring food to serve?
Yes, but there is a process. Please contact us if you have questions

How many judges?
Every participant will be evaluated by more than 1 judge

Who are the judges? Still finalizing.

Will we be pitching?
No pitch stage this year

It will not be provided. See link below for parking options: https://www.grandrapidsmi.gov/Directory/Guides/Downtown-Visitor-Mobility-and-Parking-Guide

Presentation layout?
12:00PM- Doors open for setup
2:45PM – Must have everything setup- Unoccupied booths will be taken down. 3:00PM – Space must be setup
3:00PM to 4:00PM Judges at tables
4:00PM – Doors open to the public
4:00PM – 7:00PM – Demonstration
7:15PM – Awards Presentation

Register on Universe- but this is open to the public. You should have received an email with the link

However you are comfortable

Will judges come to the tables? Yes.

Can you have part of your team at the table with you? Yes, but space is limited

Will judges have prior knowledge of the ideas? No

Should we have a business plan available?
That would be a good idea, but necessary. Don’t expect for judges to read it

What is the best way to present your idea?
However you feel best represents what you have done with the $1000 and what your plans for the $20,000 would be. Making sure you are prepared to cover the points on the judging criteria.

How much time do I have to pitch?
The judges will take as long as they need to evaluate your idea. There is no specific time that the judge will have at each table. The judge will decide how much time they need to learn about your idea.

At what time is load out?
Directly following the awards presentation

If alcohol is our product, can we give samples away?
In order to serve alcohol, you must hire a staff member from 20 Monroe Live.

Will there be WIFI? Yes.

Will there be curtains or privacy between other contestants? No

Does the prototype/Idea need to be fully completed? No. Just bring the best version you can.

Can we sell our product? Yes

Do tables have linens? Yes

Is there a People’s Choice Award? Yes

Can we bring a powerpoint presentation? Yes

The 100 Frequently Asked Questions

How does The 100 work?

Until May 30, you can submit a pitch on the The 100 website. After May 30, we’ll announce The 100 selected to receive $1,000 each. Those 100 ideas have about two months to be fleshed out as projects. All of them must present to a group of judges at our August 27 Demo Day, where a minimum of 10 are selected for another $20,000 to keep incubating their projects.

As you prepare for Demo Day, use  this scorecard as a guide for preparation.

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur looking for assistance, check out some community resources available to help you work on your idea.

Who can submit?

Anyone can submit anytime, from anywhere, in any language. Minimum age is 14 years old.

Do you have to live in Grand Rapids, MI to submit?

It’s not a requirement to live in Michigan, but keep in mind the judges favor projects that will draw value from and create benefit back into our community.

I’m not able to record my pitch through the website.

Try using a different device: a laptop, smartphone or tablet. You can also contact us if you need troubleshooting help. If all else fails, join us at one of our Pop-Up Pitch events.

Do you have to submit through the website or can you just come to Start Garden and pitch?

All pitches must be submitted through the website, either on your own or in person at a Pop-Up Pitch event. View the calendar of events.

Can I change my pitch after I record it?

After you submit a pitch, you have 24 hours to re-record it. After 24 hours it is entered for review. You may not change your pitch once it is in review. Do not submit another pitch about the same idea. The judges are not responsible to know which pitch is the correct one.

Can I pitch more than one idea?

Definitely. Pitch as many as you want. Just don’t submit multiple pitches about the same idea.

What kind of idea can I pitch?

Pitch whatever you want. Keep in mind, we expect the person who submits the idea to keep running with it if that person receives $1,000.

Can an existing business pitch?

Yes, a non-startup business can pitch if the 100-second pitch is for a project or innovation that is not part of their existing operations. An existing business can pitch a new project that could open up a new source of revenue. It cannot use the $1,000 just to fund the existing operations.

Good pitch example: An existing bakery wants to try out an online campaign to ship a new line of frozen cupcakes.

Bad pitch example: An existing bakery needs funds to help them pay the rent.

What happens if I win $1,000?

All The 100 chosen to receive $1,000 must present on the August 27 Demo Day. 

Check out some community resources available to help you work on your idea.

Does Start Garden own a stake in these ideas if they’re submitted?

No. Neither the $1,000 or the $20,000 involves Start Garden taking any stake as a debtor or investor into a company.

Will Start Garden sign a non-disclosure agreement?

No, and we never have. With the volume of ideas we encounter each year, it’s not feasible for us to keep track of restrictions within all of the NDAs we could potentially sign. To better protect ideas, we don’t make the 100-second pitch videos public without permission from the person who submitted. Furthermore, any submitter can independently file a provisional patent on their idea before submitting.

What can I use the $1,000 for?

Whatever you need to drive your idea forward and make a compelling presentation on the August Demo Day. It’s up to you.

Check out some community resources available to help you work on your idea.

How do people “flesh out an idea?”

We strongly encourage candidates to take an entrepreneur bootcamp or classes on business model/business plan creation. Although we do not ask for anyone to submit a formal business plan, thinking through all the facets of how their project becomes self-sustaining is critical to moving forward.

Check out some community resources available to help you work on your idea.

How do ideas selected for $1,000 receive payment?

Payment can go to an individual, a business or an assignee designated by the winner. The $1,000 is considered taxable income.

A W9 form must be submitted by the winner or the winner’s assignee to receive payment.

How can I win $20,000 at the August 27 Demo Day?

Only the 100 ideas selected to receive $1,000 present on the August 27 Demo Day. It is mandatory that they present. We created The 100 Scorecard to help people understand what the judges will be considering at Demo Day.

Check out some community resources available to help you work on your idea.

Is the August 27 Demo Day a pitch competition?

No. The 100 are not expected to perform a traditional pitch from a stage, although we strongly encourage they prepare an “elevator pitch” to deliver to the audience. Each presenter will be provided a small space to demo their project in the way that seems most fitting to them. Each of The 100 must be represented in person to the judges to be considered for the $20,000.

Is The 100 only for certain people or neighborhoods?

There are no restrictions on who participates if they’re over 14 years old. The judges favor projects that will draw value from and create benefit back into our community. They also consider if The 100 can make a substantial difference getting the business off the ground. Ultimately, The 100 is here to level the playing field for anyone who thought trying out a new venture was outside their reach.

How does $1,000 launch a business?

We know $1,000 doesn’t launch a business. The $1,000 goes toward fleshing out a back-of-the-napkin idea, examining it as an entrepreneur and figuring out how it can become a self-sustaining venture.

You can use the 100 Ideas Scorecard to understand what judges will consider at the August 27 Demo Day.

A W9 form must be submitted to receive payment.

Why does The 100 give away $1,000 when 5 x 5 Night gives away $5,000?

Start Garden has never injected $100,000 into new ideas in such a short period of time. This initiative supports “back-of-the-napkin” ideas. When you look at what goes into a five-minute presentation on stage for 5 x 5 Night, it’s a lot. This $1,000 grant funds people to put in the work of fleshing out their ideas to the level you’d expect at 5 x 5 Night or another pitch competition.

What’s the role of the banks in the process?

Our regional banks have funded The Start Garden 100 to stimulate new ventures within our community. The initiative is a way for them to inject grant dollars into aspiring entrepreneurs. This allows banks to support entrepreneurship at a much earlier stage than traditional lending would allow.

How do people know their ideas won’t be stolen?

The 100-second video pitch submitted is not made public without permission from the submitter. The only people that will review the videos are Start Garden staff and members of the entrepreneur support community designated by Start Garden. This limits the people who can view ideas to very few.

However, if a submitter still wants more protection, we recommend filing a provisional patent through an attorney.

Who picks the winners?

We have organizations who work with entrepreneurs helping to select the final 100. All submissions must come through the website because it will ultimately be a community of organizations with diverse perspectives reviewing and making decisions.

Is the $20,000 a grant or a loan?

The $20,000 is a grant. Start Garden does not take any stake as a debtor or investor into the idea. Prior to receiving the $20,000, we expect winners to present a use-of-proceeds plan toward how they reach the next step with their ideas.

What do you hope the results to be from The 100?

We want to deepen the culture of innovation for anyone that thought entrepreneurship was out of reach. Success for us looks like 10 new businesses or business projects operating in our community each year. Entrepreneurs teach us along the way how we as a community can support them.

So, out of 100 ideas, you hope 10 succeed?

Yes. We’d like all to succeed, however, it’s more important that we encourage trying, learning and moving forward. Moving forward can mean failing and going on to another idea. That’s fine with us.

Why are you doing this?

The 100 is a multi-year initiative to expand upon the community’s innovative ideas and how we go about funding them. It begins with seeding 100 ideas on an annual basis. In the future, we will explore how as a community we can better support them as they grow. To that end, we’re excited that our banking community has joined together with us for the journey.

Still need help? Contact us