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Entrepreneur Challenge Returns
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A total of at least $10,000 in cash and $14,000 in professional services will be awarded to the two winning entrepreneurs when the San Joaquin Angels investment group, in collaboration with regional educational institutions and economic development groups, stages the fifth annual San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge on Wednesday, March 5 and Wednesday, March 26. Professional services will include legal, accounting, marketing and general business assistance. The application deadline is Feb. 9.

The San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge is an American Idol-style multi-round business plan competition including audience and expert judging. Challenge organizers are seeking individuals or start-up companies with a great idea to compete during two public events for selection as the most persuasive business opportunity. The audience and judges will select two finalists eligible for the top prizes and an opportunity for further discussions with potential investors and advisors. Applicants are encouraged to sign up for one of the application preparation workshops being offered. Visit for dates and times.

The Entrepreneur Challenge consists of a four-step competitive process:

Applications submitted online by Feb. 9, 2014, will be reviewed by a screening committee of business and academic experts who will select the best business opportunities for the initial public round of competition.

On March 5 each selected contestant will participate in a two-minute drill to describe his or her business. The audience and a panel of judges will select several businesses to move on to the next stage.

On March 26 the remaining entrepreneurs will have five minutes to present a more detailed analysis of their businesses before the audience and a panel of judges, who will select several finalists eligible for the final competition.

The final competition will also be held at the March 26 event, where each finalist will participate in a simulated challenging business situation. Audience and judges will then select the winner and runner-up for the prizes.

The previous four years’ Entrepreneur Challenges attracted applications from over 250 aspiring entrepreneurs with the public events drawing over 300 audience participants each year. This year’s Challenge is again being organized by business and community leaders from San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties with the added participation of Calaveras, Amador, Alpine, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties. Entrepreneurs from the eight counties must apply online to compete in the Challenge at Workshops to help entrepreneurs prepare their applications will be offered in all three counties, with details about time and location available on the SJ Challenge web site.

John Paoluccio, winner of the 2012 Challenge, described his experience:

“By winning the San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge I was able to meet with marketing, legal, management, and financial advisors who knew how to help a start-up business succeed and grow. The funding and professional assistance that we received from the Challenge helped to put our product in the marketplace spotlight. We now have sales in Florida, Las Vegas, Canada and even Dubai.”

The San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge is part of a broad regional economic development strategy to stimulate business start-ups and job creation in the San Joaquin Valley. The Challenge is being presented by the San Joaquin Angels in partnership with the University of the Pacific, San Joaquin Partnership, Business Council of San Joaquin County Inc., Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance, NEC San Joaquin Delta College Small Business Development Center, and the Alliance Small Business Development Center.

The Event Sponsor is the Wells Fargo Foundation, with additional cash sponsors including Central Valley Fund, Bank of Agriculture and Commerce, Central Valley Community Bank, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Rabobank, PG&E, Bank of Stockton, Oak Valley Community Bank and The Record. In-kind service awards are being offered by Croce & Company, accountants; Downey Brand, attorneys; External Resources Inc., business advisors and Never Boring Design, marketing and public relations.

The March 5 and March 26 events will be held from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Stockton Golf and Country Club, 3800 West Country Club Boulevard, Stockton. Members of the public are invited to attend for a cover charge for each event of $15 prepaid on-line or $20 at the door.

Mark Plovnick, San Joaquin Angels President and University of the Pacific Director of Economic Development, stated the organization’s mission: “San Joaquin Angels is a private syndicate of angel investors whose goal is to help develop promising start-up and early stage companies in the San Joaquin region. The San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge is intended to stimulate business development in our region by encouraging aspiring local entrepreneurs to pursue their goals through an entertaining business plan competition that offers mentoring, cash prizes and access to investors.”

For more information and to register to attend the events, visit