Liftoff Houston Business Plan Competition

Business Opportunities Office

Houston Liftoff Press Release

Mayor Turner Launches 10th Annual Liftoff Houston Startup Business Plan Competition

July 27, 2022 — Applications are now open for the Liftoff Houston Startup Business Plan Competition, where three winners will each receive $10,000 in start-up capital to fund their entrepreneurial dreams. Applications must be received by 2 p.m. on Friday, August 19.

The competition, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is sponsored by Capital One Bank and administered by the Houston Public Library (HPL) and the Office of Business Opportunity (OBO). Since its inception, Capital One has invested more than $280,000 in seed funding to winners in three categories – Innovation, Product and Service.

“For 10 years, Liftoff Houston has empowered participants to achieve financial mobility through entrepreneurship,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “They have become key drivers of the success of Houston’s economy, and they have contributed to our communities by creating jobs and providing much-needed goods and services.”

To be eligible for the competition, applicants must live and operate their business within the city limits of Houston. The business must be for-profit, in operation for less than a year, and have verifiable revenues not exceeding $10,000. Those who are not eligible to compete can participate in the educational pathway, which provides access to all of the educational and mentorship components of the program.

Once accepted into Liftoff Houston, participants attend workshops over a 4-month period that cover essential business topics including business planning, marketing, fundraising, and pitching. Entrants also receive additional support from professional mentors at SCORE Houston and Capital One Bank to further refine their business plans, which are necessary to advance to the final stage of the competition.

The event concludes with Pitch Day on November 5, where three companies from each competition category are selected to present their business plan to a panel of judges. All those who meet the educational path requirements receive a certificate of completion.

Mayor Sylvester Turner, joined by HPL Deputy Director Nicole Robinson, Capital One Bank Market President Yasmin Huebinger and OBO Director Marsha Murray recognized Liftoff Houston alumni who developed their company after the start-up phase: Sherhara Downing, 2019 Service category winner from SpeakHaus and company Christa Clarke, 2016 Service category winner Jennifer Thai from Awesome Bites Co., and 2018 Innovation category winner Alphonso Social Bevy’s Roundtree.

“This year’s landmark competition will prove to be another exciting year of opportunity for Houstonians who are ready to advance their business ownership plans,” said Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, Director of the Public Library at Houston. “We are delighted to join OBO, Capital One and a host of other partners in supporting their development and their dreams through the provision of free library services and access to reference resources on businesses and investments, state-of-the-art technology and high-speed Wi-Fi. Fi.”

Since its inception, more than 15,000 people have participated in Liftoff Houston. Across all the competition finalists, 27 winners have built businesses in retail, merchandise, labor, consulting, software, hardware, marketplace businesses, hospitality, tourism, health and fitness, education, finance, technology and logistics.

Data collected from the 2021 contest showed that Liftoff Houston had an impact on historically marginalized populations. Of all participants, 96% identified as people of color, 70% were women, 56% had no college degree, and 41% earned less than $30,000.

Also in 2021, all the winners were women:

  • Alina Kravchenko from TonerBum (Innovation), a patented dumbbell for toning glutes and legs, ergonomically designed to fit behind the back of the leg;
  • Krystle Hodge from SafetyKay, LLC (Product), featuring safety kits and videos that teach kids essential safety skills; and
  • Clara Orlean of ClaraTech (Service), in-person technology training that helps seniors with counseling sessions and technology workshops.

“As we celebrate a decade of Liftoff Houston, we look forward to making an even bigger impact for aspiring entrepreneurs in Houston,” said Marsha Murray, Director of OBO. “This competition will provide you with a clear roadmap to help you achieve your goals of success as a small business owner.”

To apply for Liftoff Houston, go to www.liftoffhouston.com. Also follow @liftoffhouston on Facebook and Instagram.


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