vs_Sharktank_headerSquareVenture Connectors announced today that applications for its sixth annual Venture Sharks business competition are now open. Early-stage companies and entrepreneurs are invited to compete for a $10,000 prize — roughly $5,000 in cash and $5,000 in professional services — provided by the competition’s sponsors. Sponsorship commitments for this year’s Venture Sharks include: AT&T Kentucky and Commonwealth Seed Capital, gold sponsors; OPM Financial, silver sponsor; and Nucleus, in-kind sponsor. Additional sponsorships yet to be confirmed could increase the total prize value up to $15,000.

Applications are available here. and will be due by midnight on March 15. The he Venture Sharks committee will choose the top ideas to compete during the preliminary round of the competition, held April 15, where the field then will be narrowed to a few finalists. The final “Shark Bait” round will be held on May 6 during the monthly Venture Connectors’ luncheon meeting.

In the final round, presenters will be allowed just five minutes to describe their business concept to a panel of judges, who then have five minutes to question the presenters about the marketability of their ideas. A combination of judges’ feedback and audience votes determine the winner. Judges will be announced April 1 and will comprise notable business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors.

The competition is open to businesses or entrepreneurs from any industry in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee, but presentations for the preliminary and final rounds of competition must be made in person in Louisville. A dedicated LLC or corporation need not have been created, but the idea and business being pitched must not be a direct spinout of a larger parent company. There is no restriction on age of the business, but it must have less than $75,000 of lifetime revenue. The business also cannot have raised, or had invested in it, more than $50,000 from any source at the time of application.

The Venture Sharks winner must agree to use both the cash award and the in-kind services to directly pursue the business opportunity presented in the competition. The winner will be selected based on the viability of their idea, the ability of the final award to positively impact the business and the quality of their presentation. Last year, Venture Sharks received more than 50 applications. Past winners include: Gear Brake, Smart Farm, Wicked Sheets, U.S. Chia and Surgical Serenity Headphones. Sponsorship opportunities for the 2015 Venture Sharks competition are still available. For information, contact Trisha Finnegan at trisha.finnegan@biometrac.com or (502) 417-1642.

Venture Connectors’ monthly luncheon meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the meeting runs from noon-1:15 p.m. Registration is required at: ventureconnectors.org.