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The JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL) “Start Up Kick Start” competition, a social media promoted initiative, for start-up businesses to receive funding for their operations, is now in its judging phase, having received more than 1,000 entries, via social media.

The Kick Start competition, in its second staging, started on January 1, when applicants were invited to submit their business ideas for a start-up venture with a chance to win $250,000. Businesses operating less than six months were also welcomed to participate with all submissions accepted up to January 14. 

“This year we have exceeded the number of entries by a significant margin,” Mrs. Thelma Yong, Deputy General Manager said. “Last year, we had 100 entries at the close of the first phase. However, this year we received more than 400 entries in the first three days; and had more than 1,000 as at the close of submission on January 14.”

“We were impressed with the interesting mix of business submissions and the number of entries we received,” Mrs. Yong added. “The submissions covered a wide cross section of ventures; therefore, we are looking forward to the judging and the pitching rounds.”

The Deputy General Manager pointed out that, after submitting their business ideas, each entrant was required to do a business model canvass; and a “question and answer sheet,” with specific questions about their operation and its potential market.

“Similar to last year, we requested the business model canvas, because it’s an efficient way to capture, in summary, how a business creates and delivers value to its customers. It also allows the entrepreneur to test potential strategies, about the business’ model,” she noted.

“From the business model canvass, owners can also determine what is required for their business to succeed. And, it also provides an excellent basis on which to build out the business plan,” she added.

Mrs. Yong explained that during the judging phase, the number of applicants will be reduced to a top 10; followed by the top three applicants.

“The top three persons will “pitch” their business idea before a panel of external judges, for the chance to win $250, 000,” she explained; noting that, “The top three finalists will also benefit from business development coaching. In addition, there will be monetary prizes for the second and third place winners,” she explained.

Mrs. Yong stated that JN Small Business Loans Limited decided to mount the competition for a second time, after being impressed with the quality of the business pitches last year.

“At last year’s finals, the pitches made by Marcus Sewell, Ava Gay Lewis and Kimone Knight were impressive with many ideas supported by well-crafted business plans. We thought that these businesses could become successful, with the right mentorship; and we opted to guide them accordingly,” Mrs Yong related.

“Consequently, we decided that we would support more upcoming entrepreneurs by mounting another edition of this competition,” Mrs. Yong explained, noting that, “We are aware that many start ups struggle to navigate the initial phase of business development; hence, this competition is seeking to stimulate structured ‘Start up initiatives,’ as one way to assist entrepreneurs to get their business started and funded.”

Mr. Marcus Sewell, the winner of the first Start-up Kickstart competition, whose entry was Brunswick Farms, a St Catherine based aquaponics venture; said his participation in the competition was beneficial to his operation.

“Start-up Kickstart helped me with start-up funds,” Mr. Sewell said. “It also helped me with networking, something an entrepreneur needs, as well. In addition, l also benefitted from the mentorship programme to-date;  with a mentor  from a similar background,who could relate to the issues which I encountered.”

“As a result, my mentor was able to understand my challenges; and guided me in the right direction. Therefore, I would recommend “Start-up Kickstart,” to anyone seeking support to start their business operation.”   

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