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Clay County's Pitch in the Park Hopes to Give County's Entrepreneurs the Stage for Success

Clay County's Pitch in the Park Hopes to Give County's Entrepreneurs the Stage for Success

Jacksonville Business Journal - Jan. 12, 2017 by Jensen Werley - Read full article here 

ORANGE PARK - Clay County entrepreneurs are looking to give local innovators a chance to be in the spotlight, with the county’s first innovation festival, Pitch in the Park. Eighteen entrepreneurs were selected to present their startup ideas at 10 a.m. on January 21st at Town Hall Park in Orange Park. Each person will have two minutes to present their ideas to a panel of three judges and the audience. The judges include Joseph Kincart, a patent attorney and Kate Stewart, a community advocate for entrepreneurs.

In addition to judges, the audience’s vote will count for 40 percent of the score to determine the winner, said Brian Knight, founder of Pragmatic Works and one of the organizers for the event. Each presenter will have a booth and audience members will have up to three votes. “We wanted it to be one part shark tank, with the judges, and to encourage entrepreneurs in the community,” Knight said. “We wanted to get them involved and passionate themselves about the event.”

Knight said the event is all volunteer- and donation-based, including the prize package. Microsoft donated products, Community First contributed some prizes and the Clay County Economic Development Corp. contributed the bulk of the prizes, including $1,250 to the top winner. “Part of the Clay County EDC goal is to encourage startups and bring new companies to the region,” said Knight. “One way of bringing new companies is to start them.”

Winners will also get press and mentor-ship to continue their idea. Knight said the goal was to get 18 participants and that organizers were shocked when they got nearly 30 applications and had to whittle it down to the best 18. The event, which will also have food trucks as well as booths and presentations for the audience, is hoping to bring in about 500 or 600 members of the public.

As for success, Knight said the goal is to get some of these entrepreneurs from ideas to actual companies. “If we can get some of them off the ground this year, that’s a big win,” he said. “They’ll create jobs in Northeast Florida.”

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The Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation provides concierge service for companies who want to re-invest in expansion in the county or relocate their companies to the region.

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