Business pitch competition returns to Hayden |

Business pitch competition returns to Hayden

Nick LaGorga won last year's Hayden Business Pitch competition to boost his business, Yampa Valley Entertainment.
Nick LaGorga/Courtesy photo

The Hayden Business Pitch Competition will return for its second year in 2022, offering local entrepreneurs a chance at startup cash while bringing new ideas and business to the community.

“It’s just a really great opportunity for somebody who’s thinking about it to actually step into that realm of entrepreneurship,” said Tegan Ebbert, the town’s community development director. “We certainly want to support our small businesses in Hayden, support entrepreneurship … We really want this to be an opportunity at this moment in time for folks in this community that want to be entrepreneurs and want to start a business that’s going serve the community.”

The deadline to apply for the business pitch competition is at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23. Ebbert said those wanting to enter the contest need to fill out some basic information, provide a general business concept and answer a couple of questions about what market solutions they’re trying to address or what gaps in the economy they are trying to fill.

“That Sunday at midnight deadline is not for the fully formed business pitch,” Ebbert said. “It’s essentially a letter of intent that you’re implying that you’re going to participate in the business pitch competition.”

Ebbert said that once the applications have been collected, Ashley Pines with the Small Business Development Center and Randy Rudasics with the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center will hold office hours in Hayden and meet the applicants in a mentorship role to improve the pitches prior to the competition.

“We’re going to require each of the applicants to take part in that small business counseling or mentorship — at least one appointment before the pitch happens on Nov. 12,” Ebbert said. “We will have help available to fully form their pitch or fully form their business idea because what we really want as a result of this is actual businesses coming to Hayden.”

She added that one of the cool things about last year’s business pitch competition, which was won by Yampa Valley Entertainment’s Nick LaGorga, was that many of the applicants — including those who won money and those that did not — opened businesses in the area.

This year, the top prize is $10,000 with second taking home $5,000 and third $3,000. If the winner represents a woman-owned or minority-owned business, they will receive an additional $5,000.

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The competition is open to businesses that are still in the planning stages or were established in 2022. Those business must be located in the Hayden School District, but the applicant or business owner can reside anywhere. There will be an event for the business pitch competition tentatively slated for 1-5 p.m. Nov. 12 and is open to the public. That event will be followed by an awards ceremony and mixer from 5-7 p.m.

“Our hope is that maybe some of our other small business owners in the community or other community members will come and hear about the businesses being pitched, so maybe there’s some partnership opportunities or support opportunities that folks can make,” Ebbert said. “We just want to create some excitement around these prospective businesses.”

Ebbert said that anyone interested in taking part in the business pitch competition can reach out to her at 970-457-7216 or by email at with questions.

“Our goal is to connect them with resources because both the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center and SBDC provide a slew of resources that Hayden maybe doesn’t have access to that can help connect them with long-term small-business mentorships, or an understanding of components of business ownership that they might not have thought about,” Ebbert said. “We definitely want real businesses to result from this.”

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