The City of Houston opened applications for its annual Liftoff Houston Startup Business Plan Competition, which helps local founders bring their months-old companies to new heights.
Now in its 11th year, the competition and educational program awards $10,000 in seed money to three founders after completing a four-month-long workshop series that culminates in a Pitch Day. Winners are named in three categories: Innovation, Product and Service.
Applications must be received by 4 p.m. on Friday, August 4. And Pitch Day will be held on November 18. To be eligible for the competition, applicants must live in Houston and operate their businesses here. Businesses must have only been in operation for less than a year and show verifiable revenue that does not exceed $10,000. Founders who do not meet these criteria are eligible for Liftoff's Educational Pathway track that does not include the competition portion of the program.
“For 11 years, Liftoff Houston has empowered participants to achieve financial mobility through entrepreneurship,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. “These participants have become key drivers to the success of Houston’s economy, and they have contributed to our communities by creating jobs and by providing much needed goods and services.”
Liftoff Houston is sponsored by Capital One Bank and administered by the Houston Public Library and the City's Office of Business Opportunity. According to a statement, the program has helped serve historically marginalized populations in Houston. In last year's cohort, 95 of participants identified as people of color, 77 percent were female, 44 percent had no college degree and 54 percent made less than $50,000.
Last year's winners in the Innovation, Product and Service were:
- Innovation: Aditya Aggarwal, founder of Maritime XR, which aims to supplement conventional maritime training with virtual reality simulations.
- Product: Hannah Le, founder of RE.STATEMENT, a marketplace for designers to upcycle old fashion into wearable art
- Service: Natasha Roberts, founder of ActIVate Drip Spa, which provides medical-grade IV drips that help eliminate toxins and aid hydration and recovery
"I wanted to see how far I could go," Le told Innovation Map earlier this year. "I had pitched before, but this was the first time that I was onstage and I just felt like I belonged there."Le shared more about the founding of RE.STATEMENT and how Liftoff Houston impacted her business in an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast