1st 50K contest draws international interest

Cape Girardeau's influence is being felt around the world. A business startup competition called 1ST50K has drawn entrants from 13 countries, each vying for grants of up to $50,000, as well as other awards that come with winning.

Codefi, Traverse Ventures and local partners came together to create 1ST50K to open the door for entrepreneurial hopefuls to pitch their business ideas on what was coined Pitch Day. A local Shark Tank of sorts, the competition allowed those who made it through the multilevel process and became finalists to sell their ideas to a panel of established entrepreneurs and investors. The makeup of the panel is paramount to the competition because one reward for victory is access to successful business owners. That access is perhaps even more vital to a successful business launch than money. Cash, after all, is quickly spent, and once withdrawn, is gone. Wisdom deposited, on the other hand, has long-lasting.

Codefi co-founder, Dr. James Stapleton, himself an entrepreneur, as well as a competition committee member, said, "Sometimes it's easier to find capital than it is to find people who can really help you." He added, "We assembled people who have experience in a lot of different industries and have been very successful."

In addition to the 13 countries represented, 23 U.S. states were also represented in the competition. According to a recent Southeast Missourian article, a plethora of industries were in the running for new businesses, including the health care, agriculture and technology industries.

We applaud the vision of 1ST50K's creators, who see what such an opportunity provides. Not only does it allow a feeling of accomplishment in those who try, but it also ushers in small businesses, which are vital to the economy. Every hand up -- from grants to access to professional advice and mentorship -- will increase the likelihood of success.

We look forward to finding out more about the winner, and seeing how this contest helps shape the landscape for the future.