Got a big idea? Want to fuel that entrepreneurship venture? Then the Calling All Dreamers competition might be the thing for you.
I’m writing this with hopes that entrepreneurs can gain more insight into the competition and better prepare themselves. My brother and I were one of the finalists in 2017 and we can comfortably say it has helped us tremendously. I wish I can go more into this part, but our full story will be reserved for another post. This can serve as the TLDR version, but always refer to the website for full details.
What exactly is the Calling All Dreamers competition?
A retail business plan competition [that] encourages entrepreneurs to compete for the chance to open a downtown storefront and earn a coveted business start-up package valued at over $100,000 with essential resources and tools to turn their dream into reality. – Downtown Partnership
Beyond the 100K prize package for the winner, the competition is a deep dive into exploring your business idea and figuring out the nuts & bolts on how you can make it a reality. Ideas are great, I have a lot myself, but you must put them in motion. You must become a practitioner. You must see the reality of what is feasible, what resources you can tap into and how to make financially sound business decisions. This competition will help you do just that.
Where and how should I start?
You should download the application packet here. The next thing I would do is mark your calendar with the two initial and very important dates:
Any advice for the application? What do we need?
US resident, 18+ years in age and open to new businesses, existing businesses outside the City of Sacramento or existing businesses in the City of Sacramento hoping to expand and/or open a new concept. A $50 registration fee applies.
1. Business Model Concept – In no more than 10 pages to include an executive summary, business model, financial plan, management plan, marketing plan, startup timeline and value proposition.
Tip Dial in that executive summary, it’s the first thing they see. Answer all questions, in a short + concise matter.
2. 60 second pitch video – This video will also be shared with the public so keep that in mind. You are talking to an audience so make sure to get your point across on who you (the brand/business) are and what you plan to bring.
Tip 60 seconds goes quick. I would use talking points, not a script.
3. Resumes of those involved – Make sure it is up to date and free of spelling errors.
Tip You can tailor the resume so it can apply to your idea or business.
4. Relevant Digital Assets – This can be headshots, logos, brand lockups, additional videos, testimonies, etc.
Tip Submit multiple file formats just in case. Ask yourself, what would be in my media kit?
The above items are the bare minimum you will need to enter the competition. But we all know as an entrepreneur you’re not here to only do the bare minimum. Right?
What other tips can you offer?
I’ll do a mind dump here. The following items are things I have learned or felt needed more attention. Here are my tips.
📗 Know your story
This is your chance to tell it. Make sure you have a narrative that is authentic and relatable. Why Downtown Sacramento? Why entrepreneurship? How will you directly inject yourself into the business?
💡 Know your elevator pitch
On the consumer facing level, you are talking with the community. In this competition, you are presenting to judges, but also a panel that you should also view as potential investors.
👍 Read up on previous winners and finalists
Probably one of the best ways to get a head start. Even better, reach out to them and set some time aside to chat.
💪 Know your competition
This is a important. You not only have to be educated about the competition, but it’s a matter of respect – don’t be a hater. I mean it. I have over 25 pages in analysis on the competitors + like minded businesses in Sacramento county.
🎯 Know your target demo
This goes hand in hand with knowing your competition as it can help you flesh out the details on how you can differentiate yourself from the rest.
💲 Write down cost, fees and time associated with licenses/permits/filing
We learned the hard way. Time is important and the most valuable – use it wisely. Some will take a lot longer to develop. A good base would be to differentiate fixed and variable costs.
💰 Have realistic financials
Lean on your mentor if you can and make sure they are close, even if they are projections. It will help guide you in revealing overhead and operating expenses. Figure out your break even point, plan for build out costs.
🗣 Speak with and network with entrants
Yes, it’s a competition, but we are all human. We are all in the same boat and hope to open doors. Do not exclude anyone and offer help to each other when you can! You will cross paths again.
📍 Speak with local businesses and owners
There will be a time where you have to finalize a few selections on where to set up shop for your business – a good way to gauge the area can be done by talking to businesses in that area. Don’t be shy!
📆 Plan your calendar
Through the competition, there will be multiple PR and outreach opportunities that happen during the week and weekend. Plan your calendar for these asap! This was the most difficult part for us as I had a very demanding day job in tech and my brother was living in Los Angeles. Make these opportunities count!
📣 Practice presenting
You don’t have to be an amazing speaker, but you have to deliver amazing content. Think about it, your passion and energy should be seen and felt when presenting. Pay close attention to time.
⁉️ Check your ego at the door
It’s about building something bigger than yourself, something you want to share with the community. Be prepared to receive criticism and realize you can’t make everyone happy. Embrace change!
🤔 Play devil’s advocate
By far the biggest piece of advice, be honest and challenge your concept with questions that are difficult to answer. Why should we pick you? Why will this work in Downtown Sacramento?
I hope this helps. We should have a big announcement on our business real soon too! Should you ever feel you want to reach out, you can do so via social media @petersyravong or hit the contact button below. Good luck and make that dream a reality.