Governor’s Conference on Business competition opens

Nevada-based startup companies looking to showcase their products or services while competing for cash and prizes have until Aug. 19 to apply for the business pitch competition at the Governor’s Conference on Business 2016.

Though the conference, which is scheduled for Sept. 30 at the Rio Conference Center, is in its fifth year, this is the second time it has featured a business pitch competition, said Teri Williams, public information officer at the State of Nevada Department of Business and Industry.

“It’s the first year that it’s being held in Las Vegas, as the conference rotates annually between Reno and Las Vegas,” she said. “We’d like to have a strong representation of applicants from Las Vegas.”

Ten finalists will make a two-minute, in-person pitch and two of them will be awarded cash and prizes totaling $22,500. An audience vote, which will be held for the first time, will determine the winner of the People’s Choice Award and a cash prize of $1,000.

Jennifer Gurecki, founder of Reno-based Coalition Snow, won first place at last year’s competition for her company, which launched in 2014 and specializes in high-performance skis and snowboards designed by women for women.

Gurecki said after her two-minute pitch, the judges asked her a series of questions, which helped her fine-tune the way she spoke about her business.

“It was a good learning experience in terms of refining my ability to succinctly and confidently answer business-related questions on the fly,” she said. “The competition was billed as Nevada’s ‘Shark Tank,’ but it was far more friendly and supportive than one would have expected.”

Mark West, founder of Las Vegas-based Innovum Technologies Inc., which provides regulatory compliance solutions to the gaming industry, was a competition finalist and said competitions like the Governor’s Conference provide a forum for small, innovative companies to meet partners, investors and legislators.

“The competition was very interesting and exciting for us and being one of the finalists, we were pleased to see so much variety in the finalist contestants,” he said. “Personally, I hope to see the competition continue and grow.”

West added, “Gov. (Brian) Sandoval has committed to fostering small business growth, and this competition is one way to showcase the innovation and diversity of startup companies in Nevada.”

The business pitch competition is open to Nevada-based businesses from any industry that have been in operation for two years or less and have less than $250,000 in annual gross revenue.

Judges for this year’s competition include Nevada Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, Allegiant Chief Operating Officer Jude Bricker, AT&T Nevada and Western Region President Stephanie Tyler, Las Vegas Review-Journal Vice President of Advertising Kimberly Parker and Microsoft Business Sales Specialist David Schmall.

To apply, businesses must submit a $50 application fee and a completed application packet to the Department of Business and Industry by Aug. 19. For more information, visit or call Karen Schnog at 702-486-3755.

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