SPCC SMALL BUSINESS CENTER TO LEAD THE 2021 ‘53 IDEAS PITCH COMPETITION’ SUPPORTED BY 5/3 BANK

Competition provides access to capital and training resources to advance equity through entrepreneurship one idea at a time.

South Piedmont Community College’s Small Business Center is excited to announce it will lead the 2021 “53 Ideas Pitch Competition” supported by Fifth Third Bank. The pitch competition addresses income inequality and equity through entrepreneurship by providing access to capital, training resources, and social connections to help anyone with an idea turn it into a viable business. The top prize winner of the competition will receive $10,000 in seed money for a start-up business.

“Last year we opened the spigot and ideas came pouring in across the 10-county region,” said Renee Hode, director, small business and entrepreneurship, South Piedmont Community College and regional director for the NC Small Business Center Network.

The community’s incredible response to the 53 Ideas pitch competition clearly attracted a-typical entrepreneurs. “Contestants did not mirror the historical demographics of  entrepreneurs,” said Hode. More than half of the participants were women, more than half were minorities and by income level, the majority of were making less than $50,000 a year.

“This reinforced the reality that people are seeking capital to bring their ideas to life, but have difficulty finding it,” said Hode. “We know businesses start with great ideas and if we can provide resources to nurture and grow those ideas, our community will thrive,” said Hode. 

Studies show that four out of five entrepreneurs do not access bank loans or venture capital. Instead, their sources of funding are personal network, generational wealth or connections to networks. Not everyone has equal access to these types of funding opportunities. The 53 Ideas Pitch Competition exists to help lessen this inequality in entrepreneurship.

“We are committed to supporting entrepreneurship across Charlotte and throughout North Carolina,” said Joel Dancy, Vice President, Community & Economic Development, Mid-Atlantic Region, Fifth Third Bank.  “We are very excited to again be supporting the 53 Ideas Pitch Competition because it not only helps in the short term with access to capital for the winners but also in the long term through financial education for all participants.”

The “53 Ideas Pitch Competition” is an open call for business ideas from residents across the region. Individuals will have 53 seconds to pitch their idea in the form of a video submission that may be uploaded to 53ideas.com. For open, inclusive access, if someone has an idea but does not have the technology to submit an entry they can visit the small business center at South Piedmont’s Tyson Family Center for Technology in Monroe to access a computer to enter the competition. 

Judges will review the submissions through the first round ending June 9 and select the top 53 pitches. Top entrants will receive a $50 award as well as the opportunity to advance in the competition. Training and coaching on pitching, financing, forecasting, and general business will be available to every participant, even if they do not make the top 53. These free resources will be offered by Small Business Centers located at community colleges throughout the southwest region, including Central Piedmont, Cleveland, Gaston, Mitchell, Rowan-Cabarrus, South Piedmont, and Stanly.

After the training period, the top 53 entrants will participate in a closed virtual pitch event, where the judges will narrow the field down to 10. The top 10 will receive $250 each and go on to compete on a virtual stage for the top awards: first place receives $10,000, second place earns $5,000, and third place receives $2,500 in seed funding to help turn their ideas into a viable business.

To learn more about the “53 Ideas Pitch Competition” or to upload a video submission by the May 31 deadline, visit  53ideas.com.


About South Piedmont Community College:

South Piedmont Community College is a two-year college offering certificates, diplomas, and associate’s degrees to residents in Anson and Union counties. We offer small class sizes with flexible scheduling options geared toward student success. To learn more about the college and our programs, visit www.spcc.edu.

About The North Carolina Community Colleges Small Business Center Network (SBCN)

The NC Community Colleges Small Business Center Network (SBCN) is our state’s largest state-supported small business assistance initiative. Started in 1984 with the funding of eight small business centers by the North Carolina General Assembly, by 1995 at least one Small Business Center was established at each of the 58 community colleges. At the core of its vision, the Small Business Center Network is positioned to focus on entrepreneurship, small business and economic development with an emphasis on assisting start-ups, early stage, and businesses seeking to stabilize. To learn more, visit www.ncsbc.net

About Fifth Third:

Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and the indirect parent company of Fifth Third Bank, National Association, a federally chartered institution. As of Sept. 30, 2020, Fifth Third had $202 billion in assets and operated 1,122 full-service banking centers and 2,414 ATMs with Fifth Third branding in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In total, Fifth Third provides its customers with access to approximately 52,000 fee-free ATMs across the United States. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer Lending and Wealth & Asset Management. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and, as of Sept. 30, 2020, had $422 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $53 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations through its Trust and Registered Investment Advisory businesses. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at www.53.com. Fifth Third’s common stock is traded on the Nasdaq® Global Select Market under the symbol “FITB.” Fifth Third Bank was established in 1858. Deposit and Credit products are offered by Fifth Third Bank, National Association. Member FDIC.