The Starting Line

is an innovative competition designed for entrepreneurial ventures without a financial track record -- the budding entrepreneur -- the purist form of a start-up. Pitch your idea, persuade our team of its merit and you will have the chance to win $5,000+ in cash.

Details and Timeline

This competition is designed to attract applicants that want to bring solutions to our community’s (or the world’s) challenges. Our goal is to get you off the ground and the competition is open to any individual 18 and older residing in and with the intent of commercializing, growing and maintaining a business in Erie County.


We are looking for creative, innovative projects driven by dedicated individuals. Do you have an idea for a service, project, application, business idea, manufacturing or technology initiative that will address everyday problems? One that will improve the way we live, work and/or play? Then we want to hear from you!

We want to make this easy. Really. So easy that all you need to get through the first round is an up to 90-second video [even taken from your phone] and uploaded to YouTube – and then send the link to our site. If you get through the first round, we work with you to help you get to the second. Then, it’s all up to you.

The proposals will be evaluated based upon the following: the innovation of the product, technology or service; how the product or idea fits the market; its potential total impact (including social value, impact on users, partners, etc.); and the qualities of the entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team – their level of talent, diversity, and qualities which are value additive to the company. We are looking for individuals or groups $0 to $20k in revenue. All entries will be judged equally.

Round One

Video (90-second “Elevator Pitch”) Individual/Company Profile


First Place:

(4) $5000 Awards ($20,000 in total funding broken down into four categories) + training and mentoring services

Up to an additional $10,000 (total) in Grant Funding through Ben Franklin Technology PArtners

Second Place:

(1) $200 in Facebook Advertising Credits

To provide minority, U.S military veterans, and women entrepreneurs the opportunity to each earn up to $5000 in pre-seed funding. An additional $5000 Judges Choice award will be open to anyone residing in Erie County.

Criteria: The project/idea/company must be a completely new concept, wholly conceived by the individual/team; it is not a part of an existing firm and must be a for-profit project/company.


Applications will be accepted until October 31, 2018, 11:59 p.m.

Applicants that move to the second round will be notified by late November 2018