Houston Forward Times

18 June 2014 Written by  Forward Times Staff

Mayor Annise Parker Announces Liftoff Houston! 2014 Capital One Bank Sponsors Business Plan Competition

Mayor Annise Parker recently announced the second year launch of the "Liftoff Houston!" 2014 Business Plan Competition. Sponsored by Capital One Bank and in partnership with the Houston Public Library (HPL) and the Office of Business Opportunity (OBO), the competition engages and empowers Houstonians seeking to start a new business in Houston by providing them with access to essential information, resources and support necessary to develop a sound business plan as a first step toward realizing this goal. For more information or to register, visit www.liftoffhouston.com or call 832-393-0954.

The competition takes place over a five-month period and will include four stages (Orientation, Workshop, Mentor, and Business Pitch). Capital One Bank is providing cash prizes totaling $30,000, to the winning business plan submissions in the business plan categories of Product, Service and Innovation. Prizes of $10,000 will be awarded for each category.

Registration opened June 11, 2014, and includes a mandatory orientation that will provide a general overview of the competition application and judging process and requirements. Participating applicants will be assigned a professional business coach/mentor and a personal financial advisor. Orientation sessions will be offered in July 2014 at select libraries citywide.

To be eligible, applicants must be in the start-up phase of their for-profit business, only in operation for less than one year, have earned revenue of less than $10,000, must live in and plan to operate their business in the Houston city limits. The top three finalists will receive much needed capital to invest in their business.

Also at the announcement were Ricky Johnson and Andyshea Saberioon, the Liftoff Houston! 2013 First Place Winners for their business plan for PledgeCents, an online crowdfunding platform for fundraising for grade schools. They were awarded a $15,000 cash prize, a one-year subscription to the Houston Business Journal, a one-year membership to the chamber of commerce of their choice, and legal services from Texas BizCo.

"If you can dream it, you can achieve it in Houston," said Mayor Parker. "Thanks to Capital One Bank, the Houston Public Library and the Office of Business Opportunity we are able to provide the start-up support needed to turn dreams into reality. It’s just the kind of help that could help launch Houston’s next big entrepreneurial venture."

"At Capital One Bank, we recognize that helping small businesses grow is one of the most important investments we can make in the future of our community, and we are proud to once again partner with the mayor, Houston Public Library and the Office of Business Opportunity to offer the ‘Liftoff Houston’ business plan competition," said Annella Metoyer, Houston Market President for Capital One Bank. "Small business is a driving force for both our national economy and our Houston economy – and it is a cornerstone for Capital One Bank. We know that small business owners want solutions that make it easier for them to grow and manage their businesses. Through our product and services, and through our support of programs including ‘Liftoff Houston,’ we’re constantly developing innovative solutions to help them succeed."

"We are pleased to continue the partnership that has made Liftoff Houston such a success. We look forward to connecting current and prospective small business owners with the vast small business resources and services available through the Houston Public Library and the Office of Business Opportunity," said Houston Public Library Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson. "Houston Public Library is committed to continuing our support of small business development through free access to business-related resources, programs and opportunities."

"Last year, over 300 Houstonians came out to learn about "Liftoff Houston’s!" Business Plan Competition" said Office of Business Opportunity Director, Carlecia Wright. "While there will only be three cash prize winners, all participants will have the opportunity to create viable business plans and have access to a suite of services offered by the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity."

About The Competition

The "Liftoff Houston!" Business Plan Competition is designed to encourage Houstonians to achieve the goal of business ownership while contributing to the local growth and sustainability of the Houston economy.

To successfully research, develop and present the business plan, participants are required to have an HPL Card, attend workshops offered by industry experts, ranging in topics from business plan basics to presenting plans to financial institutions, and attend information sessions to learn about the vast resources available to support new business startups through HPL and OBO.

Additional support will also be provided through professional business mentors to help participants further refine their business plan.

About Capital One

Capital One Financial Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, is a Fortune 500 company with more than 900 branch locations primarily in Texas, Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its subsidiaries, Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients.

About the Office of Business Opportunity

The City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity is committed to creating a competitive and diverse business environment in the City of Houston by promoting the growth and success of local small businesses through a wide range of services from startup business assistance to certification for established businesses seeking contract opportunities with the City. Through OBO’s Houston Business Solutions Center, they provide resources that help with the launch, sustainability, and growth of businesses. For more information about the Office of Business Opportunity and their suite of services, please visit www.houstontx.gov/obo or call 832-393-0954.

About the Houston Public Library

The Houston Public Library operates 35 neighborhood libraries, four HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. Serving more than seven million customers per year in person and online, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7. For further information, visit the Houston Public Library at www.houstonlibrary.org or call 832-393-1313.

NOTE: To view a short video about the Liftoff Houston! 2013 Business Plan Competition, visit http://youtu.be/gbrVr-Z85rw.