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Montana Entrepreneurs Encouraged to Enter “Shark Tank” Style Competition at Small Business Conference

Author: cc0123 STATE/Friday, January 15, 2016/Categories: Market MT, Small Business Development Center Network

Applause in Meeting Room

The Montana Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network is encouraging entrepreneurs to submit their business ideas for consideration at the third annual “Shark Tank” style live pitch competition coming this spring.  The competition will be held at the Montana SBDC Invest in Success small business conference on March 15–16 in Havre.

“The entrepreneurial spirit in Montana runs deep, and this event puts a spotlight on the innovation and enthusiasm of Montana entrepreneurs,” said Department of Commerce Director Meg O’Leary. “The competition offers an opportunity for Montanans to present their business ideas to seasoned professionals and receive the feedback and resources needed to turn them into reality.”

“Shark Tank” creates a forum for entrepreneurs to present their business plans and receive constructive feedback from a panel of industry professionals. The competition is open to Montana startup ventures in the “idea phase” or entrepreneurs whose gross revenue and investments to date are under $5,000. First place in the contest will win $5,000, second place will win $2,500, and third place wins $1,000.

Chad Miller, owner of Purus, Inc., and the winner of last year’s competition, believes the winnings gave him a huge boost to help his business get off the ground. Purus is a Montana-based company dedicated to engineering sustainable wastewater treatment solutions for the oil and gas industry.

“Last year's win was a real coup for Purus,” Miller said. “The cash prize definitely helped, and the benefits realized from networking with Montana's business leaders were a real game changer for us. We were able to capitalize on the advice offered and develop key relationships that truly pushed us to the next level. It's a tremendous opportunity for anyone looking to advance a startup.”

This year’s panel of judges will include top names across the banking, finance and angel investment industries in the state.

“Shark Tank is essential in helping Montana entrepreneurs get in front of investors, peers and their community to bring their business ideas to light,” said Joe LaPlante, Havre Regional SBDC director. “We know from the past two years that this event is a strong catalyst for launching one or more new businesses in Montana.”

Participants will first pitch their business ideas to an initial screening panel on March 15, and the public competition will take place the following day at the Invest in Success conference on March 16, from 3–4:30 p.m. at MSU Northern in Havre. The event is free and open to the public.

Interested individuals are encouraged to register for the event at and to register for the Invest in Success small business conference at more information, contact Joe LaPlante at 399-1557 or visit

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