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Manchester Young Professionals Network kicks off Startup Challenge

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 04. 2014 6:00PM
The Manchester Young Professionals Network held its kickoff event for the sixth annual Annual MYPN NH Startup Challenge hosted at abi HUB in Manchester on Monday. MYPN board member Tim Paradis speaks to the audience. MARK BOLTON/UNION LEADER 

MANCHESTER — Entrepreneurs, start your startups.

The Manchester Young Professionals Network kicked off its sixth annual New Hampshire Startup Challenge this week with a reception inviting potential contestants with an entrepreneurial idea to transform that into a business.

It can be a lengthy, daunting process that requires guidance from experts and others who have been through it all and were on hand Monday night. Judges, past winners and sponsors also attended the meet-and-greet at the abi HUB on Elm Street.

"At the beginning, you get to help them through and kind of be part of those sleepless nights and understand and see how ideas come together and become a business model, how a business model becomes a business and how a business becomes successful," said Tim Paradis, co-chair of this year's competition. "You get to see the beginning part. It's kind of fun."As a senior wealth advisor with Baldwin & Clarke Advisory Services, Paradis is more accustomed to the other end of the process, when the idea has grown to the point of being on the brink of launching as a business.

The winning startup will receive a prize package valued at $55,000, including a lump sum of cash and the rest in services to help the startup get past the starting point.

Andrew Richards of Manchester was the 2013 winner for the TechLok, which he designed to prevent theft and loss of smartphones and other portable devices as well as data protection and recovery.Richards' advice to the pool of 2014 applicants: Be ready, knowledgeable and believe in your product.

"It's really important to stay focused, get your message down and practice," said Richards, a Manchester native and 2002 graduate of Central High School. "You need to get comfortable talking in front of others. And don't be so wishy-washy. Be certain about what you are doing. What is your market? What is your demographic? People want to invest in something that will come to fruition and succeed."

The competition is open to New Hampshire residents with a for-profit enterprise that has been in existence for less than three years and raised limited funding and revenue. The application deadline is April 18.

Semifinalists will be announced May 2 and pitch their ideas live during an event May 15 at abi. Finalists will be chosen a week later, and the winner announced June 17 during a ceremony at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College.

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