It All Starts With An Idea

The Program

Hands Up Lake County is a small business competition that encourages and nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit in the community. Selected participants will fine-tune their business ideas and business plans and receive training and follow-up support. Thirteen (13) small businesses will be selected in the Established Business category and seven (7) businesses will be selected in the Startup Business category. All businesses in both categories will compete in a “mini-competition” from which five (5, in the Established Business category) and three (3, in the Startup Category) will be selected to advance to a final competition and a chance to win cash awards totaling $120,000.

There are 4 phases in the small business competition.

  • The application Review: In this stage, all applications submitted by the May 31, 2023, deadline are reviewed by the Board of Directors (or a committee thereof) of the non-profit, 1Team 1Dream. In 2023, a total of 20 applicants will be selected: 13 in the Established Business Category; 7 in the Startup Business Category.
  • The workshop/business plan training: In this phase, 20 selected applicants must attend an in-person 1-day training preparatory to the mini-competition. In the training applicants will learn how to write and present a business plan for the next phase, the mini-competition.
  • The mini-competition: In the mini-competition 3 judges will evaluate the 20 on-stage presentations and select 5 small businesses in the Established Business Category and 3 in the Startup Business Category who will advance to the final competition.
  • The final competition: In the final competition, a new set of judges will evaluate the onstage presentations of the finalists and decide placement. In this phase all applicants will receive a cash award, the amount received is determined by the judges.

How It Works

Send your application from March 1 to May 31.

20 semifinalists will be chosen in June.

Semifinalists must attend the 1-day Entrepreneurs workshop on June 24 (Saturday).

8 finalists will be chosen during the mini competition on July 29 (Saturday).

Finalists will join the final workshop with Pitch Lab on August 26.

Final competition will be on October 15 (Sunday). This gala event will be at Soper Reese Theatre.

The competition provides a unique experience for the participants.

They have the opportunity to get funding for their business ideas.

They get invaluable feedback on their business plan.

They get the exposure to the right audience and expand their network.

They learn more and acquire new talent and skillset.

Cash Prizes

The participants of the competition have the chance to win cash prizes, which he or she can use to jumpstart his business plan.

Established Businesses

1st prize
2nd prize
3rd prize
4th prize
5th prize

Start-up Businesses

1st prize
2nd prize
3rd prize

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the eligibility requirements?
A. All Lake County residents who are 18 years or older who have an idea for a start-up business or who own an established small Lake County business are eligible to apply.

Q. Are there any restrictions I should be aware of?
A-1. Due to the Federal cannabis laws, we are not accepting cannabis-related business ideas.

Q. Does the business have to be a storefront in Lake County?
A. Not necessarily. The owner must be a resident doing business in the County either online or in a storefront.

Q. Is there an application fee or charge to participate?
A. No. You are, however, required to attend the 1-day training & follow-up competitions.

Q. How do I apply for the Hand Up Lake County opportunity?
A. Only online applications are accepted. A fillable application is on this website.

Q. When can I apply?

Q. What is the process of the competition?
A. There are 2 categories and 2 competitions and a multi-phased process:

ESTABLISHED BUSINESS: An established business has been in operation for 1 year or more.

START-UP BUSINESS: A start up business has a documented plan to start a business or has been in business for up to 1 year.

In Phase 1, applications received by the deadline will be reviewed. Thirteen (13) applicants will be selected for the Established Business category.  Seven (7) applicants will be selected for the Startup Business category. All MUST proceed to phase 2 to stay in the competition.

Phase 2 is mandatory 1-day training. All selected participants must attend the training to proceed with the program. This will be held on June 24, Saturday, at Lakeport City Hall

Phase 3 is the mini competition. During the mini competition, all participants  in the 1-day training will present their business plans to a panel of judges who will select the finalists in each category ( 5 in the Established Business and 3 in the Startup Business category) for a total of 8 finalists. This will be held on July 29, Saturday, at Lakeport City Hall.

Phase 4 is the final leg of the competition. In this phase, finalists MUST attend a pitch lab, and dress rehearsal preparatory to the final competition which is scheduled for October 15, 2023.  Dates, times and location of the pitch lab, dress rehearsal and other details will be announced.

Q. Will there be follow-up training prior to the final competition?
A. Yes. There will be a pitch lab on Saturday August 26 at Lakeport City Hall. Each applicant will receive 1 hour of individual training. Details to follow.

Q. If I applied last year, can I re-apply this year?
A. Yes.   You may reapply if you were NOT a winner in any of the previous year competitions.

Q. Do all eight (8)finalists receive a cash award?
A. Yes. In 2023, cash prizes are as follows:

Established Businesses

1st Prize $30,000
2nd Prize $24,000
3rd Prize $18,000
4th Prize $12,000
5th Prize $6,000

Start-up Business

1st Prize $12,000
2nd Prize $8,000
3rd Prize $5,000

Q. Will there be follow-up requirements for winners of the competition?
A. Winners must complete and submit an annual report of the status of the business on a form to be provided. Applicants must use the funds received for the purposes described in their application and return funds, if for any reason, the business does not proceed.

Q. If I have further questions?
A. Email Olga Steele at [email protected] or contact Olga by phone at: 916-849-8170 should you have any questions.

Who Should Apply?

Anyone who believes in and loves Lake County; has a dream to be in business in Lake County; has a creative business idea and the ability and stamina it takes to make it in business; has what it takes to pitch a business idea to others; AND who can use a financial boost to kick-start a business or take an existing small business to the next level is encouraged to apply.

1Team 1 Dream 2022 Hands Up Gala Event

2021 Winners

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