March 26 ’Big Sell’ entrepreneurs’ competition invites residents to attend & vote

Area residents are invited to cast their votes for the best, start-up business ideas during the Big Sell Entrepreneurs in Action Competition, Saturday, March 26 at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza Celebrity Ballroom.

The competition provides an opportunity for three winning entrepreneurs from a group of 50 to share in more than $30,000 in cash, prizes and office space for one year at the Hammond INnovation Center to implement their business ideas.

The competition begins at 9 a.m. when each of the 50 prospective entrepreneurs presents a two-minute pitch about their new business idea to members of a general audience. After each pitch, audience members will have an opportunity to cast a vote of approval or disapproval, using an electronic voting clicker.

The top 10 vote-getters will advance to the final round, during which the finalists will present another two-minute pitch to a panel of judges, who will determine the three winners. The judges include: Timothy Smithe, co-owner and sales director of Walter E. Smithe Furniture; McShane Business Products and Solutions Owner Brian McShane; author and nationally recognized career coach Adriana Llames; and entrepreneurial dentist Dr. Kevin Brunski.

The competition, developed by Purdue University Calumet and its Center for Entrepreneurship Success in cooperation with the Hammond Development Corporation, has attracted competitors from as far as California, Florida and Massachusetts.

General admission is $20, which includes lunch and the opportunity to participate in the voting process during the opening round. Individuals who desire to purchase admission by credit should phone 219/989-2986. Other information can be obtained by phoning 219/989-3159 or 800/HI-PURDUE, ext. 3159.

Also sponsoring the competition are the Hammond INnovation Center; Palo Alto Software; The Idea Factory; Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza; Lazarian (Tom Lazarian) Certified Public Accountants; The Times; certified public accountants Tom and Amy Petri; attorneys Scott Yahne and Peter J. Shakula; Peoples Bank; BP; NIPSCO; Markey’s Rental & Staging; Safety-Kleen; Strack & Van Til; Citizens Financial Bank; Centier; First Financial Bank; McShane’s Business Products & Solutions; Consolidated Fabrication & Constructors, Inc.; MAKS; Djuric Trucking; and the Purdue Calumet MBA for Executives Program.