Entrepreneurs invited to submit ideas for Start Garden competition

Luciano Hernadez V describes his first try at The 100 in 2019 as good practice for this year’s competition. The Start Garden contest for business startups is back for a third season — after pivoting in 2020 to provide COVID-19 relief through the 100 Comeback Fund.

Hernadez is ready after the support he received through the Lakeshore Advantage SURGE program to fine-tune his product, solar-​powered marker lights for vehicles in the pickup truck market.

On his first try with Start Garden 100, Hernandez was one of 100 entrepreneurs who earned $1,000 but fell short of being among the 20 people to win $20,000.

Experience at 5X5 Nights

He compares his learning curve to his first and second time participating in Start Garden’s 5x5 Nights.

“When I did 5x5 in 2015. I thought I delivered what was the perfect pitch,” says Hernandez. When he didn’t win, he got different advisers, who included former winners and venture capitalists. They helped him turn his pitch into “something good.” He won the competition —  and the $5,000 prize — in 2016.

Entrepreneur Luciano Hernandez V at his booth at the SURGE Celebration on June 17, 2021.

“When I played the videos of the 2015 pitch versus my 2016 pitch, I couldn't even finish watching the 2015 pitch. It wasn't even good,” says Hernandez, sharing his experience at the recent SURGE Celebration, where attendees were invited to submit an idea for The 100,

The 100 is designed to offer an accessible pathway for aspiring entrepreneurs to launch in 2021. It is as simple as describing your idea in any language in a phone video, then submitting the video to 100.startgarden.com. Submitting your video puts you in the running for funding and community support to get your idea off the ground.

The 100 removes barriers to entrepreneurship, based on the belief that anyone, from any neighborhood, regardless of resources, deserves a chance to take a shot at launching a business idea.

The particulars

Here is how it works:
● Videos will be accepted through July 26.
● Minimum age to participate is 14. Video submissions are not shared with the public. Participants can upload as many different ideas as they wish.
● In July, 100 finalists will be chosen to receive $1,000 each, no strings attached.
● Finalists have two months to refine their ideas with community support in preparation for judging at the 2021 Demo Day competition on Saturday, Oct. 2.
● At Demo Day, 10 winners receive another $20,000 to help their business take off.
● Additionally, a $5,000 award goes to a high school student or team competing in the high school category.

Diverse competition

The 100 is the most diverse and accessible business competition of its kind. While it is open to aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the community, Start Garden promoted the first competition through intense marketing in historically underrepresented minority neighborhoods. The efforts paid off with demographically diverse submissions.

There were 772 submissions in 2019; 51% of the finalists were women and 64% percent were from minority groups. A 2019 study reported that the 100 candidates who participated gained no advantage or disadvantage based on where they live, education level, or household income. 

“It’s a truly level playing field,” says Darel Ross, Start Garden co-director. “All you have to bring is your hustle.”


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