If you’re interested in starting a business that will make downtown Vancouver more appealing, a new “Shark Tank”-style competition could get your idea into action.
Vancouver’s Downtown Association is starting a new program called the Launchpad that gives business owners the chance to pitch their ideas for a retail store in downtown. The winner will receive a $40,000 incentive package with in-kind donations, according to Michael Walker, the association’s executive director.
“It’s kind of a grassroots way to help improve the vitality of downtown,” Walker said.
The idea springs from a similar program in Baltimore that brought two business ideas to life. David Goldman, marketing associate at Seawall Co. in Baltimore, was part of the group that organized the Remington Storefront Challenge that Walker is replicating in Vancouver.
Goldman flew to Vancouver to be at Thursday’s quarterly meeting of Vancouver’s Downtown Association to answer questions about the Remington Storefront Challenge, and he said he’ll help the association through its process in starting the program.
More than 100 contestants entered the Remington program; Walker is hoping for a similar response.
A judging panel will select 10 standout contestants from the pool. Finalists will create business plans, with assistance from the association, before presenting their ideas in person to the selection panel. The winner will be announced in May.
Michael Lary, owner of Source Climbing Center at 1118 Main St., is part of the group organizing the Launchpad. He said he is hoping to see an idea that “none of us can think of right now.”
“We’re hoping to get that person through their first year of business,” he said. “That first year can be the toughest.”
The association is looking for donors and partners to help fund the program. It also started a GoFundMe at www.gofundme.com/f/downtown-vancouver-launchpad. More information is available at www.vdausa.org/launchpad, where applications will be available to download starting Dec. 1. They are due by midnight Jan. 31.