SALT LAKE CITY — Eight minutes.
That's how long several small-business leaders had Wednesday afternoon to pitch their business growth strategies and how they would use $30,000 in funding prizes to advance their international business efforts during the World Trace Center Utah Pitch Competition.
Following the pitches, a panel of four judges asked questions and rated the presentations from eight of the top 2017 Export Acceleration Grant recipients on relevance, creativity, persuasiveness and potential for success.
The judges declared inWhatLanguage — a Salt Lake City-based language technology firm that translates content into more than 200 languages — the winner. Chief Executive Officer Cody Broderick, 37, said the $15,000 first prize will help his company explore the manner in which it can grow in international markets.
"As we use these funds, we can show other companies in Utah how they can think, act and succeed globally," he said. "My intent is to teach other entrepreneurs and businesses what these grants are for. (To show them) all the 'open door' tools that exist out there to help (companies) get out and grow.”
Taking advantage of no-cost “open door” resources like the World Trade Center Utah and the Governor's Office of Economic Development can be very useful to companies that are trying to expand internationally, he said.
Funds from the Utah Export Acceleration Grant must be used to pay for services or resources that help the recipient's company grow globally, according to a news release. Services could include consulting work, market research, translation services or attendance at a trade show or state-organized trade mission, the release stated.
"This program allows us to help dozens of businesses across the state achieve their international goals,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah. "The primary purpose of (the competition) is to help get the word out to Utah businesses that these funds are available for them to remove these barriers that are in place."
Learning how to prepare for international expansion strategically is an important element in successful growth planning, he said.
"Companies (in Utah) should know that there is help out there," Miller said. "(The World Trade Center) can help with market analysis, in making connections to the right people around the world and the grant program."
Meanwhile, the competition gave companies the opportunity to get feedback from experienced business leaders who understand global markets. Beth Colosimo, executive director of Business Development Resources at Salt Lake Community College, said all small businesses can benefit from knowing how to “sell” their company's products and ideas.
"There's nothing like getting up in front of a live audience and having three minutes to get your point across in a succinct manner," she said. "The skill set of doing this is paramount to any entrepreneur."
She said companies willing to expose themselves to potential business opportunities are the ones that will have a much better chance of finding success.
"It really is 'putting yourself in the way of opportunity,'" Colosimo said. "So many people get stuck working in their business instead of working on their business. This was one of those chances to raise your head and expose yourself to other opportunities."
The competition and grant program — sponsored by JPMorgan Chase — was held in conjunction with the Sorenson Impact Center’s Winter Innovation Summit at the University of Utah.