Shoals Idea Competition Will Reward Local Entrepreneurs

By  | September 11, 2019 | Filed under: News

2018 winners, the Balance Birth Center

FLORENCE – The Shoals Idea Audition, a Shoals Shift event supported by Innovation

Sponsor Bank Independent, the Shoals Economic Development Authority, the University of North Alabama, and the Shoals Chamber of Commerce is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 15 on the second floor of the Guillot University Center on the UNA campus.


The event will begin at 4 p.m. for the contestants, with the finals round, which is open to the public, scheduled for 6 p.m. The event is partially funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission and is offered free of charge.


The Shoals Idea Audition is designed to foster new businesses, help entrepreneurs polish their presentations, and introduce community leaders who might be instrumental in helping make their ideas a reality. For the sixth year, hopeful participants will have an opportunity to present their business ideas to a panel of area professionals, and the top-scoring idea will be awarded a $5,000 cash prize, with $2,500 and $1,000 to second and third-place recipients, respectively.


“We welcome anyone with a great idea for a new or existing product or service to be a part of the competition,” said

Mary Marshall VanSant

, a founder of the event. “This is a great way to earn seed money to make it happen or simply test the viability of your idea. Plus, you’ll have a lot of fun while learning how to promote a start-up.”


The 2018 winner was Balance Birth Center. As a pioneer of out-of-hospital birth options for rural communities in Alabama, the Center’s goal is to improve the state’s birth outcomes for mothers and babies through proven, evidence-based care using Certified Nurse Midwives.


Image result for darnell ferguson

Darnell Ferguson

“Each year, the ideas get better and better,” VanSant said. “In October, participants will have three minutes to make their pitch. The panel of judges will be made up of local entrepreneurs who will select finalists for the final round where they will pitch in front of a different panel of judges and a larger audience to determine the winners.”


In addition to the pitch competition, Darnell Ferguson, the owner of the SuperHero Chef group of restaurants, will provide a keynote. Ferguson said he struggled throughout high school and was on the verge of failing out until his junior year when he decided to take Culinary Arts courses. It was through those courses that he earned the “Super Chef” moniker for his culinary prowess that has since come to be the name of his business venture.


The submission deadline for ideas is Oct. 1. To register your idea, or for full information, please visit the Shoals Idea Audition website at


Media Release/Michelle Eubanks
Interim Associate Director
University Communications & Marketing/UNA


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cynefin Helen Keller Hospital Coldwater Inn
Champy's 306 Barbecue Pie Factory Smokin Jalapeno Goodilicious OTR