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The HavaStartup competition is the brainchild of Dr. Leepsa Nabaghan Madhabika, a business professor at ASU Havasu.
Daisy Nelson/Today’s News-Herald
Entrepreneurs — it’s your time to shine. HavaStartup is back for its second year, searching for locals who are ready to turn their business ideas into viable business plans.
The annual competition is organized by ASU Havasu in collaboration with the Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation for Education and Leadership and the Better Business Bureau.
It gives “promising entrepreneurs” an opportunity to turn their innovative business idea into an actual commercial venture, according to the competition’s creator, Dr. Leepsa Nabaghan Madhabika. She’s also a business professor at ASU Havasu.
The competition started last year, with a goal in mind “to positively impact the local community and create a platform for entrepreneurship and innovation by connecting with Lake Havasu community leaders,” Nabaghan said. She also hopes it will encourage economic development in Havasu.
The competition includes four stages, after an initial informational session to be held via Zoom on Oct. 14 from 4 to 5 p.m.:
Registration and submission of business summary. Registration opens Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. and closes Nov. 4 at 5 p.m.
Workshop. Held via Zoom Oct. 28 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Submission of fully developed business plan report. Due Feb. 11 by 5 p.m.
Presentation of fully developed business plan and award ceremony. Scheduled for March 4 from 4 to 6 p.m.
The winner of the competition receives cash and prizes. While the competition is put on by ASU Havasu, it isn’t limited to ASU Havasu students.
“Anyone, from students to working professionals across Lake Havasu City with a new idea, prototype, product, or service can participate,” Nabaghan said. “The business plan can be for commercial (financial returns) or nonprofit (social change) purposes and the focus can be any new and innovative idea from any industry.”
Nabaghan volunteers her time for HavaStartup, and it’s no easy feat to make sure it runs smoothly. Some of the work includes developing competition goals, connecting with mentors, judges, partners and sponsors, preparing rubrics, business plan templates, evaluation sheets and guidelines, training contestants and promoting the competition.
But it’s all worth it for her.
“In the long run, my vision is to support economic growth and development of Lake Havasu City,” she said. “The covid-19 pandemic has not only affected human health but also the health of the economy, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. I want the startup firms to thrive in this challenging time.”
The pandemic has also caused a few of the new changes coming to the competition this year. The judging panel will be different, and the process of the competition has been adjusted in light of the coronavirus, Nabaghan said. Most of the public events will be held virtually.
“Conducting the competition online will be a new experience,” she said. “I am also excited to meet community leaders and industry experts who will mentor the contestants for a few months and guide them to fine-tune their business proposals.”
Mentorship from industry experts is another new change. This year, they’re also focusing on new business ideas for startup firms rather than ideas for businesses that already exist. Contestants who participated last year can compete again, as long as they have a new, original idea.
Kryistyna Hook, BBB director of media relations, is one of the judges this year. She’ll be looking for applicants who “stand out with a thoughtful mission behind their idea and those who share the principals they will stand for.”
“I’m very interested in the ‘why’ behind the business,” Hook said. “Is there a story, a history, a reason, a problem being solved, a marketplace improvement? Make yourself stand out.”
Lisa Krueger, president of the Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce, was part of the initial committee that helped HavaStartup begin. She wanted to help the program continue to grow, so the Chamber is helping with planning and implementation, and Krueger will be judging, as well.
As a judge, Krueger will be looking for “fresh, innovative business plans that are relevant to our local economy,” she said.
“It’s important that the business plans are feasible and that the business idea is something that is missing in Lake Havasu and/or will enhance our business culture,” Krueger said. “It’s inspiring to see the ideas and entrepreneurship spirit that exists in our city. I also believe that we should grow our own leaders, and this program is one of the tools we can use for that purpose.”
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