We know. You saw us talking about The Earth rising; you read that things were about to be different this year, but we didn’t actually say how different; and you wondered what in the world is going on (see what I did there?).

You’re wondering what is new this year, and you’re wondering if you should even enter.

We have been doing the Start Something Challenge for the past six years. And for the longest time, we’ve wanted to close the competition–to take the money and time we invest into the SSC and ensure that we are investing it into the people who invest in us; graduates of our Community Business Academy.

So, yes! You should. Here are five reasons why you should enter The Earthrise Edition of The Start Something Challenge:


1. You’re ready for this opportunity

If you are a CBA graduate, in business or have a definitive start date, are crystal clear on the product or service you are selling; if you understand your target market and believe that your business makes a positive contribution to your community, then you should definitely apply to be one of The Earthrise 50. Starting May 23, all you’ll need to do is fill out a simple application on our website. If you’re selected, we will assign you to a sector, and then you’ll hear from us about whether you are one of the 2018 Earthrise 50.


2. You really believe that businesses contribute in a meaningful way to your community and you are definitely doing your part.

You take being a business owner seriously. You understand that the financial, social, and overall well-being of your community is an indicator of the health of your business, and you want your customers to thrive. If you want to have a platform to share your thoughts on community leadership as a business owner, then the Earthrise Edition of the Start Something Challenge could be your moment to shine. If you are one of the 15 entrepreneurs pitching in the competition, you will have the opportunity to tell a room filled with community leaders in your business sector how your business is contributing to the local economy.


3. There are more chances than ever to win a business grant

This year we are offering a prize worth $5,000 in each of our five business sectors. So instead of one winner, there will be five, $5,000 prizes. What’s more, we will be taking three entrepreneurs from each sector into the finals of the competition instead of two–we want to highlight as many of our entrepreneurs as possible and create more chance for you to win money that could be a gamechanger for you and your business.


4. You are ready to network with local movers and shakers to get big contracts that can grow your business

Instead of a standalone finale event as we have done in years past, the finals of The 2018 Start Something Challenge will be part of the Local Living Economy Summit. There, you will have a chance to network with representatives from each of our five business sectors, in addition to a variety of other stakeholders–nonprofits, lenders, city agencies, and some of the largest corporations in the city. We’re setting a table to discuss the kind of economy we all want to participate in, one everyone can benefit from, and your voice as an advocate for your business will be an important part of the day.


5. You’re ready for the spotlight as one of the Earthrise 50

If you are one of the entrepreneurs selected to move on in the competition as one of the Earthrise 50, we will be spotlighting you and your business all year, even if you don’t make it to the next round of competition. Not only will you be highlighted as one of the Earthrise 50 on the Start Something Challenge website, but we will also print an inaugural publication featuring the 50 entrepreneurs in the competition. There will be several opportunities for you to network as one of the Earthrise 50, including the Local Living Economies Summit, as well as Rise to Expand Opportunity–our annual celebration of entrepreneurship.


More than 2000 of you have graduated from this program, and over 1000 of you are operating businesses. We have watched you plan for, start, and grow your businesses.  We have watched as you’ve collaborated with other businesses, found ways to invest in the education and health of your communities, and we have seen you grow into local entrepreneurial leaders. We know the value that you as entrepreneurial leaders are adding to your communities, and we believe that you are the future of this country.

Now, we want the world to know. This is why we have reimagined The SSC to be more than a competition this year. It’s a platform for your visibility as an individual, but also for what you mean as a community of entrepreneurs, and we want you to take advantage of this opportunity. Are you ready?